Houston’s historic railroads
by W. E. (Bill) Willits
Welcome to Houston. We call ourselves Houstonians. Our city, currently the fourth largest in the United
States, was named after General Sam Houston, hero of the Battle of San Jacinto, a battle that occurred just a
few miles to the southeast on April 21, 1836, when this city was not yet born. San Jacinto was all about
avenging a cruel defeat a few weeks earlier at the Alamo in San Antonio and about Texas independence from
Mexico and General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna’s rule. It was a decisive victory for the “Texians” led by
Sam Houston and established the preeminence of a fiercely proud people over the place to be known as Texas
The first community established in this bayou region on the coastal plain not far inland from the Gulf of
Mexico was Harrisburg (or Harrisburgh, as it was sometimes spelled), a few miles southeast of present day
downtown Houston, in 1825. Santa Anna’s troops burned Harrisburg to the ground on April 16, 1836;
however, within a year after the Battle of San Jacinto, Harrisburg was rebuilt and thriving. But soon there was
a growing and stronger rival in the wings: Houston, the Bayou City (also sometimes called the Magnolia City).
Houston eventually grew to encompass Harrisburg and many other outlying areas, and continues its rapid
expansion today, with about 550 square miles within its corporate limits. The consolidated metropolitan area
of Houston, consisting of eight counties, is fast exceeding a population of four million souls.
Cotton and yellow fever were prominent in the early life of Houston. Cotton was the main crop grown in
the area and further inland, and that crop was hard to get to market given the primitive roads and plentiful
rainfall of southeastern Texas; railroads would change that in a few years. Yellow fever outbreaks decimated
this part of the country on multiple occasions during the early years of the city’s existence, making life risky
but bearable as the citizenry always carried forward as well as they could. The railroads opened up areas out
beyond the bayous where the living was healthier, playing an important role in establishing outlying
An entry for Houston in the Handbook of Texas Online says in part:
“The city began on August 30, 1836, when Augustus Chapman Allen and John Kirby Allen ran an
advertisement in the Telegraph and Texas Register for the ‘Town of Houston.’ The townsite, which featured a
mixture of timber and grassland, was on the level Coastal Plain in the middle of the future Harris County, at
95.4° west longitude and 30.3° north latitude. The brothers claimed that the town would become the ‘great
interior commercial emporium of Texas,’ that ships from New York and New Orleans could sail up Buffalo
Bayou to its door, and that the site enjoyed a healthy, cool sea breeze. They noted plans to build a sawmill and
offered lots for sale at moderate prices. In the manner of town boomers the Allens exaggerated a bit, however.
The forty-three-inch annual rainfall and temperatures that ranged from a median temperature of 45° F in the
winter to 93° in summer later inspired Houston to become one of the most air-conditioned cities in the world.
Moreover, in January 1837, when Francis R. Lubbock arrived on the Laura, the small steamship that was the
first to reach Houston, he found the bayou choked with branches and the town almost invisible; tradition says
that he and his fellow travelers had to help push the boat part of the way.
“The Allen brothers named their town after Sam Houston and persuaded the Texas Congress to designate
the site as the temporary capital of the new Republic of Texas. The promoters offered lots and buildings to the
government. On January 1, 1837, the town comprised twelve residents and one log cabin; four months later
there were 1,500 people and 100 houses. Gail and Thomas H. Borden surveyed and mapped the town in typical
gridiron fashion, with broad streets running parallel and perpendicular to the bayou. (Gail Borden would later
become famous for his patent on condensed milk.) The legislature first met in Houston on May 1, 1837, and,
despite the efforts of Masons who greeted one another in 1837 and the Presbyterians and Episcopalians who
formed churches in 1839, the town remained infamous for drunkenness, dueling, brawling, prostitution, and
profanity. The legislature granted incorporation on June 5, 1837, and James S. Holman became the first mayor.
The same year, Houston also became the county seat of Harrisburg County, which was renamed Harris County
In 1839, however, Austin (Waterloo) became the official capital of Texas, and Houston was left to simply
grow into the largest city in Texas. The city had to wait many years to surpass the population of the seaport of
Galveston, 50 miles to the southeast, but after that it was no contest. By 1930, Houston was the largest city in
Texas. The secret to much of that growth in the 19th and early 20th centuries was the proliferation of railroads
reaching in every direction, the development of the petroleum industry in the early 1900s, and the opening of
the Houston Ship Channel in 1914, which led to making this city today one of the largest seaports in the
country despite its nearly 50 mile distance inland from the Gulf of Mexico.
