Raleigh, North Carolina
Railways once connected the country, bringing small towns into purview of metropolises. Rail travel hasn’t disappeared, but our culture has shifted towards other modes of transportation. Nevertheless, the legacy of railways left tangible marks on our landscape.
Seaboard Station harkens back to a golden age of locomotive transportation when riding the rails wasn’t just a means of getting from one place to another, it was an experience in itself.
In the first half of the 20th century, the American landscape was dotted with active depots and train tracks. Even in the midst of WWII, the concept of passenger liners still captivated the imaginations of architects and city planners. This was arguably how Seaboard Station came into existence.
Rumblings of a new station began in 1934. Raleigh needed another depot, one that would promise safety and convenience. The idea was planted, but it took another decade before plans were set into motion. In 1942, the wheels began turning at last. Pallie M. Mangum, a building inspector, issued the building permit for the depot's construction in February. The $200,000 project commenced later that same month under the guidance of C.F. Ballard and the Wadesboro Construction Company.
Raleigh’s newest station would feature all the whistles and bells of a modern depot. Plans included spacious luggage areas, ample parking, concession stands, and telegraph offices. It would be primarily constructed from wood and concrete, owing to a steel shortage in the wake of WWII. The ambitious project took less than 6 months to complete. By late September 1942, Seaboard Station opened its doors.
On September 29th, the depot welcomed its first train – the Silver Meteor. The event was marked by swarms of onlookers and travelers, all keen to be among the first to see the new station. Seaboard’s fanfare continued into October and a public ceremony dedicated Seaboard to Eugene C. Bagwell, a Raleigh native and the late general manager of the Seaboard Air Line Railway. Although Bagwell died years earlier, his legacy was inextricably tied to Seaboard Station.
Seaboard Station stands among the relics from the golden age of rail. Today, it no longer operates as a depot, but its history is still felt in the Raleigh community, connecting the city’s past with its present.
As history buffs, the Ghost Guild is excited to visit Seaboard Station. Whether we uncover echoes of its past or not, we'll be standing in another piece of North Carolina’s history.
Investigations at this location:
Content Warning: murder, gun violence against children and women
Every location has a story, some lesser known than others. It has and always will be important to us that these voices of the past don’t go unheard. Sometimes, these stories happened more recently. Often, they are very sad.
On October 12th, 1982, a three-day police standoff ended at Seaboard Station in Raleigh, NC. Two days prior, the Amtrak Silver Star was en route from Miami to New York. Among its passengers were a man, his sister, and her two children, all of whom were riding together in a sleeper car. As their train approached Raleigh, a tragic sequence of events took place.
Although the exact events are uncertain, the ordeal lasted for 70 hours. Passengers had heard a dispute coming from a sleeper car followed by gunfire. A male passenger shot and killed his 24 year old sister. Police arrived at Seaboard Station not long after.
Over the course of a weekend, the man held his niece and nephew hostage in the train car. Approaching law enforcement personnel were met with a hail of warning shots. By standers reported hearing a young child asking for water. It was only after intervention by an FBI agent that the man surrendered.
On October 12, 1982, the police arrested the man and gained access to the sleeper car. Inside was the body of his sister and her infant son. The woman’s 3 year old daughter was also present and survived the standoff. She was taken to Wake Medical Center for treatment.
From January to February 1984, the suspect faced a six-week long trial. While the man pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, between his criminal past and the events at Seaboard Station, the jury convicted him of murder. He was sentenced to life in prison.
This story was widely publicized at the time it occurred. However, it has long been absent from the headlines. Even after the news coverage stops, and months turn to decades, stories like these become part of the shared experiences of a city and a time.