AMTRAK ROUTE GUIDE #50a -- St. Louis, Missouri to San Antonio, Texas
Part 6 - Mineola to Fort Worth
Texarkana to Mineola
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624.5 MINEOLA station, 115 E. Front Street.  Elevation approximately 416 ft.  Mineola was organized in 1873 after a race between the T & P Railway and the International-Great Northern (I-GN) Railroad.  The I-GN won the race and Major Ira H. Evans laid out the townsite.  The town was named after either Evans’ daughter Ola and her friend Minnie Patten, or after Mineola, New York, the home town of another railroad official.  Mineola was incorporated in 1877, then a fire during the 1880’s destroyed much of the downtown area.  Like other towns we have passed through, Mineola’s early industries included agriculture and lumbering. Cotton, livestock, fruit, and berries were produced here in the early days.  In the 1940’s, the discovery of oil in the area also spurred the economic growth of the region.  Currently, the manufacture of women's clothing, sporting goods, electronic connectors, fertilizer, and cattle feed and the packaging of dry beans and meat provide employment for many people in the area.

         Mineola is the home of the Mineola Watermelon Festival, which began in 1948.  Mineola is also the home of former San Francisco Mayor and Speaker of the California Assembly Willie Brown, country singer Kacey Musgraves, and country songwriter Jack Rhodes.

626   Pass through West Mineola. Hills on the right (southbound) are composed of Eocene-aged Reklaw Formation.

629    Cross Butler and Silver Lakes, bayous located within the Sabine River flood plain.

         Cross Sabine River and enter SMITH County very briefly.  The Sabine eventually flows into the Gulf of Mexico.  Sabine is the Spanish word for cypress, and refers to the many strands of bald cypress which grow along the river.

         Smith County was named after General James Smith, a General during the Texas Revolution.  The county was founded in 1846, and the county seat is Tyler.

630    We are again parallel to U.S. 80 on the right (southbound)  This area is underlain by Eocene-aged Reklaw Formation, which is overlain by the Eocene Queen City Sand.

631    At Silver Lake, enter VAN ZANDT County. Silver Lake was settled in 1846 by John Jordan, and named after a nearby lake.  Van Zandt County was organized in 1848, and created from a part of Henderson County, which had been deeply in debt, yet the new Van Zandt County was founded without any financial obligations. Many believed that this was a mistake on the state's part, and bitter citizens and politicians from Henderson County referred to the new county as the Free State of Van Zandt.  The county was named after Isaac Van Zandt, a political leader and member of Congress from the Republic of Texas.  The Van Zandt County seat is Canton.

632    Cross Grand Saline Creek.  We are now crossing the agriculturally rich Black Prairie region.

637-639 Pass through Grand Saline, named after the nearby salt deposits, which occur in a large subsurface salt dome, much like the numerous salt domes along the Louisiana coast. John Jordan was the first settler in the area who opened a salt mine, and the town was named “Jordan’s Saline.”  Grand Saline was first incorporated on December 16, 1895, but was disincorporated by an election on August 12, 1898, and was not reincorporated until July 6, 1900.

         When the T & P Railway came through in 1873, chief railroad engineer Grenville Dodge renamed the city Grand Saline.  After the Civil War, more salt wells were drilled in the area by the predecessors to the Morton Salt Company.  Morton still mines salt approximately one mile south of town.  In 1929, the nearby Van Oil Field was discovered.

640    On the right (southbound) is the Shalom Retreat Center at Baili Teal Farm.

642-643 Pass through Fruitvale Oil Field, which also produces from limestone and sandstone of Cretaceous age.

643    Pass through Fruitvale, originally known as Bolen Switch.  Around 1901, the town’s name was changed to Fruitvale at the request of local fruit growers.  Fruitvale was originally incorporated in July 1965, then temporarily disincorporated, but reincorporated later.

644   Cross over U.S. 80.

647.5-648.5 Pass through Edgewood, which was established when the railroad came through in the 1870’s, and a depot was built at the edge of a wood, thus the town’s name.  The town was first called Stevenson Switch.  The area was settled between the 1870’s and the 1890’s.

         In 1996, Edgewood was thrown into the national spotlight when a year-long drought forced the city into water rationing and closing local schools.  ABC News 20/20 later reported on the drought.  A pipeline was then built from Lake Tawakoni to the Edgewood City Lake.

