A Brief History of the Cleveland Depot
The Cleveland Depot Library is the fourth depot to stand on this site. Cleveland's original depot was a boxcar which sat on the tracks around 1886. This depot served the community for several years until a prankster hooked it to an outgoing train.
The Yazoo & Mississippi Valley Railroad constructed a more stationary cypress board depot about 1890, which serves as the model for the current Cleveland Depot Library. This second depot was in service until some time before 1915 when it, along with most of the downtown business district, was destroyed by fire.
The third depot, rebuilt around 1915, was operated by the Illinois Central Railroad for the next seventy years. During that time, many famous people visited the Cleveland depot including presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Grover Cleveland, presidential hopeful William Jennings Bryan, and World War I's most decorated U.S. soldier, Sgt. Alvin York.
In the mid- 1960s, as a result of the decline in the railroad industry, the depot was trimmed to one-third of its original size. By the late 1980s, however, the Illinois Central had abandoned the Cleveland railroad spur and the depot stood abandoned.
In 1993, the City of Cleveland joined forces with the Bolivar County Library System to renovate the 1,500 square foot facility and use it for the headquarters of the Bolivar County Literacy Council. The depot then became the Cleveland Depot Library, Mississippi's first and only special library devoted to literacy and continuing education.
By 2002, the Bolivar County Literacy Program had grown to become the largest single-county literacy program in Mississippi. Continued growth, though, would not be possible without a larger facility.
Thanks to funding from public and private sources, construction and renovation of the Cleveland Depot Library began in 2002. The new Cleveland Depot Library, a 5,500 square foot facility, completely encompasses the original 1,500 square foot facility, and offers three computer labs, three classrooms, and twenty-four programs to serve the residents of Cleveland and Bolivar County.