TexasEscapes.comTexas Escapes Online Magazine: Travel and History
Columns: History, Humor, Topical and Opinion
Over 1800 Texas Towns & Ghost Towns
NEW : : TEXAS TOWNS : : GHOST TOWNS : : TEXAS HOTELS : : FEATURES : : COLUMNS : : ARCHITECTURE : : IMAGES : : SITE MAP : : SEARCH SITE
HOME
SEARCH SITE
ARCHIVES
RESERVATIONS
Texas Hotels
Hotels
Cars
Air
Cruises
Amarillo Hotels
Find Hotel Deals in Amarillo, Texas

Book Now
 
Texas Railroad | Texas Depots

Santa Fe Depot
Amarillo, Texas

Rock Island Depot & Fort Worth and Denver Depot

Book Your Hotel Here & Save:
Amarillo Hotels

Amarillo Texas Sante Fe Depot
Sante Fe Depot today
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, July 2009

Amarillo Symphony by Mike Cox

Santa Fe Train Number One, with a 3751-class 4-8-4 steam engine up front, pulled up to the red-roofed, Mission revival-style Amarillo station on time.

One of the people stepping off the train at the busy depot was William Gibson, a Santa Fe employee traveling on a company pass.

With his small suitcase in one hand and his well-worn tool and instrument valise in the other, Gibson walked from the station to the nearby Capitol Hotel at Fourth and Pierce. The Herring, across the street, was a bigger hotel, but Gibson liked the 200-room Capitol. At the front desk, Gibson went through a familiar routine: He asked for a south-side room on the fourth floor or higher.


As soon as he closed the door behind him, Gibson walked to the window and looked out. His room, as he knew it would, looked down on the busy Santa Fe yard. The roundhouse had 32 train stalls and almost always was full. In the distance, Gibson saw a plume of black smoke as a freight train hit an eastbound grade on a big curve. After taking in the view for a moment, he raised the window a few inches. It opened easily — wood did not often swell with moisture on the High Plains. At nearly 3,700 feet above sea level, spring and summer nights usually are cool and humidity-free.

On this night, the wind blew strong from the southeast, sucking through the cracked window. Gibson liked the fresh night air, but he had opened the window more to let in sound.

Number One had boarded its Amarillo passengers and was moving slowly through the Amarillo yard. Gibson checked his watch. It was still on time. Her hogger — railroad talk for engineer — blasted the whistle as the train headed toward the 24th Street crossing.


One long, two shorts, and then a continuous blast until the engine cleared the crossing. The shrill sound created by the high-pressure steam echoed off the concrete grain elevators lining the tracks and the high rise office buildings along busy Polk Street. The whistle was music to the railroad man’s ears. With tongue-in-cheek, he called it the “Amarillo Symphony.”

Periodically through the night, other trains moved in and out of Amarillo as most of the city slept. In addition to the Santa Fe track, main lines of the Fort Worth and Denver and the Rock Island Line intersected at Amarillo. The piercing notes of train whistles spread across the city and cut onto the vastness of the plains.

For several generations of Amarilloans, the whistle signals of the steam engine either comforted them at night like a homemade quilt or haunted their dreams. For some, the whistles made good company, dispelling any sense of isolation; others heard the trains and felt lonesome, remembering or imagining trips taken or not taken. For all Amarilloans, those whistles — long since replaced by more prosaic air horns — represent the sound of a city’s history.

Amarillo is the largest city in Texas owing its existence solely to the railroad. Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, El Paso, Fort Worth and Austin all had other reasons to be, though railroads certainly benefited each. But Amarillo would not exist, or if it did it probably would not have amounted to much, had it not been for the iron.


© Mike Cox

"Texas Tales" November 3, 2005 column

Amarillo Texas Sante Fe station 1910 postcard
Sante Fe Station, Amarillo, Texas
Photo courtesy texasoldphotos.com
Amarillo Tx - Santa Fe 5000 Engine
Santa Fe 5000 Engine
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, July 2009
Amarillo Tx - Santa Fe 5000 Engine
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, July 2009
Amarillo Tx - Santa Fe 5000 Engine
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, July 2009
Amarillo Texas - Fort Worth & Denver RR Depot, 1910
Fort Worth and Denver Depot in Amarillo circa 1910
Photo courtesy texasoldphotos.com
Amarillo, Texas - Rock Island Depot
Rock Island Depot, Amarillo, Texas
Postcard courtesy www.rootsweb.com/ %7Etxpstcrd/
See Amarillo, Texas | Amarillo Hotels
More Texas Depots | Texas Railroads
Related Topics:
Texas Towns | Texas Ghost Towns | Texas Architecture | Texas
Popular Topics:
Texas Depots
Texas Railroads
Texas Towns
Texas Ghost Towns
Texas
Hotels
Amarillo Hotels
Great Room Rates
Find One Near Your Destination
 
HOME | TEXAS ESCAPES ONLINE MAGAZINE | TEXAS HOTELS
TEXAS TOWN LIST | TEXAS GHOST TOWNS | TEXAS COUNTIES

Texas Hill Country | East Texas | Central Texas North | Central Texas South | West Texas | Texas Panhandle | South Texas | Texas Gulf Coast
TRIPS | STATES PARKS | RIVERS | LAKES | DRIVES | MAPS

TEXAS FEATURES
Ghosts | People | Historic Trees | Cemeteries | Small Town Sagas | WWII | History | Black History | Rooms with a Past | Music | Animals | Books
COLUMNS : History, Humor, Topical and Opinion

TEXAS ARCHITECTURE | IMAGES
Courthouses | Jails | Churches | Gas Stations | Schoolhouses | Bridges | Theaters | Monuments/Statues | Depots | Water Towers | Post Offices | Grain Elevators | Lodges | Museums | Stores | Banks | Gargoyles | Cornerstones | Pitted Dates | Drive-by Architecture | Old Neon | Murals | Signs | Ghost Signs | Then and Now
Vintage Photos

TRAVEL RESERVATIONS | HOTELS | USA | MEXICO

Privacy Statement | Disclaimer | Recommend Us | Contributors | Staff | Contact TE
Website Content Copyright ©1998-2008. Texas Escapes - Blueprints For Travel, LLC. All Rights Reserved
This page last modified: August 9, 2010