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TRAPPINGS OF TEXAS Cowboy Culture and Artistry IN ALPINE



Hand-Dipped Goodness ABILENE’S





of the



Mary Irving’s influence remains at the museums she transformed

Historian RAILROAD








TRAPPINGS OF TEXAS Cowboy Culture and Artistry IN ALPINE



Hand-Dipped Goodness

of the









Mary Irving’s influence remains at the museums she transformed

Historian RAILROAD

ON THE COVER: Photographed by Matt Lankes at the Temple Railroad and Heritage Museum


Authentic Texas is your source for heritage and cultural travel in the Lone Star State. We hope these pages inspire you to discover something new, exciting and meaningful on your Texas excursions. During your next road trip, take a moment to appreciate modern transportation in Texas. From 1836 to 1856, traveling Texas was extremely difficult. Passengers journeyed by stagecoach, horse or foot on primitive roads that became useless, muddy troughs after a rain. Commercial goods took weeks to reach their destination by land or steamboat, creating a financial hardship for farmers, ranchers and merchants. Nothing came easy, especially travel, during the days of the republic and early statehood. The single invention responsible for solving these problems, and developing our expansive state, was the railroad. These mighty engines of travel and commerce transformed the state in the second half of the 19th century and have assumed iconic status in the annals of Texas history. Since 1856, numerous rail companies set their sights on Texas, most notably the Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe; the Missouri, Kansas and Texas (Katy); and the Southern Pacific. These rail companies prospered, but numerous ventures failed. Through countless jolts and lurches, the Texas railroad system boasts the highest rail mileage in the nation, a position it’s held since 1911. Today, railroads are an innate part of Texas culture. Museums recount the history and heritage of railroads and what they’ve meant for specific communities and regions. Restaurants and saloons celebrate the iconic steam engines and cabooses that have rolled across the state for more than 150 years. And perhaps most fittingly, Texans continue to ride the rails in search of their next adventure. I hope you enjoy this issue of Authentic Texas. Safe travels, whichever mode of transportation you choose!


Coleman Hampton, Manager Texas Brazos Trail Region

Contents SPRING 2019







Mary Irving, one of Texas’ foremost authorities on railroad history, began her storied career at the Temple Railroad and Pioneer Museum — where she saved the Santa Fe Railway depot — before moving to Brownwood, where she was hired to establish the Lehnis Railroad Museum — from the ground up.

Texas’ largest port, Galveston, has an extensive history when it comes to rail, beginning in 1853 with the Galveston, Houston and Henderson Railroad, the first chartered railroad in Texas. Between 1911 and 1936, the city was also home to the Interurban, an electric rail service averaging 1 million passengers per year.

The Texas State Railroad, a historic stretch of rail running between Palestine and Rusk, was built in 1883 by inmates from Rusk Penitentiary. Regular service on the line ended in 1921, but the state leased the line to private companies until it was turned over first to Texas Parks and Wildlife, then to the Texas State Railroad Authority.














Rail Bandits

Historical markers commemorate notorious train heists that occurred in the state during the 19th and 20th centuries.



TEXAS ICON The mockingbird, nicknamed the “King of Song,” is found across Texas and is known for its ability to mimic almost any sound it hears.




The fascinating story of the Rio Grande Railroad, connecting Port Isabel and Brownsville, includes hurricanes, political disputes and train robberies.


The Santa Fe Depot, a 25,000square-foot building in the heart of downtown, now houses an Amtrak station, the Visitor Center and the Temple Railroad and Heritage Museum.


An elaborate model train exhibit, TrainTopia — covering Arizona to Texas — is a highlight of the Museum of the American Railroad.





In 1881, German Carmelite monks moved from a monastery in Kansas to Grelton, Texas — now Stanton — with the aim of establishing a Catholic colony.




A full-size rail car is on display at the Bayer Museum of Agriculture — a reminder of rail’s essential role in the development of the cotton industry in the 20th century.


The African American Museum, focusing on the post-slavery and Civil Rights eras, is the only one of its kind in the Southwest.

Miniature Trains

Take a trip back in time as you enjoy a leisurely ride on the miniature rails in Fort Worth, Austin and San Antonio.

El Paso

Six streetcars, built in 1937, have been fully restored and now serve the city with five miles of track and 27 stops. And they offer WiFi.


Paula Hatfield


The preservationist’s efforts to save Snyder’s Santa Fe Railroad Depot are now captured in a documentary film.

Restored Depots



We offer an extensive list of these historic structures in Texas.

Mineola/McGregor/ Marshall

Daily rail travel is still a way of life for communities around the state.

Rails to Trails


Steaming Forward

The development of rail in Texas opened up a new world of possibilities — and conflicts.

Some 300 miles of former railroad lines have been repurposed as hike and bike trails.


Harvey Houses

Texas Rail


Trails in This Issue

Restored structures recall the chain that served rail passengers.


Candies by Vletas



Trappings of Texas


The state’s rich railroad history shows the enormous impact of this mode of transportation.

Brazos 22, 48, 56, 60, 72 Forest 42, 56, 60, 72 Forts 48, 56, 62, 64, 66, 72 Hill Country 34, 56, 72 Independence 34, 38, 56, 64, 72 Lakes 24, 32, 34, 56, 60, 62, 64, 72 Mountain 36, 56, 64, 68, 72 Pecos 28, 56, 72 Plains 30, 56, 62, 64, 72, 80 Tropical 20, 56, 72



TRAILS MAP THE TEXAS HERITAGE TRAILS program is based on 10 scenic driving trails created in 1968

by Gov. John Connally and the Texas Highway Department (now the Texas Department of Transportation) as a tool for visitors to explore the Lone Star State. The trails were established in conjunction with HemisFair, an international expo that commemorated the 250th anniversary of the founding of San Antonio. In 1997, the State Legislature charged the Texas Historical Commission with creating a statewide heritage tourism program. The THC responded with a program based on local, regional and state partnerships, centered on the 10 scenic driving trails. Today, each trail region is a nonprofit organization governed by a regional board of directors that supports educational and preservation efforts and facilitates community development through heritage tourism.


Stewart Ramser ADVERTISING

Julie A. Kunkle, Associate Publisher Christina Olivarez, Advertising Director Senior Account Executives: Macaulay Hammond, Denise Janove, Mike McKee, Tina Mullins, Misty Pennock, Maxine Pittman, Jasmine Allgood Ward Abigail Stewart, Advertising Sales Manager Jillian Clifton, Advertising Sales Coordinator ART DIRECTOR

Martha Gazella-Taylor, Gazella Design EDITOR



Michael Marchio CONTRIBUTORS

Valerie D. Bates, Patricia Benoit, Mary Bones, Jeremy Burchard, Mike Carlisle, Allison Causey, Laura Fisher, Trey Gutierrez, Cassandra Lance-Martinez, Bob Laprelle, Gloria Meraz, Brian McGrath, Andy Rhodes, Courtney Vletas









Coleman Hampton, Texas Brazos Trail Region Jeff Salmon, Texas Forts Trail Region Patty Bushart, Texas Lakes Trail Region Robert Alvarez, Texas Mountain Trail Region Bill Simon, Texas Pecos Trail Region Kay Ellington, Texas Plains Trail Region Rick Stryker, Texas Tropical Trail Region EXECUTIVE DIRECTORS OF PARTICIPATING TEXAS HERITAGE TRAIL REGIONS

Andrea Barefield, Texas Brazos Trail Region Margaret Hoogstra, Texas Forts Trail Region Jill Campbell Jordan, Texas Lakes Trail Region Wendy Little, Texas Mountain Trail Region Melissa Hagins, Texas Pecos Trail Region Barbara Brannon, Texas Plains Trail Region Nancy Deviney, Texas Tropical Trail Region














Texas Heritage Trails LLC 3702 Loop 322 Abilene, TX 79602 (325) 660-6774 Texas Heritage Trails LLC is owned and operated by seven nonprofit heritage trails organizations. Texas Heritage Trails LLC member organizations are participants of the nationally award-winning Texas Heritage Trails Program of the Texas Historical Commission. Texas Heritage Trails, LLC dba Authentic Texas is a member of the Texas Travel Industry Association and is a Go Texan partner.






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Mockingbird THE

The songbird who embodies the spirit of Texas by



T’S BEEN CALLED the “King of Song,” can be found just about everywhere in Texas, and has an exceptional ability to mimic just about any noise in its environment — other birds, insects, amphibians, even mechanical noises. And for more than nine decades, the mockingbird has worn the title of Texas’ official state bird. While the northern mockingbird is present across North America, it was designated by the Texas Legislature as the state bird in January 1927 at the request of the Texas Federation of Women’s Clubs. The mockingbird, the Federation noted, is an astonishingly unique and intelligent songbird, confirmed by “ornithologists, musicians, educators and Texans in all walks of life.” Additionally, the mocker is “a fighter for the protection of his home, falling, if need be, in its defense, like any true Texan.”



“Mockingbirds don’t do one thing but sing their hearts out for us.”


— ATTICUS FINCH in the movie adaptation of Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird

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the Texas Ornithological Society and avid birder for more than 20 years across the Americas, says the mockingbird is an especially talented animal. “They’re mimics who can learn varieties of sounds from cellphone ringtones, car alarms, even other birds’ calls,” Hargis notes. “Sometimes, in fact, it can be quite challenging to determine if the call you’re hearing is another bird or actually a mockingbird.”

medley of calls performed by the mocker, step outside in the springtime or early summer — especially during moonlight hours — to hear mockingbirds lure potential mates to breed in their claimed territories. Once mates are established, mockingbirds are known to be primarily monogamous for the remainder of their lives. Each melody chirped by the bird is repeated two to three times, followed by another song in a rapid sequence. The scientific name for the mockingbird, mimus polyglottos, is derived from the Greek “mimus” to mimic, and “polyglottos” for many-tongued. Shelia Hargis, president of

According to Texas Parks & Wildlife, one story holds that during an outdoor production of the symphony Peter and the Wolf, a mockingbird added its own accompaniment to the flutist’s portrayal of bird calls, delighting the audience. Less delightful was the time a mockingbird is said to have copied the sound of a traffic policeman’s whistle, resulting in momentary confusion on the part of drivers who weren’t sure whether they should stop or go. Some people think the mockingbird’s song is all mimicry, but researchers believe only 10 percent of sounds falls into this category. The bird actually sings at great

Less delightful was the time a mockingbird is said to have copied the sound of a traffic policeman’s whistle, resulting in momentary confusion on the part of drivers.



lengths in musical phrases that are pure mockingbird. As the bird sings, repeating each phrase, it can change its tune upwards of 90 times in seven minutes. This repetition and the sudden changes of song help distinguish the mockingbird’s sounds from those of other birds. It can warble, whistle, trill and call, as well as make such interesting sounds as a squeaking gate, croaking frog, barking dog and chirping cricket. Although the sounds expressed by the mockingbird can be entrancing, do be wary of venturing too close to the nest. The mockingbird is known to be an ardent protector of its environment, having the tendency to swoop down in attempts to fend off anything it deems to be a predator. “They can be aggressive when guarding things they perceive as theirs,” Hargis explains. “They aren’t afraid to dive-bomb.” Mockingbirds feed on insects, wild fruit and weed seeds. During the spring and summer caterpillars, grasshoppers, ants, bees and other insects make up most of their diet. While feeding on the ground, mockers may spread their wings to expose the white undersides. Some observers believe this “wingflashing” is used to startle insects such as grasshoppers into moving so they can be seen and caught. During the winter mockingbirds eat mostly vegetable matter. Wild fruits are a favorite whenever they’re available, but the birds also may eat or damage some domestic fruits. Because of their insect-eating habits, most people consider them more helpful than harmful, and no one can dispute the fact that the birds truly sing for their supper. The mockingbird can be found across the state, whether in the city or the country, in your backyard or the mesquite trees of the Hill Country, at Big Bend or the bayous of East Texas. The small state bird has certainly earned the title “King of Song” and also the reputation for being a scrappy fighter against all odds.


The strength, adaptivity and ingenuity of the species symbolize the spirit of the Lone Star State. Deceptively drab in appearance, the mockingbird averages about 10 inches in length, is covered in varying shades of gray with exposed white patches on its wings, and a long tail trailing behind. If you’d like to increase your chances at catching a glimpse or to hear the

LOCAL YONDER PASSENGER HUB: Built by the Southern Pacific Railroad in 1928 as part of its extension into the Rio Grande Valley, this depot — used until 1952 — is an example of Spanish Colonial Revival architecture, with its tile roof, arcades, curvilinear parapets and other ornamentation (right photo).

Brownsville Historic Museum 641 E. Madison St. Brownsville, TX 78520 (956) 548-1313


Tues.– Sat. 10 am–4 pm


The depot was designed by R. W. Barnes, Southern Pacific Railroad’s chief engineer. Southern Pacific began freight service on its line running from Brownville to Edinburg on Oct. 20, 1927. Passenger service was added November 1928. It was a depot until 1952. The Historic Brownsville Museum opened at this site in 1986.


South Texas Steel Rails The Brownsville Historic Museum tells the story of the Rio Grande Railroad VALERIE D. BATES

1870 law gave the Rio Grande Railroad (RGRR) the “right, power and authority to construct, equip, operate, maintain and own a railroad and telegraph line from Point Isabel on the Laguna Madre to Brownsville on the Rio Grande.” Easy enough. But the Rio Grande Railroad would find itself challenged by hurricanes, unyielding landscapes, politics and a train robbery or two. In 1870, capital stock was raised by visionaries including H.E. Woodhouse, Simon Celaya, Joseph Kleiber and others, and by 1871 a permanent organization was in place. Soon supplies for the 22.5 miles of narrow-gauge track and two small




narrow-gauge engines from the Baldwin Locomotive Company of Philadelphia were en route. The unique 42-inch gauge engines were manufactured and shipped from Spain. Connecting Brownsville and Point Isabel and Brazos Island was the objective. But finding the line between those two points would ultimately prove to be problematic given that the site was less than ideal. To add to the difficulty, the 1870 law had also placed a deadline on the project. Construction of the track would begin in Point Isabel as supplies arrived. The Palo Alto prairie between Point Isabel and Brownsville was very flat, barely above sea






HIGH-WATER MARK: In this postcard, Engine #1 takes on water outside of Brownsville for the 22-mile trip to Point Isabel. Some passengers have mounted the top of the train car to watch the water transfer. On July 4, 1872, the first passengers boarded in Point Isabel for the train ride to Brownsville. Summer schedules were adjusted for longer days at the South Padre Island beach.


OLD NO. 1: Now fully restored, Engine #1 is on permanent display at the Simon Celaya Railroad Museum on the grounds of the Brownsville Historic Museum.

level, and would include large areas of inland marsh. It was a route that turned out to be a costly one. With the anticipation of high water and weather events, trestles and wooden bridges made of mesquite were engineered. They were tested almost immediately as three hurricanes hit the area between 1873 and 1880. In the first eight years of operation, the RGRR sustained more than $83,000 in damages from storms. One such storm found 14 empty box cars in the yard in Point Isabel. A dozen were overturned by high winds. By the next morning, the remaining two had been pushed along the 22.5-mile track and came to rest at the engine house in Brownsville. But in the regular course of business, ships arrived at Brazos Island, where they were serviced by RGRR lighters. Cargo was offloaded and then carried to the RGRR wharfs in Point Isabel before being loaded onto flatcars and taken to Brownsville. The RGRR carried mail, hides and leather,

flour, lumber, alcoholic beverages and sugar and a variety of other commodities, with an average of 10 cars per train. Passengers landing at Brazos Island could also take the one or more daily trains to the Brownsville RGRR depot. Once the freight arrived in Brownsville, it was offloaded onto the Brownsville and Gulf Railroad, a narrow-gauge short line, its four flat cars and one boxcar pulled by two or three mules to the Rio Grande River landing. RGRR’s Engine #1, nicknamed “the little engine that could,” served the line for nearly half a century. It was Texas’ best-known narrow-gauge locomotive. For decades after her retirement, it was moved from park to park on public display and in various degrees of disrepair. Today, it’s fully restored and retained in the Simon Celaya Railroad Museum on the grounds of the Brownsville Historic Museum. The museum is housed in the 1928 Southern Pacific Depot and offers an immersive historic railroad experience. S PR I N G 2 0 1 9


BY THE YARD: The museum’s collection of railroad equipment is displayed on the grounds, next to an active railroad yard where rail fans can observe daily operations and traffic of the BNSF Railway and Amtrak.


The Temple Railroad and Heritage Museum is housed in the restored Santa Fe Depot, a working Amtrak station


ONE OF THE MOST charming



stops in the the city developed into the second mostBrazos Trail Region is Temple’s 25,000- favored town on the line, next to Galveston, square-foot Santa Fe Depot, which is also the company’s headquarters. Initially, a boxthe showpiece of recent mulcar served as the depot but was tifaceted downtown redevelop- Temple Railroad and replaced by a one-story and then Heritage Museum ment. Constructed in 1910, the a two-story building. Between 315 W. Avenue B Temple, TX 76501 imposing depot serves as a busy 1876 and 1886, Texas railroad For Parking: Amtrak Station, the Temple mileage quadrupled as track con104 N. 9th St. (254) 298-5172 Visitor Center, and the interstruction intensified. Railroad active Temple Railroad and officials determined a new buildHeritage Museum. ing in Temple was needed that HOURS Tues.–Sat. 10 am – 4 pm Historically, Temple is could serve passengers and house bound by steel rails. Medical offices. VISIT TEMPLE care, downtown business and Temple’s distinctive strategic planning continue to Prairie Beaux Arts-style Santa have deep ties to Temple’s railroad heritage. Fe Depot was designed by Chicago archiWithin a decade of its founding by the Gulf, tect Jarvis Hunt. Present-day visitors are Colorado and Santa Fe Railway in 1881, captivated by its openness, well-crafted



April 6–May 25 Art of the Aloha Shirt: Keoni of Hawaii, 1938–51 Explore the history, artistry and production of Hawaii’s enduring fashion statement — the Aloha shirt. The Museum’s National Train Day celebration takes place on Saturday, May 11.




