career of friend Gerald Hook of Russellville, Ark., spanned nearly
40 years in railroading plus he is an avid historian on the subject.
Among the more interesting history of railroads
is that of the Texas
Panhandle. Here are a few tidbits, thanks to Gerald and his gift
of the book, "The Quanah Route," by Don L. Hofsommer.
early America a vast majority of freight tonnage moved on inland river
and canals. People moved by walking, riding a horse or by buggy and
stagecoach. Overland freight was hauled by heavy wagons in good terrain
or by mule pack trains in the mountains.
The first successful railroad, the Camden & Amboy, was built in New
Jersey in 1831. By the start of the Civil War, railroads were being
built by the dozens with the first bridge over the Mississippi River
opening in 1853.
|Owners and operators
of these early railroads became rich and powerful and soon began to
abuse the public. The answer, after years of legal battles, was for
the government to establish the Interstate Commerce Commission. The
ICC did not set rates but forced the railroads to publish their rates
so customers could choose an alternate and cheaper route. The fine
print of the rules empowered the ICC to grant permission to build,
abandon, purchase or merge railroad companies. The purpose of this
was to preserve competition in rail transportation.
Early travelers to the desert predicted the area would never be settled
and remain an uninhabitable wasteland. Railroads built across these
lands converting them into fertile farm-and-ranch country, raising
produce for market.
The first railroads earned land script from the state for each mile
of track laid.
This construction was done as quickly and cheaply as possible often
ignoring quality. The result was a somewhat rough ride and quirky
scheduling to say the least. Those riding quickly coined nicknames
based on the initials of the rail company.
For example, the C& S Railroad was called "The Crooked and Slow."
The Fort Worth & Denver Railroad was called "The Flat Wheels & Dirty
Coaches." The Gulf, Texas & Western Railroad was called "The Get A
Ticket & Walk."
Other Texas railroads
include The Houston & Texas Central called "Hobos & Tin Cans." The
Paris & Mount Pleasant Railroad was christened "The Ma & Pa." The
Marshall & East Texas Railroad gained the title of "Misery & Eternal
Torment." A road connecting the Louisiana Railroad and Navigation
Railroad somehow, maybe from bad experiences was called "Loose Rails
& Nasty Coaches."
Evidently the Texas & Pacific Railroad was slow as its name was "The
Time & Patience." The Waco, Beaumont, Trinity & Sabine Railroad was
christened "The Wobble, Bobble, Turn Over & Stop." The Houston, East
& West Texas Railroad must have had employee and equipment problems
as it was called "Hell
Either Way Taken."
A track laid down Quanah
and Acme Way was eventually abandoned and torn up. No wonder as its
nickname was "Quit Arguing & Push."
© Delbert Trew
"It's All Trew" February
3, 2008 Column