Fulton, KY (FTN)
Once the second largest division headquarters on the Illinois Central Railroad, Fulton remains a community proud of its rich railroad heritage.
21 Newton Road
Fulton, KY 42041
Annual Station Ridership (2016): 3,710
- Facility Ownership: Amtrak
- Parking Lot Ownership: Canadian National Illinois Central Railroad
- Platform Ownership: Canadian National Illinois Central Railroad
- Track Ownership: Canadian National Illinois Central Railroad
For information about Amtrak fares and schedules, please call 1-800-USA-RAIL (1-800-872-7245).
The Fulton station is located on the north side of town adjacent to the Canadian National Railway line. The first known inhabitants of Fulton were the Chickasaw Indians, who called the area Pontotoc, meaning “the Land of Hanging Grapes.” In 1811, Andrew Jackson purchased thousands of acres in Kentucky and Tennessee from the Chickasaw, in what became known as the Jackson Purchase. The earliest records of Fulton date back to 1826, when Benjamin Franklin Carr acquired a land grant for 150 acres. The city was named for Robert Fulton, who developed the first commercially successful steam-powered ship.
In 1859, construction of the Illinois Central Railroad reached Fulton. The railroad quickly became an integral part of Fulton’s identity. A late 19th century Illinois Central magazine article praised Fulton as, “a city of beautiful residences, bristling with many business enterprises, throbbing with commercial activities, pulsating with social life of a superb citizenship, nestles sun- kissed and God -favored at the intersections of two great lines of the Illinois Central Railroad…and ranks with the foremost of the cites of its size in the South.”
In the first half of the 20th century, a stately new depot was built, which saw more than 30 passenger trains per day come through. Fulton became home to the second largest Illinois Central Division Headquarters, and issued paychecks to between 800 and 1100 workers. Beginning in the 1920s, trains carrying bananas began stopping in Fulton to have their refrigerator cars serviced and rerouted, and Fulton became known as the “Banana Capital of the Nation.” In 1962, the annual Banana Festivals (honoring the railroad’s role in the banana industry) commenced.
In the second half of the 20th century, the railroad’s influence gradually declined as a result of improved trucking and air travel. The number of daily passenger trains steadily dropped, and Illinois Central closed its Fulton Division offices. In 1979, the old depot was torn down, followed by the abandonment of the passenger mainline through downtown. This action by the Illinois Central Gulf Railroad forced Amtrak into the present location on the north side of town. In 1992, the famous Banana Festivals came to a close.
Although the railroad’s influence in Fulton has declined, Fulton is still a railroad town proud of its heritage. It is also one of four places with passenger railroad service in Kentucky and the lone stop for the City of New Orleans in Kentucky. In 2008, the Twin Cities Railroad Museum opened in South Fulton, Tenn., honoring the railroad’s role in Fulton and South Fulton. The museum is designed to educate the public about the railroad’s contributions to the community and hosts displays about the Illinois Central and Canadian National. Displays include timetables, books, maps, history books, photos, railroad lanterns, switch keys, switch locks, uniforms, a handcar, a baggage cart, Thomas the Train, a depot bench, uniforms, model trains, Banana Festivals souvenirs, and paintings. The museum also features an engine simulator, but its most unique characteristic is its volunteers– retired railroad workers who tell stories about the heyday of railroading.
Amtrak does not provide ticketing or baggage services at this facility, which is served by two daily trains.
- 5 Short Term Parking Spaces
- 12 Long Term Parking Spaces
- Accessible Platform
- Dedicated Parking
- Enclosed Waiting Area