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Texas Brazos Trail Region

Participant in the Texas Historical Commission's
Texas Heritage Trails Program

Railroads


Wichita Falls Railroad Museum
Wichita Falls Railroad Museum

LOCOMOTION JUNCTION

Imagine navigating Texas before trains and automobiles when travel consisted of the horse, wagon, and your least-stubborn mule, and when the few roads that were available often became impassable at the slightest drop of rain. This describes Texas travel conditions just a little more than 150 years ago. A 35-mile trip by horse and carriage, particularly after a few rainy days, might have taken you over a day and a half to complete. But the same trip by railcar, an option already available in some states at the time, took only an hour and forty minutes. We needed the rail system as badly as the rest of the nation needed the resources we had to offer and, indeed, the development of the state's railroad system and the rise of our economic progress matured interdependently, producing mutual benefits along the way. Today, dozens of railroad museums throughout the state illustrate the fascinating and entertaining stories derived from our railroad legacy. Next time you have the opportunity you might want to check one out. Bring your fun-loving uncle along; you know-the one with the working model train set occupying what was supposed to be your aunt's formal dining room. Just remember, according to your uncle you don't necessarily have to be a train buff to appreciate a good-looking caboose.

BLACKLAND PRAIRIE RAILROAD HERITAGE

The Blackland Prairie of the Texas Brazos Trail Region delivered a bounty of cotton to nineteenth century farmers. The crop proved relatively easy to grow thanks to the region’s rich soil and abundant water. But Blackland Prairie farmers still faced many challenges, including getting the cotton to ginneries and then on to distant markets. Wagon teamsters and steamships plying the Brazos River helped to deliver the goods but ferry crossings were dangerous and river navigation difficult. However, all that changed with the arrival of the railroad. The railroad made markets accessible to landowners throughout the region, elevated many cotton farmers to cotton barons and leaving a trail of wealth and prosperity in its wake. This lively railroad era has past but its heritage remains in place at the Burlington-Rock Island Railroad Museum in Teague (a restored red brick depot with Romanesque arches and an Italianate tower), the Temple Railroad and Heritage Museum in Temple housed in the 1907 Moody Gulf Colorado and Santa Fe Depot , and the Elgin Union Depot Museum in Elgin.

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Read more about railroads in the Handbook of Texas Online.