All Aboard!

Jan. 19–March 30 Jerome Biederman Automobile Illustrations Born in 1913, Biederman was a nationally recognized illustrator of transportation. This traveling exhibition features 28 colorful and framed renderings of automobiles spanning 1903 through 1955.


woodwork and Santa Fe trademark cross and circle in the brickwork. Architectural historian Jay C. Henry says the Temple depot’s design exemplifies “regional eclecticism,” different from the Mission Revival style used in other depots along the Texas Santa Fe line — no scroll parapets, towers or Baroque ornamentation. Only the hipped tile roof and white plaster with brown brick trim and base reflect the Mission style. Hunt’s design also influenced other downtown buildings, such as the 1913 First United Methodist Church. Newly constructed office buildings in Santa Fe Plaza complement the original Hunt architecture. By the early 1990s, the depot was no longer used and scheduled for the wrecking ball. Temple citizens, aided by loud outcries from railroad aficionados across the state, struggled to preserve the distinctive structure. The city purchased the depot and surrounding acreage in 1995; the Texas Department of Transportation awarded the city a grant of $2.4 million, part of a federal transportation grant, and the city invested additional funds for restoration. Today, true to its original intent, the depot serves the needs of rail passengers as it houses an Amtrak station. Rail ridership remains strong: the Temple station handled more than 16,000 passengers in 2017, a six percent increase over previous years. The Temple Railroad and Heritage Museum is known for its extensive collection. Downstairs, visitors may view permanent exhibits from passengers’ experiences; upstairs is devoted to the actual technology and skills involved in managing a vast rail system. Rotating exhibits also reflect the wide-ranging influence of transportation, technology and social history. The museum’s collection of railroad equipment is displayed on the grounds next to an active railroad yard where visitors can observe daily train operations and traffic. Thanks to a recent downtown urban renewal project, the Depot is the centerpiece of the Santa Fe Plaza redevelopment, which is adding offices, outdoor stages, fountains and parks to Temple’s historic commercial center. The Santa Fe Market Trail, a linear, walkable park walkway, follows along the railroad tracks to the new Martin Luther King Festival Grounds. Temple’s Santa Fe Depot and surrounding park area remain an appealing stop for day travelers and Texas Eagle passengers.

ITINERARY: The museum’s permanent exhibits, such as America’s Road: The Journey of Route 66, focus on railroad history, with an emphasis on the Santa Fe and railroads in Texas.

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AN ODYSSEY — IN MINIATURE: TrainTopia features running G-scale trains on a 2,500-squarefoot layout, a custom light show that takes the exhibit from daylight to nighttime, and hundreds of miniature automobiles and people.


A Model Endeavor, Carefully Transported

TrainTopia, in Frisco’s Museum of the American Railroad, is a gift of two families BOB LAPRELLE

WHEN JANE SANDERS decided to sell her home in North Dallas, she was in a unique situation. Her husband Steve, who’d recently passed, had created an enormous model train layout. Now, this wasn’t your average train set — this one was as large as some homes. Steve’s trains were his passion, and Jane and her daughters wanted to do the right thing. Fearing that the layout might not survive the home sale, she contacted the Museum of the American Railroad and graciously offered to donate the layout along with more than 500 model cars and locomotives. The museum had plans for an operating model train exhibit, but not until a per-



manent building was constructed on its new Frisco site. Upon seeing the layout, museum leaders agreed it was too good to pass up, and decided that an immediate home should be found to house and present the exhibit. Enter the City of Frisco. The mayor and other city officials made the trip to the Sanders home and immediately fell in love with Steve’s creation. Seeing the value of the layout as an added attraction to the Railroad Museum and Frisco, the city’s Community Development Corporation agreed to provide exhibit space in the Discovery Center. With the layout secured and space now available to house and present it to the public, funding was the final remaining piece of







A TALE OF TWO FAMILIES: TrainTopia is the result of efforts by Jane Sanders (above right photo), whose husband, Steve, created the model train display, and Amanda and Brint Ryan (shown above with Mayor Jeff Cheney, at left), who funded its relocation.

the project. Amanda and Brint Ryan, also of North Dallas, saw the importance of adding the highly detailed animated train layout to the museum’s visitor experience. Brint, a train enthusiast himself, whose family had worked for the Texas and Pacific Railway in West Texas, was thrilled to have the opportunity to fund relocation and reconstruction of the Sanders layout for the enjoyment of future generations. The Ryans’ community-minded spirit gave a green light to the project. But how would a custom-built 2,500square-foot train layout be moved from someone’s home through a set of second story double doors, then some 30 miles up the road to Frisco? Answer: very carefully and methodically! Originally built by Robert Reid Studios of Fort Worth and Pat Neil of Collectible Trains & Toys of Dallas, the layout was constructed in sections (modules) in Reid’s studio. After careful examination, the layout was separated into its original 37 modules by making strategic cuts in the scenery, trackage and wiring. All other features, such as buildings, vehicles, foliage and people, were carefully tagged and removed. Extensive photographs, video and cataloging was also employed. Disassembly and transportation to Frisco took a total of 500 man-hours over a two-month period. By late 2017, all of the layout modules, along with boxes of their many features, had been moved to Frisco and placed in storage. In early 2018, work began in the 3,000-square-foot space in the Frisco S PR I N G 2 0 1 9


MODEL EXPANSE: The exhibit spans Arizona to Texas, from the dramatic rock formations of the Four Corners region near New Mexico to a thriving Northeast Texas in the early 1960s.



Discovery Center, which included painting the 35-foot-high ceiling and upper walls black, filling in three existing doorways and constructing an overhead grid for theatrical lighting. While the Sanders home featured a sky painted on the ceiling along with fiber optic stars at night, its new installation in Frisco features a programmable lighting system that cycles from daylight to dark, including majestic sunrises and sunsets. Over a period of five months, following preparation of the space, the Sanders layout was carefully reconstructed, including reproduction of the original hand-painted murals that served as backdrops. Each of the 37 modules were moved from storage and reassembled piece by piece. Scenery was filled and blended, and track was reconnected along with wiring for train operating systems and lighting. Great care was given to maintaining the original integrity of the layout. Once the “bench work” was complete, the task of placing buildings, foliage, vehicles, signage and figures began. Everything from the tall pine trees in Colorado and vintage cars parked at the Palo Duro DriveIn to the young lady hailing a cab in front of Dallas Union Station were reapplied according to photo documentation. Finally, after some 1,000 man-hours

required for reassembly, the Sanders layout was ready for opening to the public. Branded TrainTopia, the exhibit debuted on July 18, 2018, to thousands of visitors, adding a whole new dimension to the visitor experience at the Museum of the American Railroad. Thanks to the generosity of two families and the City of Frisco, what was reserved for a privileged few is now on display for the enjoyment of everyone. The Museum of the American Railroad

8004 N. Dallas Pkwy. #400 Frisco, TX 75034 (214) 428-0101


Wed.–Sat. 10 am–5 pm Sun. 1 pm–5 pm

Frisco Discovery Center

8004 N. Dallas Pkwy. #200 Frisco, TX 75034 (972) 292-6651


Tues.–Fri. 9 am–5 pm Sat. 10 am–8 pm, Sun. 12 pm–6 pm



Built of Steel and Faith




railroad also built a pump and a water tank. WHILE THE RAILROAD may have picked the spot, it was the faith of German Catholics That same year, cheap land in Texas that helped establish the West Texas town enticed Father Christian Anastasius Peters of Stanton — located 100 miles south of and a group of German Carmelite monks Lubbock and halfway between to move from a monastery Martin County Big Spring and Midland on in Kansas to Grelton with Historical Museum Interstate 20. the purpose of establishing a 207 Broadway St. Stanton, TX 79782 In 1881, the Texas and German Catholic colony. (432) 756-2722 The German settlers Pacific Railroad laid tracks Mon.–Fri. 9–11:30 am 12:30–5:30 pm proved to be industrious heading west out of Fort and ambitious. In just a few Worth to Sierra Blanca. VISIT STANTON months of their arrival, a load Section houses were built of lumber was delivered for every 10 miles along the route, MARTIN COUNTY homes and other buildings. and, at a settlement in Martin CONVENT FOUNDATION Father Peters advertised for County known as Grelton, the



The historic Carmelite Monastery is the only remaining structure of the colony efforts and is said to be one of the finest adobe structures in the Southwest. With four-foot-thick adobe walls and Gothic pointed windows, it’s a blend of European architecture and Southwest building materials. Restoration efforts continue, and guided tours are available.




The current city of Stanton was once a German Catholic colony settled by Carmelite monks

additional immigrants and traveled back to Germany to promote the new colony. Additional settlers soon arrived from Kansas, Arkansas and Germany. Over the next several years, a post office was granted, town lots were sold, the first permanent courthouse was constructed and the name of Grelton was changed to Marienfeld, German for “Field of Mary.” While the town was prospering commercially, great strides were also made in establishing Marienfeld as a beacon of faith. One of the first buildings constructed by that initial group of settlers was the first Catholic church in West Texas. The next year, a two-story adobe and brick monastery for the Carmelite order was built. A school for boys was opened in 1894 and one for girls in 1896. The monastery became a springboard for ministry, as the priests served communities throughout West Texas. According to the Martin County Convent Foundation website, “By 1895, the Carmelites reached 5,000 people at 35 mission stations, traveling by train and buggy to reach the German, Scotch-Irish, Swiss and Mexican residents.” The German Catholic colony enterprise that began with such enthusiasm was devastated by West Texas weather. Drought struck in 1886 and 1887, and the winter blizzards of 1886 were brutal. Immigration came to a halt, and many settlers moved away. When rains and new pioneers arrived, the town was more Protestant than Catholic. In 1890 the town’s name was changed to “Stanton” in honor of Edwin M. Stanton, who served as Secretary of War under President Lincoln. The Carmelite monks took up the call to establish a monastery and mission in Natchitoches, La.; their property was sold to the Sisters of Mercy. Renovations were made so that the sisters opened a school in 1894, and, in 1897, the original Carmelite Monastery became a convent. The Academy of Our Lady of Mercy was the only Catholic academy between Fort Worth and El Paso; students from across West Texas attended this school until its demise in 1938 due to a tornado. Through all of this, the railroad chugged along, playing a major role for transportation and then as a cattle shipping station.

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HIGH COTTON: (from left) Bayer Museum of Agriculture Exterior; cotton boll almost ready for harvest.

“The Cottonest City in the World”

county seat on March 10, 1891, Lubbock quickly established itself as a marketing center. The first train from the Santa Fe Railroad came through town on Oct. 25, 1909, and the community’s prosperity was sealed. As rich agricultural assets were discovered and developed by innovative and industrious farmers, Lubbock saw a promising future in the cotton and agriculture industry. By 1950, more than 50 percent of the cotton produced in Texas came from 25 counties in the West Texas region surrounding ELECTED AS THE

28 30




Lubbock. By 1960 Lubbock had proclaimed itself “The Cottonest City in the World.”The railroads played an instrumental part in the agricultural industry’s prosperity by transporting products to market. Fast forward to 2019. Travel down Lubbock’s Canyon Lake Drive and you’ll see the gate for the Bayer Museum of Agriculture, which proudly presents and preserves this history for future generations to appreciate. More than 40 years ago, Alton Brazell and a group of civic leaders sought to preserve the region’s agricultural heri-

tage. Brazell began collecting machinery that was part of the technical transformation that took place on South Plains’ farms. The tractors, combines, plows, drills and thousands of other farm-related artifacts became part of the Lubbock County Historical Collection. In 2001, a nonprofit group was organized to assume responsibility and administration of the Lubbock County Historical Collection and incorporated as the American Museum of Agriculture, now the Bayer Museum of Agriculture. In 2016, the museum

Bayer Museum of Agriculture 1121 Canyon Lake Dr. Lubbock, TX 79403 (806) 744-3786


Tues.–Sat. 10 am–5 pm

Lubbock Heritage Society






Lubbock’s Bayer Museum of Agriculture celebrates the city’s agricultural past — and features a full-size rail car


SLEEPER: (from left) Sign outside the Underwood Pullman car thanking donors; hallway painted in Pullman green; Loren Lutes, giving a rail car tour in January 2017, who’s a descendant of the Underwood family and was central to negotiations to donate the car for educational purposes.

partnered with the Lubbock Heritage Society to return and restore a unique piece of local cotton and rail industry history — the Underwood Pullman car fondly named the “Fair Deal.” Built in 1925, this full-size rail car saw its glory days as a sleeper car on the famous 20th Century Limited express train that ran from New York City to Chicago and back during the first half of the 20th century. West Texas businessman and farmer Arch Underwood bought the car in the late 1940s and used it as his mobile conference space and living quarters. He’d place a call to the Santa Fe Railroad to hook up his car and travel around Texas to his 27 cotton compresses. He also used these trips to entertain friends, reporters and political decision makers as he championed the inland cotton industry. The car even saw service as a family “RV” on numerous trips and adventures, a special vacation experience in and of itself. Fully restored to its original luxury and charm, the Fair Deal remains one of the most intact heavyweight sleepers, complete with original details. Additionally, it illustrates the ingenuity and family-oriented nature of Arch Underwood. The exhibit offers an extraordinary tribute to passenger train travel in the first half of the 20th century and the vital importance of trains to the development of the cotton industry in mid-century West Texas. Allison Causey is the technology marketing manager for the Abilene Convention and Visitors Bureau. S PR I N G 2 0 1 9



RICH HERITAGE: Housed in four vaulted galleries — augmented by a research library — the African American Museum offers an impressive collection of African and African American art, featuring one of the largest folk art collections in the nation (right photo).

Facing the Rising Sun

The African American Museum of Dallas is the only one of its kind in the Southwest




disjointed history. Founded in 1974, the African American Museum is devoted to the preservation and education of African American history, culture and art, focused primarily in the Dallas area. It was originally part of the Special Collections at Bishop College — a historically black college that ceased operations in 1988. Since 1979, the museum has operated independently and is the only museum of its kind in the Southwestern region of the United States, boasting one of the

largest African American Folk Art collections in the country. Facing the Rising Sun: Freedman’s Cemetery is the AAMD’s permanent exhibition that puts on display the harsh reality of the adversities that the African American community confronted in the face of racism and segregation after the Emancipation Proclamation brought an end to slavery. The establishment of Freedmantown, now known as North Dallas, was forged despite the obstacles and hardships that the community

African American Museum of Dallas 3536 Grand Ave. Dallas, TX 75210 (214) 565-9026


Tues.–Fri. 11 am–5 pm Sat. 10 am–5 pm





grounds of Fair Park in south Dallas is an establishment that holds vital importance to the community. The African American Museum of Dallas (AAMD) brings to light the individuals, events, accomplishments and injustices that occurred to African Americans in the Dallas area during post-slavery and Civil Rights eras. Through artifacts, interactive kiosks and folk art, the African American Museum of Dallas seeks to piece together the puzzle that is Dallas’




faced. Artifacts from Freedmantown, photographs and historical accounts are on display to educate the public. Along with the exhibit, visitors can enjoy a research library where one can hold and study texts from as far back as the early 20th century, an outdoor sculpture area and an indoor Folk and Decorative Art room with numerous pieces created by prominent African American artists as well as pieces constructed by slaves from the early to mid-1800s. On the day of our visit, Kevin Austin, a mentor at the Dallas nonprofit Mentoring Brother 2 Brother, which provides positive role models to African American male youth, was visiting the museum with a group of young men. “My purpose for bringing these young men here is to expose them to our history, give our respects and pay homage for those who paved the way,” Austin explained. “I want to show them that, no matter the situation, they too can go on to do great things.” With historical documentation of the African American community being more difficult to gather than that of other ethnic groups, the African American Museum is, Austin says, “the best place to come and gain access to the history of the African American community of Dallas after slavery and during the Civil Rights era.” The free admission provides an opportunity for individuals from all walks of life to not only enjoy a day at the museum, but to immerse themselves in an invaluable educational experience distinct from other museums in this region of the United States. Next time you head to Dallas, why not take advantage of this establishment — or make a special trip just for the museum itself? The African American Museum offers a wealth of knowledge to visitors who visit, and the significance of the museum makes it a purpose-built and precious gem within the walls of Fair Park. S PR I N G 2 0 1 9


CITY LIGHTS SIXTY YEARS ON: A family attraction since 1959, the Forest Park Miniature Railroad in Fort Worth offers a five-mile roundtrip train ride around Trinity Park and the Texas Christian University and Zoo area.

