History of the
Known at the date of its closing as the GM&O Depot, this passenger depot was constructed in 1927 by the New Orleans Great Northern Railroad (NOGN) and later served the Gulf, Mobile & Northern Railroad (GM&N) as well as the Gulf, Mobile & Ohio Railroad (GM&O). Mississippi Governor Dennis Murphree drove a golden spike at the depot's opening ceremony in July 1927.
Depot reached its height of activity in the mid-1930s, when passenger service linked New Orleans through Jackson to St. Louis. In 1935 the GM&N began operating "The Rebel", the first streamlined high-speed diesel passenger train in the South and the second in the United States. Its clean lines, rounded corners, and distinctive red stripe gave "The Rebel" a sleek, modern appearance, and his passengers were served by on-board hostesses. The depot was remodeled in 1939 to echo the design of the new train.
The original architectural design of the depot building, with its long profile, low hipped roofs, and broadly projecting eaves, was influenced by the prairie style popular in the early 20th century. Spacious open porches carried on square brick peers originally occupied the north and south ends of the depot. Inside, four major rooms were arranged in a row, with several smaller
service spaces between them. Their uses were partially determined by the era's mandated racial segregation. The first room opening from the south porch was the "white waiting room", with the next major space designated as the "colored waiting room." The two were separated by restrooms and a ticket office.
When the depot was remodeled in 1939 to reflect the modern design of the new "Rebel" train, the square brick peers of the south porch were replaced with smooth cylindrical peers painted in red and silver bands; the brackets that originally supported the eaves were removed, and red stripes were painted on the soffit of the eaves. On the interior, glass blocks filled the transom over the south entrance, polished chrome hardware was installed on doors, and rounded wall was added, and chair rails were decorated with his distinctive red stripes.
Although the NOGN Railroad began service in 1909 between New Orleans-Slidell, Louisiana, and Jackson, Mississippi, until the late 1920s, Jackson was the northern terminus of the line. Because of their limited service area, NOGN shared Jackson facilities with other railway companies at the union station on West Capitol Street. However, by 1927 the NOGN link its rail lines with those of the Jackson and Eastern Railroad, which had recently been acquired by the Gulf, Mobile & Northern Railroad
(GM&N). This linkage allowed both the NOGN and the GM&N to compete with the larger Illinois Central Railroad for the Jackson to New Orleans traffic, and prompted them to cooperate and constructing this new Jackson depot to accommodate the increased business.
Early on, passenger service to New Orleans from this depot was provided by gasoline-powered motor coaches nicknamed "doodlebugs." After the GM&N acquired the NOGN in 1929, the Jackson depot was served by express passenger service linking New Orleans, Jackson, and St. Louis, with additional service to Mobile. In 1935 the high-speed "Rebel" train was introduced.
Rail passenger service to this depot was discontinued in 1954, and the building was abandoned in 1972 when the Illinois Central Railroad merged with the Gulf, Mobile and Ohio Railroad.
In 1982 the depot was acquired by the state of Mississippi and rehabilitated in 1983-84 for offices of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History. Nine former hostesses from "The Rebel" participated in the re-dedication ceremony on November 2, 1984, as did Mrs. Mary Frances Murphree Ford, who had accompanied her father, Governor Dennis Murphree, at the depot's dedication in 1927.