AMTRAK ROUTE GUIDE #50a -- St. Louis, Missouri to San Antonio, Texas
Part 8 - Temple to San Marcos
Fort Worth to Temple
San Marcos to San Antonio


863.5 TEMPLE station, 315 West Avenue B.  Elevation approximately 703 ft.  The station also houses the Temple Railroad and Heritage Museum, and next to the depot is a former depot which is now home to the Central Texas Area Model Railroaders. Inside the depot is a model train layout which is open to the public on the first and fourth Saturday of each month.

         Temple was founded as a railroad town in 1881, by the Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe Railroad.  It was incorporated in 1882.  The town was named after a Santa Fe Railroad official, Bernard Moore Temple, who was a civil engineer and former surveyor with the Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe Railway Company.  Temple was a town of shacks and tents with a large number of saloons and tough characters found in the old West.  Locally, it was nicknamed Tanglefoot, because some citizens found that the combination of muddy streets and liquor made walking through the town challenging.

          Temple is located near Fort Hood, and within the city are several military and other hospitals.  The Santa Fe Hospital was established in Temple in 1891, King's Daughters Hospital in 1897, and Scott and White Hospital in 1904, making Temple one of the leading medical centers in the Southwest.  Because of its railroad interchange and its medical facilities, it became the largest city in the county. Temple is also known as the “wildflower capital of Texas.”

          Shortly after incorporation, the Temple Academy was founded in 1884.  Temple is also home to one of two locations of the Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine.  It operates in conjunction with the Scott & White Memorial Hospital and the Olin Teague Veterans' Hospital Center.

865    The large complex on the right (southbound) is the Central Texas VA Center, which includes the Olin E. Teague Veteran’s Medical Center (see MP 863.5 above).

865.5 Cross over H.K. Dodgen Loop.  Low hills in this area are underlain by Late Cretaceous Ozan Formation.

866.5 On the left (southbound) is the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Blackland Texas Agrilife Research and Extension Center, which does agro-ecosystem research and computer modeling, hydrologic systems modeling, and water quality science and monitoring.

869    We are continuing to traverse an agricultural area underlain by Ozan Formation.

871   Pass through Little River, which merged in 1980 with the neighboring town of Academy, and became the city of Little River-Academy. In 1836, Fort Griffin was built near here to protect the citizens from attacks by hostile indians.

872    Enter the flood plain of the Little River.

873.5 Cross Little River, a tributary of the Brazos River.

875.5 Pass through Sparks, which was named after the Sparks family, the original owners of the townsite.  Sparks began when the GC&SF Railway came through here.

880-881 Pass through Holland, named after James Reuben Holland of Tennessee, who arrived here in 1874.  Prior to the Civil War, the community was known as Mountain Home.  In 1881, the M, K, & T (the “Katy”) Railroad came through here.  The Mountain Home post office closed, and the name Holland was adopted in 1879.  During the early 1900’s, many Czechs immigrated to the area, and a Czech Brethren Church was organized here in 1910.

880.5 Cross Darrs Creek

881    The hills on the left (southbound) are covered by gravel deposits of Pleistocene age.

884.5 Cross Indian Creek.

885.5-887 Pass through Bartlett and enter WILLIAMSON County. Bartlett is named after John T. Bartlett, who, along with J.E. Pietzsch, donated land for the townsite.  The town was founded in 1881, when the Katy Railroad came through here, even though the area had been settled since the early 1850’s.  Bartlett was a shipping point for cotton, grain, livestock, and produce.  Bartlett is the home of the Bartlett State Jail.

         Williamson County was named after Robert Mc Alpin Williamson, a prominent judge and a veteran of the Battle of San Jacinto. In the early days, Williamson County was an agricultural county.  The Chisholm Trail crosses the county, saw many cattle drives pass through or originate in the county from the 1860’s through the early 1880’s. With the coming of the railroads to the county in the 1870’s, Taylor (see MP 903 below), in the eastern part of the county, became an important rail center for the cattle trade. Anglo settlement began during the Texas Revolution and the early days of the Republic of Texas, when the area was part of Milam County. The Texas legislature established Williamson County on March 13, 1848.  The Williamson County seat is Georgetown.

