History of the Houston & Texas Central Railway Company up to 1903; excerpted from the Yearbook for Texas.  
  Source: Raines, Cadwell Walton. "Houston & Texas Central Railway Company", Year Book for Texas, Vol. II, pp. 383-389. Austin, Tex: Gammel-Statesman Pub. Co, 1903.  
  Houston & Texas Central Railway Company.  

The following brief account of railway building in Texas, including the inception, construction, and present status of this fine road, that penetrates with its main and subsidiary lines garden spots of Texas, and has added to their native charms that of financial value, will prove of interest to the reader who cares to acquaint himself with those facts relating to the material development of the State that lie beneath the surface of so-called history (The quoted paragraphs and some of the facts are from a very exhaustive and able article written by R. A. Thompson, Assoc. M. Am. Soc. C. E., Expert Engineer of the Railroad Commission of Texas, and published in Vol. IV, Part 1, "Transactions of the Texas Academy of Science," in the year 1901; other facts were collected especially for the "Year Book."):

"Rivalry between cities situated at or near the coast for the rich and valuable trade of the interior," says Mr. Thompson, "early determined the loci for railway projection. These cities were seats of political influence, and could in a measure control legislation in favor of certain railways, which were projected in territories favorable to them. The interior towns were rivals in securing for themselves the favor of being made the objective points of these lines.

"* * * The first railway charter in Texas was granted by Congress on December 16, 1836. * * * A number of other lines were chartered up to 1848, all of which were forfeited, including the first. They were followed by charters for a large number of other lines, most of which were forfeited.   *   *   *"

There were 32 miles of railroad in operation in Texas in 1854,
40 in 1855,
71 in 1856,
157 in 1857,
205 in 1858,
284 in 1859,
307 in 1860,
392 in 1861,
451 in 1862,
451 in 1863,
451 in 1864,
465 in 1865,
471 in 1866,
513 in 1867,
513 in 1868,
583 in 1869,
711 in 1870,
865 in 1871,
1078 in 1872,
1578 in 1873,
1650 in 1874,
1685 in 1875,
2031 in 1876,
2210 in 1877,
2428 in 1878,
2591 in 1879,
3244 in 1880,
4913 in 1881,
6009 in 1882,
6075 in 1883,
6198 in 1884,
6687 in 1885,
6925 in 1886,
7889 in 1887,
8205 in 1888,
8486 in 1889,
8710 in 1890,
8801 in 1891,
9028 in 1892,
9154 in 1893,
9231 in 1894,
9442 in 1895,
9485 in 1896,
9589 in 1897,
9778 in 1898,
9869 in 1899,
and 10,124 in 1900.

"* * * The H. & T. C. R. R. was chartered by an act approved March 11, 1848, under the name of the Galveston & Red River Railroad, to construct from Galveston to the Red River. Work did not begin on this line within the time specified, and the charter was forfeited, but was renewed by act of the Legislature, February 14, 1852 Work began at Houston in 1853, and by act approved February 7, 1853, the Legislature confirmed this action, instead of requiring Galveston to be made the southern terminus. The first locomotive was not put on until January 22, 1856, when two miles had been constructed. A reorganization of the company was effected and the name changed to the Houston & Texas Central Railway Company by act approved September 1, 1856. The line was completed to Cypress, 25 miles, by July 27, 1856; to Hockley, 35 miles, by May 11, 1857; to Hempstead, 50 miles, in 1858, and by October 1, 1859, 75 miles were in operation. In 1860 the road was extended to Millican, 80 miles from Houston, when construction was suspended on account of impending civil war, which was inaugurated in the following year and prevented further building. After the war the work was taken up and pushed with energy. The road was completed to Bryan, 100 miles, in 1867; to Calvert, 130 miles, in 1868; to Corsicana, 210 miles, in 1871; to McKinney, 296 miles, in 1872, and to the present terminus at Denison by January 1, 1873.

"By an act approved August 30, 1870, the H. & T. C. By. Co. was granted authority to purchase and consolidate with the Washington County Railroad from Hempstead to Brenham, and extend the same to Austin. Also, by an act approved May 24, 1873, it was granted authority to acquire the property and franchises of the Waco & Northwestern Railroad from Bremond to Waco and extend same northwest in accordance with provisions of the W. & N. W. R. R. charter. The H. & T. C. passed into the hands of a receiver and was sold September 8, 1888. It was reorganized August 1, 1899 under title of the H. & T. C. R. R., which included only the main line from Houston to Denison and the Austin branch. The W. & N. W. R.R. (Waco branch) remained in the hands of its receiver until by act of the Legislature, passed in May, 1897, the H. & T. C. R. R. was permitted to purchase and consolidate with the same.

