Railroads were unquestionably the biggest economic force in Texas
after the Civil War and before the discovery
of oil. Towns were born, nurtured
or killed at the whim of railroad planners.
In this feature we examine the locomotives and perhaps some of the
loco motives behind the planning. After the early immigrations, prior
to the Civil War, railroads opened up the rest of the state to new
groups or to people transmigrating from other parts of the U.S.
Here are railroad stations, steam engines, cabooses and rolling stock.
Here are short line railroads, railroad bridges and even a few train
wrecks. It's a collection of railroad relics, railroad stories and
railroad towns discovered during our statewide research. It's brightly
painted heavy metal with a light coat of oil.
Fredericksburg & Northern Railroad
Little Engine That Couldn't by C. F. Eckhardt
"... Even after the War, with much improved roads and
a much lessened Indian problem, it still took freight wagons the
better part of a week to travel from San Antonio to Fredericksburg...
The people north and west of San Antonio wanted and needed a railroad..."
Photos courtesy Sarah Reveley and Terry Jeanson
in the Red, and Brazilian Bats by Mike Cox
"Some three million Brazilian free-tailed bats live in the
abandoned tunnel from May through October each year, along with
a much smaller population of Cave myotis bats."
railroads shape area history by Delbert Trew
Long before the town of Spearman was born, the settlement of Hansford
became the county seat with the winning votes for the election swung
by “the use of a three-seated hack and liberal doses of Dodge City
tarantula juice.” Their new frame courthouse was nearing completion
in 1891 when a cyclone struck...
western was not always best by Delbert Trew 2-28-12
Until the driving of The Golden Spike in 1869, signaling the coming
of The Railroad Age, accommodations along the various trails, stage
routes, freight routes and river routes were a tragedy to most travelers.
and Flatheads by Bob Bowman 2-22-12
In the Northwest, they were called lumberjacks, but in East Texas
they were called “sawyers” or “flatheads.” A hardy breed with a
broad streak of independence, they were as colorful as they were
Ranch hosted Rockledge rail site by Delbert Trew
From 1900 to 1902, Rock Island Railroad built tracks from Oklahoma
to Tucumcari, N.M. From today’s Jericho to Alanreed, the track followed
Old Trail’s Ridge, dividing the Salt Fork of the Red River and McClellan
Creek watersheds. It also was the early day mail route from Old
Clarendon to Mobeetie...
by Mike Cox
A wreck blocking the mainline between Austin and San Antonio was
bad enough, but this derailment was even worse. Not only had there
been casualties, ... the refrigerated cars telescoped on each other
held a liquid cargo capable of causing problems. While not explosive
or toxic, a trainload of beer could be problematic.
full of historical tidbits by Delbert Trew
The 1929 train wreck in Twist, Texas
Longest Train Ride by C. F. Eckhardt
"Train #1 of the Gulf & Interstate Railroad, which left Beaumont,
Texas, at 7:00 AM on September 8, 1900, to make the run to Port
Bolivar, about 85 miles away by modern highway, arrived at Port
Bolivar at 11:10 AM, September 24, 1903—three years, sixteen days,
and ten minutes late. Some of the original passengers were still
Texas railroad system drew snickers by Delbert Trew
The career of friend Gerald Hook of Russellville, Ark., spanned
nearly 40 years in railroading plus he is an avid historian on the
subject. Among the more interesting history of railroads is that
of the Texas Panhandle. Here are a few tidbits...
by Billy B. Smith
"I have always loved railroads, both the trains and tracks...
One railroad line in particular has been for me an umbilical cord
that has connected me to my roots and my life. I have lived close
to this line for most of my life. It always reminds me of where
I've been and where I could have gone."
find homes in West by Delbert Trew
The Orphan Trains.
travelers owe much to service pioneer by Delbert Trew
Every traveler today, no matter what mode of travel he prefers,
owes a salute to the organizational genius of Fred Harvey. This
slender wisp of a man was all gentleman and laid the groundwork
and quality goals for travel hospitality, making such trips comfortable,
reliable and enjoyable.
it and they will ride it by Archie P. McDonald
Most motorists traveling down Bremond Street in Houston, Lufkin,
and Nacogdoches, or likely any street along US Highway 59 from Houston
to north of Nacogdoches, haven't a clue of the debt East Texas owes
to Paul Bremond...
Conroe, Byspot and Northern: A Tram Railroad That Time Forgot
by W. T. Block, Jr.
The Conroe, Byspot and Northern was never a chartered short-line
railroad, but it nevertheless carried on many of the activities
typical of a chartered railroad...
Symphony by Mike Cox
"For all Amarilloans, those whistles — long since replaced
by more prosaic air horns — represent the sound of a city’s history."
Gates by Archie P. McDonald
John Warne Gates, a native of Winfield, Illinois, became associated
with three of Texas’ most important items: barbed wire, railroads,
on the head by a Locomotive" Early Waco Obituaries 1874-1908.
Judging by these entries, the good old days didn't quite live up
to the reputation.
by Archie P. McDonald
Trains are still crucial for moving freight, despite competition
from trucks. Airplanes and cars move people. Some folks are fond
of these. Johnny Cash and I have a thing about trains.
Either Way Taken by Archie P. McDonald
Birth Place of a President by Archie P. McDonald
The Rabbit by Bob Bowman
Railroad Centennial by Bob Bowman
Iron Road Sorority: Penelope, May, Pearl, and Venus by John
Newman Gang by Mike Cox
A little more than a year after the Comstock shooting, newspapers
readers learned that west-bound SP passenger train No. 20 had been
robbed around midnight on Dec. 20, 1896 near Cow Creek less than
a mile west of Comstock....
Newman, part II by Mike Cox
About 11 p.m. on June 9, 1898 at a point called Coleman Switch about
four miles west of Santa Anna, Newman and three other masked men
descended on a Santa Fe passenger train...
Railroad Holdup by Bob Bowman
Railroaders love to tell stories, and the one they relish the most
is about the railroad president and the holdup man.
Tall Texan : The Story of Ben Kilpatrick by Arthur Soule
Last Full-sized Train Robbery in Texas by Brewster Hudspeth