MARKS, MISS. – A crowd gathered on the evening of May 4, 2018, at the city’s new train station to greet the northbound City of New Orleans (Chicago-Memphis-New Orleans). As the train came to a halt, it marked the start of Amtrak service to this Mississippi Delta community located halfway between existing stops in Memphis and Greenwood, Miss.
Among the speakers at the station ribbon cutting were Marks Mayor Joe Shegog, Manuel Killebrew, president, Quitman County Board of Supervisors and U.S. Senator Roger Wicker. Following the ceremony, attendees were invited to enjoy a community cookout and live music.
“Travelers, tourists and residents will now have access to safe, efficient and cost-effective passenger rail service to this culturally-rich destination along the busy New Orleans to Chicago corridor,” said Senator Wicker in a Quitman County press release. “I was proud to work with Quitman County, the Mississippi congressional delegation, and our railroad representatives to remove the roadblocks to this project, which I believe will benefit so many Mississippians in this seven-county region.”
The establishment of the new station was a project nearly two decades in the making, part of a local effort to improve travel options for residents of the northern Delta and encourage tourism in the area, which has a rich heritage tied to the Civil Rights Movement and the development of country, rock and blues music.
The $1.2 million passenger facility is located downtown, within walking distance of the domed Quitman County Courthouse. It has a fully accessible concrete platform and open-air passenger shelter with benches and heating elements. The shelter features square piers of buff colored brick and a hipped, seamed metal roof.
This project was funded in part by a $500,000 grant from the Federal Highway Administration and appropriated through the Mississippi Department of Transportation with a 20 percent local match from Quitman County. The local match was secured by a grant of $150,000 from the Mississippi Development Authority, and a $300,000 grant from the Delta Regional Authority.
In 2014, civic leaders from Quitman County attended an Amtrak-sponsored Civic Conversation in Memphis – a forum for community and state officials focused on building, preserving and upgrading existing Amtrak-served train stations.
Marks is served by two daily trains. In fiscal year 2017, the City of New Orleans carried approximately 255,000 customers. Marks is the eleventh Amtrak stop in Mississippi, which is also served by the daily Crescent.