"The Austin Branch of the H. & T. C. R. R. was chartered by act approved February 2, 1856, from Hempstead to Brenham, under name of the Washington County Railroad. Work began on this line in 1857, and 11 miles were in operation in 1858. The road was open to Brenham, 25 miles, October 1, 1860. The Air Line Railroad was chartered January 30, 1860, to construct from Brenham to Austin, but nothing was done. After acquiring the W. C. R.R., in 1870, the H. & T. C. R.R. extended and completed the same to Austin in 1872.

"The Waco Tap Railroad Company was chartered by act approved November 5, 1866. It was rechartered under the title of the Waco & Northwestern Railroad by act of August 6, 1870, and completed from Bremond to Waco in 1872. It was operated as a part of the H. & T. C. Ry. until 1884, when the latter passed into the receiver's hands. A separate receiver was accorded the W. & N. W. R.R., which was purchased by the H. & T. C, as above stated, in 1897, and is at present a part of that system.

"The Austin & Northwestern Railroad Company was chartered April 29, 1881, from Austin to Abilene. It was opened as a narrow-gauge line to Burnet, 60 miles, by January 1, 1882, and was completed to Marble Falls by May, 1889.

"The Central Texas & Northwestern Railway Company was chartered as the Waxahachie Tap Railway Company by act approved January 25, 1875, to construct a line from a connection with the H. & T. C. to Waxahachie. It was chartered under its present name September 28, 1881, and built to Waxahachie from Garrett, 12 miles.

"The Fort Worth & New Orleans Railway Company was chartered from Fort Worth to New Orleans on June 13, 1885. This line was in operation from Waxahachie to Fort Worth, 41 miles, by May, 1886.

"The A. & N. W. R.R., C. T. & N. W. By., and F. W. & N. O. Ry., though operated as separate and distinct lines, are considered as part of the H. & T. C. Ry. system. An act of the Twenty-sixth Legislature, approved May 20, 1899, granted authority to the H. & T. C. B. E. to purchase and consolidate with these lines upon fulfillment of certain conditions, but to date the company has not taken advantage of the terms of this act.

"The present mileage of the H. & T. C. R. R. * * * is 673.74 miles.

"The system received land donations from the State aggregating 5,553,780 acres.

"The H. & T. C. was the first railway constructed across the State from north to south, and it opened up a vast and very fertile territory. It is one of the most valuable pieces of railway property in the State. *   *  *"

Since Mr. Thompson's article was written (in 1900) the Houston, East & West Texas Railway has been incorporated into the system and the Lancaster Tap constructed. The present mileage of the road is as follows: Houston, & Texas Central R.R., 691.73 miles; Houston, East & West Texas R.R., 191 miles; Lancaster Tap, 4.76 miles; total, 887.49 miles.

The following are the principal officers of the H. & T. C.: R. S. Lovett, President, Houston, Texas; C. H. Markham, Vice-President, Houston, Texas; J.N. Miller, Manager, Houston, Texas; A. V. Kellogg, Engineer Maintenance of Way, Houston, Texas; M. A. Wescott, Right of Way Agent, Houston, Texas; C. C. Gibbs, Land Commissioner, San Antonio, Texas; M. L. Robbins, General Passenger Agent, Houston, Texas; Wm. Doherty, Acting Assistant General Passenger Agent, Houston, Texas; W. H. Taylor, Acting General Freight Agent, Houston, Texas.

The counties traversed by the H. & T. C. are among the most-productive in Texas. This line is a model as to roadbed, equipment, comfortable depots, and care bestowed upon the convenience and comfort of its passengers. To it is due, in large part, the credit of rousing the sleeping giant, Material Progress in Texas, and thereby inaugurating the era of advancement that since the war between the States has worked greater transformations than any wrought by the fabled genii of the lamp and, as it were, has tilted the cornucopia of Fortune so that a constantly increasing stream of wealth is pouring upon the hills and plains, and into the valleys, villages, and cities of the State.

Nor must the mead of praise be bestowed only for what the road has done. Its efforts for Texas have never been relaxed; they are being exerted to the utmost in the present, and will be continued in the future. It is difficult to overestimate the power of such an agency for good; the danger is not in that direction, but that it will not be properly appreciated and rewarded.

Text and images were digitized and proofread from the original source documents by Murry Hammond. Contact Murry for all corrections and contributions of new material.