Beginning in 1873, the state of North Carolina began construction of a rail line to carry passengers and freight from Asheville westward. The line took many years to construct, cutting across the mountains, through tunnels and along the steep grades of the terrain. The first train to come Murphy was the Marietta & North George, in 1888. Freight trains continued to run through Murphy until the early 1980s. The Louisville & Nashville (L&N) Railroad opened operations in Murphy, NC in 1888 and continued its operations until the early 1970s. The Southern Railroad came to Murphy in 1899, its station located off the bottom of Depot Street. That station burned down in 1968, but Southern continued its operations here until the early 1980s.
The old L&N line trestle supports still stand in the Hiwassee River by the Depot. You can follow the River Walk to the steel trestle bridge over the Valley River, which still stands. It was built in 1899 to allow the Southern railroad freight and passenger trains to enter Murphy. After Southern's 100-year lease from the State expired in 1999, The Great Smoky Mountain Railroad purchased the railroad between Dillsboro and Andrews for excursion trains. If and when the State undertakes the tracks and bridge repairs needed, The Great Smoky Mountain
excursion train may well be extended from the Depot in Andrews to the L&N Depot in Murphy.
Pictured left—the last steam powered locomotive to leave Murphy, February 1953
The rising cost of coal, and what was then nickel a gallon diesel fuel, marked the transition from steam to diesel locomotives. The circa 1890 Old Hackney Warehouse seen in the background remains standing on Railroad Street.
Pictured right—The General's arrival at the Depot in Murphy, Summer of 1961
The General, a mighty "show horse" locomotive captured by the Andrews Raiders during the Civil War and recovered by its crew during the great locomotive chase by the "work horse" locomotive The Texas, was later restored to its full glory and taken on tour around the country's railways. People from miles around came to see it in the summer of 1961. What is now known as the Old L&N Depot is the remaining part of the L&N train station erected in Murphy in 1899. The section of the Depot shown in this 1961 photograph was later demolished.