Abandoned Rails of Shreveport Union Station

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Brief History

Shreveport Union Station

Shreveport, Louisiana, was a crossroads for a number of railroad companies as they sought passage from the east to the west coast, and from the north to the Gulf coast. As such, the city was a bit unorthodox, as it hosted no less than four different passenger terminals, instead of just one as traditionally found in other cities of similar size served by multiple railroads. The owners of each were the St. Louis & Southwestern Railroad (Cotton Belt), which served Shreveport Central Station, built in 1910; the Illinois Central; the Texas & Pacific, whose station was built in the 1930s; and the Kansas City Southern (Shreveport Union Station). Among them, Union Station stood out with its tall "watchman's tower", the neighboring Jefferson Hotel, and its close proximity to the center of downtown Shreveport.

Also called Union Depot, Shreveport Union Station was built by the Kansas City, Shreveport & Gulf Terminal Company in 1897, making it the oldest of Shreveport's passenger stations. The Kansas City Southern was granted use of the facilities on July 24, 1909, designated a "meal station stop" prior to 1928, when KCS first offered dining car service on their passenger trains. The grand Southern Belle passenger trains began calling at the station in 1940, with the first arrival on August 23. At the pinnacle of its use after World War I, the station saw an average of 35 passenger trains per day.

As passenger service saw declines across the country due to increase air travel and personal automobiles, KCS ceased making stops on November 2, 1969, bringing to an end almost 30 years of Southern Belle service in Shreveport. Thus, Shreveport Union Station shut its doors the following day, November 3, never to see passenger service again. Oddly enough, two days later, a fire started in the basement, and consequently burned the station completely to the ground.

Today, all that's left of this magnificent passenger terminal is the concrete footprint, some stairs leading up the knoll, and some decorative tan/brown tiles at the entry way, and green/white tiles in what were most likely the restrooms. Next to the station lies the remains of the KCS Cafe, now long abandoned and forgotten as much as the station it served.

Showing of

We start our tour at the southern corner of the station, looking in a generally northwestern direction. The concrete at front extending away is platform 4 (of 4 platforms). The KCS main that served the station is situated just in front of the trees in the background. Photo by Greg Harrison, November 2005.

I remember my father, Jimmie Louis Sledge (January 16, 1938-August 21, 2004, wrote an editorial letter to the Shreveport Times & Journal when the Union Station burned. It was published in the paper in November, 1969.

William Sledge
San Diego Shreveport Native, CA
6/5/2009

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I've lived here all my life and never knew this was here. Thanks to Greg for the great pictures and story. I'll have to go check it out this weekend and spend a few moments walking there now that I know the history.

Don
Shreveport, LA
1/22/2010

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There is an interesting picture by J. Parker Lamb from August of 1964 of Illinois Central's NORTHEASTERN LIMITED departing for Meridian with KCS's SOUTHERN BELLE at Platform 1. Platform 3 plays host to some IC coaches and platform 4 has KCS head-end equipment sitting alongside. All my IC timetables claim IC did not use Central Station but Shreveport Union

Mark D. Budka
Lincoln, NE
1/7/2012

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I worked briefly in the summer of 1966 in Shreveport for the Missouri Pacific railroad. I would very much like to see pictures of the old Union Station and hear from anyone who had personal knowledge of it or who worked for any of the railroads in Shreveport, especially MoPac. Please get a hold of me at my email address of muskiejim17@hotmail.com

Jim Yonker
St. Louis, MO
6/17/2012

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For a brief period I was a fireman on the KCS passenger train that departed Union Station at approximately 10:00 PM. From Union Station we backed out to the main line and headed east over the Red River and on to Minden, La. From Minden we headed South to Winfield and on to Alexandria where we changed crews. From there to Baton Rouge to New Orleans. I usually deadheaded on to New Orleans and returned the next day to Alexandria and back to Shreveport. One of the engineers was a Mr. Dobson. I currently am in the process recreating the route of the Southern Belle from Union Station to Minden. I also am attempting to model the station the KCS Cafe where we are prior to departing at 10:00 PM. Any pictures and other information any of you might share with me would be appreciated.

Don Waters
Ft Worth, TX
2/23/2014

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I took the Southern Belle using that 10 PM route when I was about 4 years old (1959). It was quite an adventure. Remember waking up in the middle of the night in a train station- porobably Alexandria. When I was a little older took the train from Union Station to Coushatta by myself to be met by my grandparents & greatgrandparents. Coushatta Station is still there.

Robert Hendrick
Monroe, LA
3/12/2014

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This was actually FOX'S KCS RESTAURANT. My grandfather, George Ablon, bought it in 1943 and sold it to my father, Sam Fox, in 1945. My grandfather put ABLON'S RESTAURANT in the tiles in the entrance when he bought it and after he sold it to my father, it remained there in the entrance....my dad never changed it. My mother, Esther Ablon Fox, was my grandfather's daughter (who married my dad) and my dad operated the restaurand untill 1964 when he sold it. The building has been vacant there at 820 Louisiana Avenue since about 1968 (45 years)...I worked at my dad's restaurant from 1945 until July 1949 and I have many many happy memories working there with my dad. He was a great dad !!!!!

as was my Grandfather !!!!!..........................Jack Fox

Jack Fox
Shreveport, LA
4/1/2014

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How very interesting that historical perspective is. I ate there many times both as a fireman and with my dad who was an engineer. It is ashamed that it was not better preserved along with some of the other properties along the station area. I assumed that the property was owned by the KCS. I am in the process of modeling the restaurant as part of my KCS layout. If you happen to have any photographs of the restaurant in the middle 6o's they would be appreciated as I would like to construct it as close as possible to the real thing. Thanks Jack for your very interesting comments. By the way, I am originally from Minden but have been in Ft. Worth for many years.

Don

Don Waters
Ft. Worth, TX
4/2/2014

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