The following article by David Strange originally appeared in The Courier-Journal on 5 Sep 2012. It is archived here with additional information for your reading enjoyment.
Not many people still remember the old Shepherdsville railroad depot, now long gone, in its heyday, a time when people and cargo constantly moved through its doors.
Fewer, still, know of the time when the depot itself was moved across the tracks. A pretty big feat at the time.
According to old stories and memories, the time of the "big move" was around 1898, a time when lots of things were changing in Bullitt County. The "new" stone jail had just been built seven years before. County government was beginning plans for a new courthouse. Road and bridge improvements were going on everywhere.
A new century was about to dawn.
Traffic on the L & N railroad, the expressway of the day, was booming, with depots in Bullitt County on the main line at Brooks, Hubers Station, Gap in Knob, Shepherdsville, Salt River, Bardstown Junction, Belmont, and Lebanon Junction, and depots on the Bardstown line at Chapeze, Clermont, Hobbs, and Lotus.
Sadly, all of those depots are gone now except a portion of the one at Salt River.
Now, those who remember the old depot at Shepherdsville know that it was located on the west side of the tracks, maybe a couple hundred feet from the current Highway 44.
But that was not always the case.
Originally, the depot, built in 1871, was on the east side. A map of the time shows its location, as well as land on the west side to which the railroad company wanted it moved.
And so, about the year 1898, the moving of the depot building was to begin.
And this was something that William "Bill Dock" Mace wanted to see.
"Bill Dock" or just "Dock" was a mail carrier for many years in Shepherdsville, carrying mail between the depot and the post office. He was apparently a well-liked man, African-American, well known throughout the town.
It is said that Dock wanted so badly to be sure to see this move, that he got there early, went inside the depot, pulled up a chair and sat down.
There was no way he was going to miss this show.
He did, even though he was inside the building.
While Dock was waiting, as the story goes, at the encouragement of one of the railroad workers, Dock decided "imbibe" a little.
The next thing he knew, he was waking up on the other side of the tracks, still sitting there in the depot. Even though he was inside the building, he still missed the move!
The resulting language was apparently not for little children's ears, and I imagine the teasing never ended.
The depot took its new place and sat there usefully for many years. But time took its toll and expressways and new ways eventually made the depot of little use anymore.
Sam Hardy remembers some of the activity that once centered at the depot. He recalls exciting days when countless numbers of baby chicks would fill the building when the open boxes of chicks would be delivered for pickup by local farmers. And nearly a hundred years ago, in 1917, the depot played a part in the story of the worst train wreck in Kentucky history.
But finally, in 1967, the old depot was torn down, a historically tragic fate that fell upon most of the old depots of the time.
William "Bill Dock" Mace also succumbed to a sad end, dying in 1909 from suffocation while in a dry well at the pumping house near the river and the railroad bridge. Another man, Frank Jones, nearly died too in the rescue attempt. "Bill Dock" died a respected man. His obituary stated that he was "a consistent church member and official" and his death was greatly regretted. He was buried in what was then known as "the colored cemetery" on Highway 44.
The depots are of course gone and buried as well, nearly forgotten in our modern, faster times.
The memories of all things, both humorous and sad, fade with time.
But maybe time will track a little longer now for the old depots and the lives within them.
Because now you have a memory of them as well.
Copyright 2012 by David Strange, Shepherdsville KY. All rights are reserved. No part of the content of this page may be included in any format in any place without the written permission of the copyright holder.