CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. — Standing on 10th Street in downtown Clarksville, it’s hard to imagine this area was once a bustling transportation hub around the turn of the 20th century.
Passenger trains no longer pass through the city, although freights trains still pass through the area.
The old depot, known by locals as the L&N Station, still stands, but it no longer serves weary travelers stepping off a train from Louisville, or passenger ready to go on a trip. The historic structure dates to September 1881 when workers broke ground, but it has been refurbished a number of times over the years, according to the Montgomery County Historical Society.
The city of Clarksville grew up around the Cumberland River as much as it did around the railroad. Tracks were first laid through Clarksville and Montgomery County on the eve of the Civil War, but fell into disarray during the conflict. They were revitalized after the war, but again fell into disarray in the latter half of the 20th century. Time and time again the tracks were rebuilt.
As they did elsewhere in the nation, railroads fell into disfavor in the 1950s. Passenger service declined, as automobiles became the favored mode of transportation by millions of Americans. The “last train to Clarksville” operated on Feb. 28, 1968.