|DURANT, MISSISSIPPI, ESTABLISHED 1858
The Durant Depot, built about 1909-1910, served many passenger and freight trains on
the north and south Illinois Central Railroad and on the branch lines east to Aberdeen
and west to Gwin Junction on the Yazoo and Mississippi Valley route. The first photo
shows how the Durant Depot looked about 1910. Next, the current sad condition of the
building is apparent. Windows are boarded, and the paint is peeling. Durant officials
hope to undertake the rehabilitation of the depot in the near future. Early in 2009 the
property was deeded to the city by Canadian National Railway.
|TRAINMASTER WRITES ABOUT DURANT EMPLOYEES
|Illinois Central Magazine, December, 1926
Trainmaster W. H. Petty wrote in 1926 about Durant history and local railroad people
and stories. “Durant has a population of 1,870, among whom are numbered 200 Illinois
Central System employees, representing with their dependent families 600 persons, or
one third of the town’s population. Of these 200 employees, eighty-seven own and
reside in their own homes. Mr. Petty's story follows.
"J. H. Lockhart and his sister, Mrs. C. A. Shines, both residing within the corporate
limits of Durant, were living with their parents, Thomas Lockhart and Mrs. Minerva
West Lockhart, in what is now the northern section of the town, before it was named.
This was back in the days before the Civil War, when the Miss. Central Railroad, now
the Illinois Central, was built.”
Durant was established in 1858. “The civil engineers and contractors were boarding in
the home of Mr. and Mrs. Lockhart, and at dinner one day the matter of naming the
station and outlining the town was mentioned. The contractors wanted to call it
Lockhart, but objections were made on account of another town of the same name in
the eastern part of the state. Mrs. Lockhart said, ‘I will name the town for you.’ She
was thinking of the romance of the matter and knew that just across Big Black River,
on the bluff in Attala County, a mile and a half east of their home, lived two Indians
named Charles and Louis Durant. She suggested that the town be given the Indian
“Later these Indians built a log hut on the lot north of where the station now stands,
just west of the track, which in recent years was the site of the Park Hotel. Since the
destruction of the hotel by fire in 1919, the property has been acquired by the G. B.
Ramsey Company for a creamery.”
“J. H. Lockhart, who is now (1926) past 75 years of age, lives in a modest cottage in
sight of the place where he was born. Less than half a mile away, on a beautiful ridge
southwest of his home, is the old home place of his boyhood and youth. The old
residence gave way several years ago to a large 2-story modern dwelling erected by W.
H. ‘Corn Cob’ Smith, now occupied by Doctor Sigman.”
“Thus, within the lifetime of those who are now living and active citizens here, the
railroad has been built and developed to its present state of efficiency. Two other lines
of railroad have been built and have their terminal, with a roundhouse here, since the
days referred to by Mr. Lockhart: the Aberdeen District of the Illinois Central and the
Tchula District of the Yazoo and Mississippi Valley. There pass into and out of the
yard of this city twenty passenger trains every twenty-four hours. This is passenger and
mail service as good as, if not better than, that enjoyed by any other town of
corresponding size in the state.”
The old two-story Durant Depot (before 1910) presided over busy days of
multiple passenger and freight train arrivals. It was a custom for citizens to
stroll by the station to greet newcomers.