By Faye Gaston

Fifteen ladies in the WHEELS group visited the Fort Davis Railroad Depot on November 16, 2021, as part of a day trip. WHEELS day trips are a ministry of First Baptist Church of Union Springs for senior citizens.

Gail Barr prayed before the group boarded the church bus that was to be driven by Amy Hall and Mona Crawford. The group met with members of the Fort Davis Alabama Historical Society on the grounds of the Depot. The Society is committed to preserving the history and culture of the Fort Davis community. Members told the group the history of the Depot and their fundraising efforts for the restoration and preservation of the historic Railroad Depot.

The building is characteristic of small-town railroad stations in the South at the turn of the 20th century. The route through Fort Davis was for high-speed passenger and heavy freight trains. The first Depot, built in 1892, burned in1904. The present simple wooden structure with board-and-batten siding was built in 1904. The Depot operated from 1892 until 1975, when railroad service was discontinued at Fort Davis. The railroad deeded the Depot to the Fort Davis Alabama Historical Society, a non-profit organization of voluntary members. The tracks through Fort Davis were removed in 1987-1988. Members of the local Methodist church repainted the Depot. The building has fallen into a state of disrepair. Some of the pillars began to deteriorate and shift, putting the building in danger of falling or collapsing. The Depot was placed on the Alabama Historical Commission's "Places in Peril for 2017" list.

Plans are to renovate the exterior first. Proper drainage work was done, and a new deck was built. Historical society members told of fundraising projects, such as two yard sales, turkey hunt raffle ($525 profit), dove shoot ($2,000 profit), and several grants. A portion of purchases through the Amazon link goes to the historical society. Donations can be sent to Bobbie Pike, Treasurer, P.O. Box 88, Fort Davis, AL 36031. Glen Davis is President (334-202-6053). Facebook page: Fort Davis Alabama Historical Society.

Brochures of the history of the Depot were distributed, and the group posed on the steps of the Depot for photos.

Fort Davis was named for one of its founders. Richard T. Davis married Mary C. Fort, and their first son was named for his mother's family: Fort Madison Davis. He was a farmer, store owner, and the community's first postmaster. Fort Davis and his brother Hubert T. Davis laid out the town into lots and originally named it "Hamilton" when the railroad came through the area. It was later changed to "Fort Davis" to honor the founder.

The WHEELS group continued the day trip to visit Alabama artist Sam Cheek of Notasulga.

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