This is the last depot, and the one we remember that was torn down in the late 1980's, However, it is not the main depot from the golden age of trains and hotels in Coffeeville. The main depot from that age is shown next, below.
The Golden Age of train travel and the Hamblett Hotel.
Naturally, we've assumed that there was only one "old depot" but now we have proof that the one we remember in the 1950's, 60's, and 70's was not the depot in the heyday of the Hamblett Hotel and passenger trains in Coffeeville. There is mention of a third depot -- the original -- that was built when the railroad came through, probably built around 1858-59-60. The original depot is mentioned in a book by a woman traveling through during the Civil War. The referred to it as "the large new depot" that was burned by the Yankees in late 1862 or early 1863. So, we know there have been at least three depots.
This "crowd" picture is one of the best historical photos because it shows part of the hotel it its prime, the Number 619 train with steam or smoke coming out of the smokestack, and part of the depot.
This depot has two visible "dog houses" on top, and it probably had two more that matched. Also, notice that it is rectangular and much larger. It has four large windows across the side where "Coffeeville" is written. There was probably a matching sign on the south end for the train and passengers to see. The main entrance would logically be on the side facing the railroad track. This picture also shows two chimneys, whereas the other picture of the last depot shows only one, and it's on the other side. There are a lot of differences if you compare the two images closely.
Me, and others, have often expressed our disappointment over the town allowing the last depot to be torn down, but we now know that it was a much smaller version that was probably built when the train traffic through town was diminishing. There is no logical reason why the town or railroad company would tear down a large depot that was in good shape to replace it with a smaller, lesser, one. The conjecture would be that the larger depot burned and was replaced with a smaller one, reflecting the diminished use of the railroad and passenger trains.
The biggest disappointment now is knowing that the big depot during the heyday of the Hamblett Hotel and train traffic was torn down and no one living in Coffeeville today was even aware of it until this picture was discovered and compared to the last depot. Our main, beautiful depot has been gone for decades without us even knowing it.
It is believed that the Hamblett Hotel, also known as the Coffeeville Hotel, was built in 1909 and opened in early 1910. The earliest known advertisement for the hotel was on February 8, 1910 in the Jackson Daily News.
The hotel served meals to local residents and train visitors, and eventually became a boarding house for the elderly. The property stayed in the family through four generations and in 1972 was designated as a historical landmark. However, in 1979 it was taken by eminent domain and soon condemned and demolished by the Army Corps of Engineers in 1980 due to the cost of maintenance and their liability concerns.
(There is some evidence that the hotel was built as early as 1906, but this cannot be verified. There is also evidence that the hotel may have stood as late as 1983, but again, this hasn't been verified.)
Joe Melton and another member of the town crew standing at the edge of the street with the depot behind, and the Hamblett Hotel in the background.