The theme “Where 17 Railroads Meet the Sea” was introduced in the 1920s to describe Houston. In fact,
many more than 17 railroads were formed over many years in the Southeast Texas area centering on Houston,
but by 1926 the 17 (one more new railroad in 1927 made it 18) called Houston home because of consolidations
and mergers over the previous 80 years. Our longtime Chapter historian and railroad history authority George
C. Werner listed 43 railroad names on the map accompanying his article titled “Railroads of the Magnolia
City” in the Volume 47, Number 1 issue of the NRHS National Railway Bulletin published in 1982.
It all began with the Buffalo Bayou, Brazos & Colorado (BBB&C) which was actually chartered initially
in the 1840s but began construction westward from old Harrisburg in 1851 to become the second railroad
startup west of the Mississippi River (the Pacific Railroad built west from St. Louis was the first). The second
railroad to start construction in this area of Texas was the Galveston & Red River in 1853. The G&RR was
slow to build, but by 1856 had reached Cypress, 25 miles northwest of Houston. Later in 1856 that railroad’s
name was changed to Houston & Texas Central; the H&TC built an additional 55 miles of track to the town of
Millican and had graded 44 more miles before the War Between the States interceded to stop construction.
Both of these railroad lines eventually came under the Southern Pacific Lines umbrella in the later years of the
19th century and both exist today as part of the Union Pacific Railroad. Another early line built by local
interests in the 1850s, albeit a very short seven miles, was known as the Houston Tap, completed in 1856 to
connect Houston itself to the BBB&C. In 1858 the HT became part of the Houston & Brazoria Tap (H&BT)
line which extended southward into the sugar cane region of nearby Brazoria County.
To the southeast of Houston on the mainland opposite Galveston, the Galveston, Houston & Henderson
(GH&H) started in 1856 and reached Houston in 1859; the H&BT and the GH&H many years later came
under control of the Missouri Pacific Railroad, now part of the Union Pacific. From Houston the (original)
Texas & New Orleans (T&NO) built a line eastward to the town of Orange, Texas, completing the line in 1861
just as hostilities between the Union and Confederacy began, and ending most of the building of railroads in
the region until 1867.
As noted in the Handbook of Texas Online under the “Railroads” article by George C. Werner:
“When the Texas Legislature passed the Law to Regulate Railroads in 1853, it required that the railroads
operating in the state be headquartered in Texas. This requirement was later included as part of Article X of the
Constitution of 1876. As a result the various railroad systems operating in Texas did so through subsidiary
companies. Some, such as the Southern Pacific, Missouri Pacific, and the Santa Fe, retained the corporate
names of Texas railroads they had acquired. Others, such as the Missouri, Kansas and Texas, chartered
separate subsidiaries to operate in Texas. However, the Transportation Act of 1920 gave additional regulatory
powers to the Interstate Commerce Commission.
“In 1934 the Kansas City Southern Railway Company sought to lease the Texarkana and Fort Smith
Railway Company lines in Texas. Although the Interstate Commerce Commission gave approval to this lease,
the state of Texas fought the case to the Supreme Court of the United States, which upheld the federal agency.
The Missouri Pacific and its subsidiaries came out of receivership in 1954, at which time all of the companies
in Texas operating as part of the Missouri Pacific Lines were merged into the parent company. The Katy
merged its Texas subsidiary in 1960, while the Southern Pacific merged the Texas and New Orleans in 1961.
The Santa Fe followed suit in 1965. (The Texas law requiring railroads in the state to maintain their
corporate offices in the state that had been in place in various forms since 1853 had been rescinded in 1961.)
The last of the separate Texas railroads was the Fort Worth and Denver, which merged into the Burlington
Northern Railroad Company in 1982.”
One problem confronting those early lines, as was true throughout the country, was a difference in gauge.
Some were built to the later-designated standard gauge of four feet eight and one half inches, others were wide
gauge (five feet six inches) or some other gauge as wide as six feet; they simply couldn’t readily interchange
cars because of the discrepancies. An act of the Texas Legislature in 1853 set “state gauge” at six feet, later
amended to five feet six inches, and finally, in 1871, the requirement was made that for railroads to build new
in Texas, track had to have a minimum gauge of four feet eight and one half inches.