649    Cross the Giladon River

654.5-656 Pass through Wills Point, founded in 1873 and named after early settler and tax assessor William Wills.  The city was laid out by engineer Grenville Dodge of the California Construction Company, and incorporated on July 21, 1884, as the first town in Van Zandt County to incorporate.  In its early days, Wills Point was an agricultural community.  In 1995, President George W. Bush, who was Governor of Texas at that time, named Wills Point the “Bluebird Capital of Texas.”

659    Enter KAUFMAN County, named after David Spangler Kaufman, a member of Congress from the Republic of Texas.  Kaufman County was settled in 1840 by William King and a group of pioneers from Mississippi.  The group built a fort and named it King’s Fort, after William King. In February, 1848, Kaufman County was created from a part of Henderson County. In March, 1851, the settlement of King’s Fort was renamed Kaufman and became the county seat.  The county was primarily agricultural in its early days.

660.5 Pass through the small community of Cobb, originally known as Cobb’s.  The community was named after Carey Cobb, an early county commissioner and chief justice.

663    Pass through the community of Frog, named after an early settler.  The community was founded by black settlers, many of whom worked for the T & P Railway, in the late 19th Century.

664-664.5 Pass through the unincorporated community of Elmo, named after Elmo Scott, a wire engineer who surveyed and routed the T&P Railway through Kaufman County.

         We are still traveling through the East Gulf Coastal Plain geomorphic province.  The low hills adjacent to the railroad are composed of Paleocene-aged Kincaid and Wills Point Formations, which are members of the Midway Group.  Sedimentary rock types are primarily sandstone and limestone.

665.5 Cross over U.S. 80.

667   At approximately this point, we are crossing a normal fault; however, the fault trace is not visible from the train.  We are slowly moving into older formations as we continue west, and are now leaving the outcrop band of Tertiary-aged (Paleocene through Eocene Epochs) bedrock, and entering a band of older, Cretaceous-aged bedrock (approximately 70-100 million years old here).

670-672 Pass through Terrell, named after European-American settler Robert A. Terrell whose home, known as the “Round House,” is located here. Terrell built the Round House to provide defense against attacks by Native Americans.  The town began in 1873 with the coming of the T & P Railway, and the town was incorporated in 1875.

         Terrell is the home of the Silent Wings Museum, which portrays the role of gliders in World War II.  It is also the home of Southwestern Christian College (SCC), a private, historically black, institution located on the grounds of the former Terrell Military College. The “Round House” is located on the SCC campus.  Terrell is also the home of a branch of Trinity Valley Junior College.

671.5 The campus of SCC (see MP 670 above) is now visible on the left (southbound).

674-675 Pass through Lawrence, which was first settled in the 1840’s.

675.5 Pass beneath Interstate 20.

680.5-682 Pass through Forney, named after Pennsylvania journalist John Wien Forney, who was also a civil engineer for the T & P Railway as it came through the area.  The community was originally named Brooklyn. Forney was incorporated in 1884.  In the early days, Forney was an agricultural and ranching town; however, in 1936, the town became a small manufacturing center.  In 1964, Forney Reservoir was constructed on the East Fork of the Trinity River 4 miles north of Forney.  The reservoir, impounded to provide water for Dallas, was later renamed Lake Ray Hubbard.

682.5 Begin our descent into the Trinity River flood plain.

684    Cross East Fork of the Trinity River.

684.5 Enter DALLAS County, which was created on March 30, 1846, from parts of Nacogdoches and Robertson Counties.  The county was named after George Mifflin Dallas, President James K. Polk’s Vice President.  Dallas County is the second-most populous county in Texas and the ninth-most populous in the United States.  The county seat is Dallas.

688-690 Pass through Mesquite, the first suburb of Dallas through which we will be traveling.  Mesquite was named after Mesquite Creek, which was named after the abundant mesquite plant which grows in this area.  Mesquite was founded May 14, 1878, along the newly-laid T & P Railway.  It was incorporated on December 3, 1887, and was originally an agricultural community.  In those early years, outlaws Jesse James, Cole Younger, and Belle Starr lived in the vicinity. and Sam Bass held up a T & P train as it passed through town, escaping with $30,000.

