Thursday, July 10, 2014

Lost 1880's History: Fort Worth's Little Known Union Railroad Depot

Fort Worth Railroad history note:  The general histories of Fort Worth mention that when the Texas & Pacific railroad came to the city in 1876 their first passenger station was a small shed set on the north side of the tracks.  This was in the 320 acre "T&P Reservation" that was provided to them as a gift by several of the early settlers of Fort Worth.

There was a 2nd T&P station that is often overlooked, or if it is remembered, the location is generally incorrect.  It too was on the T&P Reservation but in a different location.

1885 Map of Union Depot Area <click image to enlarge>

In the 1880's when the MKT/MP railroads came in from the north and the Gulf Colorado & Santa Fe railroad came in from the south it became obvious that a combined or "Union" depot would be desirable. With the agreement of the railroads this new larger "Union Depot" was built in the northeast quadrant where the railroads crossed on the east sided of Fort Worth.

Unfortunately, this location had some problems.  It was necessary for travelers moving to and from the city to cross multiple busy railroad tracks in what was something of a non-man's land since Front Street (Now Lancaster Avenue) really was not in existence. And of course there was no pavement.  The depot area became a swampy bog in wet weather.

1891 Birds-eye View of Union Depot.<click image to enlarge>
The area marked in red is the approximate location of this old depot as seen on a modern satellite clip.

In addition, just across the tracks to the south was a large pond and even worse, next to it and a little to the east were the first stock yards in Fort Worth.  And of course the pond received the drainage from the stockyards and the rail yards.  So the air must have been pretty rank year round down by the Depot.

Fort Worth Union Depot <click image to enlarge>

In spite of the problems with the location, it solved the problem for a while.  The Union Depot was much more elaborate than its predecessor.  There was a small traveler's hotel and Ginocchio's restaurant.  It handled the increasing passenger load until the huge new T&P station was built on the southeast corner of Front (Now Lancaster Ave)  and Main Street in 1899 and the smaller Santa Fe Depot in 1901.

1899 Texas & Pacific Passenger Station <click image to enlarge>

1901 GC & Santa Fe Depot <click image to enlarge>

1 comment:

  1. Do you know anything about davis bridge? It's located just south of stockyards? The cactus garden through River Ranch building. There's a separate railroad bridge also. Davis bridge signs all wood construction I think?