in a Pecan Shell
If you like railroads
(and even if you don't), Denison is your kind of city. Founded in
1872 as the connecting point of the Missouri-Kansas-Texas ("Katy")
and Texas Central Rail Lines, Denison blossomed into one of the
South's most important transportation centers, serving as the first
rail stop across from the Indian Territory - as Oklahoma was known
Goods from the seaport at Galveston
could be carried to St. Louis through Denison, and grain and beef
from Kansas and other points north could finally make their way
to Texas and the rest of the southwest
via the Katy Lines.
Denison's spirit as a fast-paced commercial hub could be found in
its citizens as well as its architecture. Dwight David Eisenhower,
son of a Katy engineer and future commander of the Allied Forces
at Normandy (oh, and also a two term U. S. President), entered the
world in a white frame house in the humble part of town. The downtown
area housed saloons, hotels, manufacturing plants, banks, and plenty
of culture. This "new" town was giving Sherman,
seat, a definite run for its money in terms of activity and affluence.
End of an
The decline of railroads signaled the end of Denison's boom days.
At first, passenger service fell sharply. By the 1990's, the huge
switching yards were dismantled and sold for scrap. The unusually
large Katy Depot, which housed the corporate offices of the railroad,
fell into disrepair, but it has since been restored and now serves
as a mini-mall / special events center. When the new U.S. Highway
75 by-pass was built around Denison, the main thoroughfare also
fell victim to progress and now it only offers faint hints of the
city that once was.
Beginning of a New Era
But by no means is Denison becoming a ghost town. On the contrary,
it is reviving itself into a historical showplace. Artists have
discovered Denison's progressive flair and now the downtown area
hosts festivals, galleries, shows, and even a wine tasting room
(wine is not a far-fetched preoccupation in this part of the state
- in the 1880's, world famous local vintner Thomas V. Munson saved
the French grape crop from complete destruction by cultivating new
Texoma is a recreation Mecca for Dallasites ready to leave the
rat race for a spell. A museum located in the old Katy Depot gives
justice to the railroad that shaped the town and Eisenhower's
birthplace is now a well-visited state park.
Hotel Here > Denison
Hotel Here > Denison
Denison is the type of city that doesn't hide its past - in fact,
you won't see many new buildings around town. No doubt that Denison
has a few ghosts hanging around. Not only does the old abandoned
high school in the middle of town probably sport a disembodied prom
queen or two, but the Traveler's Hotel located just across the tracks
from the Katy Depot can give a visitor Goosebumps. Built by a German
sea captain named Ernst Martin Kohl, who opened it as a grocery
store and saloon in 1893, it was converted into a hotel for railroad
travelers in the 1930's. The National Register labels the architectural
style Prairie, but if you've ever been to Central Europe, you'd
think the building was a medieval fortress. The house is four stories
tall, made of solid stone and timber and laced with wrought iron.
Add to that heavy oak doors, stained glass windows, dark crawl spaces,
a secluded garden and a wooden porch roof almost two stories tall…
you get the picture. By the 1960's, passenger traffic abated so
drastically that the hotel had to close, and a succession of owners
tried to restore the house (a daunting task considering the unique
style and size.) Currently, Christina Moon, a local realtor, is
renovating the hotel, hoping it can eventually be opened for tours
by January 2003. She has alluded to some odd coincidences and hints
of haunting, although she won't elaborate… suffice to say she is
in love with the house and will surely do right by it.
Denison is an old town that is not dying, but is re-inventing itself.
It would be great if other by-passed towns in Texas would take the
hint: don't destroy history, but embrace it. By the way, the old
high school (it makes up an entire city block) is for sale…if anyone's
in the mood to find ghosts.
- Calvary Cemetery
Photos Courtesy Justin
Birth Place of a President by Archie P. McDonald ("All
Things Historical" Column)
State Park - 50 Park Road 20 Denison TX 75020-4878 903/465-1956
Birthplace State Historic Site - 609 S. Lamar Denison TX 75021
Railroad Museum - 104 E. Main Street
Park - Municipal park on Loy Lake Road, SW of the city.
Picknicking, fishing, and boating.
