The official Grand Opening of the Historic Missouri and North Arkansas Railway Depot was held on May 28, 2011 from 9:00 AM till 4:00 PM, in conjunction with the Buffalo River Spring Fling. Official Dedication of the Depot was at 2:00 PM, with the Honorable Judge Charles Clawson serving as Master of Ceremonies. Dedication of the Civil War Monument was at 2:30. Be sure and visit this beautiful piece of restored Missouri and North Arkansas Railroad history. A 2 year project of Renovation is nearing completion. The people of St. Joe and all the people of Searcy County should be very proud of what has been accomplished. The Depot structure itself, which sits on the original site is nearing completion. The exterior is complete, and the interior is nearing completion. Some items will be added later, such as the original deck that went around the depot (see the old photo below) , and additional museum items inside
Opened in 1902, the St. Joe Train Depot was a stop on the Missouri and North Arkansas (M & NA) Railway running south from Joplin, MO to Helena, AR. The 365 mile railway cut a path through the Ozark Mountain Region of southern Missouri and northern Arkansas encompassing the natural beauty, vast scenic landscape and mountainous terrain of the area. This smaller connector rail line was a lifeline between the happenings of the big cities, international commerce and the rural country lifestyle by exporting timber, minerals and local goods in exchange for supplies and products from around the United States and beyond. The M & NA was vital to the development of the culture and the economy in every respect. It helped in the creation of colorful lifestyles and history in this region. This rail line paralleled the Buffalo National River for a distance, crossed it as well as other rivers and streams along its journey. Unique vegetation and spectacular cliffs abound along this rail line.
The railway closed for regular service in 1946. It since has served the community as a church, temporary classrooms for the local school and a feed store until it became vacant and fell into disrepair. The City of St. Joe purchased the building in 2009, completed repairs to the structure and has restored it to its original colors. On the National Registry of Historic Buildings since 1991, the property recently acquired a Civil War historic marker for the local area.
The City is currently developing and furnishing the building to be used as a train museum, a local history museum and an information center. Due to limited funds, at this time, the depot is unable to be opened to the public on a regular basis. Located at 110 Highway U.S. 65 South in St. Joe, AR, viewing can be scheduled by calling the City of St. Joe, Mayor John Henley, at 870-439-2012 or Councilman Norman Morrison at 870-439-2369.
See a slide show of more photos of the renovations by clicking on a smaller picture below.