Forest Park Miniature Railroad 1700 Colonial Pkwy. Fort Worth, TX 76110 (817) 336-3328


Fri. 11 am–3 pm Sat. and Sun. 11 am–4 pm

Zilker Zephyr 2100 Barton Springs Rd. Austin, TX 78746 (512) 478-8286


Daily 10 am–5 pm

Little Engines that Can

Miniature trains provide a timeless experience and a leisurely respite

Fort Worth’s Forest Park Miniature Railroad

When Forest Park’s miniature railroad first opened in 1959, the new attraction drew so many visitors it actually caused a traffic jam in the park. More than 5,000 people showed up to 34



ride the train in its first two days. Now, 60 years later, the fivemile round trip ride around Fort Worth’s beautiful Trinity Park carries passengers for 40 minutes through gorgeous greenery and over six different bridges, including a 350-foot-long bridge crossing the Trinity River. One of Fort Worth’s most cherished family experiences, the Forest Park Miniature Railroad is a generational treasure. “Some people have been coming for years, and some people are now bringing their grandchildren,” David Ledel told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram for the train’s 50th anniversary

1250 Brackenridge Dr. San Antonio, TX 78209 (210) 734-7184


Daily 7 am–5 pm


celebration in 2009. The greatgrandson of the railroad’s founder, Bill Hames, Ledel and six other family members own the train. After opening, the train briefly held the record for longest miniature train route in the world, though the attraction’s popularity caught on and soon cities across the globe had their own miniature trains. While the Forest Park train has had some changes over time — including a new bridge in response to flood control and upgrades to the cars — it remains a timeless experience for visitors of all ages.










charm to hopping onboard a miniature train, from the wonder they inspire in children to the peace and calm of the gentle rumble along the tracks. And some of Texas’ best city parks sport tracks winding throughout their grounds. Here are some of Texas’ best miniature train rides. THERE’S A REAL


San Antonio Zoo Eagle

Austin’s Zilker Zephyr

The centerpiece of Austin’s civic love affair with the outdoors for more than 100 years, Zilker Park houses the Barton Springs Pool, Zilker Botanical Gardens, miles of hike and bike trails, and plenty more amid its 350 acres. And what better way to see it than by riding the Zilker Zephyr, a miniature train departing from the heart of the park? At three miles of track, riders can expect about a 25-minute ride traveling at a leisurely eight miles per hour. With plenty of track along Lady Bird Lake, it’s also the perfect train ride to spot all the developments to the Austin skyline, thanks to the train’s central urban location. Formerly known as the Eagle, the Zephyr is actually privately owned and has a history dating back to the 1960s.


The San Antonio Zoo Eagle

Once known as the Brackenridge Eagle, the San Antonio Zoo Eagle train is a replica of a classic 1863 model. Nowadays it’s known as a charming ride along the San Antonio River winding through Brackenridge Park, but it actually owns another piece of Texas history. In 1970, two masked men popped out of the bushes along the route, brandished a pistol and demanded the belongings of 75 riders. The ordeal became known as “The Great Little Train Robbery” and was the first train robbery in the Wild West in 47 years (authorities later found the culprits — two soldiers stationed at nearby Fort Sam Houston). But now, nearly 50 years in the past, the harrowing ordeal is an interesting piece of San Antonio Zoo Eagle lore. The relaxing train ride remains a focal point for millions of Zoo visitors every year.

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Streetcar Revival


ON MARCH 19, 2018, accompanied by police escort, an old friend returned to El Paso after a nearly 2,000-mile journey on the flatbed of an 18-wheeler. It was the #1506, a streetcar built in 1937 but now fully restored and decked out in Art Deco mint green car, headed to a storage facility to await its time on the rails — for the first time in 40 years. Five other streetcars would soon follow, in equally beautiful vintage colors.





Streetcars are an interesting part of El Paso’s history. The first form of public transportation in the city was a mule cart that moved passengers around the downtown area and ran internationally to and from Juarez, Mexico. It was a safe and easy way for people to cross the border. As El Paso grew, a more modern public transportation system was needed. In 1902 a small street car was introduced, and by 1907

the President’s Conference Committee (PCC) streetcars were operated by the El Paso City Lines Company. By the end of World War II, the original streetcars were pretty banged up and in bad shape, so El Paso took advantage of an opportunity. In 1950, the city of San Diego was discontinuing its lines, and El Paso was able to pick up 17 cars, which were modified and served El Pasoans until 1974. At one time, there were 63 miles of lines.

A TASTE OF HISTORY: The new El Paso streetcar system (left photo) opened for service on Nov. 9, 2018, and uses a fleet of restored streetcars that served the city’s previous system (right photo) until its closure in 1974.





El Paso is again enjoying the joys of trolley cars — now with air conditioning and WiFi

NEW LIFE: Streetcar restorers at Brookville Equipment Corp. in Pennsylvania refurbished six of the original vintage President’s Conference Committee streetcars that rolled along El Paso streets until 1974 and then sat rusting in the open desert on El Paso International Airport property for 40 years.

In recent years, a streetcar revival of sorts has occurred in part of the nation. Since El Paso’s streetcars were stored in the dry desert, they were in great shape, and a group of preservationists took the lead in getting the cars restored and back on lines. They were first transported to Brookville Equipment Corporation in Pennsylvania for servicing and restoration, then returned to service in November 2018. Nearly five miles of track were constructed with 27 stops, with two loops that serve the uptown and downtown area. “Both loops,” reports Sun Metro, “interconnect an

international bridge, an array of businesses and restaurants, a baseball park, government buildings, historic neighborhoods, hospitals and higher education institutions like the University of Texas at El Paso.” Now, six streetcars run in El Paso, and although they’re the same streetcars built in 1937 (the oldest PCC cars in service) and served El Paso in the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s, they now have air-conditioning, free WiFi, bike racks and ADA accessibility. Next time you’re in El Paso, take a ride on the trolley!


The streetcar lines still ran internationally, into Ciudad Juárez. As more and more people from Mexico came into downtown El Paso to shop, Juárez shop owners expressed concern; many claimed it was too easy for the Mexican Nationals to cross the border. In 1974 the Juárez Chamber of Commerce asked for the tracks to be removed, and, at some point, a group of people with jackhammers came in the middle of the night and destroyed the tracks on the Juárez side. Since the line that went throughout El Paso was broken, the system was ended, and the streetcars were stored away.

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Galveston’s history is inexorably linked with rail.



by B R I A N M C G R AT H

ALVESTON’S HISTORY with various forms of rail — including elec-

tric railway, the railroad and street cars — is as extensive as it is captivating. At one time, Texas’ largest port depended on rail to function successfully, and citizens found public transportation a necessity for daily living. Today, the role of rail has declined but vestiges remain.

Electric Railway The Rosenberg Library Museum on Sealy Street has, in its permanent collection, a model train of the Galveston Flyer. This brass replica was made in Japan by GSB Rail Ltd. and purchased by the Rosenberg Library in June 2010. It serves as a striking reminder of the efficient public transportation that once connected Galveston and Houston. The Galveston-Houston Electric Railway Co. (or, as most people called it, the Interurban) operated between the two cities from Dec. 5, 1911, to Oct. 31, 1936. The company formed in 1905 when local businessmen hired Boston-based Stone & Webster Engineering Corp. to plan the project. Stone & Webster pledged $500,000 to subsidize the cost of building the causeway, which ended up totaling $2 million. The firm chose a direct crosscountry route (as opposed to following the coast, as was originally proposed), which passed through Genoa, Webster, League City, Dickinson and La Marque. Although the tracks typically missed city centers, the Interurban helped develop these towns and drove up land prices. Construction started March 28, 1910, and the last spike was driven into the ground Oct. 19, 1911. The Interurban averaged 1 million passengers a year during its 25-year service. A one-way ticket cost $1.25, and round-trip was $2. To entice riders, the Interurban offered specials for weekend trips, hunters, dog-track-goers and policemen. The Galveston-Houston Electric

Railway Co. also stirred interest with a monthly magazine called The Tangent. It chronicled interesting tales from employees and patrons about the line and became so popular that a number of people subscribed to it. Passengers could take their dogs onboard but lap dogs had to be kept on the passenger’s lap. Hunters could check their guns, and passengers were allowed to check luggage of up to 150 pounds. In addition to passengers, the Interurban also carried freight, including agricultural goods, dairy, poultry, oil and beer. The Galveston-Houston Electric

Railway Co. had very high standards for its employees. Motormen and conductors were carefully selected and underwent specialized training. Many of the company’s policies — such as refraining from drinking, swearing, smoking, or gambling on duty — might seem like common sense but represented the cutting edge of professionalism at the time. Workers’ watches were inspected regularly to ensure everyone kept the same time, and the cars had headlights that could illuminate up to two-thirds of a mile.

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interior had beautiful Honduran mahogany, bronze trim and luggage racks, wool carpet and silk curtains. Cars also had a bathroom in the rear and a water cooler with paper cups for patrons to quench their thirst. While the Interurban has been out of service for more than 80 years, its legacy still lives on. It cemented Galveston as an affordable getaway for people in the surrounding region, helped develop many of the cities along its route and forged a bond between Galveston and Houston that lasts to this day.


The Galveston, Houston and Henderson Railroad, the first chartered railroad (1853) in Texas, also was the first rail line to reach Galveston Island. Construction began in 1856, with track first laid the next year. By late 1858, it reached from Virginia Point on the mainland to Houston. With the completion of a railroad bridge across Galveston Bay in February 1860, the GH&H arrived on Galveston Island. The railroad causeway was destroyed in the

storm of 1867 and damaged in the hurricane of 1875, and the Galveston, Houston and Henderson experienced a series of business failures. Railroad magnate Jay Gould leased the line to the International & Great Northern Railroad in 1882. In 1894, the Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railway (“Katy”) became co-owner with the

International and Great Northern. The GH&H operated the last passenger train to leave Galveston the morning of the great hurricane, on Saturday, Sept. 8, 1900. During the first decades of the 20th century, the GH&H operated freight and passenger trains. It began developing its Galveston engine facilities in 1907. During 1910, James Stewart & Co., from St. Louis, built a 14-stall roundhouse of reinforced concrete — said to be the only one in Texas — at 43rd and Market streets. The structure cost $45,000. A 70-foot turntable served steam locomotives. In 1949, the GH&H acquired its first diesel engine, an RS-1 manufactured

by American Locomotive Works. The Galveston, Houston and Henderson discontinued the use of steam locomotives in 1953. The Galveston Wharves Board leased space from the GH&H during the 1970s and early 1980s to service its own diesels. The roundhouse became superfluous when the Galveston Wharves completed a new engine house at 37th Street and Port Industrial Boulevard. The roundhouse was demolished in September 1983. The Galveston, Houston and Henderson’s freight depot, on the north side of Market Street between 33rd and 35th streets, still stands. It was built at a cost of $64,000 and dedicated in September 1911. The GH&H; International and Great Northern; and Missouri, Kansas and Texas maintained offices in the facility. The building had concrete floors, which


Safety was of the highest priority for the line as well. Master mechanics regularly checked cars and had to approve them before they could leave the barns to return to service. The Galveston Flyer won the Electric Traction magazine annual speed award in 1925 and 1926. It covered the 50.47 miles from downtown Houston to Galveston in an hour and 15 minutes and had a top speed of 60 miles per hour. Geography played an important part in its speed and allowed for a fast trip: 34 miles of track were completely straight, and the maximum grade it encountered was a short 3-percent grade bridge. The Interurban was powered by two 1,500kilowatt, 2,300-volt, 60-cycle alternators, each driven by a horizontal Curtiss turbine. Its main power plant on Clear Creek burned coal or oil and delivered 600 volts of electricity to the trolley lines. The Interurban was able to weather the storm of 1915 (although the causeway was damaged, causing the loss of service for a week), but by the mid-1920s ridership began to decline. Ultimately the Interurban fell victim to a newer, more personalized form of transportation: the automobile. The Galveston-Houston Electric Railway Co. invested heavily in buses, and much of the railroad’s right-of-way property was rich in oil. On Halloween day 1936 the Galveston Daily News modestly noted, “Galveston’s historic Interurban line gave way last night to the march of time and ceased operation after 25 years of almost continuous service.” The replica on display in the Rosenberg Library Museum is a ”Standard” model similar to the 10 cars purchased in 1911 from the Cincinnati Car Co. by the Galveston-Houston Electric Railway. The Standard weighed 72,000 pounds and was 52 feet long, 9 feet wide and 13 feet high. The cars originally were painted Pullman green with gold lining and lettering, and later the named cars (such as the Galveston Flyer or the Houston Rocket) were painted blue with dark blue roofs, white window posts, red window frames and doors, and white headlights. On the sides of the cars were white oval bluebird emblems. The Standard had two compartments and could sit 54 passengers. The

offered resistance to fires and pests. In 1982, Gately Paper Co. purchased the depot from the GH&H for its business operations. Today, the building is a visible reminder of Galveston’s first railroad.

Street Cars


The first street cars came to the city in 1866, courtesy of Col. B. Rush Plumly and the Galveston City Railway Co. People waited hours for their turn to take a 10-cent ride down Market Street. The first street cars could seat 10 passengers. Smoking, drinking and

University of Texas Medical Branch. That changed in 1917, when the railroad company began purchasing cars that were enclosed. At that point, it was the latest in safety innovations for the company. In 1915, air brakes were introduced. As a novel concept, the brake system included a safety feature, where if Rosenberg Library the conductor became incaMuseum pacitated, the brakes would 2310 Sealy St. Galveston, TX 77550 be enacted and as an added (409) 763-8854 measure, the trolley would dump sand on the tracks to HOURS prevent a collision. Mon.–Sat. 9 am–6 pm The electric trolley sysVISIT GALVESTON tem operated until 1938, though service was inter-

profane language were prohibited. The streetcar lines expanded exponentially during the next 30 years, peaking at the point of having more than 40 miles of track covered by 88 cars pulled by 238 mules. According to one news account written in 1936, the mules that powered the street cars in those days were docile beasts who learned to stop only when their drivers set the brake. If the mules were set to farm work, or made to pull a car that wasn’t set on a track, drivers had a difficult time controlling them. “One could yell ‘Whoa!’ at them forever and never be heeded,” one Galveston newspaper noted. Galveston began making the switch to electric trolleys in 1891. The cars were originally “open,” meaning a careless medical student could occasionally fall out on his way to the

rupted by the 1900 Hurricane, and the mules had to return in the interim. But the company operated at a deficit for its last five years — thanks in no small part to the city preventing a 5-cent price increase. The trolleys’ final run was on June 1, 1938. They were replaced by a bus system. In truth, trolleys have never really come back to the island. To be a trolley, a car must troll under something, and Galveston never rebuilt the overhead electric lines that powered the original trolleys. They did bring back the tracks, however. Starting in 1973, certain groups began agitating for the return of a rail system. The calls ultimately resulted in a 1979 study, sponsored by the Park Board of Trustees, the Moody Foundation and others, that called for a rail system that connected existing and potential visitor attractions.

Construction of the new system, priced at $10.7 million and paid for by federal and private grants, began in 1983 and was completed in 1988. The park board also bought four diesel-powered streetcars and four rubber-tire trolleys that would bring the tourists to areas not covered by the 6.7 miles of track. Even at that time, the project was controversial. In 1987, a group of citizens organized a recall of the city council halfway through the new system’s construction. A recent charter amendment, made after the start of the project, required a citywide vote to start new transportation projects. The council survived the recall. Still, during its heyday, opinions of the trolley were split between whether it was a tourist attraction or a system for commuters, said John Dundee, who managed the trolleys when they returned in the 1990s. Dundee told the Galveston County Daily News that he saw the trolleys as a way of promoting the island’s tourist interests. “It’s a heritage thing, it’s a way to get tourists out of their car and out of their vehicle,” said Dundee, adding that he encouraged his drivers to describe Galveston landmarks and add other personal touches to the trolley rides as they made their way from the Strand to Seawall Boulevard. The track itself was expanded twice, in 1995 and 2005, to increase service to the port and University of Texas Medical branch — but ridership was always considered to be lower than what was originally estimated. In 2007, about 31,000 people rode the trolley for $1.25 a trip, bringing in only about $39,000 for the system’s operation. The trolley system ended its second run after Ike in 2008, while under the guidance of the city’s Island Transit system. After Hurricane Ike, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Federal Transit Authority agreed to fund repairs to the streetcar system, and the trolleys were back in the summer of 2018. To expand the service area that the streetcar trolleys serve, the city of Galveston purchased four rubber wheel trolleys that will connect with the downtown trolley route, providing island visitors transportation from the historic east end of the island to the west, with numerous stops in between. S PR I N G 2 0 1 9


ALL ABOARD! During Memorial Day weekend, you can board the steam engines, climb into the cabs and learn how they operate.




0 BACK on


The Texas State Railroad, built by inmates from the Rusk Penitentiary, now operates as a scenic tourist line. by





it’s only natural for us to occasionally seek some respite. If you want to truly relax and enjoy a slow-paced getaway, leave your stressful life behind and hitch a ride on the Texas State Railroad (TSR). Located in Cherokee and Anderson counties, the antique steam and diesel trains operate between the Rusk and Palestine depots. The Rusk depot is located on U.S. Highway 84 three miles west of Rusk, and the Palestine depot is located on Highway 84 six miles east of Palestine. The trains cover 25 scenic miles of rails between the depots, with a round trip taking about four hours. Adjacent to both depot areas are facilities for hiking, camping, and fishing. The park in Rusk comprises 100 acres and has a fifteen-acre lake, while the park in Palestine is considerably smaller. Immersion in the romance of train travel is unescapable, as well as the rich history surrounding the Texas State Railroad.

