Railroad Journey of 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.

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.
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.
The KATY Flyer steams through Denison. Museum of the American Railroad.
KATY diesel locomotive sits next to the Red River Railroad 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 T&P station (now a gas station).
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!
Steamboats, like the Annie P, landed near Denison at the turn of the 20th century. These boats were mostly used for excursions, however, as
travelers deemed the rails much more efficient.
A Texas & Pacific locomotive barrels through the tunnel, with the tracks of
the MKT passing overhead. (T&P Archives)
Last remaining pole for the interurban line between Dallas and Denison,
which was decommissioned in the 1940s.
I love finding remains of railroads. Read my blog about "Mapping the Red River Valley" using old railroad tracks.
The remains of a bridge abutment from the Kansas-Oklahoma- Gulf
(nee Missouri-Oklahoma- Gulf) railroad line.
One of the few remains of the MKT Roundhouse... it's a shame that most of Denison's fantastic infrastructure has fallen into ruin. To see what I
mean, read up on
Denison's Roundhouses.
Old sign just east of downtown Denison that denotes the now-defunct St. Louis-San Francisco Railroad's property (aka the Frisco Line.)
Take a road trip to Denison - you'll be glad you did. Just drive
around, walk around, and do it as slowly as you can. You'll be
amazed about what you can see in this fantastic town.
Questions or comments? E-mail me: robin@redriverhistorian.com
In this 1876 bird's eye depiction of Denison, the town is only four years old. It would soon grow a lot bigger. (Library of Congress). Click on the image
to see the map in larger detail - and
explore even more bird's eye maps through the Amon Carter Museum.
Remains of the vast infrastructure of Denison's railroad past can be
witnessed all over the town - like this water tower platform.
The site of the former Texas & Pacific Depot is now a gas station.
How to
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