Journey on Abandoned Rails - Denison, Texas
Founded by the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad (the Katy) in 1872,
Denison, named after a railroad executive, was the entry point of the
first non-Texas based railroad. Then the Houston & Texas Central
connected to the KATY in the mid-1870s, and Denison became home to
the first north/south railroad connection in Texas. The city grew as a
transportation hub throughout the 20th century, and was a very
important economic center for all of northern Texas and southern
Oklahoma.

Then passenger services diminished in the 1960s. When freight service
declined in the 1990s, Denison's rail switching yards were dismantled
and sold for scrap.  A bypass for US 75 was built west of town, and now
the city that once was giving Dallas a run for its money is struggling to
hold on.
Dwight D. Eisenhower was born in this small home near the KATY
tracks in Dension, where his father worked for the railroad.
Eisenhower, we all know, became the Commander of US Armed
Forces in WWII and President of the United States from 1952-1960.

Here's a funny coincidence that will appeal mainly to history nerds
(like me!): Eisenhower called
Abilene, Kansas, his home (it's where
his presidential library and museum can be visited). Abilene was the
first terminus of the
Chisholm Trail, which was founded by Joseph
McCoy in 1867. Joseph McCoy would later move to Denison, where
he became part owner of the nation's first refrigerated car company,
which was built to supplant the Chisholm Trail.
Across the tracks on Main Street sits the old Traveler's Hotel, built by a German
sea captain and now a private residence.
Denison opened the first free, public, white school in Texas that was segregated
by grades. In 2007, the beautiful mission-style high school on the western end of
downtown was razed.

What was weird about this unbelievably short-sighted act was that the high school
was owned by the city. The city justified their act by explaining that it wants to use
the site as a library (and sell the rest of the land to developers). So, one should
ask: isn't the city responsible for keeping the town's cultural heritage? Therefore,
shouldn't the city leaders have kept the main part of the school, renovated it, and
built it into a library?

Many Denison residents thought exactly that way. They tried their best to stop
demolition, but money won out.To read more about this senseless and
unnecessary destruction, click on these links:

National Trust Article
Save Denison's History  - Excellent research paper by Mavis Bryant
Save Denison's History Site
Preservation Texas
Texas Observer Article

Oh, how I wish the city leaders would have taken a page from Jefferson's play
book.
Jefferson,Texas, an important in-land port city in the 19th century, was on
the verge of historic demolition when it decided to re-create itself into a tourist
attraction. Today, Jefferson is one of Texas' most interesting and visited
destinations. Its history, while older, parallels Denison's in many, many ways. It is a
sad day when city leaders do not, WILL not, think of generations to come - only
what will make them profit today.
KATY Flyer steams through Denison. Museum of the American
Railroad.
KATY diesel locomotive sits next to the Red River Railroad Museum.
This 1908 bridge over the Red River replaced the 1872 bridge that
succumbed to the tremendous floods of that year. The KATY, H&TC,
and Frisco railways used this viaduct.
Though the city does not have near the amount of rail traffic it used
to, Denison still sports remnants of the vast infrastructure that
supported several railroads.
Click on this map to visit Denison in 1891, courtesy of the Amon Carter Museum.
Some good eating can be had
at Watson's Drive-In on Main
Street.
Texas and Pacific Railway survey
marker in someone's front yard
near the old KATY switch yards.
Are you a "foamer" like I am (railroad people
know what I'm talking about)? Then let
me
know - and share your photos with readers!