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Rusk Depot

535 Park Rd. 76 Rusk, TX 75785


Daily 8 am–5 pm


Palestine Depot 789 Park Rd. 70 Palestine, TX 75801


Texas State Railroad





RAIL WORK: Inmate crews (above) built many spur lines that transported iron ore, livestock and timber. For a firsthand experience, you can join the crew and ride along in the cab (right photo).

No wonder the TSR was designated the Official Railroad of Texas by the 78th Texas Legislature in 2003. It’s an important piece of Texas heritage, truly a Texas treasure. At the slow pace of the nostalgic steam engine, you can sit back and enjoy the scenery in a special way only possible aboard a train. The TSR is surrounded by the Piney Woods, creating a beautiful tunnel of tall pines and hardwoods. Perhaps you’ll think back to a time when your grandparents and great-grandparents rode the train. “It’s always amazing to have grandparents bring their grandkids and talk about how they used to ride it,” says TSR general manager Daniel Adair. One of the highlights of the journey is crossing the Neches River. The bridge, standing more than 35 feet above the forest floor and stretching nearly a quarter of a mile, gives passengers a unique bird’s-eye view of the wetlands and river below. Once a wooden trestle built in the 1880s, the Neches Bridge is a modern concrete bridge spanning 1,042 feet. In 1881, Texas built a new prison in Rusk. The Rusk area was rich in iron ore, but the prison needed to get the iron ore to their furnace, then get the pig iron and finished products out. Rusk needed a railroad, and the manpower existed in the prison. Two railroads bypassed Rusk in 1872, but one agreed to detour toward Rusk in return for prison labor. “The construction began with the first mile and one third from the prison yard to the Kansas & Gulf Short Line Railroad connection,” explains historian John Garbutt, “bringing birth to the railroad.” Between 1885 and 1887, Rusk prisoners manufactured virtually all of the interior cast-iron features in the Austin Capitol building, from ornamental iron to balusters. All the finished products rode the TSR from Rusk. The TSR delivered the iron for fabricating the iron dome atop the Capitol as well. Elected in 1907, Gov. Thomas Campbell, a native of Rusk, used prison labor to extend the prison line westward to Palestine. The Texas State Railroad reached Palestine in July 1909. In addition to hauling raw materials to the penitentiary, the railroad offered regular passenger and freight service from 1907 to 1921. Prison inmates, who’d constructed the entire line, made up the train crew — except for the engineer — during much of this period.

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Through the sixties, the railroad’s popularity began to dwindle, leading management to plan the last run for Jan. 4, 1970. “State Railroad boys determined the time had come to put the old girl to bed,” Garrett says, “with plans to pull the track and sell the rolling stock, turning the rail property into biking and hiking trails.” However, local people organized to save the railroad. Tourism was booming as the third largest industry in the state, and many believed an operating passenger train would appeal to tourists. In 1972, the TSR was transferred to Texas Parks and Wildlife. More than 60 years after the rail’s initial construction, prisoners were again used to rebuild the aging railroad. Just in time for the American Bicentennial, passengers climbed back on-board June 25, 1976. Eventually, budget and operational concerns led to the establishment in 2007 of the Texas State Railroad Authority, which has the power to lease the enterprise to a private operator. The TSR is no longer part of Texas Parks and Wildlife, but despite the different leases over the years, most agree the Texas State Railroad should never close. Today, the railroad has other uses. “We store rail cars for companies that can’t afford to have empty cars sitting around,” explains freight manager Scott Rohal. The TSR still

carries freight, too. “We haul chemicals for a chemical plant called Baze Chemicals,” Rohal explains. Over the years, the railroad has been prominent in documentaries and full-length films. The Texas State Railroad is featured in big-screen movies such as American Outlaws. “No. 316 is kind of our moviestar engine,” operations manager Greg Udolf notes. The Texas State Railroad maintains 10 locomotives, including two of the only remaining “Texas type” steam engines. Five diesel locomotives are classic streamliners, or “F” units. Sometimes referred to as “honorary” steam engines, “they have the classic look that everyone recognizes as a train,” Udolf says. Steam Engine No. 28 is one of the main steam locomotives in use, built in 1917. No. 28 is a Baldwin “General Pershing” built for the U.S. Army during World War I and used primarily at Fort Polk in Louisiana. Texas Steam Engine No. 201 is considered one of the favorites of the TSR crews. The 201 is the only remaining Texas and Pacific steamer in operation today, donated by the City of Abilene. Steam Engine No. 500 was owned by the City of San Angelo. “Everyone loves the 500,” Udolf says, “an old Sante Fe engine, because that thing is so big!” The Texas State Railroad owns two of the only remain-


HOLIDAY MAGIC: The Polar Express runs in November and December, bringing the story to life.


ing T&P Texas-type steam engines. The huge locomotives were built for the T&P main line in West Texas, and thus became known as Texas types. No. 316 was built in 1901. No. 610 is the second Texas steam engine. Texas locomotives could haul 40 percent more tonnage, while using less fuel, than the engines they replaced. The 610 is one of the last Texans built and delivered. Weighing 260 tons, the 610 engine dwarfs the regular 85-ton locomotives riding the railroad. “The 610 is just too large and heavy for our railroad,” Rohal explains. The Amon Carter Foundation donated the 610 as well as the operations shop to store the iconic train. “Everyone loves to see this engine,” Rohal says. “It’s one of the last of what they call the super-power engines.” Over Memorial Day weekend, you can board the steam engines, climb into the cabs and learn how they operate. The smaller steam engine, No. 30, burns about 700 gallons of used motor oil, and uses about 6,000 gallons of water for the trip from Palestine to Rusk. A supplier in Fort Worth recycles the motor oil saved from oil-changing businesses for use in the engines. “Originally the engines were coal burners, but converted to oil,” Rohal says. “The majority of your Southern engines were oil-powered.” Besides the engines and locomotives, TSR maintains a variety of rail cars from open cars to the presidential car, with priority placed on authenticity. The different cars provide accommodations from open air benches to leather seating. At times, the rail cars have complimentary champagne; all have access to concession cars filled with popcorn and other goodies, as well as adult beverages. Since 1961, every sitting Texas governor has ridden aboard the presidential car, No. 1511. Since July 4, 1976, every governor has visited the railroad during their first term of office. A few times a year, in nearby Maydelle, Texas, passengers watch hundred-year-old railroad technology in action. A massive century-old turntable, driven by an air motor powered off the locomotive, rotates trains 360 degrees. In 1902, the turntable began operation serving a six-stall roundhouse in Paris, Texas. Visitors enjoy an amazing rotating display of the locomotive. The Texas State Railroad brings encounters with living history; you can only grasp so much through what you read in a book or see on television. With over 3,000 moving parts, the steam engine is labor intensive and expensive to operate. Steam engines can spend 50 percent of their time in the shop for maintenance and mandated reassembly. The diesel locomotive is ready to ride the rails in less than 10 minutes; the steam locomotive takes several hours to lubricate, check connections, build steam and prepare for departure. Steam engine mechanics and engineers are taught on the job. People start at the bottom as a hostler, then on to fireman and engineer. The fireman balances enough water versus too much water at any given time. “If you have water instead of steam,” Rohal explains, “water won’t compress, and you’ll blow the heads right off the engine. Or you could have a runaway engine.” After five to 10 years, firemen can become steam engineers. “Nowadays, you can hire a person off the street, and with six months of classes he’s a diesel engineer,” Rohal says. “You can’t train someone to run a steam engine in that short of period of time.” Despite the grueling work and intensity, you can see the passion people have for the massive equipment. Besides excursions, the railroad holds special events throughout the year. When events like the “Little Engine That Could” or “Thomas the Train” don’t resonate as much anymore events change to augment mainstay events like Easter,

the Pumpkin Patch and the Polar Express. Other events cater to chocolate lovers, include a wine tasting ride, and another mainstay, “Pints in the Pines” for beer tasters. During the summer, passengers enjoy the ultimate date night every other Friday. The Polar Express is a steam train decorated to resemble the Polar Express depicted in the popular book written by Chris Van Allsburg and popularized by the movie. The entire story and soundtrack, from start to finish is reenacted and heard on the train. Santa climbs aboard at the North Pole and gives each child a silver bell. “We have about 100,000 passengers annually,” Rohal says, “but over half board the train during the six-week period of the Polar Express.” People invest years to learn the art of running the steam engines. “It’s the most amazing job in the world,” Udolf says. “You know it’s rare to have a job where you look forward to coming to work every day.” Because of the genuine Texas spirit burning within everyone connected with the railroad, the future of the Official State Railroad seems sound for another 100 years. “It’s changed hands a few times,” Rohal says, “but no one wants to see this train stop running.”

HEADS OF STATE: Since 1961, every sitting Texas governor has ridden aboard the Presidential car — #1511.

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Mary Irving has dedicated her career to preserving railroad history — and telling the stories of those who worked the rails by TREY GUTIERREZ photographs by MATT LANKES

+ WHOEVER CAME UP WITH THE ADAGE “FIND A JOB YOU LOVE, and you’ll never work a day in your life” has obviously never worked a day with Mary Irving, a leading authority on Texas rail history. Over the course of her storied career as a museum director, Irving has established two of the state’s major railroad history museums, the Temple Railroad and Heritage Museum and the Lehnis Railroad Museum in Brownwood. In that time, she’s worked tirelessly to preserve not just Texas’ railroad history but the personal histories of the men and women who lived them. S PR I N G 2 0 1 9


The museum has never had as many volunteers as when Mary was here.” “Mary loved history, and she loved people,” says Luke Broussard, a former volunteer at the Brownwood Museum. “She’s what made the museum human, rather than just a pile of artifacts.” Born in Klamath Falls, Oregon, on February 20th, 1949, Irving quickly acquired her leadership skills as the oldest of five children. Ever a creative soul, her skill for crafting engaging exhibits was foretold by an adolescent love for composing art pieces,

But those little old “THE FIRST TIME I ASKED particularly paintings. ladies are the ones who After marrying Ron THE CITY MANAGER are there every day. Irving, a statistician ABOUT ACQUIRING THE for the U.S. Army, They dedicate their lives to the preserva- DEPOT FOR THE MUSEUM, and giving birth to her tion of our heritage — three children, Irving HE LAUGHED! WE to building it, fixing it began the education WERE IN COMPETITION that would inspire her and protecting it.” WITH THE FIREMEN Dedication is no lifelong passion. With doubt admirable, but it her husband’s work freAND THE POLICEMEN takes more than simquently relocating the FOR THAT MONEY, ple tenacity to attain family, Irving had the ALONG WITH EVERY Irving’s level of success. enviable opportunity to JUDGE WHO WANTED After all, Irving will pursue her arts degrees be the first to tell you in the Netherlands and HIS COURTHOUSE her accomplishments Italy. “I’ve always been RESTORED.” weren’t achieved alone. interested in history, “One thing about but getting my educaMary,” says Temple tion in Europe — oh Railroad and Heritage my gosh, I simply Museum archivist Craig Ordner, reflecting became enamored,” she says. “Every spare on Irving’s tenure there, “she was a great moment was spent taking as much history communicator. She accepted everybody’s as possible.” opinion even when she had her own vision. After completing her education, which




included a specialization in museum science, an invigorated Irving was ready to put her skills to use. “I was going to set the art museum world on fire!” she recalls. “After we were stationed at Fort Hood [in Killeen, Texas], however, it became obvious there were no art museums.” In 1982, Irving took a job as curator of the Second Cavalry’s on-base military museum. “You take what you can get,” she says. “I hate to say it, but in the museum field you have to wait for somebody to die to get a job.” Undeterred, Irving thrived in her position. By creating exhibits, as well as working to preserve the museum’s artifacts, Irving was brought closer to history than ever before. “While sorting through the museum’s artifacts,” she remembers, “I found


But to imply Irving’s career has been in any way easy is flat-out wrong. She just makes it look that way. After all, it takes a special kind of dedication to invest a full 22 years into a museum before immediately beginning the process again in another town, not to mention the seemingly endless stream of budget cuts, regulations and deadlines she’s faced. Nevertheless, Irving has persisted. “I’m always learning— that’s how you stay young,” she says, “which is funny considering most people think of museum directors as little old ladies in tennis shoes.

a book titled The History of the Civil War by Ulysses S. Grant. I found it had been signed by Grant himself! I shouted ‘Oh my God!’ and began showing it to everyone!” Unfortunately, Irving’s employers didn’t share her enthusiasm for the find, forcing her to contact the Library of Congress to see the artifact properly taken care of. “It was a lot of extra work, but it’s a no-brainer if you care about the preservation of history,” she explains. “At that point the army didn’t consider books to be artifacts. I was constantly butting heads with the military, who knew nothing except ‘follow the regulations,’ which didn’t always make sense.” Irving held her tongue numerous times during her stint at the military museum. Soon, however, she reached her breaking

point. “We had this 17th century blunderbuss gun at the museum,” she says. “Beautiful as it was, though, it didn’t exactly fit the museum’s timeline. The military had only one regulation way of disposing of guns — cutting them up.” Unable to witness history being destroyed in such fashion, Irving again worked overtime to find the artifact a new home. “That’s why I left Fort Hood,” she says. “I got so tired of fighting regulations.” When a position opened up in 1985 at the Temple Railroad and Pioneer Museum, Irving decided it was time to jump ship. Though it was here that Irving would begin her storied career in railroad history, Irving admits she didn’t have much prior knowledge on the subject. “What’s funny is, the only class I ever got a D in — in my

entire life — was the Industrialization of America: 1865-WWI. Guess which period of history has come to represent my entire career? [Laughs] When you’re a historical researcher, it doesn’t matter what the subject is. What matters is that you know how to create exhibits and take care of artifacts.” In addition to creating new, engaging exhibits, and properly archiving the museum’s vast collection, Irving also took steps to connect the museum with the people of Temple. “Mary was great at reaching out to the community,” Ordner says. “She inspired a lot of involvement — whether it was through the city’s annual train festival or holding special functions to generate revenue. She also had a pretty good rapport with the retired railroaders.” S PR I N G 2 0 1 9




In 1999, after 14 years of maintaining the Temple museum, Irving would take on her largest project yet. The Santa Fe Railway Company had recently abandoned a large depot in downtown Temple, leaving the fate of the historic building uncertain. “The building was fixing to be razed — we needed to protect our people’s memories,” says retired Amtrak employee Dan Stephens, who, like many other Temple citizens, hailed from a long line of rail workers. “To me, that building represents the heart and soul of this city. That building has been through four wars — it was the last thing some of the service men and women saw of their hometown.” Stephens reached out to Irving, who felt the abandoned depot was the perfect spot to expand the museum, which had acquired more artifacts than the current location could handle. Though their intentions were noble, their task wouldn’t be easy. “The first time I asked the city manager about acquiring the depot for the museum, he laughed!” Irving says. “We were in competition with the firemen and the policemen for that money, along with every judge who wanted his courthouse restored.” “It was a tough time.” Stephens remembers. “Mary stayed with it, though. It was a chase, but she finally pinned down the sellers and put a price tag on the station.” With this target in sight, Irving worked with a grant writer hired by the city and was able to secure the funds necessary to begin restoration on the depot. But as difficult as saving the depot was, the restoration process presented Irving with numerous opportunities for historical exploration. “A retired railroader named Robert Pounds said he could show us the wall where the rail company had stored the drawings for their past projects,” Irving says. “The railroad was always being sued. They decided their documents couldn’t be subpoenaed if they destroyed ’em. Well, in this case, there wasn’t enough time to destroy ’em properly. Santa Fe did everything in house, and the workers weren’t always the most qualified. [Laughs] When we got the building, Robert and I tore down the wall. And what did we find? Thousands and thousands of these old historical documents that had been sealed away — by far, one of the most exciting things to happen during restoration.” The contributions of retired railmen like Pounds had proved invaluable during Irving’s time with the museum, even before the new location was secured. “My interest has never been so much in things,” Irving says. “I’m

more interested in the people, and I really loved those old men. I felt somebody needed to tell their story.” With this new location, Irving created a space that paid tribute to the human side of rail history. “Upstairs, you’ll find in the museum exhibits stories about the different railroaders and what the jobs were.” While Irving had made many friends during her time at the Temple museum, it’d be the generosity of a former railman named Martin Lehnis that would influence the next phase of her career. Throughout his 50 years with the Santa Fe Railway, Lehnis had accumulated a large collection of railroad artifacts and memorabilia, which he’d left to the city of Brownwood after passing in 2005. Having become acquainted with Lehnis back in Temple, Irving seemed the obvious choice to archive the collection. For two years, Irving worked in Brownwood to archive Lehnis’ belongings, which were housed in a dedicated warehouse. “There was just so much to sort through,” recounts Irving’s daughter, Kathleen, who accompanied her mother on those trips to Brownwood. “Plus, it wasn’t organized. You’d find grocery receipts mixed in with the Santa Fe Railway china. Luckily, my mother thrives on challenge.” If the sheer magnitude of Lehnis’ collection wasn’t enough to test Irving’s dedication, many of her work days took place during summer’s peak, where 100-degree temperatures effectively transformed the warehouse into an oven. “Oh my, I thought we’d die,” Irving says. “It was so darn hot, we’d have to step back outside into the Texas heat just to cool down. Eventually I realized I could bring my pop up camper into the warehouse. At least that had air conditioning for the summer nights.” Having put in her due diligence to catalog the collection, it wasn’t a surprise when the city offered Irving the opportunity to create a new museum — from the ground up. “We knew she had a lot of expertise from Temple,” says Brownwood parks department director David Withers, who’d become Irving’s boss. “She had the depth of experience the city was looking for.” With this new opportunity on the horizon, Irving felt that, after 22 years, it was time to close her work in Temple. “It was a new challenge,” she explains. “In Temple, we’d created a museum that was doing well — people were visiting, exhibits were built — and here I had the opportunity to do it all again. I was thrilled to death.” Thrilled or not, putting together what would become the Lehnis Railroad Museum was a daunting task. Unlike in Temple, Irving

