Monday, December 27, 2010
Visiting the Mineola Train Depot
One of my favorite things to do when we visit East Texas is go to Mineola, a town of 5,611 (as of the 2000 census) with an adorable downtown full of cute shops and restaurants tucked into historic buildings. Mineola came into existence because of trains, so it is fitting that there is a wonderful little train depot museum in the middle of town to explain the birth of the town. A brief history:
In 1871 a southern transcontinental railroad was proposed by what came to be known as Texas and Pacific (T&P) and was built in 1873. The company also built lines connecting Marshall, TX to San Diego, Sheveport, LA to Longview, TX, with plans to connect from Longview to Dallas. The world was quickly becoming smaller! In 1973, T&P and another railway raced to cross lines at the future location of Mineola (the winner would operate out of the tiny town). They crossed at essentially the same time, so a winner was not determined. However, both railroad companies began to operate out of the town.
In the 1870s Mineola was the center of East Texas' timber belt, with lumber and timber sold for making railroad ties. A a post office opened in 1875 and in 1876 the Union Hotel Depot was constructed. In 1905 the train depot was destroyed by fire, but was rebuilt in 1906. In 1929 a terminal opened connecting Longview to Mineola, creating the largest population in the city's history. Oil was discovered in Wood County in the 1940s, bringing in more people and more industries, including sweet potato farms, a creamery, a nursery, a pole and pulpwood company that supplied telephone companies and, finally, cattle ranching. In 1951 a new depot was dedicated but was eventually used for different purposes. The depot we visited recently is a restored replica of the 1906 building, and is currently in use as a depot for Amtrak.
I always like to take a look at bathrooms; sometimes they are completely overlooked while other times they are fully considered as part of the design scheme. This time, they were considered:
Snazzy passes, tickets and other items preserved from the depot's heyday:
Nails with date stamps on the ends:
A conductor's hat:
Finally, for your viewing pleasure, a goofy picture of me outside the depot:
Our internet connection is horrifyingly sluggish right now, and we're headed off to Austin for a few days, so I'm sorry to say I wasn't able to schedule a post for Wednesday. Hopefully the kinks get worked out soon, so I can return to posting regularly.