Full Steam Ahead: The Texas & Pacific Railway

Saturday, July 13, 2024 10:00 AM - Saturday, July 5, 2025 5:00 PM
The Grace Museum
102 Cypress Street Abilene, TX 79601

The Texas & Pacific Railway Company (T&P Railway) began plans to build a railroad line from Shreveport, Louisiana all the way to San Diego, California, creating a southern route that would help with winter climate complications. The T&P Railway began construction in 1872 and the first service between Longview and Dallas opened in July 1873. As construction moved west, talks of where to lay the rail line through Taylor County began, and by 1880, a group of land speculators converged to decide on the present location of Abilene. The first Abilene depot opened in 1881 and was just a railroad car at Pine Street and the current overpass. It was followed by a two-story building constructed in 1882 and another one-story building built in 1902.

T&P Station, Abilene, Texas, postcard, circa 1910s, Collection of The Grace Museum, Gift of Mrs. Donald Garrett

Completed at the end of 1910, the existing one-story T&P Depot remained a very busy stop throughout the 1920s as Abilene continued to grow. During the Depression, the Works Progress Administration built an elevated track to allow for easier access to the South First area. In the 1940s, the depot was used as a service station for soldiers shipping off to war. However, with the rise and popularity of automobiles in various cities throughout the United States, this led to the decline of passenger trains and Abilene suffered the same fate as other regions. The last T&P Railway passenger train came through Abilene in March 1967. The T&P Railway merged with Missouri Pacific in 1976, which later merged with Union Pacific in 1980, and the passenger terminal closed in 1984.

This exhibition will highlight the history of the Texas & Pacific Railway in Abilene through several artifacts from The Grace Museum’s permanent collection. It will show the impact of the railroad on the growth of the city of Abilene, and also on the people who built the tracks and buildings, worked for the railway, and utilized the train’s services. 

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