A Nation in Motion: Railroad Structures

Today we begin a series based on the Mississippi entries from the 1976 document A Nation in Motion: Historic American Transportation Sites.  The informal compilation sprang from a 1973 suggestion by the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation to the United States Department of Transportation.  Its purpose was not to be a definitive listing of significant transportation sites, but rather a collection of information on nationally significant transportation-related sights that might be considered for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places.  There were a total of five separate entries for Mississippi.  We’ll take a look at each item and see what their status is today.  This may give us some insight as to how effective this type of document is. This is the first of the series reviewing the Mississippi entries in the Department of Transportation’s A Nation in Motion: Historic American Transportation Sites.

West Feliciana RailRoad Company Office and Bank Gregory B. Free, MDAH April, 1977 from NRN on MDAH HRI accessed 5-13-2014

West Feliciana Railroad Company Office and Bank. Gregory B. Free, MDAH. April, 1977 from NRN on MDAH HRI accessed 5-13-2014

Mississippi Circa 1836: The Office and Banking-House of the West Feliciana Railroad Company was built in Woodville around 1836, although the company had received baking privileges from the State in 1831.  The West Feliciana Railroad ran through the Louisiana parish of the same name from St. Francisville on the Mississippi River to Woodville, a distance of some 20 miles.  The first railroad to operate in the Mississippi Valley, the West Feliciana was a joint venture of Mississippi and Louisiana planters seeking a more efficient means of transporting their cotton to the Mississippi River.  In 1848, the West Feliciana charged 50 cents per hundred pounds for freight and 75 cents, or 3.1 cents per mile, for passengers.  This was the fifth railroad to begin operation in the United States and was the first to use standard gauge track.  It is still in operation today.

West Feliciana RailRoad Company Office and Bank Gregory B. Free, MDAH April, 1977 from NRN on MDAH HRI accessed 5-13-2014

West Feliciana Railroad Company Office and Bank Gregory B. Free, MDAH April, 1977 from NRN on MDAH HRI accessed 5-13-2014

Outcome:  It appears that the structure was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1977 shortly after the report was published.  Click here to see the original nomination form.  If you were involved with this structure at the time please fill us in on what you remember!

Current status:  The structure houses a museum operated by the Woodville Civic Club.  The building was most recently rehabilitated in 2002. Judging by the 2010 photograph from the MDAH HRI database the structure still looks like it has an active museum.  Have you been to the museum?  If so share your thoughts about the building with us in the comments section.

Woodville Civic Club Museum. Jennifer Baughn, MDAH 1-29-2010 from MDAH HRI accesed 5-14-2014

Woodville Civic Club Museum. West Feliciana Railroad Company Office and Bank. Jennifer Baughn, MDAH 1-29-2010 from MDAH HRI accesed 5-14-2014



Categories: Banks, Historic Preservation, National Register, Woodville

Tags: , , ,

6 replies

  1. Wow! Was there a ferry that carried the trains from one side of the river to the other, if I understand correctly that the railroad ran Louisiana to Woodville?

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    • The Mississippi river? You are correct to understand that the line ran from Woodville, MS and St. Fransisville, LA. No ferry was needed as both east of the Mississippi.

      I understand the goal of the rail road to deliver products from a land locked area to the river.

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  2. If any of you are interested in turntables, there is still one in operation in the Kansas City Southern railroad yard in Vicksburg. The roundhouse was demolished in the late 1970s or early 1980s, but the turntable is still in occasional use. Drive on Levee Street by the rail yard and you will see it east of the road.

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