Texoma and the Denison Dam
Impounding 89,000 acres of water, the dam itself is a mere five
miles NW of Denison, Texas. It borders on the Texas counties of
Cooke and Grayson and on the Oklahoma counties of Bryan, Love, Johnson
National Wildlife Refuge
Over 300 bird species recorded
11,300 acres of land and water on Lake
From US 75 between Sherman and
Denison, take FM 691 to county airport, FM 1417 North 1.5 miles.
Follow signs to the Refuge.
County Frontier Village - 903-463-2487
Open year round except Thanksgiving. 7 days a week 1-4pm.
Location of the annual Grayson County Holiday Lights Tour.
- On Grayson County College west campus.
West of Intersection FM 1417 and FM 691
Author's Note: This time I sought out Denison, TX,
home of the Eisenhower birthplace, Lake
Texoma, and a major participant in Texas
Rail Road history. It has a fascinating history, many off-beat
attractions, and has that wonderful "lived-in" feel of many Texas
communities. Denison's main road, Highway 75, was bypassed in the
mid-90's and therefore the downtown area isn't what it used to be.
However, it's rebounding nicely due to its civic minded citizens.
They truly realize the attraction of Denison's rail road past. -
Book Hotel Here > Denison
Rialto Theatre in Denison
December 1984 photo courtesy Billy
of Denison in 1874
Excerpts from Texas 1874: An Eyewitness account of conditions
in Post-Reconstruction Texas
by Edward King and J. Wells Champney, Cordovan Press, 1978
UFO by Mike Cox
The January UFO sightings in Stephenville gave the national news
media a brief respite from politics..., but the Erath County incident
isn’t the Lone Star State’s first rodeo when it comes to mysterious
objects in the sky...
25, 1878 - UFO Cartoon by Roger T. Moore
Texas Savior of the French Wine Industry
by Archie P. McDonald
Those who favor a glass of wine, especially French wine, may not
be aware of the debt they and the French owe to Dr. Thomas Volney
Munson of Denison, Texas.
| The Traveler's
Photo courtesy Jay Goode
Denison Weeping Angel
On your wonderful page about the Weeping
Angels. I am sad to inform you that her arm was broken off
sometime this late winter or spring. I drove by and saw it , so
sad! - Susan Hawkins, May 25, 2011
I was in Denison a few weeks ago and found an old railroad station.
Railroads and stations are one of my passions. Denison has an old
hotel, too, that must have seen a lot of life. - Regards, Jay
Goode, Goode Web Design, www.goodewebdesign.com, December 29, 2010
Razed- Denison 9/27/07
Old Denison high school being razed following several months of
legal fights. - Mike Price, September 26, 2007
the Old Denison High
I am Louise McLaughlin, a mixed media artist. I am so sorry the
community of Denison lost their battle to save the Old Denison High
School. As an artist, I would like to make a tribute to the people
who went to DHS. I want to honor the memory and events from the
century-old DHS. I am looking for historical information and pictures
to form into a memorial, an artistic representation of the history
of DHS and the people and events that help make Denison a great
place to call home. If anyone can contribute images or information
on the school, they can connect me at: email@example.com Thank
You, Louise McLaughlin, September 19, 2007
Grayson County, Texas
Sherman is about 25 miles west
of Bonham, and its "twin
city" to the north, Denison, is gateway to the Denison Dam which
forms Lake Texoma, one of the largest man-made lakes. I live in
the little town of Bells,
ten miles east of Sherman. Then there is Savoy, two miles to the
east of Bells and Ector is between Savoy and Bonham. These are just
the towns between Sherman and Bonham on Hwy. 56 which was, until
recently, Hwy. 82. Ten miles south on Hwy. 69 out of Bells is Whitewright.
In fact, this whole
area is almost entirely made up of small towns where everyone knows
everyone else and most know their history and/or are descendants of
the founders. The Metroplex is rapidly making its way north and from
McKinney south on
Hwy. 75 it's hard to distinguish where one town ends and another begins.
Being a "newcomer" to the area (only 33 years - raised in Lubbock),
I can't tell you a lot of history but all of these places are filled
with warm and welcoming people who love to tell stories of their towns.
Hope you can get to some of them before Dallas
does. Thanks for the great web site! - Margie Jackson, September
Hotel Here > Denison
Escapes, in its purpose to preserve historic, endangered
and vanishing Texas, asks that anyone wishing to share their local
history, stories, and vintage/historic photos, please contact