The war 1861-1865 was not kind to the railroads of the region, as maintenance was deferred (yes, that
term sounds familiar today) by a lack of supplies and materials and the needs of the Confederacy. Therefore,
the railroads of southeastern Texas were in pretty poor shape at the cessation of hostilities.
Following this period and despite severe financial problems that saw many assets changing hands, railroad
construction began again and lines spread rapidly in every direction from Houston. The H&TC renewed
construction in 1867, reached Dallas in 1872, and Denison, at the Oklahoma border, in 1873. At Denison the
H&TC connected with the Missouri-Kansas-Texas (Katy) Railroad, giving Texas an outlet to the rest of the
country via Oklahoma, Kansas and Missouri.
Meanwhile, in 1868, the old BBB&C charter was amended to change the name to the Galveston, Houston
& San Antonio (GH&SA). New construction connected Houston and San Antonio, two hundred miles to the
west, in 1877. But it didn’t stop there, as the GH&SA, under an amended charter again, built westward from
San Antonio while other crews from the Southern Pacific built eastward from El Paso. On January 12, 1883,
they joined at the Pecos River with a special ceremony and the “Sunset Route” was completed through at last
from New Orleans to San Francisco.
Another example of a new startup in the post-Civil War period was the Houston & Great Northern
(H&GN), which began building northward from Houston in 1871 and through a later merger with the
International line, formed the International & Great Northern (I&GN), which connected at Longview with the
Texas & Pacific. This provided a connection at Texarkana, on the Texas-Arkansas border, to the rest of the
country via St. Louis. The I&GN was partially built to wide gauge but finally converted to standard gauge all
the way from Houston in 1876. A problem still existed, however; the connecting line, St. Louis, Iron
Mountain & Southern, did not convert to standard gauge until 1879. Such were the travails of railroading in
the 19th century!
Even narrow gauge interests got into the act (so much for the standard gauge legislation of 1871!), as in
1874 the three foot Western Narrow Gauge (WNG) line was begun to build from Houston toward San
Antonio; within a few more years, even bigger plans were afoot under a new charter and ownership to extend
the line clear to Presidio del Norte on the Rio Grande River more than 600 miles away, then to build across
northern Mexico to Guaymas on the Gulf of California, plus extending a branch from San Marcos, Texas,
northwestward to connect with the narrow gauge Rio Grande Railroad in Colorado. Under this charter the
name of the railroad was changed to Texas Western Narrow Gauge (TWNG), but alas, the dreams were still
too big; about 50 miles of track were actually built connecting Houston and the town of Sealy, Texas, but it got
no farther and by 1896 it was out of service and by 1899 the line itself was but a memory.
However, another narrow gauge railroad in East Texas was successful. The Houston, East and West Texas
(HE&WT) was built from Houston to Shreveport, Louisiana and provided service for many years as a narrow
gauge line. This line, known as “the Rabbit” was converted to standard gauge in 1894, eventually became
another line of the Southern Pacific system and still exists today as part of the Union Pacific.
By the 1880s, “everybody was getting into the act.” The Gulf, Colorado & Santa Fe (GC&SF) chartered
in 1875 was actually built as a “Galveston” railroad, connecting that port city and the interior; but soon the
railroad was also a Houston line, with its own admittedly inadequate access from the south that forced its trains
in a later era to use trackage rights on the SP from Rosenberg to get more swiftly to Houston. The San
Antonio & Aransas Pass (SA&AP) built lines (out of San Antonio) which eventually created connections from
Houston to San Antonio, Corpus Christi and Waco. In 1893, the Missouri, Kansas & Texas of Texas (MKTof
T), that same railroad which had provided access to the north beyond the Texas/Oklahoma border for the
Houston and Texas Central twenty years earlier, finally arrived in town from the west. Houston was definitely
on the national railroad map!
At the beginning of 1900 there were still less than 10,000 miles of railroad in Texas; by 1932, total
railroad mileage in the state had reached 17,078. During this period, of course, Houston area railroad
development contributed greatly to that total, including the building of the Trinity & Brazos Valley (T&BV);
this line provided another connection between Houston and Dallas, and in 1931 would become the line known
as the Burlington-Rock Island (B-RI) later called the Joint Line. (The Rock Island Railroad, one of the first
railroads to build west out of Chicago and eventually served 14 states, suffered financial collapse in 1980, and
the Burlington Northern (BN) took over the former Joint Line entirely at that time; this Dallas-Houston line is
now part of the BNSF). There was the addition of the Houston Belt & Terminal (HB&T) owned by several
railroads to handle switching in the city, and the Port Terminal Railroad Association (PTRA) which took over
existing operation by the Public Harbor Belt (PHB) in 1924 and became the port area switching company.