was truly starting at square one. “When I arrived at the museum building, it was totally empty,” she says. “There wasn’t even a pencil.” Thankfully, much like in Temple, Irving wasn’t alone. The prospect of a new rail museum had attracted a close-knit group of volunteers to Lehnis, and not a moment too soon. “She was employed on July 2007, only about six weeks before the museum opened,” says Frank Hilton, one of Irving’s most loyal volunteers. “So you can imagine how busy she was.” Working at a breakneck pace, Irving and her crack team built the museum from scratch, assembling Martin Lewis’ collections of model trains, building exhibit stands and sewing table covers. “Irving was good about getting us all involved,” says Hilton. “How Mary organizes volunteers — it’s an art form, believe me.” With her ability to play to each of her volunteers’ strengths, Irving made her three workers feel like 100. “I think the whole key is respecting what people have learned in life,” Hilton adds. “Take Frank, a former employee with the Boy Scouts of America. He was a natural for building the scenery of the model train layouts. You really have to respect these life skills — before using the hell out of them. [Laughs]” The Martin and Frances Lehnis Railroad Museum officially opened its doors on Sept. 14, 2007, just in time for the Brownwood City Railroad Festival. Having met their deadline, Irving and her family of volunteers continued to work day in and day out to bring the museum to its full potential. In that time they added more model railroad sets, artifacts, exhibits and even a fully functional 7 ½-gauge outdoor miniature railroad outside for guests to ride. Considering how much she’s invested into both her museums, it’d make sense that Irving would vividly remember the day she retired. “Two weeks before, I looked at everything,” she remembers. “We’d spent a year building the railroad outside, we’d built all the exhibits inside, we’d d restored every piece of equipment — we’d done all of that. And almost like God did that day, I said ‘It is good. It is done.’ The next day I said to my boss, ‘David, I think it’s time. I’ve done everything I said I’d do.’” Though Brownwood lost one of its brightest stars, the impact Irving had on the city remains in what she left behind. “I think a lot of Mary,” Wethers says. “This all couldn’t have been done if it wasn’t for her. I think that the Lehnis family was very pleased with how she took care of the collection.” So on Jan. 11, 2011 — 1/11/11 —

Mary Irving retired. “I knew I’d remember that date” Irving says. Today, at 70 years of age, Irving is still adjusting to retirement. True to her nature, she keeps busy, both as a volunteer in the prenatal unit of the local hospital, and as the president of her cross-stitching club. No longer working in a museum capacity, she still finds herself returning to the train yards every so often. “I guess I began to like it, watching the trains go through, and the signals they send,” she says. “I’ll take pictures sometimes. I intend to send some to the Temple museum. I know Craig Ordner would take good care of them.” With both the Temple and Brownwood

museums thriving today, Irving has never once gotten a big head about her accomplishments. Even though her work has earned her numerous awards, including the coveted John L. Nau III award of Excellence in Museums — the highest honor a museum professional can attain — Irving still has trouble wrapping her head around such accolades. “When my friend explained to me the weight of [the John L. Nau III] award, it was mind-boggling,” Irving says. “I mean, this whole time I was just doing my job. I was trying preserve Texas history — for the sake of the railroad men and women who lived it. I think, in that regard, I was able to make a difference. That’s what I’m proud of.”

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Rockdale 11 Main St. (512) 446-2020 Hours: Sat. 10 am–4 pm; Sun. 1-4 pm The International & Great Northern Railroad Depot & Museum is an awardwinning restoration project undertaken by the Rockdale Historical Society in 2000.

Henderson 514 N. High St. (903) 651-4303 Hours: Mon.–Fri. 9 am–4 pm; Sat. 9 am–12 pm The Henderson Depot Museum is in the restored 1901 Missouri-Pacific Depot.

Texas’ rich transportation history is reflected in its restored train depots





19th and 20th centuries, railroads spurred westward expansion, community development and commercial growth. A train depot was often among a town’s most important buildings since it was often the primary entryway. Some depots were modest wooden buildings while others were ornately designed brick and mortar structures. As the preferred mode of personal travel shifted from train to automobile, the train depot became a relic of the past. “In the 19th century,” the National Trust notes, “more than 40,000 depots dotted the country. Now fewer than half remain.” However, in many communities, historians and railroad enthusiasts have preserved and repurposed these structures. The following listing pays tribute to just some of these depots from across Texas. 56


Gatesville 2607 S. Hwy. 36 (254) 865-2617 The Cotton Belt Depot houses the travel information center. It was originally built by the St. Louis Southwestern Railway. Hearne 139 W. 9th St. (979) 595-8150 The restored Hearne Railroad Museum Depot features antique furnishings, local history and railroad memorabilia.

Nacogdoches 101 Old Tyler Rd. (936) 462-8267 Hours: Wed.–Sat. 10 am-2 pm The Railroad Depot built by Southern Pacific opened in 1911. It’s the only surviving passenger depot on the old Houston East & West Texas Railway.

Abilene 1101 N. 1st St. (325) 676-2556 Hours: Mon.–Fri. 8:30 am–5 pm


Restoration Stations

Marshall 800 N. Washington (903) 938-8248 Hours: Tues.–Sat. 10 am–4 pm Texas and Pacific Railroad Museum/1912 Depot

The Texas and Pacific Railway Depot (T&P) now houses the Abilene CVB and Abilene Cultural Affairs Council. Additional railroad buildings house a candy maker (Candies by Vletas) and an events center. Baird 100 Market St. (325) 854-2003 The former T&P Railway Depot now houses the Baird Chamber of Commerce and a small railroad museum.

Comanche 304 S. Austin St. (325) 356-3233 Hours: Mon.–Fri. 9 am–5 pm; Closed for lunch 12–1 pm The Comanche Depot has a small display of railroad artifacts and now houses the Chamber of Commerce.


Kyle 100 N. Front St. (512) 262-1188 Hours: Sat. 10 am–2 pm or by appointment The newly renovated Kyle Railroad Depot and Heritage Center, under the direction of the Hays County Historical Commission, houses a museum with displays showing the history of the Kyle Station. Pleasanton 1959 Hwy. TX-97 E. (800) 859-6313 Hours: Mon.–Fri. 8 am–5 pm The Longhorn Museum includes the former San Antonio, Uvalde and Gulf Railroad Depot.

San Antonio 11731 Wetmore Rd. (210) 490-3554 Hours: Fri. and Sat. 9 am–3 pm The Texas Transportation Museum is home to a working passenger railroad operated by the Southern Pacific Railroad — part of the Longhorn and Western Depot exhibit, formerly located in Converse.

Rosenberg 1921 Avenue F (281) 633-2846 Hours: Wed.–Fri. 10 am–5 pm; Sun. 1-5 pm The Rosenberg Railroad Museum is in historic downtown next to three active train lines. This park-like setting is home to historical railroad artifacts, Tower 17 and a restored 1879 railcar.

Farmers Branch 2540 Farmers Branch Ln. (972) 406-0184 Hours: Mon.– Fri. 8 am–5 pm; Sat. and Sun. 12–5 pm The Farmers Branch Historical Park is home to a passenger station originally built by the Dallas and Wichita Railroad.

Dickinson 218 FM 517 Rd W. (281) 534-4367 Hours: Mon.–Fri. 10 am–4 pm; Sat. 10 am–2 pm The Dickinson Historic Railroad Center includes the Dickinson Railroad Depot built in 1902 and the League City Railroad Depot. Galveston 2602 Santa Fe Pl. (409) 765-5700 Hours: Daily 10 am–5 pm except holidays The Galveston Railroad Museum features a historical re-creation of the Gulf, Colorado, and Santa Fe Depot as it looked in 1932.

Fort Worth 221 W. Lancaster Ave. The Texas and Pacific Station is a fully operational railway terminal built in 1931 and the largest and most beautiful example of 1920s Zigzag Moderne architecture.

Paris 1125 Bonham St. (903) 401-5151 Museum Hours: Fri. and Sat. 10 am–4 pm Union Station opened for business in 1912, serving Frisco, Santa Fe and Texas Midland passenger trains. It’s now home to the Paris Economic Development Corporation, the Lamar County Genealogical Society and the Valley of the Caddo Museum and Cultural Center.

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El Paso 700 W. San Francisco Ave. (915) 833-0263 Hours: Daily 9:15 am–4:30 pm The Union Depot, completed in 1906 and on the National Register of Historic Places, was designed by architect Daniel Burnham.

Sierra Blanca 241 W. El Paso St. (915) 986-2407 Hours: Wed. 1–4 pm The classic frontier wood-construction railroad depot dates to 1881. The depot is now home to the Hudspeth County Railroad Depot Museum.

Pecos 100 E. Dot Safford St. (432) 445-2406 Hours: Tues.– Sat. 9 am–5 pm The depot restoration/renovation is now home to the Chamber of Commerce, an agent for the Greyhound Bus Line. Inside the depot is a collection of local Texas Rodeo Hall of Fame memorabilia. Ft. Stockton 1000 Railroad Ave. (800) 336-2166 58


McCamey Santa Fe Park Rd. (432) 652-3192 Hours: Tues.– Fri. 1–5 pm The Santa Fe Depot is part of the Mendoza Trail Museum.

Quanah 102 Mercer St. (940) 663-5272 Hours: Mon.–Sat. 10 am–3 pm The Acme & Pacific Depot Museum operated between the Red River and Floydada, Texas, from 1902 until it was merged into the Burlington Northern Railroad in 1981. The two-story 1909 Page Brothers Depot, a splendid example of Spanish Colonial Revival architecture listed in the National Register of Historic Places, serves today as a museum of railroad and regional history.

Tulia Hwy. 87 between 6th and 10th Streets (806) 995-2819 The depot in the Panhandle city of Tulia, first served by rail in 1906, is now home to three historic depots. The historic Santa Fe Depot has been fully restored as a community center and meeting venue.


Alpine 102 W. Holland Ave. Hours: Daily 9 am–9 pm The 1946 Spanish Mission Revival-style station is in operation today, offering Amtrak passenger service. Hours: Mon.–Sat. 9 am–5 pm Inside the railway depot for the Kansas City, Mexico, and Orient line, built in 1911 is the Fort Stockton Visitor Center, the Chamber of Commerce, Convention Visitor Bureau and Economic Development Corp. The surrounding landscaping features the history of Fort Stockton and of Pecos County.

Brownsville 1325 E. Washington St. (956) 541-5560 Hours: Tues.–Sat. 10 am–4 pm The Brownsville Heritage Museum, formerly the Southern Pacific Depot, is home of the Historic Brownsville Museum.

Kingsville 102 E. Kleberg Ave. (800) 333-5032 Hours: Mon.–Fri. 10 am–4 pm; Sat. 11 am–2 pm The 1904 St. Louis, Brownsville & Mexican Railroad Depot is now home to the Kingsville Visitor Center.


Lubbock 1801 Crickets Ave. (806) 775-3560 Hours: Tues.–Sat. 10 am–5 pm; Sun. 1–5 pm The former Fort Worth and Denver South Plains Railway Depot, built in 1928, is now home to the Buddy Holly Center, a performance and visual arts center dedicated to the singer as well as the music of Lubbock and West Texas.

Edinburg 602 W. University Dr. (956) 383-4974

Hours: Mon.–Fri. 8:30 am–5 pm The restored 1927 Southern Pacific Depot currently houses the Edinburg Chamber of Commerce.

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DAILY COMMUTE: (from left) The Mineola depot, which now serves as an Amtrak stop; a BNSF train in McGregor.

Riding the Rails

Train service is an essential part of daily life in communities like Mineola, McGregor and Marshall JEREMY BURCHARD

had a fascination with transport, from the historic foot trails carved through beautiful countrysides to the technological marvels of modern flight. But perhaps few modes of transportation have been as revolutionary — and remained as viable since their inception — as trains. And in Texas in particular, rail remains a vital component in the daily lives of many locals.



“Rail is important to our community,” says Mineola city manager and economic development director Mercy Rushing. “A lot of times the larger communities take their rail for granted. Stopping in small communities gives our community an opportunity to stay connected with their friends and families.” Mineola has a strong retiree community, 60


but getting out to areas like Dallas and Houston to visit proves difficult and often requires navigating traffic congestion and complicated routes. Passenger rail provides a safer, hassle-free opportunity for travelers. And few communities in Texas can claim the kind of story behind their commuter rail like Mineola, a town of about 4,500 people that sits roughly halfway between Dallas and Shreveport, La. “It took us about 10 years to get Amtrak to stop here,” Rushing says. Rushing and her colleagues began campaigning for Amtrak to add a stop between Longview and Dallas back in the late 1980s. They formed a committee and threw annual railroad celebrations, sending Amtrak’s headquarters in Chicago merchandise featuring the town every year. And every year, Amtrak said no. But it turns out


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Mineola had an ace up its sleeve — powerful California legislator Willie Brown Jr., who grew up in Mineola before moving into law and eventually becoming one of the most influential politicians in California history. During a return to his hometown, Rushing and company lobbied Brown for help attracting a passenger rail stop in Mineola. He gladly obliged — on one condition. “He said that if Amtrak comes to Mineola, he wants to be the first person to get off at the new stop,” says Rushing, a condition she happily agreed to. And then around that 10th year of the campaign, the new Amtrak supervisor for the Texas Eagle line called Mineola’s committee. “Barbara Musgraves, who’s the grandmother of country singer Kacey Musgraves,” Rushing says, “told them, ‘Just come look at Mineola.’” At the time, Mineola’s train depot was serving as a museum, a tribute to the community’s past railroad history. But the town was ready and willing to update the building and make it rider-ready. In December 1995, six Amtrak employees came down to Mineola to survey the opportunity for a new stop. “We really rolled out the red carpet,” Rushing says. The entire community got on board in an attempt to convince Amtrak of the viability of a new stop. Mineola even secured letters of support from communities all around the area to prove how important a stop would be. “We have ridership from towns all around,” Rushing adds. Not long after their trip, Amtrak announced that Mineola would become the first new stop on the Texas Eagle line in more than 15 years. Needless to say, it was quite the celebration. “We had 5,000 people celebrate the opening of that stop,” Rushing says, “in a town of only 4,000 people.” They even had a major San Francisco newspaper come down and chronicle the opening, thanks in no small part to Willie Brown Jr. (who a few months earlier became mayor of San Francisco). The town chartered about a dozen buses to drive to Longview, where folks boarded the train to Mineola. And when it stopped, Brown was the first person off. To this day, Mineola’s passenger rail ridership remains remarkably strong, with a per capita ridership greater than towns up to eight times its size on the same route.

McGregor actually owes its existence to the intersection of two national railways. Formed in 1882, the town is named after Dr. Gregor McGregor, who allowed Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe Railway (now known as BNSF) and St. Louis Southwestern Railway (now known as Union Pacific) to build on his land. Still a highly trafficked industry route for BNSF and companies like Dell Computer and Ferguson Enterprises, the McGregor station serves as a crucial platform stop for commuters on the Texas Eagle, a train route that spans more than 2,700 miles from Los Angeles to Chicago and covers Texas from El Paso to San Antonio, up to Dallas, and over to Texarkana. In McGregor, residents rely on the twice-daily trains for both personal travel and work commute.The stop serves members from all over the community, including nearby Waco and Crawford, the home of President George W. Bush’s ranch.


One of Texas’ most gorgeous train depots, the three-story, 7,500-square-foot station in Marshall serves both as a functioning passenger stop for twice-daily trains and an ode to the area’s rich rail history.

Built in 1912, the Marshall station almost suffered an untimely demise when its owner, Union Pacific, applied to tear down the building in 1988. The city’s chamber of commerce successfully denied the demolition before a new, not-for-profit called Marshall Depot Inc. formed to return Marshall’s train station to its former glory. MDI successfully gained Texas Historic Landmark status for the depot and raised money from local individuals, businesses and even Union Pacific to initiate the first remodeling in 1991. After 10 years of fundraising, grant applications and subsequent refurbishings, the Marshall station returned to its historic glory. It now houses the Texas and Pacific Railway Museum along with a comprehensive passenger waiting area, office space and other accommodations. With strong ridership and annual revenues approaching half a million dollars in a community of just over 20,000 people, the Marshall station stands as a monument to history and community involvement while still functioning as an important mode of transport for the thousands of weekly commuters in the east Texas region.


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TAKING A HIKE: (from left) One of 16 bridges on a 20-mile trail, located inside Mineral Wells State Park; on average, Dallas’ Katy Trail attracts up to 3,000 visitors per day.

Rails to Trails

Across the state, former railroad lines are being repurposed as hiking and biking trails PATTY BUSHART


and JILL

steel wheels, the smell of creosote and the faint clanging of bells accompanied by a distant whistle have been part of the American fabric for years. The first commercially viable railroad to operate in Texas, the Buffalo Bayou, Brazos and Colorado was chartered in 1850 with the first public segment of track coming in 1856. By the beginning of the 20th century, the railroads’ golden age, there were more than 250,000 miles of track stretching across the continental United States, more than 15,000 of track in Texas. As alternative methods of travel emerged, the railroad industry began to decline, and today approximately 233,000 miles of track remain in the United States, many of them abandoned.




