The Burgaw Depot is the oldest railroad depot in North Carolina declared the North Carolina Division of Archives and History in 1986 (Oswald, March 6, 1986). The structure was examined by state officials in conjunction with its nomination to the National Register of Historic Places by the Burgaw Jaycees, a local civic group. It has been said that "Burgaw's heart beat first at the depot" because it predated the incorporation of the town by nearly 30 years (Olson, September 15, 1986). The U.S. Postal Service opened a post office in the depot in 1854.
State historians have identified the original building, the present warehouse section, as being built circa 1850. As it stands today, the depot mirrors the historical development of the railroad in North Carolina in the 19th and 20th centuries. In 1898, passenger waiting rooms and rail offices were added to the south end as passenger rail travel became more refined. This was followed by expansion of the freight platform to the north in 1916/17 as the rail lines opened northern cities as markets for local fresh fruits and vegetables.
As one of two pre-Civil War depots in the state, the building has survived the times since 1850. The interior of the warehouse still bears the scars of a Union cavalry attack in 1863. In 1865, the depot was a Confederate headquarters for retreating generals and their troops for nearly six weeks after the fall of Fort Fisher and Wilmington. It was also the holding site for six thousand or more northern prisoners for several days while a massive prisoner exchange across the Northeast Cape Fear River was arranged in February 1865.
Today, the depot has been restored and renovated to showcase the historical value of the structure and to make the structure useable as an event center for the town and its citizens. Every effort was made to preserve the main structure as it was including preserving an area that was actually burned by Union soldiers during the Civil War. The depot houses a banquet room, conference room, offices, a large outside dock area and an incubator kitchen for the purpose of helping start-up businesses.
The Historic Burgaw Train Depot is a part of the "Civil War Discovery Trails."