Memphis Union Station was a jointly owned passenger terminal serving the Missouri Pacific Railroad, St. Louis Southwestern Railway, Louisville and Nashville Railroad, Nashville, Chattanooga and St. Louis Railway and Southern Railway. The station was located on Calhoun Street, between south Second Street and Rayburn Boulevard (now south Third Street). This location in south Memphis was approximately two blocks east of the other major Memphis railroad terminal, Memphis Grand Central Station.
Memphis Union Station Company was chartered in Tennessee on September 25 1909, for the purpose of operating Union Station. Construction of the facility began in April 1910 and the new station opened for service on April 1 1912. The architectural design of the station was a source of pride for Memphis, and the main building was the largest stone structure in Memphis.
Station tracks were of a stub-end design, meaning that all trains backed into Union Station. Additional track were available for storage and servicing of passenger cars and a roundhouse and turntable allowed locomotive servicing to be accomplished on site.
As passenger train traffic declined after World War II, studies were performed to assess the feasibility of consolidating all Memphis train operations in either Union Station or Central Station. The various railroads could never agree on consolidation arrangements, and Memphis Union Station continued in operation into the early 1960s.
St. Louis Southwestern Railway discontinued passenger service to Memphis in October 1952, and Nashville, Chattanooga and St. Louis Railroad merged into Louisville and Nashville Railroad (L&N) in 1957, effectively reducing the number of tenants in Memphis Union Station from five to three. In early 1964, Missouri Pacific Railroad served notice that their last passenger train serving Memphis would be moved from Union Station into a former freight station on west Calhoun Street. The remaining two tenant railroads in Memphis Union Station were unwilling to assume the full burden for maintenance and operation of the station. Louisville and Nashville Railroad made arrangements to became a tenant at Memphis Central Station, and Southern Railway returned to their ancient freight station on Lauderdale Street. Memphis Union Station was closed on April 1 1964, fifty-two years to the day from the time the station had opened with great fanfare.
A prolonged court battle ensued, with the City of Memphis claiming that Union Station had been abandoned without the approval of the Tennessee Public Service Commission. After appeals courts ruled against the railroads, both L&N and Southern were forced to reopen part of Union Station on December 1 1966. Missouri Pacific had successfully discontinued their last Memphis passenger service, a Memphis to Little Rock connecting train, in August 1965, and was thus not affected by the order to reopen Memphis Union Station.
Passenger traffic into Memphis on both the L&N and Southern was negligible, and the added expense burden of reopening Union Station caused both roads to soon plan train discontinuance proceedings of their own. These efforts were ultimately successful, and Union Station was again closed for a second and final time on March 30 1968, following the departure of the last Southern Railway passenger train from Memphis. The Memphis Union Station property was sold to the United States Postal Service for construction of a new mail sorting facility, and the station itself was demolished by February 1969.
- Central Station (Memphis)
- Humming Bird (passenger train)
- Lone Star (SSW passenger train)
- Tennessean (passenger train)