The Seaboard Air Line Railway Depot in Camden changed the economic and cultural landscape of the town at the turn of the twentieth century. Prior to 1900, Camden had been serviced by regional railways that took passengers no further than North Carolina. Business leaders lamented the lack of a major railroad in the area and were eager to establish a transportation line that would lead to economic growth.
By 1900, the Seaboard Air Line Railway arrived in Camden, and the depot was one of the railway’s largest along the line from Richmond to Tampa. Camden was transformed into not just a stop but a destination. The original depot was replaced in 1937 by this one, a Colonial Revival-style brick building reflective of popular architecture of that era. Today the depot is owned and used by Amtrak.
The Seaboard Air Line Railway Depot is listed in the National Register:
The Seaboard Air Line Railway Depot is significant as a representative example of a mid-twentieth-century railroad station and for its role in the economic development of the local area. By the late 1930s the volume of passenger traffic in Camden had increased markedly, leading Seaboard officials to build a new station. The brick, one-story station, built at a cost of $30,000 by the Wadesboro Construction Company of Wadesboro, North Carolina, was a replica of the Seaboard station at Williamsburg, Virginia. It replaced the original Seaboard freight and passenger depots in Camden, which dated to 1900.
The new station opened on November 25, 1937, and was a gala affair. The building has undergone no significant alterations since its construction and retains historical appearance and integrity. The design of the station reflected contemporary trends in architectural style and the functional requirements of small-town railroad depots. The influence of the Colonial Revival style was evident in exterior details such as quoins, gable-end pediments with bold, decorative medallions, and the symmetry of overall design. A passenger shed over 400 feet long, reputedly “one of the longest on the Seaboard system,” was erected at trackside in the rear of the building. The arrangement of the interior space made clear the building’s fundamentally utilitarian role. As soon as it entered operation, the new station immediately assumed a place at the center of civic affairs in Camden.