         In 1958, the Mesquite Pro Rodeo was established, and in 1959, Big Town Mall opened as the first air conditioned shopping mall in the United States.  The mall was demolished in the summer of 2006.  In 1986, the Mesquite Arena opened its doors as the new home for the Mesquite Pro Rodeo, and by 1998, the facility was expanded to include a Convention Center, Exhibition Hall and a Hampton Inn & Suites.  In 2011, a law was passed making it legal to sell beer and wine in town, after the city had been one of the few towns in Dallas County which could not sell beer and wine for many years.

691    Pass beneath Interstate 635.

692   On the right (southbound) is the Skyline Trade Center.

693    Enter the city limits of Dallas here.  On the right (southbound) is Union Pacific’s Mesquite Intermodal Facility.

          We are now traversing an area underlain by the Cretaceous-aged Austin Chalk, which consists of chalk and marl, and extends a significant distance south of the Dallas-Fort Worth area.  The Austin Chalk contains dinosaur fossils, and also contains layers of volcanic ash, which were deposited by erupting volcanoes approximately 86 million years ago.

697    Cross White Rock Creek, a tributary of the Trinity River.  The creek is named after the Austin Chalk, the “white rock.”  Much of its watershed remains wooded and undisturbed, even though it flows through a major metropolitan urban area.  Exposures of Austin Chalk may be seen along the banks of the creek.

         Your train makes a sharp bend to the left here (southbound) as we switch to a different Union Pacific rail line, and off the former T & P main line.

699    On the left (southbound) is the flood plain of White Rock Creek and the Trinity River.

699.5 Pass beneath U.S. 175.

700.5 Make another sharp switchback bend to the right as we switch onto yet another Union Pacific rail line. Trinity River and flood plain are visible on the left (southbound).

701    Pass beneath Interstate 45.

704   Cross over Interstate 30.

          DALLAS Union Station, 400 S. Houston Street. Elevation approximately 419 ft.  Union Station also serves the Trinity Railway Express and DART Light Rail, which are commuter services. Like the county, Dallas is named after George Miflin Dallas, the Vice President under President James K. Polk. Dallas was first settled in 1841 by John Neely Bryan, a farmer, lawyer, and Indian trader.  The city was incorporated on February 2, 1856. Prior to the Mexican Revolution, Dallas was located in Mexico, a part of New Spain.  In the ensuing years, settlers began arriving in the Dallas area.  From 1855 to 1856, Francois Cantagrel established a utopian society near here called La Réunion, which did not succeed because of thin soils in the area, and poor management of finances.

         The Dallas area was rather quiet during the Civil War, and many immigrants settled in the area after the War.  During the Frontier Days after the Civil War, Dallas remained rather quiet, with few signs of trouble other than occasional cattle rustlings.

         In the 1870’s, the railroads came through the area, and the Dallas region became a major transportation hub.  Union Station was built in 1916 to accommodate services of many different railroads, including the T & P, Santa Fe, Rock Island, St. Louis Southwestern (“Cotton Belt”), the “Katy” (Missouri, Kansas, & Texas), and the Southern Pacific.

         By the end of the 19th Century, Dallas was also a major banking center.  In the 1930’s, oil was discovered nearby, and the oil boom brought even more settlers, and the economy again rebounded.

          Dallas is the home of Southern Methodist University, the University of Texas-Dallas, El Centro College, and the Texas A & M – Dallas Research and Extension Center.  Dallas was the home of actress Morgan Fairchild, Bill Gates’ wife Melinda, Conrad Hilton, Jr. Doc Holliday, singer Nick Jonas, singer Trini Lopez, actress Jayne Mansfield, Dr. Phil McGraw, singer Michael Martin Murphey, Michael Nesmith of the rock group The Monkees, country singer Le Ann Rimes, Dennis Rodman of the NBA, musician Steven Stills, golfers Jordan Spieth and Lee Trevino, and others.  It is also the home of the Dollhouse Museum of the Southwest, Dallas World Aquarium, International Museum of Cultures, Reunion Tower, adjacent to the station, Old City Park, and the JFK Memorial.

         Dallas is also sadly known as the place where, on November 22, 1963, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated by Lee Harvey Oswald as Kennedy’s motorcade passed through Dealey Plaza.  Oswald shot at the President from an upper floor of the Texas School Book Depository.

