Red Bay in Franklin County, Alabama — The American South (East South Central)
Red Bay Depot & Hotel
The Depot, a treasured landmark in the history and growth of Red Bay, was built by Illinois Central Railroad in 1907. The trains provided a lifeline for towns like Red Bay. They brought necessities like sugar, flour, cheese, canned goods, etc. The trains also brought heavy items such as automobiles, hardware, farm implements, and machinery. They were also means for local shipments of lumber, sand, cotton, and furniture.
A small Illinois Central passenger train with three coaches furnished the first dependable transportation that the people of northwest Alabama and northeast Mississippi had. It was called "Dude" or "Doodle Bug.”
The City of Miami, Illinois Centrals crack passenger train came though Red Bay non-stop on its regular run from Chicago to Miami. It gave local residents a chance to get a "passing" look at this modern advance in railway passenger service.
Red Bay was served many years by two locals, one northbound and one southbound between Corinth, Mississippi and Haleyville, Alabama.
The Depot was a favorite place to "see the trains' as they rolled in and departed. Many folks were held captive over the years by the "iron horse" with its steam engine. Children played regularly in the ICRR Park across the tracks. The water tower where the engines were filled
At the ticket window, you could purchase a ticket to "anywhere" on the Seminole-north or south-with connections to "anywhere". It was a thrill boarding a train and sitting by the window waving to friends in anticipation of seeing the world go by. It was a joy to see a loved one step off the train. There was also sadness when many soldiers-to-be left in answer to their country's call, not knowing if they would return, and many did not. Sometimes a casket containing the body of a loved one was unloaded by gentle, careful hands to be received by a grieving family.
Orders were sent and received by telegraph there in the depot. A bulletin board on the wall told you if your train was late or on time. Folks would sit in the waiting rooms listening for the whistle signaling their train was coming. In the winter, you could keep warm by the depots "pot bellied" coal fire stove.
The last train rolled through Red Bay in 1990. Plans were in process to move and preserve the depot when it mysteriously burned.
The Red Bay Hotel is over 100 years old. The property dates back
The hotel had 30 rooms with walls 3 bricks thick. The lobby was nicely furnished. The front desk was rounded on one corner where the register books was kept. A key holder was on the wall where renters could get their own key. Mailboxes were behind the counter. There were 3 or 4 rooms on the ground floor used by the owners or managers. The staircase leading to the second floor was beside the front desk.
At the top of the steps were two halls that had a window fan in each and led to the rooms. A community bathroom was at the end of one of the halls. The rooms were furnished with iron beds, a dresser, “chifforobe” with mirror, and a washstand. They used white starched sheets. Transomes over the door were opened for a breeze.
Breakfast, lunch, and dinner were served in the dining room which was entered from the lobby. The food was typical Southern food with delicious homemade rolls and deserts.
The main customer base for overnight guests were salespeople who worked out of Memphis and Birmingham and made regular stops through Red Bay. They could be seen in the lobby writing up orders.
Some of the more interesting guests were touring country and western singers and movie stars booked by Bay Theater for live stage shows. Band members and stage hands for Tex Ritter, Don “Red” Berry, Earnest Tubb, Pinkie Lee, George “Gabby” Hayes, Smiley Burnett, Lash LeRue and many others stayed there.
After dinner in the evening, the atmosphere was like a big group of friends gathering in the lobby to play Checkers, Rook, Dominoes, or Canasta. The hotel was one of the first to get a television. Renters and locals would gather in the lobby to watch.
Off the Lobby was a barbershop and shoeshine stand. Joe Rogers and his brothers, Sam and Huben, were the first operators. A fourth chair was added and they were joined by Hardy Alverson. The front porch was a popular gathering place where people would gather to visit, kill time, or just watch people pass by.
Red Bay Hotel was a thriving business for many years. The Hotel closed its doors in 1977. The owner at that time was John Swindle. In later years, he donated the front desk, staircase, and many
The Red Bay Hotel holds many pleasant memories for many people. It was purchased by a former resident who is in the process of restoring the hotel to its former glory. Hopefully, in the near future, the doors will open again.
Location. 34° 26.486′ N, 88° 8.701′ W. Marker is in Red Bay, Alabama, in Franklin County. Marker is at the intersection of 2nd Street West and 4th Avenue South (Alabama Route 24), on the right when traveling north on 2nd Street West. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Red Bay AL 35582, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 7 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Red Bay School (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Bay Theater (about 600 feet away); The Calaboose (about 600 feet away); Yarber Grist Mill (about 600 feet away); Red Bay Ice and Gin Company (about 600 feet away); Pride in Our Past, Faith in Our Future (about 800 feet away); Mac McAnally (approx. 6.1 miles away in Mississippi); History of Vina (approx. 6.6 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Red Bay.
Categories. • Industry & Commerce • Railroads & Streetcars •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on October 2, 2013, by Sandra Hughes of Killen, Usa. This page has been viewed 854 times since then and 14 times this year. Last updated on May 26, 2015, by J. Makali Bruton of Querétaro, Mexico. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10. submitted on October 2, 2013, by Sandra Hughes of Killen, Usa. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page.