More than a century ago, Arkadelphia’s own train station opened on fifth street, connecting the little city to major metropolitan areas across the United States. Shortly after its opening in 1917, the world was plagued by the Spanish Flu pandemic. Schools, churches, and businesses closed, people wore masks and kept distant from each other, and of course public transportation was limited.
It was a new world, not unlike the world we are in today.
104 years and several outbreaks later, the Arkadelphia station is reopening to its full schedule after a year of a more staggered schedule to lessen the spread of the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
The station sits on the Texas Eagle route, which spans from Chicago, IL to San Antonio, TX, where it connects with the Sunset Limited route between Los Angeles, CA and New Orleans, LA. Prior to the pandemic, trains arrived daily, one in each direction, but under pandemic restrictions northbound and southbound trains alternated six days a week, and did not come at all on Thursdays.
In 2019, the Arkadelphia station serviced 1,389 passengers, per Amtrak statistics, steadily hovering around 1,300-1,400 for the last few years. While the 2020 annual report has yet to be released at time of writing, it is almost certain that the passenger count was significantly lower than years prior.
The station has survived global pandemics, corporate mergers, natural disasters, and kept on chugging. Fittingly, it has also housed collections of the Clark County Historical Society since 2003. This collection includes a train caboose from the Missouri Pacific Lines, the original line the station was part of before its acquisition by Union Pacific.
The station was added to the US National Registry of Historic Places on June 11, 1992.
Trains once again arrive twice a day every day around 4:20 AM and 10:02 PM. The station is at 758 South Fifth Street. The historical museum is still closed from the pandemic, its reopening has yet to be announced.