         As we depart Dallas Union Station, the train makes a sharp bend to the left and crosses Interstate Highway 35E.  The Trinity Rail Express line leads to the northeast here.

705   Cross Trinity River.

708    On the left (southbound), the bluffs along the railroad are composed of Cretaceous-aged Eagle Ford Formation overlain by Austin Chalk, also of Cretaceous age.

711   Pass beneath Interstate 30.

713-716 Pass through Grand Prairie, which was first settled in 1863 by Alexander M. Dechman.  The community was originally known as Dechman. Dechman bought a parcel of land near here in exchange for a broken-down wagon, a team of oxen, and $200 worth of Confederate money. In 1874, the name of the town was changed to Deckman when a post office was established here.  The T & P Railway came through in 1876 or 1877 from Dallas, and the railroad called the place Grand Prairie, possibly so named because a woman stepped off the train and said, "What a grand prairie!"  The town, however, was more likely named Grand Prairie since it was located in an area in which maps drawn from around 1850 through 1858 of the area between Dallas and Fort Worth, labeled as "the grand prairie of Texas".

         The town was incorporated as a city in 1909.  During and since World War II, Grand Prairie has had a long history with the defense and aviation industry.  The future of the community was changed when Dallas built Hensley Field on 300 acres two miles east of Grand Prairie's city limits in 1928. (See MP 714.5 below).  On August 14, 1945; however, there was a complete shutdown of the airplane plant, and the remaining 15,000 employees lost their jobs.  Grand Prairie feared a collapse of its economy, but it was able to recover by encouraging the development of such businesses as furniture, boat, and chemical manufacturing.

         Grand Prairie is the home of Trader’s Village, the largest flea market in Texas, as well as the home of the Prairie Dog Chili Cookoff, the National Championship Indian Pow-wow, the Oktoberfest, and the Western Days Rodeo, and the palace of Wax and Ripley’s believe It or Not.

714.5 On the left (southbound) is the Grand Prairie Armed Forces Reserve Complex, formerly known as NAS Dallas or Hensley Field. The City of Dallas established Hensley Field in August, 1929, as a training field for reserve pilots.  The facility was named after Major William N. Hensley, a flying instructor located near Dallas in the 1920’s and one of the few on board the first trans-Atlantic dirigible crossing in 1919.  The facility was decommissioned in December 1998 and the existing Naval Air Reserve, Marine Air Reserve and Texas Air National Guard flying units relocated to the nearby former Carswell AFB.

715    On the left (southbound) is the former Ling Temco Vought (LTV) plant, which was formerly a production site for the F-8 Crusader and the A-7 Corsair II aircraft of the 19501989 time period.  The LTV Missile and Space Division produced missiles such as the Scout and MLRS.  This division was eventually sold to Lockheed Martin, which continues to operate in Grand Prairie.

717.5 Pass beneath Highway 161

718   Enter TARRANT County, which was named after General Edward E. Tarrant of the Republic of Texas militia. The county was created in 1849 from a part of Peters County.  In 1841, a 70-man forcer led by Gen. Tarrant destroyed 3 Indian villages in the area during the Battle of Village Creek.  The county seat of Tarrant County is Fort Worth.  The county is the 3rd most populated county in Texas, and the 16th most populated county in the United States.

720    On the left (southbound) is the Arlington General Motors Assembly Plant, which is currently the only remaining General Motors SUV plant in the United States, as other SUV plants were closed and consolidated into this plant.  The plant was opened in 1954 and formerly produced Buick Roadmasters, Chevrolet Impalas and Caprices, and Cadillac Fleetwoods and Broughans.

721-724 Pass through Arlington, which was founded in 1876 along the T & P Railway.  The area was first settled, however, during the 1840’s, when a trading post was established at Marrow Bone Springs, after General Edward Tarrant’s Battle of Village Creek (see MP 718 above).  The town was named after Arlington, Virginia, the home of Confederate General Robert E. Lee.  The area was an agricultural community until after World War II, and the construction of the large GM Assembly Plant in 1954 (see MP 720 above) boosted the economy significantly.

         Arlington is best known as the home of the original Six Flags Over Texas theme park, as well as Six Flags Hurricane Harbor, and the Antique Sewing Machine Museum.  Arlington is also the home of Region IV Headquarters of the U.S, Nuclear Regulatory Commission. It is also the home of the University of Texas at Arlington, Tarrant County College, and Arlington Baptist College.

