|Stations Galore in Waxahachie
Wax a What?
When I was in high school, I met my first Waxahachian, or whatever you call people from Waxahachie. He had just moved to our town, and I
thought he was gorgeous, with his dimpled cheeks and strong chin. I never went out with him, because a) my mantra was that I'd never
date anyone I'd see walking down the hallways at school the next day, just in case I had done something I would be embarrassed by, and b)
he never asked me. C'est la vie.
I don't even remember this guy's name, and he was about all I knew of Waxahachie. I decided to learn more, but not for any romantic
reasons - I just wanted to know what was behind all the moanings and carrying-ons about Waxahchie's Victorian architecture and the
gargoyles on the courthouse. At least once a year the Dallas Morning News has some write-up about a day trip to Waxahachie, and while
I've been to the annual Scarsborough Faire just outside of city limits, I still don't know much about the town. So guess what I did?
A Visit to Waxahachie
I must admit, Waxahachie has one of the nicest downtowns I've seen in a while. In the center sits a remarkably well-scrubbed courthouse,
famous for the sandstone carvings done by an Italian sculptor who apparently used the likeness of a woman who spurned his advances as
the model for the many cherub faces on the friezes. The courthouse is surrounded by high curbed sidewalks, a soda fountain, and brick
buildings renovated into apartments. Just a block north sits the old jail, which has been converted into attorney's offices. A small stream
and park nestled at the foot of the jail building looks a little like a moat surrounding a fortress.
While the city has marked an auto tour around the downtown area, I decided to skip that, since I've never been too impressed by Victorian
architecture. Instead, I spent some time poking around the southern end of downtown, by South Rogers Street. There, I found three
abandoned train stations near the tracks. One track was still used, but the other had succumbed to weeds and various debris. There may
have been a third track, but I didn't see it.
Though Waxahachie was founded prior to the Civil War, its existence as a chartered town didn't begin until 1871. Like most towns in Texas,
the arrival of the railroad solidified Waxahachie's existence. The first one was the Waxahachie Tap Railroad, a citizen-sponsored rail line
which ran a line to Garrett in the east to connect to the Houston-Texas-Central line so that the city would not be bypassed by the railroads.
Ultimately, Waxahachie was serviced by several railroads: the Trinity & Brazos Valley Railroad; the Rock Island Railway; the Texas & New
Orleans (later, Southern Pacific); the Missouri Kansas Texas Railway; and the Interurban line to Dallas.
Evidence of the trains that came through Waxahachie exists all over town. The lines are still used by the BNSF and Union Pacific railroads,
but some of the stations are still intact, too. This is a rare occurrence, as most cities either consolidated their rail traffic into one central
hub, or demolished unused stations after the railways themselves consolidated.
The Houston & Texas Central freight and passenger depots are long gone, but the Trinity & Brazos Valley, Burlington Rock Island, and the
Missouri Kansas Texas stations still remain. Their existence makes a trip to Waxahachie a must!
|The jail building dates from the 1880s and had a carousel system of security. Today, it houses attorneys (insert lawyer joke here).
|The old Trinity & Brazos Valley freight station is south of the downtown square.
|The former Missouri Kansas Texas depot has been restored since this photo was taken, and is often used for wedding photos.
|The Trinity-Brazos Depot, which later on became the Burlington Rock Island depot, has a roof line that is very similar to the depot in Corsicana.
|Before the MKT depot was renovated, the original communications hardware (telegraph and signal poles) remained.
|Waxahachie (Wahk-sah-ha-chee) is a Wichita word that means "Buffalo Creek." It's located at
the intersections of Interstate 35, US 287, and US 77 south of Dallas in Ellis County.
|The disused pony truss that carried the MKT trains is now part of a trail system.
|The Texas & New Orleans, then Southern Pacific depot was north of the square (DeGoyler Library, SMU).
|Interurban train in Waxahachie from 1913 (DeGoyler Library, SMU)
|The Burlington Rock Island depot was once the Trinity & Brazos Valley station (THC).