The old Depot Museum offers visitors a tour through the colorful past of Selma, one of the South’s most historic cities. Visitors find themselves stepping back into an earlier time, when farmers used oxen to plow their fields and spinning wheels to spin their thread. Here one may inspect the records of an early plantation, or the contents of a 19th century doctor’s traveling kit. A cameo of Elodie Todd Dawson, Abraham Lincoln’s sister-in-law and a rabid confederate, offers a poignant reminder that the Civil War split many families asunder. Confederate bills, many printed right here in Selma, recall “the lost cause” in all its frailty.
Imagine the industrial revolution experienced during the Civil War in Selma, where nearly half of the munitions used by the Confederacy was manufactured. Here was manufactured the Brooke Cannon, the most powerful muzzle loading cannon ever produced; and here the iron-clad Confederate ship Tennessee (of the Battle of Mobile Bay) was built. Shells and cannon balls, remnants of the South’s largest industrial complex, may be seen and touched by visitors to the Museum.
The Museum’s exhibits range from items as large as a railroad boxcar to those as small as the black pins worn by the 19th century ladies in their mourning dress. They include the original land grant, issued by President James Monroe to the Selma Town and Land Company, a desk used by Alabama Governor, Benjamin Meek Miller, the china and silver used by William Rufus King as Ambassador to France, and the one-horse carriage used by a Selma millionaire to ride all the way from here to New York City during the 1840’s. Here are mementoes of the men and women who helped make Selma the “Queen City of the Black Belt”…Confederate Generals like John Tyler Morgan and Edmund Winston Pettus (who later served together in the United States Senate): pioneering physicians like Dr. Albert Gallatin Mabry, who founded the Alabama Medical Association in 1847 and led the fight for mental health services; and early Black leaders such as Benjamin Sterling Turner, the ex-slave who became Selma’s first Congressman during Reconstruction.
A tour of the Old Depot Museum runs the gamut from Civil War to Civil Rights – from William Rufus King (on the right), the Vice – President who was one of Selma’s founders in 1819, to Martin Luther King (below left), the Nobel Peace Prize winner who led voting rights demonstrations here in 1965. Preface The Selma-Dallas county Museum of History and Archives, Inc., was incorporated in April of 1981 as a non-profit organization. The Board of Directors adopted the short title of “Old Depot Museum” which identifies the location .
The Selma Visitor Center has a wonderful collection of area attractions. You can pick up brochures on each of our museums, choose from five our self-guided tours including Selma’s Windshield Tour, Selma’s Ghost Tour, Old Live Oak Cemetery Tour and Martin Luther King Street walking tour and a one mile walk of historic downtown Selma beginning and ending at the Library. They also having listings of local hotels and restaurants as well as special events.