To protect these rail corridors, Congress amended the National Trails System Act in 1983 to preserve them for potential reactivation to rail service and allow them to be developed into trails for hiking and biking. Today the grassroots Rails-to-Trails Conservancy boasts a trail network of more than 22,000 miles, 300 of them in Texas, with more on the horizon. For communities throughout the state, both rural and urban, these reclamation projects help restore economic prosperity to neighborhoods and underserved populations and preserve our railway heritage while promoting personal and environmental health to Texans far and wide. For more rails-to-trails in Texas, visit




Caprock Canyons Trailway

The 64-mile Caprock Canyons Trailway stretches from the west, at South Plains on top of the Caprock Escarpment, to the east at Estelline in the Red River Valley. It spans three counties (Floyd, Briscoe and Hall), crosses 46 bridges and passes through Clarity Tunnel, one of the last active railroad tunnels in Texas. The trail is open to hikers, cyclists and horseback riders, perfect for exploring, day tripping or longer excursions. The park offers regularly scheduled guided tours by a 15-passenger van. In summer months, dusk tours allow visitors to watch bat flights from the Clarity Tunnel.

Dallas’ Katy Trail

What began in 1865 as a southern branch of the Union Pacific Railway, the MissouriKansas-Texas (MK&T) became known as the “Katy” and was the first railroad to enter Texas from the north. The network of rails eventually grew to serve communities from Junction City, Kan., to Galveston. The abandoned right-of-way vacated in the 1980s was donated to the city of Dallas in 1993. The greenbelt along the route was restored with county and state grants as well as public/private partnerships overseen by the aptly named Friends of the Katy Trail, a nonprofit founded in 1997. Once the major eastbound rail route through the most densely developed area of Dallas, the 3.5-mile-long section of the line now provides recreation to the more than 300,000 nearby residents and adjacent neighborhoods.

wayfinding information. Trail enthusiasts can start their trip in downtown Mineral Wells and make their way to the scenic Mineral Wells State Park and on to Cartwright Park near Weatherford. An interactive map is available at

The Northeast Texas Trail (NETT)

This scenic 130-mile trailway stretches across seven counties and 19 rural towns and is the longest railbanked project in Texas. In the 1990s the Union Pacific and Chaparral companies railbanked the tracks between Farmersville to the west and New Boston to the east. The terrain of the trail varies and can be especially challenging on the remote parts of the path. Farmersville is the western trailhead, nestled in the historic downtown, and an ideal place to begin your journey. Further east the tranquil Trail de Paris, located in the city of Paris, is a can’tmiss along the NETT. This

segment of the trail rests beneath a canopy of trees, with directional and educational signage along the way and unique places to visit throughout the city should you hop off the trail. New Boston is the eastern trailhead and begins in the Texas and Pacific Railway (T&P) Trail Head Park. This is a great place to kick off your trip to the west. The park sits on the old T&P property, where the trains came through back in the 1870s. While you’re there, take time to visit the Three Bostons Museum.

JOY RIDE: A family biking on the Trail de Paris under a canopy of trees.

Lake Mineral Wells State Park and Trailway

The Weatherford, Mineral Wells & Northwestern Railway first carried passengers to the healing mineral wells in 1899. The railroad changed hands several times until 1989, when the city of Mineral Wells purchased the line. Various segments of the line continued operation until insufficient traffic forced its closure in 1992, but that wasn’t the end of the story. On June 6, 1998, Lake Mineral Wells State Trailway opened on National Trails Day, which was also the 75th celebration of Texas State Parks. The 20-mile trailway has welcomed thousands of hikers, cyclists and equestrians since 1998. The grades are flat, with gentle curves making it a great trail for all ability levels. The trailway has four trailheads, paved parking, drinking water, restrooms and S PR I N G 2 0 1 9



Railway Hospitality

HERITAGE HOUSE: Slaton’s 1912 Mission Revival–style Harvey House was rescued from demolition by a group of local citizens and preserved as a B&B alongside active railroad trackage.

Slaton’s restored Harvey House preserves Southwest elegance of a bygone era

PULL UP A CHAIR in the warm-toned

dining room, peer out through the tall, wood-trimmed mission-style windows and watch the long freight train rumble past, and you’d almost swear it was 1912 once more, with your china plate of pork chop and fresh vegetables about to be set in front of you with a smile and a steaming cup of coffee. Oh, and don’t forget, you’ll have only 20 minutes to wolf it down before the conductor calls “All aboard” again! While the pace of a visit to the Slaton Harvey House has certainly changed a century-plus later, the hospitality hasn’t. Saved from demolition in 1989 and



Slaton Harvey House


restored as an event center and bed-andbreakfast inn, the two-story Mission Revival Harvey House overlooks the tracks 18 miles south of Lubbock today at a division point on the line just as it did when it was built to the exacting standards of the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railway and the high expectations of Fred Harvey’s meal service. Harvey, British-born contractor of railway lunch rooms, restaurants, souvenir shops and hotels starting in 1876, developed a system for feeding passengers with grace and efficiency trackside and on-board, employing well-trained and groomed “Harvey Girls” to serve diners.

400 Railroad Ave. Slaton, TX 79364 (806) 828-5900








Other Harvey Houses Still Standing in Texas AMARILLO Though preserved, this Santa Fe depot, with its Harvey House dining room and lunch room, is today under private ownership and currently inaccessible to the public. BROWNWOOD This 1914 depot once featured a Harvey House lunch room; today it houses the offices of the Brownwood Area Chamber of Commerce and the Gordon Wood Hall of Champions Museum. EL PASO Amtrak today provides ticketing and baggage services at the city’s 1906 Daniel Burnham–designed Union Station — America’s first international rail station — where a Harvey House restaurant once graced the second floor.


FINE DINING: Original china place settings are among the many railroad memorabilia items in the Slaton Harvey House collections.

“When Fred Harvey died in 1901 [at age 65],” writes Rosa Walston Latimer, author of several books on Harvey Houses of America “he owned and operated 15 hotels, 47 restaurants, 30 dining cars and a San Francisco Bay ferry.” Today only six of these legendary establishments — of an original 16 — remain in Texas. The Slaton house has a particularly sentimental attraction for Latimer, whose own grandmother worked there as a Harvey Girl — and there met the railroad engineer who would become her grandfather. While the first-floor dining room originally seated 42 customers around a large horseshoe-shaped marble lunch counter — for speedy service of meal orders telegraphed ahead from the train — the five upstairs bedrooms housed Harvey Girls onsite. Under the direction of an eagle-eyed manager, the young women adhered to a strict code of uniform dress and conduct. The sleeping situation for overnight guests is doubtless more relaxed these days, though the rooms have been meticulously restored to their original color schemes and finishes. Comfortable furnishings, a well-appointed sitting room and railroad memorabilia make for a unique stay. The dining room is available for special events, and tours of the house are available by appointment. Occasions open to the public — like the annual murder mystery dinner fundraiser staged by the Slaton Railroad

Heritage Association each spring — provide great opportunities to get an inside glimpse of a nostalgic era in this architectural and cultural gem. The Harvey House was designated a Recorded Texas Historic Landmark in 2007.

GAINESVILLE The restored 1902 Gulf Coast & Santa Fe Railroad depot, which originally housed a Fred Harvey restaurant, now houses a museum, offices and waiting area. HOUSTON The city’s 1911 Union Station, with its Harvey House restaurant, was incorporated into the cornerstone and lobby for Minute Maid Park.

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Sweet Spot

From more than a century, Candies by Vletas in Abilene has been making customers smile



Candies by Vletas


It’s been a few decades since I was mesmerized by Pete’s deft touch, but Candies by Vletas has been delighting customers of all ages with confections for much longer than that. Chocolate-dipped nuts and cremes, white chocolate covered grapes and chewy pralines are just

a few of the treats that have been made by hand for more than 100 years. The history of this family-owned confectionery dates back to 1912, when brothers Nick and George Vletas, who emigrated from Greece, established the candy business in downtown Abilene. Secrets of fine

candy making were passed on from one generation to the next, enabling the business to remain in the family for many years. The original store was located in downtown Abilene, but many today will recall the South 14th Street store, where Pete and Martha Vletas

1201 N. First St. Abilene, TX 79601 (800) 725-6933 (325) 673-2005


Mon.–Fri. 10 am–5:30 pm Sat. 10 am–5 pm






ONE OF MY best childhood memories is walking into the family candy store and watching as my cousin, Pete, prepared melted chocolate on a big marble slab. He worked the sweet, gooey goodness back and forth, priming it for a big batch of fudge. It was magical.


EYE CANDY: (from left) Paatan Gailey and her mother, Pam McCombs, with hand-dipped chocolate nut clusters; Pete Vletas and his mother, Irene, hand-dipping chocolates.

Paatan Gailey, and a nephew, Waylan Bolin. “I love the business,” McCombs says, “and I’m so happy my family is carrying on this wonderful tradition of candy making.” According to McCombs, her daughter has always been a part of the business. At an early age, she accompanied McCombs to the store to help during busy times. “Pete loved kids, and he’d let them help,” she recalls. “He gave them a penny for each truffle they put in a cup and label

Courtney Vletas is the development and donor services director of the Community Foundation of Abilene.


greeted customers like old friends — and many of them were. Today, Candies by Vletas sits in the Historic District of downtown Abilene in the REA Baggage Depot Building. As Pete and Martha approached retirement, they decided to put the business in the capable hands of cherished employee Pam McCombs. And just as George Vletas taught son Pete to make candy, McCombs is passing on this sweet knowledge and skill to her youngest daughter,

they put on a bag. He also gave them ‘money to burn’ during the holiday season — an envelope of crisp $1 bills.” Today, McCombs and Gailey run the business together, where every batch of candy is still made with the best ingredients. “Paatan is in charge of all of the handdipping, a process that’s no longer common among candy makers,” McCombs said. “It’s time-intensive and requires a person to work the chocolate and know when it’s the right consistency for dipping. Many shops are automated now.” The authentic touches don’t end there. The candy makers continue to use the copper pots that have been in the Vletas family for generations to cook brittles, pralines and peanut patties. Candies by Vletas has expanded its product line to include new treats like white chocolate caramel popcorn, cinnamon sugar pecans and reduced-sugar options. But the classics remain. Fudge, divinity, toffee and other long-time favorites continue to keep customers smiling more than a century later. Many are still made by hand, in a loving, painstaking process. One taste, and you’ll know the magic is alive and well.

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PIECE-WORK: (from top) Stained-glass panel depicting the “Baptism of Christ” at the First Baptist Church in Pasadena, Texas; a view of the church’s stained-glass panels from floor level.


BRINGING TO LIGHT: (from left) “Risen Christ” at St. Jerome’s Catholic Church in San Antonio; owner Adrian Cavallini in 2003. His father, Manlio, founded the business in 1953.

Trappings of Texas

Alpine’s Museum of the Big Bend preserves the history and artistry of cowboy culture MARY BONES

HE MUSEUM of the Big Bend, located on the campus of Sul Ross State University in Alpine, is home to the longest continually running exhibit and sale of contemporary Western art and custom cowboy gear in the country. Begun in 1986 by Gary Dunshee, owner of Big Bend Saddlery, and Joel Nelson, awardwinning cowboy poet, Trappings of Texas continues to showcase the best of cowboy artistry. Juried artists have an intimate knowledge of ranching life, and their works reflect this lifestyle. From one-of-a kind bits and spurs to original oil



paintings and bronze sculptures, Trappings of Texas continues the tradition of preserving the cowboy culture at the Museum of the Big Bend. Artists who show their works range from those just starting in their field to established artists, including members of the prestigious Cowboy Artists of America and the Traditional Cowboys Arts Association. Artists featured are from across Texas, the United States, Canada and Argentina. For 2019, Frank “Buddy” Knight is the featured Trappings of Texas artist. Knight, from Marfa, is a well-known blacksmith, cowboy and silversmith who’s worked on ranches for more than 40

The Museum of the Big Bend Sul Ross State University 400 N. Harrison St. C-101 Alpine, TX 79832 (432) 837-8143


Tues.–Sat. 9 am–5 pm Sun. 1–5 pm







years. A master of metal fabrication, in 1995 he displayed his spurs at the Western Folklife Center in Elko, Nev., and, in 1996, Knight demonstrated spur making at the 25th Texas Folklife Festival in San Antonio. For those who want to experience all things cowboy, Trappings of Texas Opening weekend is a must. “We believe we have the perfect location to celebrate the craft of the cowboy artist — the big sky and wide-open spaces of cattle country,” says Mary Bones, director of the Museum of the Big Bend. “Nowhere else in Texas like this place.” The opening weekend of the 33rd annual Trappings of Texas begins on Thursday, April 11, and includes a preview party, lunch with the artists, a grand opening reception, exhibit and sale, chuck wagon breakfast and the 5th annual Ranch Round Up Party. During the weekend’s festivities, visitors can meet the artists whose works are on display and learn about their craft. Presentations and demonstrations are scheduled throughout the weekend as well. “This is a great event,” Bones says. “All works are for sale and benefit the artist and the Museum of the Big Bend. Your purchase helps all of us preserve our history.” S PR I N G 2 0 1 9


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23400 Park Rd. 12 Washington, TX 77880 (936) 878-2214

“FIRE IN THE HOLE!” Rifles crack, cannons boom, and the smell and smoke of black powder mingle with the fragrance of Texas wildflowers in the early spring air. The roar echoes over the live oak-covered hills, ringing in a weekend-long celebration of Texas Independence Day. The Washington-on-the-Brazos State Historic Site brings Texas history to life every day, but for decades a special festival on the weekend closest to March 2 has commemorated the anniversary of the cold day in 1836 when elected delegates met to sign the Texas Declaration of Independence. While an actual battle never took place at Washington-on-the-Brazos, reenactors and the Texian Army join forces each year to allow visitors to experience the sights, sounds and smells of what a Texian camp would have been like as the volunteers drilled and prepared for battle against Santa Anna’s army. Trails lead to an area overlooking the Brazos River, where Robinson’s Ferry once carried refugees fleeing Mexican troops in the Runaway Scrape. Just up the hill from the Ferry overlook, visitors can walk the hallowed ground of the original site where the Texas Declaration of Independence was signed and go inside a replica building much like the one in which the Texas

A graduate of Baylor University, Laura Fisher is a living history interpreter at Washington-on-the-Brazos, rendering 1850s cultural and natural history with Texas Parks and Wildlife at Barrington Living History Farm.


Republic was born. A monument stands beside the small structure, erected by the schoolchildren of Washington County as the first memorial to commemorate the events that occurred in what is now the 293-acre state park administered by Texas Parks and Wildlife. Each year for the Independence Day celebration, local schoolchildren lay a wreath at this monument that started it all in a ceremony that also includes cutting a birthday cake for Texas. A play at the amphitheater gives an idea of what it might have been like to stand at that spot more than 100 years ago to witness those brave men who signed their names and pledged their lives to the land they called home. Taking a short walk through time to the Barrington Living History Farm, visitors can also experience life at the end of Texas independence on the small cotton plantation of Dr. Anson Jones, last president of the Republic of Texas. Oxen, hogs, poultry, crops, gardens and costumed interpreters bring Anson Jones’ original house and recreated farm to life 263 days of the year. For Independence Day festivities, special activities add to the magic of stepping into life in 1850. Throughout the park, attractions during this special weekend also include Dr. Balthazar’s 19th-century medicine show, food trucks, Texas craftsmen displaying and selling unique handmade items near the park Visitor Center and gift shop, stirring speeches at the Star of the Republic Museum, and live music and dancers at the Conference Center to celebrate the various cultural experiences that have shaped Texas. — LAURA FISHER

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motorcycle rally, beauty pageant, dance, health fair, classic vehicle show and even a Donegal Beard contest.


Herb Festival








Rio Grande Valley Livestock Show & Rodeo MERCEDES

March 7–17 (956) 565-2456

The 80th annual festival will feature live performances, festival foods, parades, horse shows, a cooking contest, competitive livestock events, exhibits, petting zoos and family-friendly shows. Texas Rangers Spring Break Round Up WACO

March 9




10th Annual Arts in the Square FRISCO




Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum (254) 750-8631 The Round Up features activities and programs for children and adults, including camp and chuck wagon cooking demonstrations, spinning wheels and presentations by real Texas Rangers.

Texas’ Official St. Patrick’s Day Celebration SHAMROCK

March 15–17 (806) 256-2501 This seven-decades-old celebration in a historic Route 66 community offers something for revelers of all ages: a parade, street vendors, carnival, chili cookoff, 5K run,


March 30 Huntsville Wynne Home 1428 11th St. (936) 891-5024 Sponsored by the Texas Thyme Unit of the Herb Society of America, this annual festival has a large selection of locally grown herb plants, perennials and pollinator plants for sale. Activities include vendors, music, herb talks, artists and children’s activities.

March 30–31 Frisco Square (469) 633-7117



Feast your eyes on incredible art, sit and relax by Simpson Plaza, listen to local musicians, watch ongoing performing arts, enjoy interactive art activities and treat yourself to the food and spirits avail- able at the variety of awardwinning restaurants on site. Local and regional artist vendors include fine arts/ graphics, pottery, textiles, glass, jewelry, leather, metal, photography, wood and more.

