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Texas 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.

Train Depots
Surviving & Demolished Railroad Stations of Texas
Texas Bridges
Railroad Bridges & more

The Railroads

The Fredericksburg & Northern Railroad
  • The 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..."
  • The Fredericksburg Railroad by Michael Barr
    Fredericksburg waited 30 years for the railroad, but when the train arrived it was a day late and a dollar short...

  • Railroad 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."

  • Texas State Railroad

  • The Texas State Railroad and the Texas Forest Trail
    by John Troesser, Illustrated with 10 photos

  • The Texas State Railroad by Archie P. McDonald

  • Texas Short Line Railroads & Interurbans

  • "The Boll Weevil"
    The Trinity and Brazos Valley Railway

  • The Angelina and Neches River Railroad, An East Texas Short Line Railroad by Norman Conquest, Illustrated with 4 photos

  • An Unlikely Partnership by Bob Bowman
    They were an unlikely business partnership--a German immigrant, an Irish storekeeper, and two Jewish brothers. But in 1900, Joseph Kurth, Simon W. Henderson, and Sam and Eli Wiener pooled their resources and created the Angelina and Neches River Railroad...

  • The wooden-tracked railroad by Bob Bowman
    The Rusk Tramway
    It wasn’t the longest railroad in East Texas. And it certainly wasn’t the most profitable. But it taught its builders, the good people of Rusk, how not to run a railroad...

  • The Asherton and Gulf Railway

  • Bartlett Western Railroad by Clay Coppedge

  • Burleson Interurban Depot

  • Plano Texas Electric Railway Station
    Photos courtesy Mike Price

  • Port Bolivar & Iron Ore Railroad Historical Marker

  • KATY Railroad

  • The Railroad in Smithville

  • Katy (Missouri, Kansas and Texas) Railroad

  • The Katy Limited,  Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railway,   Postmark 1911
    The Katy Limited, Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railway,
    Postmark 1911
    Old postcard courtesy Dan Whatley Collection

    Santa Fe Railroad

  • Santa Fe Railroad in Plainview

  • “Brenham to Sweetwater and the Big Town of Blair”
    A Railroad Memoir by Johnnie Stokes, Morse Telegraph Operator, Colorado, Gulf and Santa Fe railroad

  • “When Robert Lee Gets a New Railroad" Ruth Elliott Sellers

  • The Fort Worth & Denver South Plains Railway
  • Quitaque Canyon Clarity Tunnel and Section Crew

  • Texas & Pacific Railroad Depots

  • Texas & Pacific Railroad Depot, Marshall, Texas, c. 1912
    by Norman Conquest, Illustrated with 2 photos

  • Surviving Railroad Stations of Texas - Images

  • March 15, 1881, Abilene is born Cartoon by Roger T. Moore

  • It Was That Kind of Railroad by Clay Coppedge
    [P]opular from the early 1900s through the 1940s, mostly along routes that provided service between smaller towns.

  • Texas Railroad Museums

  • Wichita Falls - Railroad Museum

  • Railroad Interlocking Towers

  • Railroad Interlocking Towers of Texas by Jim King
    History and photos of the railroad tower.
    Most people referred to these as "signal towers" or "switch towers"

  • Texas Railroad Interlocking Towers

    Railroad Stories

    RR bridge
  • La Grange Railroad Bridge Train Wreck
  • Crash at Crush
  • The Crash at Crush by John Troesser
    One of the most bizarre publicity stunts of all time. Illustrated with 6 photos

  • The Crash at Crush by Bob Bowman ("All Things Historical" Column)

  • The Crash At Crush - Song Lyric by Brian Burns - Brian Burns Music (BMI)
  • Tracks 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."

  • Uncle Dick by Mike Cox

  • Roping a Locomotive by Mike Cox

  • Early Railroad Trip from San Antonio to El Paso by Mike Cox

  • Storms, 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...

  • Best western was not always best by Delbert Trew
    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.