726   The hills south of the railroad (left if southbound) are composed of Upper Cretaceous-aged Woodbine Formation, which consists of shale and sandstone.

726.5 Cross Village Creek, a tributary of the Neches River.

729    Pass through Handley.  Across Highway 303 on the left (southbound) is Lake Arlington.  Handley is the first suburb of Fort Worth through which we will be passing. It was established in 1876 when the T & P Railway came through the area.  The town was named after Confederate Major James Madison Handley.  In 1946, the town was annexed to Fort Worth.

729.5 Cross over Interstate 820.  Enter the city of Fort Worth.

732   Enter the outcrop area of the Cretaceous-aged Denton Clay.

734.5 Cross over U.S. 287.

735.5 FORT WORTH Intermodal Transportation Center, 1001 Jones Street.  Elevation approximately 611.  Fort Worth is the county seat of Tarrant County, and is the 5th largest city in the State of Texas.  The city takes its name from General William Jenkins Worth, the namesake of a military post established here in 1849.  Worth had fought in both the War of 1812 and in the Florida Seminole Indian Wars.

         Fort Worth was one of 7 army posts established in 1849, after the Mexican War, with the purpose of protecting the citizens from marauding Indians.  The last Indian fight in the area took place in 1850, when Comanche Chief Jim Ned planned an assault on the town, but the soldiers at the fort found out about it, waited for the ambush, and easily defeated the Comanches.  In 1853, Fort Worth closed down.

          The city of Fort Worth became a cattle town, and is still known today as “Cowtown.”  The Chisholm Trail passed between Fort Worth and Dallas, and the area became a rest stop and re-supply center for cowboys driving their herds north to Kansas.  Along with this came an abundance of saloons and resupply centers.  By 1880, there were so many salons in town that the downtown area became known as “Hell’s Half Acre.”

         In the 1870’s, the Texas & Pacific Railroad came to Fort Worth, and by 1889, the M-K-T (“The Katy”) Railroad had also arrived. Sine it was now possible to ship cattle directly east from Fort Worth without going to the established railheads in Kansas, the large cattle drives slowly stopped, and the Chisholm Trail was virtually abandoned by 1884.  By 1890, a large stockyard was in operation on Fort Worth’s north side.  In 1911, a village named Niles City grew around the stockyard, thanks to Boston financier Louville Veranus Niles.  Another Bostonian, Greenlief W. Simpson, purchased the stockyard and renamed it Fort Worth Stockyards. The community of Niles City soon became “the richest little town in the world,” but was soon annexed by Fort Worth in 1922. Meanwhile, large cattle packing companies such as Swift and Armour had opened in Fort Worth.  The Stockyards have long closed now, but the site still remains a major tourist attraction today, complete with the opening of Billy Bob’s Texas Honky-Tonk, plus numerous western clothing dealerships, art shows, restaurants, and even staged mock gunfights.

         In 1912, oil was discovered in the North Texas Oil Fields, and created more boom times for the community, and oil outranked cattle as the leading industry for many years.

          Fort Worth today remains a very “western” town, and is still known as “Cowtown”, but has diversified quite a bit from the frontier days, and is now an aviation, aerospace, defense, high tech, and educational and cultural center.  It is also the location of a Federal Bureau of Engraving and Printing facility, an FBI, and an FAA facility.  The City is also home of the Amon Carter Museum, which features western art by such artists as Frederic Remington and Charles Russell, the Cattleman’s Museum, Fort Worth Museum of Science and History, and the Water Garden, located within walking distance of the AMTRAK station.  Texas Christian University, Texas Wesleyan University, Texas A & M University School of Law, UT-Arlington Fort Worth Campus, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Tarrant County College, are all located in Fort Worth.

          Fort Worth is the home of singer Kelly Clarkson, pianist Van Cliburn, actor Larry Hagman, singer Roger Miller, NASCAR driver Johnny Rutherford, and Lee Harvey Oswald, accused of assassinating President John F. Kennedy in 1963.

                As we depart Fort Worth, your train will back out, then briefly switch onto an E-W Union Pacific main line, then will reverse direction, and head forward for the remainder of the trip to San Antonio.