The Roundhouses of Denison
Denison lies north of Sherman in Grayson County, Texas and is, without doubt, one of the most interesting cities along the Red River Valley.
Founded by the Missouri Kansas Texas Railroad in 1872, its relatively short existence belies the incredible amount of change this city has
seen. At one point, Denison saw seven (maybe more -this is my rough estimate) railroads converge onto its center. Today, most of what
remains of this vast infrastructure lies in ruin or has simply vanished.

One of Denison's main employers, and major site of its industrial activity, were the MKT shops located beneath by the Austin Street viaduct  
(today, the viaduct is known as Eisenhower Parkway). However, after the MKT was dissovled to become part of the Union Pacific, much of
its infrastructure was demolished. The same goes for the Houston & Texas Central Railroad - it, too, was incorporated into the Southern
Pacific, then into the Union Pacific Railroad, and its shops in Denison were destroyed, too.

I decided to see if I could find any remains of these once-busy places, and I wasn't disappointed. Although it still pains me to see what little
is still extant of Denison's
railroad  past, it is fascinating to uncover its ruins.
The roundhouse/machine shops for the Missouri Kansas Texas (aka KATY) railroad were located between Day (to the south) and Morgan (to the
north) streets. To the east was the viaduct for Austin Street - Austin Street was re-routed to make way for the machine shops. Today, the
viaduct is known as Eisenhower Parkway. In this photograph from about 1909, you're seeing the shops from the east towards the west as seen
from the viaduct. (From "Industrial Dension" (1909) by Frank. M. Robinson, found at Grayson County Genweb project by Elaine Nall Bay).
A detail from the Sanborn Fire Insurance map indicating the massive installation dedicated MKT's operations, which were headquartered in
Denison. The first train arrived on Christmas day in Denison along the line, which was the first in Texas to connect the state to Indian Territory
and Missouri. Click on the image on the right to see the whole map. The other image is courtesy Google maps. The roundhouse and machine
shops sat just to the south of the tracks.
The MKT roundhouse in the 1890s, as depicted in the book, "Artworks of Grayson County"
(1895. Found at Grayson County Genweb project by Elaine Nall Bay).
While tearing down buildings is easy enough, it's not that simple to
remove entrenched infrastructure, like this beautiful, brick-lined ditch
that snakes along Day Street on the south end of the former MKT
machine shops.
An iron door lies forgotten in the field where the shops were located.
A lone Coffeyville brick hints at what used to be here.
In the woods at the south end of the former shops lie the concrete ruins of shops and holding tanks.
Not much remains of the former MKT roundhouse. In this picture, I'm
standing in the middle of it... you can see a faint outline of the
roundhouse's imprint in the grass in the distance. A cement circle
may indicate some of the turntable mechanism.
The Missouri Kansas Texas Machine Shops & Roundhouse
The Houston & Texas Central Railroad Roundhouse
Photos of the H&TC Railroad roundhouse are hard to come by, but this Bird's Eye View of Denison in 1886 suffices (Amon Carter Museum).
This Sanborn Fire Insurance map indicates the position
of the round house in 1930. The yellow building to the
south is the St. Louis-San Francisco Railway depot; the
pink building to the southeast is the Texas & Pacific
Railroad depot. Click on the image to peruse the full map.
Google Maps helps to show the outline for the H&TC roundhouse. It was a much smaller
affair than the MKT's machine shops.
The roundhouse base has been eaten by trees.
Some iron work along the H&TC roundhouse base.
Questions or comments? E-mail me: robin@redriverhistorian.com
A strike in the 1920s moved some of the activity at the MKT shops to Ray Yard west of town. Ray Yard is still an active train station and switching
area, but its roundhouse was demolished in the 1980s. (Grayson County Genweb Project).
Ray Yard, west of Denison
The remains of the machine shop and roundhouse at Ray Yard are inaccessible except via Google Maps, as Ray Yard is still active under the
Union Pacific Railroad.