Five Facts About Rocky Mount’s Historic Train Station

historic rocky mount train stationAll aboard!

If you’ve spent time downtown, you’re familiar with the rattle and hum of the trains that pass through the center of town, delivering cargo and passengers to destinations across the country. The downtown train station is much more than a piece of history, it’s a source of local pride.Were you aware that the train station was immortalized in literature? Or that its extensive renovation took three years? We’ve compiled some facts about Rocky Mount that will stop you in your tracks.

1. It was constructed by the Wilmington and Weldon Railroad in 1893.

The Wilmington & Weldon Railroad was a major player in the economic development of the Rocky Mount area. In 1840, the Wilmington & Weldon Railroad was the longest in the world. 


2. Originally, it was a two-story station with one-story wings.

The structure of the station has changed significantly during the years. When the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad took ownership, it transformed the one-story wings into three-story wings. Eventually, a third story was added to the entire building. 

3. Historic renovation of the railroad station cost $9 million.

Funding for this project was provided by state, federal and local funds. In addition to completely renovating the canopies, the platform was built to comply with federal ADA standards. The renovation started in 1997 and was finished in December of 2000. 

4. It was featured in one of the most famous works of American literature.

The novel “On the Road” by Jack Kerouac is considered by many to be the defining literary work of the “beat generation.” Kerouac made several trips to Rocky Mount and that meant making stops by train or by bus through the local station. In the novel, he uses the name “Testament, Virginia” for Rocky Mount. 

5. The original building was crafted in the Romanesque style.

Confession: We didn’t know what Romanesque style was, either. 
We had to look it up, and as a result, we learned some interesting facts.

Romanesque style architecture is based upon the designs of ancient Rome (well, even we knew that much.)  Decoration styles include rounded archways, squares, chevrons and zigzags.

If for some reason you haven’t seen the inside of the train station, you can view these elements for yourself on the NC by Train website.  

More information on historic train stations

The expression goes that you can’t really understand where you’re going if you can’t appreciate where you’ve been. We think the Rocky Mount Train Station perfectly illustrates that principle. Whether you’re hopping in a sleeping car to make the trek to D.C. or you’re meeting a relative who has come to visit, we hope you appreciate the style of the past that mixes with the technology of the future. 

If you’re really interested in historic train stations across the U.S., check out this website for Great American Train Stations

For some highlights and more information on Rocky Mount’s railroad legacy, check out our other articles:
How Railroads Helped Rocky Mount’s Development 

Historic Facts and Famous People You May Not Know About

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