Too, there was the dominance of the Southern Pacific and Missouri Pacific in the area as they controlled
several of the earlier lines, and there was continuing new construction in several directions as the city and its
The interurban movement found adherents in this part of Texas, too. The Galveston-Houston Electric
joined its two namesake cities over the causeway in 1911, eleven years after the terrible hurricane of 1900 had
claimed more than 6000 lives on Galveston Island in the worst natural disaster in U.S. history. In 1927, the
“last new electric interurban line” built in the United States, the Houston North Shore (HNS), began operation
out of Houston; it eventually became part of the Missouri Pacific and today its tracks still carry traffic of the
Union Pacific Railroad.
The streamline era reached Houston on October 1, 1936, with the inauguration of the diesel-powered and
articulated shovel-nosed Sam Houston Zephyr on the B-RI from Dallas. In 1937 the Texas Rocket followed
on the same line; the distinctive EMD TA power units on the early Rockets were unique. In 1945 the Twin
Star Rocket replaced the Texas Rocket and connected Minneapolis and Houston via Kansas City and Dallas;
the Sam Houston Zephyr name survived until 1966. The T&NO, not to be outdone in the Dallas-Houston
market, launched the streamlined and steam-powered Sunbeam on September 19, 1937, to be complemented
on the schedule in June 1938 by the Hustler. The two railroads competed head-to-head for the business,
rolling between the two largest cities in Texas “265 miles in 265 minutes.”
World War II saw tremendous growth in traffic for Houston, as it did everywhere in the United States.
Houston was uniquely positioned, being the center of petroleum industry activity and an inland seaport, to
provide the transportation necessary for the war effort. Within the Houston metropolitan area itself, the
demands of wartime also meant jobs and industries gearing up to provide the military’s needs as well as
continuing to provide needed means for the civilian population to prosper.
An example of new demands on local railroads during WW II was the Houston North Shore’s commuter
operation moving workers to and from their work at the vital oilfield-related industries around Baytown,
Highlands and Goose Creek on the east side of the Ship Channel. The need for toluene, an ingredient in
munitions, and a shortage of natural rubber (many of us remember synthetic rubber when the real thing was
unavailable during the War), spurred the construction of the San Jacinto Ordnance Works and other war
industries along the HNS; more jobs, more rail shipments. Oh, and did I mention wartime shipbuilding in the
Houston area? The switching yards and mainlines of all the railroads were swollen with wartime traffic.
In the late 1940s hopes were high that rail passenger travel would grow as the wartime demands on the
railroads eased and civilians could again travel more easily. Houston’s three train stations were ready. Soon
there were streamlined name trains called Texas Eagle, Texas Chief and California Special arriving and
departing Houston Union Station at Texas and Crawford Streets daily along with the Twin Star Rocket and
Sam Houston Zephyr and others as well as unnamed trains galore. The Sunset Limited, the oldest name train of
all, became a streamliner in 1950 and added to the multiple colorful trains visiting the platforms at Grand
Central Station. The MKT station in downtown Houston hosted the Bluebonnet each day. It was a hopeful
time for American passenger trains and their riders. It couldn’t last.
Fast forward, if that is possible, past the end of World War II, past the burgeoning ‘50s when Houston was
flexing its muscles as a big player in the petroleum industry and adding new industries like medicine and
manufacturing and services of various kinds. Continue moving into the ‘60s and the “Interstate era” when
passenger trains were dropping like flies all over the United States as the railroads divested themselves of the
expensive and increasingly unrewarding part of their business while highways and airports were swarming
with travelers. Houston was no exception to the trend as the named passenger streamliners and their secondary
numbered partners that had so gloriously emerged in the late 1930s and later in the 1940s as well disappeared
from the scene.