891-892 Pass through Granger, which began 1n 1882 when two branches of the Katy Railroad intersected here.  The community was originally named Pollack, and was later named for the Grange association or for John R. Granger, a Civil War veteran.  During the late 19th and early 20th Century, numerous Czech immigrants were attracted to this area by its rich fertile blackland soil for farming.

         Granger was the site for the filming of the 2003 remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and the 2010 remake of the movie True Grit, as well as an episode of the NBC drama Revolution.

893    Cross Willis Creek, which has been dammed a short distance downstream from here to create Granger Lake.

896    Gravel pits near the railroad here are dug into the Late Cretaceous Navarro and Taylor Groups, a sequence of shale and sandstone.

897    Cross San Gabriel River, which merges with Willis Creek downstream a short distance, and also forms a part of Granger Lake.

897.5 On the right (southbound) is the community of Circleville, which was settled in 1853 by 3 brothers, skilled craftsmen, James, Joseph, and William Eubank, and named for its semicircle of homes. The Katy Railroad ran through town in the 1880s, and several train wrecks occurred here because of an ill-designed curve near the San Gabriel River.

901    Enter Taylor metropolitan area.

902.5 TAYLOR station, 118 E. First Street.  Elevation approximately 546 ft.  Taylor was established in 1876 by the Texas Land Company, who sold lots in anticipation of the coming of the International Great Northern Railroad.  The town was originally known as Taylorsville, named after Edward Moses Taylor, a railroad official. Taylorsville became Taylor in 1892, and was settled by settlers from Czechoslovakia and other Slavic states, as well as from Germany and Austria.  The town was incorporated in 1882.  The Texas National Guard has a facility at Taylor. Taylor is also the home of the Moody Museum, which is a restored Victorian building in which former Texas Governor Dan Moody was born.

         We are now switching from the former Katy Railroad line onto a former Missouri Pacific rail line, which is also part of the Union Pacific system now.

903.5 On the left (southbound) is the T. Don Hutto Residential Center, a re-entry center for inmates released from prison. It is operated by the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA).

904    Pass beneath U.S. 79

907.5 Pass through the small community of Frame Switch, which, in 1882, was a sheep ranch operated by Solomon George Yakey.  The community was named after Yakey’s father-in-law David Frame.  During the 1880’s and 1890’s, the area attracted a number of Danish immigrants.

911-912 Pass through Hutto, named after James Emory Hutto, who owned the land upon which the townsite was built by the International Great Northern Railroad in 1876.  In 1885, Hutto left the area and moved to Waco.  Originally, the community was known as Hutto Station. Many of the early settlers were German, Danish, and Swedish immigrants.  Cotton was an important industry here prior to the Great Depression.,  The town was incorporated in 1940.

          Legend has it that, in 1913, a circus train stopped here, and during the crew’s layover here, a hippopotamus escaped and eventually got itself mired in the muddy waters of Cottonwood Creek, and a message was sent by the railroad claiming there was a ”hippo loose in Hutto.” The beast was eventually rescued and put back aboard the circus train.  The schools in Hutto eventually adopted the hippopotamus as their team mascots.

          The land surface around Hutto is primarily underlain by alluvial gravel deposits of Pleistocene age.

915    Brushy Creek is now flowing along the railroad on the left (southbound).

918   Cross Brushy Creek

918-922 Pass through Round Rock, named after a prominent rounded rock which was a landmark in Brushy Creek, where the community was founded in 1851.  After the Civil War, Jesse Chisholm began driving his cattle north from South Texas to Abilene, Kansas, and his trail, now the Chisholm Trail, passed through the community of Round Rock.

