Railroad Journey to Denison, Texas
Founded by the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad (the Katy) in 1872, Denison, named after a railroad executive, was the entry point of
the first non-Texas based railroad. Then the Houston & Texas Central connected to the KATY in the mid-1870s, and Denison became
home to the first north/south railroad connection in Texas. The city grew as a transportation hub throughout the 20th century, and
was a very important economic center for all of northern Texas and southern Oklahoma.

Passenger services diminished in the 1960s. When freight service declined in the 1990s, Denison's rail switching yards were
dismantled and sold for scrap.  When a bypass for US 75 was built west of town in the 1990s, the city stagnated. Luckily, Denison  
rebounded nicely, especially with a state park, a beautiful river, a presidential birthplace, and a lively Main Street at its doorstep.
Dwight D. Eisenhower was born in this small home near the KATY tracks in Dension, where his father worked for the railroad. Eisenhower, we all
know, became the Commander of US Armed Forces in WWII, Supreme Allied Commander over all western forces in Europe and planned with them the
Normandy invasion (D Day, June 6 1944) and President of the United States from 1953-1961.

Here's a funny coincidence that will appeal mainly to history nerds (like me!): Eisenhower called Abilene, Kansas, his home (it's where his presidential
library and museum can be visited). Abilene was the first terminus of the
Chisholm Trail, which was founded by Joseph McCoy in 1867. Joseph
McCoy would later move to Denison, where he became part owner of the nation's first refrigerated car company, which was built to supplant the
Chisholm Trail.
Denison opened the first free, public, white school in Texas that was segregated by grades in the 1870s.
In 2007, the beautiful mission-style high school on the western end of downtown was razed.
The KATY Flyer steams through Denison (Museum of the American Railroad).
KATY diesel locomotive sits next to the Red River Railroad Museum.
Some good eating can be had at Watson's Drive-In on Main Street (yes, that's a tornado forming in the background).
Texas and Pacific Railway survey marker in someone's front yard near the old T&P station (now a gas station).
Are you a "foamer" like I am (railroad people know what I'm talking about)?
Then let
me know - and share your photos with readers!
Steamboats, like the Annie P, landed near Denison at the turn of the 20th century.
These boats were mostly used for excursions, however, as travelers deemed the rails much more efficient.
A Texas & Pacific locomotive barrels through the tunnel, with the tracks of the MKT passing overhead. (T&P Archives)
Last remaining pole for the interurban line between Dallas and Denison, which was decommissioned in the 1940s.
I love finding remains of railroads. Read my blog about "Mapping the Red River Valley" using old railroad tracks.
The remains of a bridge abutment from the Kansas-Oklahoma- Gulf (nee Missouri-Oklahoma- Gulf) railroad line.
One of the few remains of the MKT Roundhouse... it's a shame that most of Denison's
fantastic infrastructure has fallen into ruin. To see what I mean, read up on
Denison's Roundhouses.
Old sign just east of downtown Denison that denotes the now-defunct St. Louis-San Francisco Railroad's property (aka the Frisco Line.)
Take a road trip to Denison - you'll be glad you did. Just drive around, walk around, and do
it as slowly as you can. You'll be amazed about what you can see in this fantastic town.
Questions or comments? E-mail me: robin@redriverhistorian.com
In this 1876 bird's eye depiction of Denison, the town is only four years old. It would soon grow a lot bigger. (Library of Congress). Click on the image
to see the map in larger detail - and
explore even more bird's eye maps through the Amon Carter Museum.
Remains of the vast infrastructure of Denison's railroad past can be witnessed all over the town - like this water tower platform.
The site of the former Texas & Pacific Depot is now a gas station.