Thursday, July 18, 2024

HOUSTON AND RAILWAY. A HISTORY OF THEIR RELATIONS

The railway is perhaps the oldest mode of transportation in the history of humanity. Even without considering its age and despite all respect for seagoing vessels, which are almost contemporaries of the railway, there is something romantic and exciting about it. The rapid change of scenery outside the window, when endless fields are suddenly replaced by skyscrapers of megacities and agricultural lands, and just beautiful landscapes, all mixed with a small talk with a fellow traveler. Indeed, the railroad is one of the most romantic means of transportation ever created by mankind. Read more at houston-future.

The first platform. Beginning

“The Rabbit” or “Hell Either Way Taken” these are the names by which the Houston and Texas Central Railway is known to the locals in our region.

For over a century and a half, such a significant period of relations between our city and the railroad has been. Their story has many positive and negative pages, which cannot help but please.

The history of the Houston railway began on March 11, 1875. It was narrow-gauge and its godfather was a gentleman named Paul Bremond, who was the first president of the company.

The construction of the railroad in our region began in 1876 and was completed in 1886. However, some sources indicate that the first brick was laid on January 1, 1853, so there is no point in arguing with the facts.

Imagining the entire railway route as points A and B, it should be noted that in different years, new stations were added to this section, making it longer. It is worth mentioning that the 307-kilometer section from Houston to Shreveport was owned by the HE&WT company, with 64 kilometers belonging to a subsidiary operating in Louisiana.

The second platform. A new era. The narrow-gauge era is coming to an end 

Could this story avoid financial problems? Probably not, as this aspect often affects most spheres of human activity. To avoid overloading the reader with names, it is worth adding that the official transition from narrow gauge to standard gauge took place on July 29, 1894.

The railway belonged to the Southern Pacific Railroad company for five years until 1899. Then, a situation occurred that looked like a piece of ice falling on the floor and breaking into several smaller pieces. This is what happened to the railway in the region, which split into many other branches and divisions. Since then, the situation has not changed. To this day, the rail infrastructure of Houston consists of several lines, some of which are considered primary and others secondary. We will tell you the names of the three most important ones, namely BNSF Railway, Union Pacific Railroad and Kansas City Southern Railway, but with all due respect to the other lines, we will omit their names.

It should be noted that the railway of the well-known Amtrak network passes through Houston, connecting Los Angeles and New Orleans. Thanks to this line, the passenger traffic at Houston station reached over 12,000 people in 2021, which, considering the multi-million population, clearly indicates the potential for growth.

The story of Sam Houston

If you flip through the pages of the history of the Texas and Houston railroad, you will find the story of Texas hero Sam Houston, whose life was intertwined with the path of our region’s railway.

The thirty-year history of the train began in 1936 with the appearance of two trains on our continent’s map. They were both named after the distinguished fellow countryman and symbolically numbered “3” and “4.” Running these two trains was not just a random idea, it was in honor of the celebration of Texas’ centennial. Trains operated until 1966, albeit with interruption, as a high-profile incident occurred in 1944. Most probably, “good people” were involved in this. One of the trains caught fire in 1944, so the other continued to operate until the aforementioned year.

Frankly, the history of Houston’s railway infrastructure resembles a dish with countless ingredients that you only discover once you start scraping the bottom of the plate with your fork. Each new ingredient is tastier than the previous one, but just like any dish, it cannot do without pepper and a touch of bitterness.

We are convinced that in the future, new chapters and paragraphs will be added to the history book of our region’s railway. Our goal is to travel the country with the belief that good people and good news await us at our destination.

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