Q: Why is the Atlantic Coast Passenger Station at Dothan historically significant?
A: The railway station built in 1907 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places was an important economic, social and political nexus for the citizens of Dothan in the early 20th century.
According to the registration form submitted to the NRHP in December 1993, the area of Alabama where Dothan is located was not populated until after the Civil War due to its poor soil. The arrival of the Alabama Midland Railroad in 1889, however, transformed Dothan into a bustling city.
“Before 1889, produce was transported by railcar up the Chattahoochee River for shipment to available markets,” the form reads. “Turpentine and lumber were the main exports, but as the original tree stands were cut down, cotton and especially peanuts became the main agricultural products. The railway, coupled with these new economic developments, created an environment conducive to industrial development. Peanut oil mills, lumberyards, fertilizer factories and ice factories soon began to appear.
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With fertilizers improving agricultural conditions and the development of the timber industry, Dothan now had a stable economic base and the railway provided an easy way to transport goods.
“Without the city railway, Dothan would have remained a mere crossroads,” the form reads. “Because railroad companies such as the Atlantic Coastline created a much easier way to transport agricultural and industrial products, Dothan became the central town for the whole Wiregrass region.”
The Atlantic Coast Passenger Station was built on the site of the former Alabama Midland Railroad Station. The city’s first freight depot, built next to the station by Alabama Midland Railroad in 1889, was demolished in the early 1970s.
The current building was used as a railway office complex until 1979, when it was closed to passenger traffic. The building was purchased by the City of Dothan from CSX Transportation in 1989 to stop its planned demolition. In 2007 and 2008, the Wiregrass Transit Authority renovated the station as its headquarters.