|Riding the Red River Rails
|A historic look at the impact of the railroads along the Red River
|Red River Railroads
Following is a short list of the railroads that
passed through the Red River
Houston & Texas Central
The H&TC was based out of Houston and
came to Dallas in 1872, then met up with the
Missouri-Kansas-Texas tracks in Sherman in
1873. The H&TC was the first to replace coal
with oil fuel; it was the first to offer Pullman
service; and it was the first company whose
employees attempted unionization. Most of the
H&TC tracks have been torn up or are now
used by Union Pacific.
As the first rail line in Indian Territory, the
KATY was instrumental in the
industrial development of what would
eventually become Oklahoma. The KATY laid
tracks all the way to Galveston. Criss- crossing
the southwest, it also offered streamliner
service through the Bluebonnet Special and
the Katy Flyer. The KATY was eventually taken
over by MoPac.
Texas & Pacific
One of the earliest railroads in Texas, the T&P
eventually hooked up with the
Southern Pacific in Sierra Blanca, Texas,
making it the first east-west line in the
Southwest. The T&P merged with MoPac in
The MoPac was owned by Jay Gould, a
railroad "robber baron" who would
eventually own controlling interest in the KATY
and the T&P. MoPac didn't
really build its own tracks in the Red River
Valley, preferring to buy up
trackage that was already there. Eventually,
MoPac owned over 3,000 miles of track in
Texas. Today, MoPac tracks are part of the
Union Pacific System.
Chicago, Rock Island, and Pacific
Coming through Oklahoma Territory, the Rock
Island Railroad would supplant the Chisholm
Trail when its tracks came through in the
1890s. The company concentrated on short
runs, and would later merge with the KATY.
Burlington Rock Island
In Texas, the Rock Island bought up local lines
that were in receivership. It
operated the first streamliner, the Sam
Houston Zephyr, between Houston and Austin,
and the Texas Zephyr traveled between Dallas
and Denver. Always struggling, the railroad
eventually merged with Burlington Northern.
Cotton Belt Route
Evidence of the Cotton Belt Route, which was
actually the St. Louis
Southwestern Railway, exists all over north
Texas. Its purpose was to ferry
cotton to market, but it also had a number of
passenger routes as well. The Southern
Pacific took over the route in 1992, which then
went on to merge with the Santa Fe and
eventually, Burlington Northern.
St. Louis-San Francisco
Known to most as simply the "Frisco," this was
a short line rail company that
concentrated in Missouri, Oklahoma, and north
Texas. The Frisco merged with Burlington
Northern in 1980.
Aitchiston, Topeka, and Santa Fe
The Santa Fe, originally based out of Kansas,
arrived in Texas from New Mexico and
continued to expand. Cleburne, Texas became
its main repair hub. In the 1950s, the Santa Fe
built the last passenger depot of the old era in
Denton. Today, the Santa Fe is still going
strong after the 1997 merger with Burlington
Northern. In North Texas, the Santa Fe ran as
the Gulf, Colorado & Santa Fe Railroad.
Now owned by the Union Pacific, the Southern
Pacific was a prominent railroad in the Red
River valley that acquired several smaller
railroads over its years of existence, including
the Texas & New Orleans line, which was one
of the oldest railroad companies in Texas and
|The 1909 KATY truss bridge near Colbert,
|Telegraph poles line the former Houston &
Central Texas tracks in Van Alstyne, Texas.
|The Burlington Northern Santa Fe depot is still
in use in Corsicana, Texas.
|Lone pillar of a toll bridge between Oklahoma
|Dexter, TX died when the railroad bypassed it.
|A Cotton Belt Route bridge in Omaha, Texas.
|Abandoned KATY depot on US 69 in Oklahoma.
|Traveling down the tracks in Fort Worth