For many, the loss of Birmingham’s Terminal Station in 1969 is still a sore subject. Although it is too late to save the station, local historian Marvin Clemons is on a mission to preserve its place in Birmingham’s history. Find out how.
I first learned about the Birmingham Terminal Station in a college history class. In fact, I wrote my first college research paper on the station. Even though it happened before my lifetime, I grew to love the station and ache for its loss.
Birmingham Terminal Station
For over 60 years, the station was the main stop for out-of-town visitors. The famous “Birmingham, The Magic City” sign welcomed visitors to the city. The station connected Birmingham to cities like Chattanooga, New Orleans, and even New York.
At its peak, the station received 54 trains per day. However, rail traffic significantly declined by the 1960s. In 1969, the Alabama Public Service Commission approved the demolition of the station. Historical societies and concerned citizens fought for preservation, but the station finally closed on September 22nd, 1969.
For as long as he can remember, Marvin Clemons has loved trains.
As a young child, Clemons would stare for hours as trains entered and departed from the station. By the time he was 17, he had a job as a towerman at the station.
In 2016, Marvin Clemons published Great Temple of Travel, a pictorial history of Birmingham Terminal Station. He is regarded as Birmingham’s leading historian when it comes to the station.
Historical marker campaign
Although it has been 50 years since the Station’s demolition, there is no marker to indicate that the station ever existed. The two blocks of Carraway Blvd. where the station used to live now sit empty.
However, Marvin Clemons is on a mission to change that.
After his presentation at Vulcan Park earlier this month, Clemons announced his vision for a historical marker about Terminal Station. The estimated cost for the marker is $2,500. The hope is to raise the funds in time to place the marker up before the end of the year.
“This is a personal thing for me. From 17, I knew that working at the station was going to be my life’s work. When I came back from the army, the station was gone. End of dream. I’ve been living with that all my life. The marker is closure, both for my own experience and for the city of Birmingham.”Marvin Clemons
How to help
“It’s too late to save the station, but we CAN help preserve its place in Birmingham’s history by raising a marker in its memory.”Marvin Clemons
There are two ways to support the mission:
- Send a donation to Jefferson County Historical Association, Attn: Harry Bradford, P.O. Box 130285, Birmingham AL 35213
- Donate online to the GoFundMe
If you’d like to learn more about the station and see exclusive photos, check out Marvin Clemons’ book. You can purchase Great Temple of Travel online or at Vulcan Park’s exhibit on Birmingham Terminal Station.