The L&N's Debut - 1859
Traveling by train was exciting. Steam power locomotives meant a new age for passengers and freight. After nine years of construction, the Louisville and Nashville Railroad made its first run through Bowling Green in 1859. It took only thirteen hours to travel by train from Louisville to Nashville. Cities and towns actively pursued rail companies to ensure that their town was located along the tracks.
Railroad shops and a depot occupied the rail yard just as the Civil War began. In February 1862, as the Confederates departed and Union troops shelled the city, the depot burned with the rest of the railroad buildings. The small, hastily built replacement depot soon became dilapidated.
The New Depot
Over the years, Bowling Green's citizens pleaded with the L&N for a new station. One newspaper wrote, "Bowling Green wants a new depot, and the good Lord knows it's a modest request." The large, impressive depot built with local oolitic limestone opened in 1925; the architect employed classical details to illustrate the railroad's importance.
Hub to the World
As the largest employer in Bowling Green for the first half of the 1900s, the depot was a busy place and citizens came to watch the action. The L&N was the hub to the rest of the world; no one knew who would walk through the doors next, opera singer or circus performer. At its peak in the 1940s, over twenty-six passenger trains per day traveled through Bowling Green.
The RailPark and Train Museum
In 1979, passenger service at the depot ended as automobiles became the primary mode of transportation. The community joined forces to restore the depot after it sat vacant and deteriorated. The Historic RailPark opened in 2002 and the Train Museum in 2007.