Lunchtime Lagniappe at the LA Sports Hall of Fame & NW Louisiana History Museum-an Update on the Texas & Pacific Railway Depot Restoration
The Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame and Northwest Louisiana History Museum was host to a capacity crowd Friday, February 17 for this month’s installment of the museum’s popular “Lunchtime Lagniappe” program. Ms. Carrie Mardorf, Superintendent of Cane River Creole National Historical Park, spoke on the history of Natchitoches’ Texas & Pacific Railway Depot and its ongoing restoration by the National Park Service.
Natchitoches’ first rail service was in 1900-1901 and was a railway spur from Cypress. The spur was one way, requiring the train to reverse itself after unloading its freight and passengers. The present city court building also served as a railway station before the train depot was completed on June 20, 1927 after the railway was bought by the Texas & Pacific Railroad. The depot cost $100,000.00 to build, equivalent to about $1,400.000.00 in today’s dollars. The construction was completed in six months, positively speedy by today’s standards.
Ms. Mardorf also spoke of the stories of the people whose lives were affected by the station. Many people came forward with stories of traveling and meeting people at the station. The depot was a waypoint for the Great Migration as African-Americans left the South for opportunities and a chance for a better life. There were also stories of casualties from WWII being shipped to the station on their way home. The Texas & Pacific Railway Depot was an integral part of our community for 40 years.
The Depot was in operation from 1927 through the 1960’s, from the depths of the Jim Crow era to the Civil Rights movement, a pivotable time in our community and national history. It is a product of its time, the only remaining segregated train depot in Louisiana. In its new incarnation as a museum, the depot will preserve and tell the story of a past still in living memory. The depot’s restoration is expected to be complete in 2024.