The T&NO/SP closed the 1934-completed Grand Central Station (the second station by that name) in 1959
when only a remnant of their former passenger service remained. The Sunset Limited soldiered on and the
name still lives today as Amtrak trains #1 and #2, the truncated New Orleans-Houston Argonaut ran until
1963, but the Sunbeam, the Hustler, the Owl and numerous other trains had all disappeared from the schedule,
and at that point passenger operations such as they were moved to a much smaller facility a couple of blocks
away. It wasn’t long before Grand Central was razed to the ground and in its place the downtown Post Office
And over at the Katy station, after 1957 the Bluebonnet no longer came to town. It was a sad time for
Houston Union Station, built in 1911 and long the host to multiple railroads, saw the rapid demise of
several name trains in quick succession: Missouri Pacific’s Eagles, Santa Fe’s California Special, and Rock
Island’s Twin Star Rocket all fell victim to the ax. The station continued to host the Santa Fe Texas Chief and
after that the Amtrak version of the Texas Chief for a few years after 1971, but eventually (1974) that train
became the Lone Star (Santa Fe management objected to the use of the name for a train that no longer met the
Santa Fe standards of the past) and later it too moved to the little ex-SP Amtrak station. There was also an
Inter-American connection for a period of time, and finally there was a Texas Eagle connection that started in
the late ‘80s and ended in 1995 during the Amtrak era.
That small Amtrak facility I mentioned? Today it still serves the same role as before; but the schedule
calls for only the famously-named Sunset Limited to call there, and the Sunset sadly became most famous for
seldom being on time. Rumors abound about future rail passenger service; change is always possible.
Even our museum felt the pinch as the Gulf Coast Chapter’s equipment collection that had been on display
at Union Station since 1968 had to be removed from that location and moved to its present site several miles
away in late 1977 when the final trackage was to be eliminated from Union Station. Today what remains of
the Union Station head house structure serves as the main gateway into Minute Maid Park, home of the
Houston Astros Major League Baseball team; a sad comedown for a proud tradition.
So, think past the deregulation era beginning in the 1980s, past the fallen flags and retrenchment as seven
major railroad companies and a lot of regionals and short lines emerged from the fray in the United States.
Yes, even think past the beginning of the 21st century, to the Houston of today.
Railroading in our area today is a huge business that keeps all of us noticing. We lament the passing of so
many fallen flags and once-upon-a-times, but we recognize the vitality of our region and a bright railroading
future out in front of us. Today our local Class I railroads include Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF),
Union Pacific (UP) and Kansas City Southern (KCS). We daily witness power passing through from NS,
CSX, CN and other “foreign” lines. Lease units of all colors, markings and descriptions also burnish the
Houston rails daily.
New things are afoot in railroading around here, too. Several years ago, KCS acquired the former SP
“Macaroni Line” right-of-way southwest of Houston from near Rosenberg to Victoria, Texas. This line had
originally been built in the 1880s as the New York, Texas and Mexico railway (NYT&M) under the financial
direction and management of the colorful Count Telfener, who brought several hundred Italian laborers to
Texas, many of whom settled in the area. Those rails were pulled up in the 1990s. Then, on June 17, 2009,
after construction of a completely new and very modern railroad over the same ground, the KCS opened for
business. Now the KCS no longer has to run its NAFTA trains over “trackage rights” mileage on the Union
Pacific west of Houston to reach its Laredo, Texas, connection to Mexico.
Intermodal traffic (containers on flat cars or trailers on flat cars) here is also alive and well. And, too, we
frequently see unit coal trains enroute from Wyoming and Montana to power stations in our area via UP and
BNSF rails. Recently Union Pacific and Norfolk Southern negotiated improved interchange using the KCS
east-west line from Meridian, Mississippi to Shreveport, Louisiana, which routes some of the traffic through
Houston to the West Coast. And, too, if there is something to be moved inland from overseas, frequently it is
routed via Houston’s Ship Channel to the docks and from there to its destination via rail, our rail.
Houston is a city heavy on freeway construction that is projected well into the future. Commuter (heavy)
rail has been lurking in the shadows but has never come to fruition since the Metropolitan Transit Authority
(Metro) for the Houston area was formed after a referendum in the late 1970s. To date, while there is no
commuter rail operating yet in our area, there has been more “noise” about it in the last several years. One
existing rail route that actually has been awarded study funding for commuter rail is the UP line through
Cypress paralleling US 290 as far as Hempstead (remember the H&TC?). That line is being projected for
operation by 2015 or 2016. Another being studied is via UP right of way from Fort Bend County into
Houston. And yet another that has been mentioned would run via BNSF right of way from Tomball or beyond
into our fair city. The Houston-Galveston Area Council, TxDOT, the Gulf Coast Freight Rail District,
Houston Metro and several other entities all have stakes in such development.
