If you are interested in taking our self-guided walking tour while you are at the museum, please follow this link. When you ride one of our train rides, you will pick up your tickets at the Chase Depot, located at 694 Chase Road in northeast Huntsville, Alabama. The depot was used for several purposes in the past, including a U.S. Post Office and was also used as a storage area for the Chase Nursery. Some of the internal walls had been removed and the ticket window was covered. After the North Alabama Railroad Museum took possession of the depot it was restored to it’s original configuration with two waiting rooms, freight room and agent’s office with ticket window replaced. The freight room is open on days we give train rides and visitors may view artifacts depicting railroad history in and of the North Alabama and South Central Tennessee area. Since the depot served more than one railroad, that made it a union depot, possibly the smallest existing union depot in the country. To further complete the depot motif, a signal post was erected and a train order semaphore was placed atop the pole. The semaphore arms are moved by levers located inside the depot, connected by a cable system. Originally, this signal had a lantern at the top of the post that shown through the lenses. Pity the person whose job it was to climb the narrow, high ladder and place and retrieve the lantern. This train order signal with red and green lenses was only used to signify if the train was to stop at the depot and receive orders, it did not indicate the position of trains.
The location of the Chase depot is unique in the fact that it is located at a place where two railroads converge to within a few feet of each other. One line, what is now Norfolk Southern Railroad (NS), ran between the cities of Memphis, Tennessee and Chattanooga, Tennessee and beyond. The other railroad, the Nashville, Chattanooga & St. Louis, ran between Dechard, Tennessee and Gadsden, Alabama (with the help of a ferry boat that traversed the Tennessee River from Hobbs Island down to Guntersville). When the ferry was unloaded at Guntersville, the passengers re-boarded the train and traveled through the towns of Albertville, Boaz and Attalla on their way to Gadsden. Here the N.C. & St. L. met up with a heavily traveled mainline railroad. This no doubt made for a very interesting train ride.
The Chase Depot was originally a stop on the Nashville, Chattanooga and St. Louis Railway, which later was acquired by L & N (and ultimately CSX Transportation). The fact that the Chase Depot was located here was no accident or whim. One of the Chase brothers, who was in the nursery business in the 1880’s, was said to have been traveling through the area by rail and noticed that the spot would make a very good place on which to locate a nursery and ship his stock via rail in a multitude of directions. Mr. Chase bought the property and built a depot in the early 1900’s (not the one standing today) and so the Chase Depot and the Chase area got its name. At one time, the Chase Nursery was one of the largest nurseries in the southeast. It is believed the original depot was destroyed by fire and the present Chase depot was also built by the Chase family in 1937. In fact, some of the wood from the original depot can be seen in the freight room of the present depot. The Chase depot is leased from Madison County through a long-term lease arrangement.