  • Sawyers and Flatheads by Bob Bowman
    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 hard working.

  • Trew 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...

  • The Beer Train 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.

  • Area full of historical tidbits by Delbert Trew
    The 1929 train wreck in Twist, Texas

  • The 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 aboard..."

  • Pioneer 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...

  • Locomotive Boiler Explosion
    Smithville Blast of 1911 Kills 9, Injures 12
  • Life on a West Texas Paint Train in the 1940s
    Big Bend Memories.
    Vintage Photos.

  • Orphans find homes in West by Delbert Trew
    The Orphan Trains.

  • Train 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.

  • Built 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...

  • The 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...
  • Amarillo 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."

  • Bet-A-Million 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, and oil.

  • "Struck 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.

  • Railroads 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.

  • Hell Either Way Taken by Archie P. McDonald

  • Denison, Birth Place of a President by Archie P. McDonald

  • Revisiting The Rabbit by Bob Bowman

  • A Railroad Centennial by Bob Bowman

  • The Iron Road Sorority: Penelope, May, Pearl, and Venus by John Troesser

  • Slaton Harvey House
  • Lost Buildings of the "Macaroni" Railroad in Inez, Texas
    Photos and text by Sara Duncan

  • Poems

  • Railroad Blues by David Knape
  • Phineas Gage by David Knape

  • Texas Train Robberies

  • The Great Flatonia Train Robbery by Murray Montgomery

  • Rube Burrow, Notorious Train Robber by Clay Coppedge

  • Bud 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....

  • Bud 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...

  • A 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.

  • The Tall Texan : The Story of Ben Kilpatrick by Arthur Soule

  • The Last Full-sized Train Robbery in Texas by Brewster Hudspeth

  • Switches
  • Finney, Texas - Santa Fe Railroad switch in Hale County

  • Bud Matthews Switch of the Texas Central Railway - Historical Marker

  • Texas Train Travel
  • Cultural Shock Then. Cultural Shock Now by N. Ray Maxie
    At the Atlanta, Texas, railroad depot, then known as the local Texas and Pacific train station, we waited. I was just six and a half years old. This was the beginning of an exciting adventure; my very first train trip...

  • The Texas State Railroad and the Texas Forest Trail

  • Miscellaneous Images

    On the way to the Panhandle of Texas with the Reed-Allen Realty Co.
    On the way to the Panhandle of Texas with the Reed-Allen Realty Co.
    Click on image to enlarge
    Old postcard courtesy Dan Whatley Collection

    Coleman TX - Initial grading on Coleman-Texico Cut-off of the Santa Fe R.R., 1912
    Initial grading on Coleman-Texico Cut-off of the Santa Fe R.R.,
    Coleman, Texas, Postmark 1912
    Old postcard courtesy Dan Whatley Collection

  • Railroad Graffiti
    The World's Heaviest Art Gallery

  • Bozo Texino by Clay Coppedge
  • Baird - Locomotive Mural
  • Brownwood - Locomotive
  • Christoval - Santa Fe Caboose
  • Collegeport - Locomotive
  • Crystal City Caboose
  • Flatonia - Switching Tower
  • Fluvanna - Farewell
  • Glidden - Locomotive
  • Glidden - Roundhouse
  • Grapevine Vintage Railroad
  • Gray Mule - Quitaque Canyon Clarity Tunnel and Section Crew
  • Grey Forest - Caboose
  • Leon Springs - Dismantled railroad tracks
  • Manor - Locomotive
  • Maydelle Depot & Turntable
  • Palacios - Caboose
  • Pottsboro - Railroad underpass
  • San Antonio - Southern Pacific Depot - Gargoyle
  • Snyder - Roscoe, Snyder & Pacific Railroad Engine No.5
  • Sweeny - Railroad Mural
  • Talpa- Deisel Locomotive
  • Texas & Pacific locomotive #638
  • Tyler - Roundhouse and Turntable
  • Victoria - Locomotive
  • Wharton - Locomotive

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