         In 1878, notorious outlaw Sam Bass, from Indiana, robbed a train north of here, between Fort Worth and Cleburne.  Bass was tracked to Round Rock by the Texas Rangers, and as Bass and his cohorts Seaborn Barnes and Frank Jackson attempted to rob a bank here in Round Rock, both Bass and Barnes were shot and killed by the Rangers during what is known as the “Sam Bass Shootout.”  This shootout is re-created each year at the July 4 Frontier Days Celebration in Old Settlers Park.

         Cotton has always been an important industry in Round Rock.  In the 1950’s, the construction of Interstate 35 through Red Rock, helped the economy greatly.  Agriculture is still important here, but today, Round Rock is also a suburban “bedroom community” to Austin, the State capital, located just a few miles south of here.

          Parts of the movieThe Texas Chainsaw Massacre were filmed in and around Round Rock.

         Geologically, Round Rock is located on the Balcones Escarpment, a complex series of normal faults which separate the Coastal Plain from the Edwards Plateau.  The Upper Cretaceous-aged limestone along the Balcones Fault Zone are characterized by karst topography and an abundance of caves and sinkholes.  Generally speaking, the age of the sedimentary rocks west of the Balcones Escarpment is younger than the rocks on the east side and into the Coastal Plain.  Hills visible on either side of the railroad near here are surface expressions of the many faults within the Balcones Escarpment.

920    Pass beneath Interstate 35.

922   Pass beneath Highway 45 (not shown on topographic map)

923    On either side of the railroad, the Austin White Lime Company is producing limestone, quicklime, and lime slurry from the Upper Cretaceous-aged Del Rio Clay (aka “Grayson Marl”) and Georgetown Formations.

924   Enter TRAVIS County and pass through McNeil.

         Travis County was named after William Barret Travis, he Commander of the Republic of Texas forces during the Battle of the Alamo. In 1836, Texas won its independence from Mexico.  Stephen B. Austin, the “Father of Texas” and President of the Republic of Texas, then decided to place the state capital in this area, which would be named Waterloo (see MP 937.5 below).  On January 19, 1840, the site was approved by the Republic of Texas, and a few days later, Travis County was established.  Texas Governor Sam Houston later moved the government of the Republic of Texas from Austin to Houston when Mexican troops invaded San Antonio in March 1842. Though the Republic's capital moved briefly back to Houston during the events surrounding the Texas Archive War, by 1845 Austin was again the capital, and it became the capital of the new State of Texas when Texas was annexed by the United States later that year. The county seat of Travis County is Austin, which is also the Capital of the State of Texas.

         The unincorporated community of McNeil was founded at the intersection of two rail lines in 1888, the International Great Northern Railroad, and the Austin & Northwestern Railroad.  The community was named after George McNeil, a section foreman for the A&N Railroad. The former A&N rail line is now operated by the Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Cap Metro), who operates commuter trains from Austin to this point.  In the late 1880’s, McNeil was the base of operations for the Austin White Lime Company (see MP 923 above).

925.5 Enter Austin city limits

927.5 Pass beneath Highway 1, the Mo Pac Expressway (highway not shown on topographic map)

928.5 On the left (southbound) is the J.J. Pickle Research Campus of the University of Texas-Austin. During World War II, this site was a magnesium plant.  In 1949, it became a part of the UT campus, with the help of then-Congressman Lyndon B. Johnson. The campus is purely a research campus, with no dormitories.  Research is undertaken in subjects such as nuclear engineering, electromechanics, energy and environmental resources, and archeology.  In addition, the Texas Bureau of Economic Geology and Texas Geological Survey are locate here.

929.5 Pass beneath U.S. 183.

932    On the right (southbound), the bluffs in the distance are composed of Edwards Limestone and other members of the Lower Cretaceous-aged Fredericksburg Group.

933-934On the right (southbound) is Camp Mabry, home of the Texas Army National Guard, and the Joint Force Headquarters of the Texas Military Forces. It is also the home of the Texas Military Forces Museum.  It is the 3rd oldest active military installation in Texas.

