Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Lost Railroads of North Texas ~ 19th Century Fantasies

Today I received a fine 1892 Texas County & Railroad map published in the Walker International Atlas. While in the process of scanning it for future publication, I realized that this is another of those great maps that contained some "fantasy" railroads that were never built, even though they are drawn and named on this map.  Here is a map clip of the Fort Worth, Dallas and western counties that  shows some of these historic anomalies.

Click on the map to enlarge the image

The red lines follow the railroads-that-never-were on the map clip.

  • The Dallas,Pacific and Southeastern started in Dallas, ran northwesterly to Grapevine, then west to the Roanoke area, on to Rhome and ends on this map at Aurora, a little further west from Rhome. Using a dotted line I have extended the grade through Wise County to near Boonsville, close to the Jack County line where efforts finally ended.  
  • The Bridgeport & Decatur Railroad was promoted for many years but nothing ever happened.  It is rare to find it on a major atlas map.
  • The Red River & Southwestern Railroad running from Jacksborough (!) down to Granbury was part of a scheme that envisioned a north-south railroad running through Indian Territory, then close to Red River Station or Spanish Fort, Jacksboro and eventually to the Gulf. At one time or another various routes were projected, but nothing ever came of the plan.
  • The Fort Worth & Albuquerque or the Fort Worth Northwestern Railroad is not on this map.  However, it was contemporary to all these other projects and managed to grade about 4 miles west into what is now the Carswell area. I have added it in dotted lines leaving Fort Worth to head near Springtown, close to Agnes, then south of Jacksboro to Graham, on to Seymour and ultimately to Albuquerque. This road was a long time dream of B.B. Paddock and was a part of his Tarantula plan to have railroads into Fort Worth from every compass point. .

These projected  railroads, all a product of the expansion fever of the late 1880's as cities like Fort Worth & Dallas tried to expand and solidify their trade territories and influence, were not just dreams.  Probably most of them had raised money, received promises of bonuses from cities on their route and had sold stock as well. In several instances, actual land purchases were made and grading of the right-of-way had begun.  In the case of the DP&SE, over 40 miles was graded and ready for ties & rails. The financial panic of the early 1890's dried up eastern bond money from capitalists and killed most of these railroad projects. The DP&SE and the FW & Albuquerque continued to be seriously considered almost up to World War I.

There are some fascinating stories and history in the public records of the ventures.  I have been researching and collecting them for several years and I plan to publish a few here from time to time.

Map image from the Electric Books Collection

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