Levee, Depot streets and the overnight train track

Published 11:01 am Sunday, March 3, 2024

The Louisville, New Orleans, and Texas Railway was formed by C. P. Huntington in 1882 to connect Huntington-owned railroads Southern Pacific and Chesapeake, Ohio and Southwestern to form a transcontinental railroad.

In 1884, it was made larger with its consolidation with the Tennessee Southern Railroad Company, the Memphis and Vicksburg Railroad Company, the New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Vicksburg and Memphis Railroad Company, and the New Orleans and Mississippi Valley Railroad Company.

On August 28, 1883, a headline in the Vicksburg Evening Post announced “A Surprise! Quick Railroad Work. The Track of the L., N. O., & T. R. R. Laid Through Levee Street Last Night.” The Post reported that “the citizens along Levee Street and, indeed, of the whole city, were treated to a surprise this morning in the shape of a railroad from Depot Street along Water and Levee streets to the foot of Jackson Street. Yesterday afternoon there was no sign that the work would be done, or at least no indication along the street, though every preparation had been made by the Company to have the work done. It was feared that
the property owners along the street would stop the work by numerous injunctions and thus delay its completion, hence the necessity of doing the work last night. Capt. Sharpe had arranged everything for rushing the work through in a few hours. He
had the iron and ties, that have been laying opposite the other landing for some time loaded on cars yesterday afternoon,
and at 10 o’clock last night work was commenced at the intersection of Water or Levee street with Depot street and was put through with great rapidity, the two locomotives of the street railroad and loco- motive No. 10 of the L., N.O. & T R.R. hauling the material which was laid as fast as delivered. One gentleman told our reporter this morning that the track was laid and the train advanced as fast as a man would walk at an ordinary gate.”

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“By five o’clock this morning the track had been laid and trains passed over it from Depot Street to the foot of Jackson, a distance of over half a mile, being built in almost seven hours. Of course the noise of driving the spikes and unloading the cars woke the residents along the street, which was the first indication they had of the work being done. The glaring headlights of the three locomotives and the innumerable torches used cast a weird light on the scene, presenting a strange sight to the passerby. The news of the work having been done last night was the talk of the city this morning, and hundreds of our citizens went down to look at this piece of enterprise on the part of the company.”

The paper interviewed a couple of property owners along Levee Street, some of whom were happy with the tracks, others who complained that their tenants were moving because of the addition of the tracks.

The railway continued to build its track through downtown Vicksburg with the construction of a bridge over Glass Bayou. Eventually, the railway extended from Memphis to New Orleans, via Vicksburg, a distance of 456.18 miles. Train passengers waited for their train in a large one-story building at the base of Depot Street at its intersection with Levee Street, on the west side. The building was a freight warehouse but had a small passenger waiting room on the south end. The first freight and passenger train to travel over the LNO & T from Port Gibson to Vicksburg arrived here on September 3, 1883.

In December 1884, the rail- road executives began to look for a location for a passenger depot and machine shops. In 1885, the railway built their depot on the west side of Levee Street between Grove and China streets. In October 1892, the L., N.O., & T. consolidated with the Yazoo and Mississippi Valley Railroad. The Y and MV announced that one of its plans was to build a bridge at the foot of Fairground Street. In 1906, the railroad began demolition of the depot so that they could build a new one on its site. There were factions, however, who wanted the station to be at a different location. Eventually, the railroad built the new station at the foot of Grove in 1907. The old station had been demolished prior to the completion of the new station.

Nancy Bell, Vicksburg Foundation for Historic Preservation.