Historic Railway Depot Re-dedicated

(Chronicle-Independent) Katrina Moses - Staff Writer

The city of Camden re-dedicated the Seaboard Air Line Railway Depot at Camden’s Amtrak Station, Seaboard Air Line Railway Depot located on DeKalb Street in Camden. Speakers included Camden Mayor Tony Scully, Camden Archives and Museum Director Katherine Richardson, Barney Ransom, an intergral advocate for saving the station, Amtrak’s Todd Stennis, Director, Government Affairs- South and Amtrak’s JarVor Williams, Project Manager of the southeast region. 

The station opened on November 25, 1937, modeled after the Williamsburg, VA depot; over the years it became rundown. According to the speakers, people avoided the station, especially in the 1960s and 1970s because it looked forlorn, but now individuals can see both renovations and innovations instantly with fresh paint, a cleaner parking lot, better bathrooms and new canopies while at the same time preserving the station’s look it had in 1937. Williams was the overseer of the project. H said he made sure the station kept its original look, he verified guidelines were met that were set by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and he enjoyed his time in Camden.

“We want to thank the city of Camden for welcoming us,” Williams said. “It was helpful in bringing the station back to restoration.” 

Scully reminisced and talked about the citizens of the area who have been advocating for the restoration effort of the station. “We have seen waves of attention from friends of the community like Barney Ransom, a longtime leader of this restoration effort, and the remarkable Sidney Butler, who campaigned for years with elected officials, and Kay Polk who never wavered in keeping the City on track, yes, pun intended,” Scully said. “And we remember the late Alan Sindler, who for years spearheaded the restoration effort.” 

Sidney Butler talked about his memories of the station, which influenced him to want to advocate for the restoration of the train station. “Back in the 70s, people wanted to use the train station, but it was in poor condition,” Butler said. “There were no lights around the station and it looked like nobody cared about it.” 

In 2014, Amtrak and the city of Camden started talking about the restoration of the station and the budget for it. By 2015, they started renovations on the project that cost Amtrak approximately $1.5 million to complete. According to Williams, the construction cost, roof, canopy, parking lot and lights, was about $1.13 million. The construction cost for restrooms and ADA ramps was approximately $290,000. 

(Photos courtesy of Camden's Chronicle Independent)