10th Annual Arts in the Square, Frisco




Llano River Chuck Wagon Cook-Off LLANO

April 5–6 Badu Park on the Llano River (325) 247-5354 Although originally scheduled for October, this cookoff has been moved to March and is held along the banks of the Llano River. Take a trip back in time and learn about the era when the West was settled.

April 11–14 (512) 382-9017 Thousands of live music fans come out to enjoy the shady spring days while jamming to their favorite tunes. Since its inception in 1987, the festival has developed into a nationally recognized musical event that is also all-ages friendly. This year’s headliners include Jason Isbell, Brandi Carlile, the Del McCoury Band, Shinyribs, and Amanda Shires.

Ennis Bluebonnet Trails Festival ENNIS

Tyler County Dogwood Queen’s Weekend WOODVILLE

April 6 (409) 429-3464 The dogwoods are blooming, and visitors are invited to celebrate the beauty of spring and the cultural heritage of Tyler County. Bring your pocketbook for the food and arts & crafts booths. Antique vehicles, including trucks, motorcycles and cars, will be on display.

April 12–14 Downtown Ennis (972) 878-4748 Enjoy three days of arts & crafts, bluebonnet souvenirs, children’s activities, live music and scenic country rides, taking in all the beautiful wildflowers with our free Bluebonnet Trails Map.

Messina Hof Wine and Roses Festival BRYAN



April 11–13 Museum of the Big Bend (432) 837-8143 Considered one of the best Western art and custom cowboy gear exhibits and sales in the country, Trappings brings up-andcoming artists alongside well-established artists under one roof. A special exhibit runs through May 19.

April 13 Messina Hof Winery (800) 736-9463

The largest battle reenactment in the Southwest recreates the events leading up to Texas winning its independence from Mexico.

Visit this little town on the hill to shop at over 250 arts & craft vendors and enjoy musical entertainment throughout the day. Bring the kids — lots of children’s activities.

49th Annual Ranch Day LUBBOCK

April 13 National Ranching Heritage Center (806) 742-0498 events/397054491057215 Both the young and young at heart enjoy Ranch Day activities each spring when cowboys, horses, chuck wagons and 185 volunteers, many dressed in period clothing, make pioneer life come alive for visitors. Participate in hands-on ranch or range science and history demonstrations, as well as music, dancing, a Comanche tepee, horseback riding and an oldfashioned “Snake Oil Magic Show” in the 6666 Barn.

Old Sorehead Trade Days STANTON

April 13–14 Historic Downtown Stanton (432) 756-2006 Trade Days is the best little show in West Texas — if you can call 615 booths and 30,000 visitors “little.” Trade Days allows for four days of shopping. Shows are scheduled as well.

41st Annual Lubbock Arts Festival


April 13–14 Lubbock Memorial Civic Center (806) 744-2787 Lubbock’s long-running festival fosters the creation, understanding and enjoyment of the arts — with more than 150 visual artists from around the nation displaying and selling original paintings, drawings, pottery, sculpture and works in fiber, leather, jewelry, glass and wood.

Fiesta San Antonio SAN ANTONIO

April 18–28 (210) 227-5191 The 127th annual Fiesta San Antonio boasts more than 100 events over 11 days. It honors the memory of the

Fiesta San Antonio San Antonio

Official Bluebonnet Festival of Texas CHAPPELL HILL

April 13–14 (979) 836-6033 chappellhillhistoricalsociety. com

This one-day festival celebrates the 35th anniversary of the budding of the vines and the blooming of the roses. Gather to enjoy wine tasting, local vendors and artisans, pairing classes, our famous grape stomp competition and more.

San Jacinto Day Festival and Battle Re-enactment LA PORTE

Old Settler’s Music Festival TILMON

April 13 The grounds surrounding the San Jacinto Monument 1 Monument Circle (281) 479-2421

Old Sorehead Trade Days Stanton

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heroes of the Alamo and the Battle of San Jacinto, and celebrates the city’s diverse heritage, culture and spirit.

East Texas Gusher Days GLADEWATER

April 19–20 Downtown Gladewater (903) 845-5501 The 34th annual East Texas Gusher Days festival is inspired by the historic oil boom in Gladewater. Events include a car show, carnival rides, live music, arts & crafts, food, the Big Bass Classic and more.

U.S. Cavalry Association Regional Competition SAN ANGELO

Fort Concho NHL April 20–22 (325) 481-2646 Fort Concho hosts this colorful, action-packed and historical series of events that involves 30-plus riders wearing uniforms and using equipment that portrays the early 1800s to the World War II era.

Held on the beautiful bayfront, Corpus Christi’s longest-running pirate festival includes a rodeo, carnival, live music, food, amusements, rides and parades.

This three-day, family-friendly festival attracts world-class sand sculptors and is the largest master sand sculpting competition in the United States. Sand sculpting contests and lessons, unique jewelry, art, crafts, music and food are available.

3rd Annual Rio Grande Festival

4th Annual Doc Holliday: Saints and Sinners Festival



April 26–28 San Elizario Historic Cultural District (915) 851-0093

April 27 (903) 464-4452

(361) 882-3242

In celebration of the arrival of the Oñate Expedition in April 1598, the festival includes a three-day history conference and a reenactment of the historic arrival of Oñate. The event will include historic presentations, live music, arts & crafts, food and beverages, and cultural presentations daily.

Texas SandFest

Celebrate Denison’s formative years — the 1870s and ’80s — when Doc Holliday had an office here. We’ll help you imagine Denison as a boomtown in the early days with Wild West photos, card games, antiques, food, music, authors, wagon rides, a parade and more. Take part in a brush arbor revival and hymn singing. And enjoy an open house at the Red River Railroad Museum, with train rides for the kids.

(325) 396-2358 fort-mckavett-state-historicsite Experience what life was like at this frontier fort in the mid-1800s.Activities include military drills, Native Indian demonstrations, Buffalo Soldiers, buffalo hunters, chuck wagon demonstrations, the Texas Camel Corps, the Texas Longhorn herd, a one-room schoolhouse lesson, frontier woodworking, weavers, seamstresses and more.

May 11 (512) 262-3939 Fiesta West Texas ODESSA

May 3–5 Ector County Coliseum (432) 385-7135 First held in 1996, the Fiesta West Texas Cinco de Mayo event has grown to become the Permian Basin’s largest and longest-running Hispanic cultural celebration.

May Western Heritage Classic Western Heritage Days FORT MCKAVETT

May 3–4

Squeeze Me on the Square: Squeeze-Box Music Fest KYLE


April 26–28 On the beach between mile markers 9 and 13 (361) 249-6792

Preserving the heritage of the ranch cowboy, this event features a parade, the world’s largest bit and spur show, Western art, a chuck wagon cookoff, ranch rodeo, nightly dances, an invitational ranch horse sale, Ranch Horse Association of America (RHAA) Working Ranch Horse Competition, children’s rodeo events and lots of family fun.


May 9–12 (325) 677-4376

Tejano, Czech, German, zydeco, polka, conjunto and Cajun music will all be in the air, along with the sounds of accordions.

Canadian River Music Festival CANADIAN

May 11 Jones Pavilion (806) 323-6234 canadianrivermusicfestival. com Seven popular bands — including the Turnpike Troubadours, Charley Crockett and Mark Chesnutt

48th Annual Bob Wills Day TURKEY

April 25–27 Bob Wills Museum (806) 423-1033

Texas SandFest, Port Aransas

    Buccaneer Days CORPUS CHRISTI

April 25–28 Carnival and Parades May 2-12




Enjoy a full weekend of Western swing in the scenic home of Bob Wills, with a downtown parade, arts & crafts show and a free outdoor concert Saturday, April 27, at 1:30 p.m.

— entertain crowds in the scenic Canadian River Valley, with on-site primitive camping available.

Fort Lancaster Frontier Days SHEFFIELD May 17–18 Fort Lancaster (432) 836-4391 fort-lancaster-state-historicsite Fort Lancaster comes alive with soldiers, pioneers, chuck wagons, livestock, camels, a stagecoach and more. Learn about life at this historic military fort that stood on the frontier from 1855 to 1861.

Beethoven in Georgetown GEORGETOWN

Children’s Art & Literacy Festival Abillene

ArtFest Weekend PORT ARANSAS

May 25–26 Jerry McDonald Field (361) 749-7334 Marvel at the creativity of artists who offer original works for sale in all mediums. Music and food are available at this family-friendly event.


Agave Festival Marfa

6th Annual Children’s Art & Literacy Festival ABILENE

June 1–9

June 6–8 (325) 677-1161

Celebrate the agave and its influence on culture through food, film, music and science. The festival treats the agave as the indicator species for a region that is binational, multilingual and deeply informed by indigenous history.

Bring the kids and come visit the Storybook Capital of America. This year’s festival showcases the work of Peter Brown and includes dramatic book readings, costumed characters, art activities, animals, magic shows, balloons and movies.



May 24–June 2 Southwestern University (512) 639-0433

Come celebrate the music of Beethoven at venues around Georgetown. Enjoy 10 days of events, starting with the “Eroica” symphony and concluding with “Missa Solemnis” for orchestra and choir. Request a brochure for details at

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Bandits THC markers document train heists that rattled Texans


ables, Wells Fargo express manager David way, some 75 miles southeast of Trousdale bludgeoned one with an ice mallet Fort Stockton, a lonely Texas and killed the other with the first robber’s Historical Commission mark- rifle. Kilpatrick and Hobek were buried in er tells the story of a violent nearby Sanderson, and Trousdale was recogattempted train heist that occurred nearby. nized and rewarded for his bravery. “There’s an interestKnown as the Baxter’s Curve Train Robbery, the tragic State Historical Markers ing story imparted with The State of Texas first comthis train robbery,” explains event occurred in the early memorated a historical site in hours of March 13, 1912, 1856 by marking graves at the Bob Brinkman, the THC’s when Ole Hobek and Ben San Jacinto battleground. The Historical Marker program Official Texas Historical coordinator. “Trousdale Kilpatrick, a former sidekick current Marker program dates to 1962 of Butch Cassidy and the and has been a popular means apparently grabbed the fateSundance Kid, attempted for interpreting local and state ful mallet from a shipment history and encouraging herione of the last major train tage tourism for more than four of oysters that were packed decades. The historical marker in ice. After performing the robberies in West Texas. in Texas begins at the heroic deed, he was rewarded The two outlaws board- process county level with the county by misters Wells and Fargo ed the Galveston, Harrisburg historical commission. There and San Antonio Railway are now more than 16,000 state with a shiny gold watch.” historical markers in Texas. For Texas’ train-robbing era train when it stopped at more information, go to thc. lasted roughly from 1878 Dryden on the way to El to 1920, when much of the Paso. They ordered the engineer onto Baxter’s Curve, a state’s commerce was consharp bend in the railway’s rail bed. The ducted via rail. Express cars, mail cars and baggage cars were uncoupled from the passengers were often relieved of their forcoaches, but while the two searched for valu- tunes under threat of guns or dynamite.


N A DESOLATE stretch of high-


Most of the robbers got away scot-free. One of these incidents occurred just north of Austin in May 1887. According to a Williamson County Historical Commission report, bullets began flying when a train stopped for a rail-line switch in the small community of McNeil. The report cites an Austin Daily Statesman article claiming that the robbery gang’s leader — a tall, slender man with light whiskers that looked in the dim light to be a false beard — ordered the door to be broken down. After bursting onto the train, the robbers struck the express manager on the head and ordered him to hand over all the cash and postal registers. “The men who held us under cover chatted with us pretty freely, talking about how much they expected to get,” the Statesman quoted a railroad official as saying. “One of them asked me for a chew of tobacco, and made me give him my hat, saying he’d lost his own.” Williamson County is also associated with the notorious outlaw Sam Bass, who was killed in Round Rock on July 21, 1878, by a member of the Texas Rangers. Bass and




NOTORIOUS: (from top left) Marker for Baxter’s Curve Train Robbery in Terrell County; marker commemorating the robbery; townspeople holding up the corpses of outlaws Ben Kilpatrick (left) and Ole Hobek in front of the Sanderson, Texas, train depot in March 1912; marker for Sam Bass Robbery in Williamson County; Sam Bass Gang, from a photo taken in Dallas in the summer of 1876, with Sam Bass, at left, John E. Gardner to his right, and, seated, Joel Collins (right), who’d become Bass’ partner in crime up north, and Joel’s brother, Joe Collins (left).

his gang were feared for their rash of train robberies across the Plains states and Texas. The first to occur in the state was north of Dallas on Feb. 22, 1878, in the community of Allen. According to historical accounts, Bass and his gang pillaged the entire train, and the brazen robbery startled the community. Allen was likely targeted due to its recent growth as a railroad town and proximity to the gang’s hideout in the

Elm Trinity brush lands. In nearby Mesquite, a THC marker notes the location of another Bass-associated train robbery. Bass and his associates held up a Texas & Pacific train on April 10, 1878, netting $152 while missing a hidden shipment of $30,000. “Bass was undoubtedly one of the most feared outlaws of the time, and the mere threat of his arrival rattled many Texans,”

Brinkman says. “Thankfully, the era of bandana-clad bandits is now a century behind us.” Andy Rhodes is the managing editor of the THC’s Medallion magazine. He’s written two Texas guidebooks (Moon Texas and Moon Houston & The Texas Gulf Coast) and contributed to The Guardian, American Cowboy and Texas Highways. S PR I N G 2 0 1 9


STEADFAST: For nearly 10 years, Paula Hatfield led a fight to prevent Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad from demolishing her town’s 107-yearold train depot.






Snyder activist Paula Hatfield’s preservation efforts are highlighted by her valiant effort to save the Snyder Depot




SCURRY COUNTY preservationist Paula Hatfield’s family roots are in East Texas, but since moving to the Snyder area in 1997, she’s devoted immense energy, enthusiasm and creativity to saving the heritage of her adopted West Texas. The daughter of an Air Force father, she traveled the world with her family from birth till age 18, gaining an appreciation for the spaces and stories that are the lifeblood of our state, nation and world. Locally, Hatfield has put her talents to use at the Scurry County Museum and its offshoot, the 1818 Art House, and has served as chair or vice chair of the county historical commission since 2006. Understanding the need to promote the county beyond its border, she accepted a position on the board of the Texas Plains Trail Region in 2011, stepping into the president’s role in 2014. She’s logged thousands of miles attend-

ing meetings and conferences, championing preservation causes and supporting communities much like her own through the Texas Heritage Trails Program. When the historically significant Snyder Santa Fe Railroad Depot was threatened with demolition in 2016, Hatfield led a valiant struggle to save the structure. Although the Snyder preservation coalition diligently followed every possible track — from seeking to repurpose the depot with a different local use to creating a visitor center to even dismantling the massive concrete-and-stucco building and moving it — ultimately the railroad wouldn’t relent. So when the heavy equipment moved in, Hatfield and friends did the only thing they could: they salvaged the most significant pieces for posterity, and documented the entire process as a cautionary tale for the future. S PR I N G 2 0 1 9


in Post reinforced my resolve and the importance of saving structures. Successful railroad preservation stories and restorations throughout Texas, such as the Harvey House, Post, Baird, Mineola and Marshall, have fueled my enthusiasm. Some were last-minute reprieves, but all had a living force behind the silent voices quieted  by apathy, misunderstanding and neglect. There are many components of history that attract me to preservation: a site, a story, a person. But I’m most fascinated by buildings. I love to visit other towns, states and countries. I want to  hear their stories, see their buildings. What are the greatest obstacles to overcome if

What do you consider the major challenges in your community and county? Saving the Travis gym from the wrecking ball was a motivation to stay the course with preservation. Finding the necessary funds for a long-term purpose is the most daunting aspect in saving a landmark structure. Explaining the historical and architectural significance of a structure is vital. Dealing with apathy, and cultivating conversations with property owners who’ve let structures deteriorate, is a steep uphill climb. Where do you think your passion for preservation and local history comes from? My first memory of a preservation effort was Jacqueline Kennedy’s work in preserving the White House and her stand to save New York’s Grand Central Station. A recent Smithsonian article quoted her as once saying, “We’ve all heard that it’s too late, or that it has to happen, that it’s inevitable. But I don’t think that’s true.” She continued, “Because I think if there is a great effort, even if it’s in the eleventh hour, then you can succeed, and I know that’s what we’ll do.” On a Texas note, not far from Snyder — at the Harvey House in Slaton — with just hours left before demolition, a group was able to halt the wrecking ball. And the success story of preservation, restoration and repurposing of the Louis Curtiss depot 8234


Texas and the nation are to preserve places that matter? We must harness the enthusiasm of likeminded supporters. At age 66, I’m finding a peer group at last that shares the passion of preservation, who’ll take time to work for a project. While social media can certainly be a positive force for change, it’s not enough to just leave a comment, like that page and check it off the list as “done.” Finding investors with the money to see a project come to fruition is another major hurdle. And getting in the door with

property owners — building a relationship with that revolving door of business owners and school boards and powerful railroad conglomerates — might be tedious, but it’s absolutely necessary. Most important, however, is finding a long-term use for a threatened structure. I venture to say that every town has a structure worth saving — but what will its purpose be five, 10, 50 years down the road? You and the Scurry County Historical Commission fought a pitched battle to save the depot. What was it about that particular cause, and Snyder’s railroad history, that drew your support? It’s been a journey. After an email from Houston architect Larry Harris, who enlightened me on the significance of the depot designed by noted Kansas City architect Louis Singleton Curtiss, it was clear the historical and architectural significance of our 1911 Santa Fe Railroad Depot qualified as a worthwhile project. I quickly boarded a locomotive train, an Iron Horse, to save the Depot. Talks began with the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad in 2009. For the next eight years the Scurry County Historical Commission pursued avenues for repurposing the building, as varied as an authorized Texas Department of Transportation visitor center or a business incubator. In 2016, with the help of Preservation Texas and the National Trust, thousands of supporters signed a petition that won the historical commission that kind of eleventh-hour reprieve Jackie Kennedy had described. Tell us about the high and low points of the struggle. Was there ever a moment when your group just felt like giving up? The roller-coaster ride is thrilling but scary. Just about the time you feel like you’ve made some headway with stakeholders or with a boost to save the building, something comes up — a change in leadership or property owner — and the process takes even longer than you thought.


