The newly restored Vineland Station depot was named because of the large numbers of scuppernong grapes exported from the area when North Carolina was one of the leading wine-producing states in the nation.
The Whiteville depot was one of the first brick depots built in eastern North Carolina. It has a slate roof, some of which is still in use on the restored building.
Workers built Vineland Station in 1903 one mile south of the Columbus County courthouse to serve Whiteville and Vineland. Vineland was never an incorporated town.
Most depots in the day were constructed of wood and were moved from place to place. Being mobile allowed the train companies to rotate depots to spots where large numbers of crops were grown or where there were greater numbers of trees to be harvested.
The Wilmington and Manchester Railroad built the tracks and station, which ran from Manchester, S.C. to port city of Wilmington. The line eventually became the Wilmington and Augusta Railroad, providing service between these two cities.
By 1903, Whiteville had established itself as the county seat of Columbus County and as a major tobacco-producing area.
Atlantic Coastline Railroad provided both freight and rail service until it merged with the Seaboard Coastline Railroad.
SCL discontinued passenger service in 1967, and in the early 70s, the railroad abandoned and pulled up the tracks between Whiteville and Leland, a terrible mistake.
The depot sat abandoned and unused for 30 years, falling into disrepair. There were numerous attempts to restore it, including one effort to convert it to City Hall, but a legal dispute between the railroad and a local resident with a claim on the property put all plans in limbo.
In 2000, Columbus County commissioners and Whiteville City Council entered into a long-term lease with Carolina Southern Railroad of Conway, S.C., to return the building to public use.
A $769,000 federal grant, state monies and a $500,000 grassroots fundraising campaign by the Vineland Station board of directors resulted in the grand opening of the restored building in August, 2005.
Phase II of the project began in July 2006, and included restoration of the offices and construction of a history gallery/conference room.
Phase III will involve renovation of a covered platform on the east end and creation of a small park and green space where concerts and other events can be held.