Thursday, January 30, 2014

Journey to the Past at the Train Depot Museum in Foley

Our heritage in Baldwin County is one that is deeply rooted in agriculture. There was a time, seemingly not so long ago, that rail service was the primary transportation for the abundant produce grown in our region to reach its intended recipients. Even though train service ended in 1971 you can take a trip back in time to the days of trains in Foley by visiting the L&N Railroad Depot.

This historic building was completed in 1908 to replace the original depot that burned in 1905. This station served as the final stop on the southern end of the railway and today it houses many historic relics from the community’s railroad past.

Mr. John B. Foley of Chicago, one of the founding fathers of Foley, Alabama, reportedly used some of his own money to make sure the rail line was extended from Bay Minette in northern Baldwin County to Foley. The railway ended about one mile south of Foley where there was a wye for the train to use to turn around and head back north loaded with local fare that included potatoes, corn and gladiolas. Yes, the gladiola flower was one of the area’s big crops, which is a story for another day.

Once you make your way to the Foley Railroad Museum, your railroad experience extends beyond the train depot building to the railroad cars alongside the building. I encourage you to step aboard and tour this blast from the past.

My tip: Although the Depot Museum is open Monday – Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. my tip is to plan your visit on Tuesday, Thursday or Saturday, between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., so you can also visit the Model Train Exhibit in the adjacent building. This free exhibit is maintained by a group of volunteers who do a great job of recreating what life along the rails would have looked like but on a miniature scale.

Finally don’t leave the park like setting without a ride on the mini-train for a quick tour of the picnic grounds surrounding the museum.

I highly recommend spending some of your leisure time sharing this multi-faceted train experience with your loved ones. It’s just a few miles north of the beach but very much like traveling in a time machine to a different world.

See you at the beach.

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