You’ve been a supporter of preservation in Texas for more than a decade, playing a leadership role in everything from the Quanah Parker Trail to the Bankhead Highway to Scurry County historic buildings. What’s one of the most significant successes you’ve participated in? My first participation in a preservation project, in 2008, was to stop the Snyder Independent School District from demolishing a WPA gym built in 1936. The inventory and documentation of WPA and CCC projects has become a national objective, and educating local citizens about the value of the Travis Junior High Gymnasium was an important success.

It’s hard to keep enthusiasm moving once you’ve grabbed it. It’s so simple to me … why wouldn’t everyone see the importance of a structure? So many components attract one to a building, or a site, or a photograph or an oral history. But not everyone shares that same enthusiasm. In today’s culture, we talk at length about recycling plastic bottles, plastic bags, rubber tires, glass, tin cans — as we should. But then we think nothing of tearing down an entire, irreplaceable building — dumping tons of debris in landfills — and erasing it from our landscape.  Once the demolition permit was issued for the Snyder Depot in 2016, how did your preservation group rally for action? With last-minute help from Preservation Texas, the National Trust, our state representative, Dustin Burrows, an online petition and circumstances changing by the minute, by the hour, a 30-day reprieve was approved in that eleventh hour. Truly, I learned that preservation never sleeps. Even though we had no feasible plan for adaptive reuse, and no financing for a nearly $1 million renovation, an angel buyer stepped forward with a plan to move the depot to Austin. But TxDOT weight restrictions and detailed engineering studies nixed the idea. By November 2017, negotiations between BNSF and the Scurry County Historical Commission wound up at an impasse. With our options exhausted, we had to realize we were going to lose the depot. Still, you took a bold approach to showing others what it felt like to witness the demolition of a treasured building — by posting live video when the bulldozers knocked down the first parts of the wall to the final piles of rubble days later. What inspired you to devote this effort, even after the battle was lost? The heavy equipment had arrived on site, preparing to raze the 106-year-old depot. We’d had a good bit of sympathetic media coverage. People found it sobering to realize it was really going to happen. On the day of demolition, the commission knew we needed to document the event. On my 35-mile drive into town, it occurred to me I was going to have to step

out of my comfort zone and embrace social media to capture and share the process with Facebook readers and our followers. It really was a last-minute decision. By the time I arrived on site, I was contacting the Texas Plains Trail and various media outlets, local and beyond. The bulldozers cranked up, and I turned my camera toward the depot and talked. A few dozen friends and followers shared Facebook posts and Twitter feeds — and by the end of day one we had thousands of likes and comments from people all over the United States and Canada. By the end of the week, we had hundreds of thousands. For the next 10 days, members of the Scurry County Historical Commission used live Facebook feeds to document and share the demolition. With guidance from the Scurry County Museum staff and productive conversations with BNSF, we were able to secure architectural pieces of the depot, and we filmed the tedious removal of those pieces as well. Seeing firsthand, in real time, from the comfort of your home, across Texas, America and Canada what it looks like to actually lose a building can be a call to action. Your Snyder group turned that footage into the inspiration for a documentary film. How did that come about? The video footage and stills taken by the members of the historical commission were crucial in making sure the depot history, the story of Louis Curtiss and a key chapter of Snyder life were not lost. Within days of demolition, the historical commission came up with the idea of using this material in a documentary. Through the Texas Plains Trail, we connected with historian and producer Doug Baum, a West Texas native who now runs the Texas Camel Corps outside of Waco. [See Authentic Texas, Summer 2018.] Doug took the ball and ran with it, filming background and other interviews, editing hours of video and even involving his own family in writing the script and original music. The result was a 17-minute film, Built to Last. We couldn’t have been more pleased, and we eagerly debuted it Oct. 18, 2018, at the Ritz Community Theater in downtown

Snyder, itself a preserved landmark. The film captured connections to the depot with real lives: an AT&SF telegraph operator who worked there; a person whose family worked for the railroad. Those voices bring the building to life again. I was fortunate to have been there for the

Built to Last premiere. What an evening —

a sold-out house, and a shoulder-to-shoulder crowd at the 1818 Art House reception afterward. How do you think the event will benefit preservation efforts going forward? We were able to work with the Scurry County Museum to actually bring some of the artifacts we saved from the building, and put together an exhibit at the gallery, which remained up for a month. Guests were invited to share their own memories of the depot. I’m convinced that in years to come, the museum archives will help residents better understand our past and move into the future. What’s really fantastic is that the demolished building is paying it forward. Roughly 15,000 original Coffeyville paver bricks from the depot grounds and passenger and freight platforms were salvaged — the museum was able to sell these pieces of history to start a fund for future preservation efforts. What advice would you give other communities faced with a similar destruction of a historic building or place? Don’t wait till the last minute to save a building — it’s a long and tedious project. I can’t stress enough the importance of finding funding, an investor. Bring people into your team with a keen understanding of investments and tax credits, and a longevity plan for the building.  Don’t be afraid to step up. Give it your all, and don’t give up. For me, it’s still emotional to talk about the depot and the fact that it’s gone. It’s a part of me, it’s a part of who I am. It will always be a part of me just because I loved the building and I loved the story of Louis Curtiss. There’s a story of craftsmanship and how it was actually built and put together — the reinforced concrete, the size of the rebar that was used in the building, the fact that it stood here for 106 years, right here in Snyder, Texas. S PR I N G 2 0 1 9




TRANSPLANTED: Jewish immigrants fleeing anti-Semitic violence were brought to the United States through Galveston between 1907 and 1914.

Forward The emergence of rail transformed Texas — reflecting deeply held beliefs and ushering in unavoidable conflicts by GLORIA MERAZ

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The inexorable march to transportation modernization quickly brought the potential for vast economic and personal benefit. Along with this new world of possibilities and dreams came conflict: individual rights versus corporate rights; corporate rights versus the public good; and the cloud of corruption and crime. The compelling narrative of the railroad’s development tells us the history of the state, nation and its people. From the tales of people staking out new opportunities and connecting with others to the exploits of railroad magnates and the crimes of train robbers, stories and sites connected with Texas railways allow us to explore our history and landscape with a renewed appreciation for the breadth of Texas and the challenge and power of making all parts of the state connected and easily traversable.

Texas State Library and Archives Commission 1201 Brazos St. Austin, TX 78711 (512) 463-5455


Mon.–Fri. 8 am–5 pm Second Saturdays 9 am–4 pm

Texas in Transition: Railroads, Oil and the Rise of Urban Texas

Be sure to check out Texas State Library and Archives Commission’s site for lesson plans and activities. These resources are intended for middle school history teachers to introduce students to the practice of using historical archival materials on the web. texasintransition/index.html



HE FIRST OPERATING railroad in Texas powered forward in 1853. The newly rechartered Buffalo Bayou, Brazos and Colorado Railway connected a 20-mile stretch between Harrisburg and Stafford’s Point. Although Texas had issued railroad charters as early as 1836, it took nearly two decades for railroad construction to begin. The Buffalo Bayou railway started with five passenger cars and 28 freight cars. The earliest passenger service cost about five cents per passenger per mile and about 10 cents per ton per mile for freight service, about half the cost of moving people by coach or moving freight by ox or mule wagon. Passengers could travel at twice the speed by railroad than by coach for short distances. Within a short time, stage coach service ended for towns served by a railroad.


SLOW GOING: A mule train hauling a 22,000-pound boiler through 20 miles of mud to Indio Ranch in Presidio County.

BREAKING NEWS: A note informing Governor Richard Hubbard of the 1878 robbery likely perpetrated by the famous outlaw Sam Bass and his gang. Transcription: Dallas 4/5 Gov. Hubbard:            Texas & Pacific train was Robbed at Eagle Ford 6 six miles west of Dallas By four (4) masked men Last night. Express & mail cars were Robbed. Passengers not molested. Geo [?] Noble


Texas helped transform the state from a resource-filled but isolated frontier to a major economic power. Founded in 1891 to oversee the development and management of the state’s railway system, the commission emerged from a wave of populist resentment of the railroads and the power, wealth and control its corporate barons wielded.

In a time of enormous change, the Railroad Commission stood at the center of some of the state’s most significant transformations. Its history reflects some of the most deeply held beliefs in Texas: the sanctity of private property, the right of the individual to pursue economic freedom, and government’s responsibility to determine and protect the public good.

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Railroads Texas’ rich railroad heritage captivates tourists and historians alike by BOB LAPRELLE


RAIL REVOLUTION: The Houston & Texas Central No AG 82.232





O MANY, the mention of Texas history conjures up the Battle of the Alamo, cattle drives and oil strikes. To be sure, these were defining events that shaped the growth and culture of the state. But like so many other corners of our nation, the coming of the railroad stands as one of the most significant events in Texas history. The early years of construction touched off a period of growth and prosperity that is still felt today. Establishing railroads to move people and goods was a priority even before statehood. Dating back to 1836, leaders of the new Republic of Texas passed legislation to allow rail companies to be chartered and construct lines. However, it wasn’t until 1853 that a short line near Houston was completed, opening the era of railroad development in the state. A handful of other lines were chartered and construction was underway around Houston before the Civil War strained resources and halted any significant progress. But by 1870, railroad construction was about to take off and span the entire state. What made Texas different from other states was the sheer size and vast distance between populated areas. Railroad construction required enormous investment and was largely based on speculation that more population would follow along the new lines. The fledgling lines around Houston and Galveston had the advantage of established population centers and Gulf ports — both ingredients for successful investment in rail. But if the state was to become part of the growing national network of rail lines and benefit from post-Civil War Reconstruction, new routes would have to extend to the Red River and beyond. Likewise, an east-west line was essential to attract transcontinental traffic from the southeastern to southwestern U.S. — bearing in mind that the distance across the state was equal to that of traveling to Chicago. By 1870, two significant events would enable construction of the first north-south and east-west rail lines across the state. The Texas Legislature passed a bill requiring any railroad constructing lines in Texas to also incorporate within the state, which was a

brilliant move. Further skillful maneuvering by local politicians in North Texas determined the route these new lines would take. Construction northward by the Houston and Texas Central Railway (H&TC, formerly the Galveston and Red River Railroad) began in earnest in 1867, reaching Dallas in 1872 and the Red River by 1873. Completion of the line at the state’s northern boundary was a major accomplishment, as a connection was to be established with the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad (M-K-T), which had terminated just south of the Red River. Known as the “Katy,” the line had built southward through Indian Territory, creating direct access to Kansas City, St. Louis and points north and east. The connection was not without its share of controversy. There was much to gain economically by creating a community where the railroads met. The H&TC and M-K-T both had plans to establish a town at the end of their lines; however, the location of the town was still in question. As a result, a direct connection was not yet established, causing costly delays in shipments and travel. Further, freight and passengers were subject to unreasonable tariffs as part of the transfer process from one railroad to another. This costly bottleneck was effecting all traffic into and out of Texas. Many months of squabbling ensued until Dallas weighed in on the argument. Several prominent leaders threatened to “come up there and straighten it out for them” if the railroads didn’t come to an agreement. Finally, a direct connection was accomplished, and the location of a new town was established. What was originally to be named Red River City soon became the town of Denison, named after one of M-K-T’s vice presidents. The new rail connection between Texas and the Midwest was transformational for the state. It enabled huge increases in commerce between major Texas cities that were once isolated from the rest of the nation. Cotton and agricultural products that previously had to sail from the Port of Galveston through the Gulf and then up the Eastern Seaboard to markets could now be shipped inland in far less time. Inversely, machine tools and manufactured goods could economically and logistically reach Texas from northern producers.

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Before any opposition could be raised, a bill was passed granting the requirement because the location was not known to those who may have raised opposition. As it turns out, Browder’s Springs was within a mile of the Dallas County Courthouse. The arrival of the T&P in Dallas set the city on a course for economic prosperity, ultimately becoming the center for commerce in the Southwest. Unfortunately it would have to wait a few years, as the Panic of 1873

slowed the economy and halted line construction. Local investment was needed if the railroad was to continue westward. Through land grants, incentive payments and local labor, the T&P finally reached Fort Worth in 1876. The railroad reached Sierra Blanca in 1881, connecting with Southern Pacific’s line to El Paso and California. Texas was now an important link on the first southern transcontinental rail route. The H&TC and T&P lines were but the beginning of a vast network of rail lines throughout the state. Within a few short years, Texas would see construction of additional important transcontinental links to the national system. Through skillful politics, land grants, local capital, line acquisitions and sheer fortitude, the state was crisscrossed by literally hundreds of railroads. Some lines never made

it off paper, others were acquired shortly into the construction phase. In later years, mergers and consolidation would reduce the number of companies to a mere handful. Texas went from 20 miles of railroad in 1853 (less than 1 percent of national rail mileage) to a peak of 17,000 miles in 1931, part of a national network of 250,000 miles. Today, while rail mileage has diminished from its peak through mergers, consolidations and abandonment of unprofitable routes, railroads still play a critical role in Texas’ commerce. Lines with colorful names such as the Buffalo Bayou, Brazos and Colorado Railway and the Galveston, Harrisburg and San Antonio Railway have given way to mega railroads like BNSF and Union Pacific, as well as Kansas City Southern. Feeding into these major lines are a multitude of short line railroads that absorbed local operations of the major carriers. Together, they continue to haul bulk materials such as aggregates for concrete production, along with automobiles and intermodal traffic bearing consumer goods. Passenger rail is experiencing a resurgence in the state, with light rail and commuter systems springing up in nearly every metropolitan area. Through local, state and federal investment, these systems are the result of responsible urban planning as Texas cities grow and flourish, ensuring mobility through safe, reliable transportation. Amtrak serves the state through three routes: the Chicago-Dallas-Fort Worth-San Antonio Texas Eagle, the New Orleans-HoustonSan Antonio-El Paso-Los Angeles Sunset Limited, and the Fort Worth-Oklahoma City Heartland Flyer. And Texas may soon become the first state to debut high-speed rail outside of the northeast as the DallasHouston Texas Central line anticipates construction in a few years. The discovery of many remaining examples of Texas’ rich railroad heritage awaits tourists and historians. Railroad museums, preserved depots, and abandoned rights-ofway (some converted to hike & bike trails) are numerous throughout the state. The next time you stop at a railroad crossing, consider the enormous impact this mode of transportation has had on Texas for more than 165 years. Robert (Bob) H. LaPrelle has been involved in museum administration and historic railway preservation for more than 30 years. He’s served as chief executive officer of the Museum of the American Railroad in Dallas since 1988.


As a result, Texas was quickly becoming an agricultural and manufacturing center for the rest of the nation. The H&TC line was also benefiting the state in many localities. As the railroad built north from Houston, enterprising merchants followed the progression of the line, selling much-needed wares to railroad workers and settlers. Towns were established along the route where water stops, maintenance facilities and crew bases were necessary. When line construction reached Dallas in 1872, many merchants decided to settle in the town of a mere 3,000 inhabitants on speculation that an east-west railroad would intersect at that point. The names of those merchants became household words in Dallas for many years. Largely Jewish immigrants who came to Texas through the Port of Galveston, they established businesses providing necessary goods for a burgeoning town. Stores bearing the names E. M. Kahn, A. Harris & Company, Sanger Brothers, Titche-Goettinger and later Neiman Marcus offered basic items, but more importantly brought an Eastern influence to Dallas, which had a lasting effect on the culture of the city. The gamble these early entrepreneurs made on Dallas paid off just one year after the arrival of the H&TC. The first eastwest trans-Texas line (a far more ambitious endeavor) was created by federal charter in 1871, ultimately forming the Texas and Pacific Railway (T&P). Initially, the line was formed by a few existing railroads in East Texas that were strategically acquired as the T&P sought to build westward through the state. These initial lines already had connections in Louisiana and points east. The T&P continued construction, reaching Dallas in 1873, making the city the first major rail intersection in Texas and among the most significant in the southwestern United States. Dallas’ population would mushroom, more than tripling by 1880. Like so many communities across the country, the intersection of the H&TC and T&P in Dallas was no accident. Communities and landowners vied for routing and intersections of rail lines across the state, wanting to cash in on the economic prosperity of the new form of travel. When the route of the T&P was being decided in Austin, the intersection with the H&TC was established by careful maneuvering by Dallas politicians. During deliberations, these local representatives were successful in requiring the junction to be within one mile of Browder’s Springs.


Profile for Authentic Texas

Authentic Texas Spring 2019  

Discover why the railroad is an innate part of Texas culture in the Spring 2019 edition of Authentic Texas.

Authentic Texas Spring 2019  

Discover why the railroad is an innate part of Texas culture in the Spring 2019 edition of Authentic Texas.