Light rail became a reality in Houston after years of contentious debate as the initial 7.5 mile “Red Line”
was opened in January 2004 joining the south side of the city near the Astrodome and Reliant Center complex
with the downtown area. The future of planned extensions following this initial break into the world of
modern rail transportation has been clouded by constant friction and debate among various factions and for a
long time by the need for positive political support from all levels of government. As of this writing three
more light rail lines are in various stages of construction and two additional lines are soon to be under way.
While opponents of light rail frequently point to projections of “small numbers” of personal vehicles that will
initially be removed from our streets and highways when these lines go into operation, the mindset of driving
one’s own set of wheels for any and every occasion that has kept the Houston area in gridlock will be
challenged at last.
How about high speed rail to join the major cities of Texas: Houston, San Antonio, Austin, Dallas, Fort
Worth? Like everywhere else in the United States, there are occasional bursts of rhetoric about high speed rail,
but little substance. Back in the 1980s and early ‘90s the prospects looked good and it was being pushed pretty
hard, but a lack of money and political will and a lot of negative advertising (much of it from a certain airline)
convinced many folks who should have known better that somehow high speed rail would not be good for
them or their property values; the likelihood of high speed rail construction had only infrequently been raised
since. However, as of 2010, with rollout of the federal $8 billion high speed rail stimulus, this is back in the
mix. Although Texas fared badly in the initial funding releases (nothing was “shovel-ready” yet), future
funding will come Texas’ way. There are several plans under consideration and study funding has been put in
place for TxDOT and other agencies to explore possibilities, including Houston-Dallas, Houston-Austin,
Houston-San Antonio. Funding needs to be there when plans mature and they are ready to start.
Okay, so nothing is perfect. We railfans and history buffs are still believers in the superior concept of the
flanged wheel on steel rails. Some of us old enough to remember big steam locomotives hauling mainline
trains, multiple F units and early GPs and Alco PAs and early TOFC and passenger trains 18 cars long with
multiple colors and destinations and all the other things that made our earlier railroad memories so vivid; well,
we miss those things.
But look around. Big time railroading is alive and well here in southeastern Texas and we rejoice in that.
It all began with those forward looking individuals who first walked among the bayous and saw a bright future
then, too. Many of those early aspirations have been fulfilled many times over.
At Houston Railroad Museum we proudly display a poster declaring Houston to be “Where 17 Railroads
Meet the Sea,” that reminder of so long ago. Houston has been, in fact, so closely tied to its railroads that the
logo still used by the Houston municipal government today and displayed on city vehicles and documents is
dominated by a star (the Lone Star of Texas) poised above a rendering of an early steam locomotive which is
poised above a plow, symbolizing the pride and dreams and work ethic of its settlers and their descendants; a
copy of that logo, too, adorns the wall in our museum’s visitor center. That logo, incidentally, was created in
1840, more than ten years before the BBB&C started laying the first rails in Texas, before a locomotive had
ever been seen here.
This has been only a capsule history and there are a lot of railroad names and places I have not mentioned
that perhaps should be brought up, but to chronicle all the railroad charters and the small lines and branches
built and operating in and around Houston since that 1851 upstart called BBB&C headed west from Harrisburg
would fill many more pages. Suffice to say this place has been the scene of much railroading activity since
that early tentative start.
Welcome to Houston! Take a good look at us. We think you’ll like what you find.
The Handbook of Texas Online
Railroads of the Magnolia City by George C. Werner
National Railway Bulletin (NRHS)
Volume 47, Number 1, 1982
Houston North Shore
by Charles C. Robinson and Paul L. DeVerter II
Down South on the Rock Island 1940-1969
Santa Fe in the Lone Star State
Miss Katy in the Lone Star State
Texas & New Orleans Color Pictorial
all by Steve Allen Goen
Numerous rail-interest periodicals
Personal research notes of the author
Our organization, the Gulf Coast Chapter, National Railway Historical Society, Inc., hosted a three day
meeting of the NRHS National Board of Directors in October 2007, and I wanted to inform our visitors from
all over the United States about the rich history of our city and surrounding area. Therefore, I wrote the
original version of this article and published it in the October 2007 issue of Gulf Coast Railroading.
Since 2007 several significant events have occurred on the railroad scene locally, so in 2010 I made
several revisions to the article that better reflect the present. Anyone reading this article two or five or ten
years hence would find the “facts on the ground” changed again; such is the nature of railroading in its various
W. E. (Bill) Willits
Editor – Gulf Coast Railroading
Gulf Coast Chapter, NRHS, Inc.