The siting of the railroad, while first controversial, created a new industrial corridor through the community. Just south of downtown, the Madison Steam Factory opened as a textile mill. In town, brokerage and warehouses built near the depots to facilitate shipping local commodities. Processing facilities (ginneries, grain mills, ice plants, guano/fertilizer plants, a tannery, a creamery) and manufacturing concerns (soap, furniture, handles) also saw proximity to rail.
From 1880-1950, this area was an industrial hub — primarily for the cotton industry (e.g., former Gate City Oil Co. ginnery shown here). The Madison Variety Works (once located around the corner on S. Second, now Academy St.) specialized in furniture and architectural details until later replaced by the Mason Gin & Fertilizer Co.
A few warehouses survive: Godfrey's (1878, next to depot); Farmers' Trading Company (c. 1921, faces park); Queen City Gin seed warehouse (c. 1940, rear of this site); and McDowell Grocery (c. 1925, across railroad tracks on W. Jefferson St.).