The Salem branch line was conceived by a Saint Louis family by the name of Lee. The Lee family had iron mines in Dent County and needed a way of transport for their iron ore. Construction began on the Salem branch in February, 1871. W. Blanchard was superintendent of construction with E.B. Sankey being chief engineer on the project. The Salem branch from Cuba, Missouri to Salem, Missouri was completed July, 1873.The original name of the railroad was called the Saint Louis, Salem and Little Rock Railroad. The Salem depot was located at the southern end of the Salem branch. The depot was located East of the Southeast Missouri Community Treatment Center. The depot would have sat where Grand street is today(2011). The railroad tracks were located where the Southeast Missouri Treatment Center sits today(2011). The depot was built in 1874. Hand-fired brick was used in the depot’s construction.
The depot had a large waiting room, benches along each wall, a large pot-belly stove, a bulletin board with train schedules and several spittoons scattered around the room. The adjacent room was the ticket office. The ticket agent and telegrapher occupied this office. The warehouse room adjoined the ticket office. The warehouse stored baggage, mail, etc. The second story of the depot was living quarters for the depot agent. The depot was torn down in the 1960’s.The railroad tracks were taken up in the mid 1980’s.