Memories of Germantown and the Railroad
“One of the main things that was really so much fun in Germantown after we got older was going to meet the five o’clock train as it came in from Memphis. Most of the people in Germantown worked in Memphis, and they came home in the evening on that train. Then the mail came in, so all the young people would congregate at the station and walk over to the post office to get the mail. Here we would arrange our dates.”
Teenager Mary Virginia (Mayme) Martin Roberts
1930s – 1940s
“Trains were the fastest and the safest way to get to town (Memphis). Our family has lived at 7831 Poplar Pike along the Southern Railway tracks since the early 1900s. The roads weren’t much in those days. Poplar wasn’t even laid until the mid-‘30s, and the old Model Ts had a time trying to travel on old Poplar Pike. I remember when we used to go to town; you could always expect to have at least two flats along the way. When my grandmother wanted to go to Memphis, I had to ride along with her to change the flats.”
“A great event for the children was the ‘streamliner’. The Southern Railway called it The Tennessean, but to the rest of us it was “the streamliner”. It had a marvelous, carrying whistle, and it flew through Germantown on its way to Washington, D.C. I never recall it stopping in Germantown. It was silver and shone, and it didn’t sound at all like the steam engines with their huff and puff and slow drag. If we were anywhere within calling distance, we would watch the streamliner go through town.” (The Tennessee was installed in 1940 and taken off the tracks in 1964”
Elizabeth Powell (Betty) Hughes as a child.
Written in the Commercial Appeal
September 20, 1852
At last, the Memphis & Charleston Railroad has commenced business on the cotton line. Three bales of the new crop were brought in yesterday from the plantation of Andrew Taylor, Esq., near Collierville. This means of transportation will prove infinitely better than wagon as it can be relied on when the roads are impassable. Passenger service has also commenced between Memphis and Germantown, and yesterday 19 passengers from the Commercial Hotel took the car.
September 28, 1852
Two cars will be run back and forth to Germantown over the new Memphis & Charleston Railroad Friday from 6 in the morning until 11 at night to accommodate those who may want to attend the Ladies’ Fair or the political speaking at that place.
September 30, 1852
We took the new passenger car of the Memphis & Charleston Railroad yesterday and in a very brief time found ourselves in the neat village of Germantown. There the Ladies’ Fair was in progress and it proved a great success. The object of the fair was to complete the Presbyterian church in that village. On repairing the church, we found it had been handsomely decorated by the ladies and was being admired by many visitors from Memphis. We then betook ourselves to the political speaking in a nearby grove. Mr. Penn of Memphis was holding forth, after which the crowd disposed of a great quantity of delicious barbeque and other victuals. Later there were two other speeches, both our body and mind having been satiated, we returned home on the first-afternoon train.
Teacher Mrs. Elizabeth Hancock &, 3rd Grade Class out to see the train (1959). Source: Harry Cloyes Collection
View of Railroad through Germantown from Water Tower (circa 1960s)
View West: Depot in upper center, Baptist Church steeple on the right, Post Office lower center, Germantown Road running left to right through Old Germantown District
View East: Poplar Pike on right crossing railroad on left at Oaklawn Gardens, east of Germantown High School
Source: Germantown Regional History & Genealogical Society – Collection of Jim McGehee