937.5 AUSTIN station, 250 N. Lamar Boulevard.  Elevation approximately 472.  Austin is the capital of the State of Texas, and also the county seat of Travis County.  The city is named after Stephen F. Austin, the “Father of Texas,” who established a colony here in 1835 when Texas was still part of Mexico.  The first settler in the area was Jacob Harrel.  The community was originally called Waterloo, but renamed in honor of Austin shortly after it was founded.  In 1839, after Texas won its independence from Mexico, Republic of Texas President Mirabeau B. Lamar, decided that Austin should be the capital of the newly independent territory. But former (and future) Texas Governor Sam Houston had other plans, and thought the seat of government for the new Republic should be closer to the Gulf Coast, and not in the middle of a sparsely inhabited hostile area like Austin where there would likely be raids from marauding Indians or Mexicans who were once at war with Texas.  In 1842, after a Mexican raid on San Antonio, Houston ordered his men to return the Republic center of government, and its Archives and records, from Waterloo to Washington-on-the-Brazos (near present –day Houston), under the direction of Col. Thomas I. Smith.  Smith led over 20 men and 3 wagons into Austin the morning of December 30, 1842.  The men were almost finished loading the wagons with records when they were noticed by Angelina Eberly, the owner of a nearby boarding house.  Eberly ran to Congress Avenue, where a 6-pound howitzer was situated.  She turned the small cannon toward the General Land Office, where Smith was, and fired it. Although some shots hit the General Land Office, there was no real damage and no one was injured.  Later that night, the archives were retrieved from Smith’s camp and returned to Austin. After this so-called “Archive War,” the Texas House of Representatives, who never backed Houston’s idea to move the capital, met and the capital was returned to Austin.

          The University of Texas was founded here in 1883.  Austin today has evolved into a high tech center, with offices from such companies as IBM, Freescale Semiconductor, Google, Electronic Arts, Intel, N Vidia, Buffalo Technology. Oracle, Xerox, and many others.  Austin has also become known as the “Live Music capital of the World,” and has hosted a variety of live country-western activities over the years.  The long-running television show “Austin City Limits” continues to be filmed here, and the City holds an annual Austin City Limits Festival each fall. Other music festivals are held here annually, including the annual South by Southwest festival, and the City has been a filming location for many movies, such as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, True Grit, Dazed and Confused, Songwriter, Man of the House, The Alamo, and many others.  The University of Texas’ Department of Radio-Television-Film has contributed to the production of several of these films.

          Austin is also the home of the National Wildflower Research Center, the French Legation Museum, the Elizabet Ney Museum, the O. Henry Museum, the Texas Memorial Museum, the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library at the University, Zilker Park, and other attraction.  In addition, the Ann W. Richards Congress Avenue Bridge houses the world's largest urban population of Mexican Free-tailed Bats.  Starting in March, up to 1.5 million bats take up residence inside the bridge's expansion and contraction zones as well as in long horizontal grooves running the length of the bridge's underside, an environment ideally suited for raising their young.  Every evening around sunset, the bats emerge in search of insects, an exit visible on weather radar. Watching the bat emergence is an event that is popular with locals and tourists, with more than 100,000 viewers per year. The bats migrate to Mexico each winter.

          Austin is or was the home of bicyclist Lance Armstrong, actress Sandra Bullock, news anchor Walter Kronkite, actress Farrah Fawcett, country artist Nancy Griffith, President Lyndon B. and Ladybird Johnson, actor Matthew McConaughey, musician Willy Nelson, former Governor Ann Richards, musician Stevie Ray Vaughan, and many others.

          Geologically, the Austin area is cut by the Balcones Escarpment (see MP 918 above), a complex fault zone in which approximately 1200 ft of Lower Cretaceous limestone and other sedimentary rocks have been displaced by the faulting.  The Central Texas geomorphic province lies to the west of the Balcones Escarpment, while the West Gulf Coastal Plain lies to the east.  The Austin Chalk and the Glen Rose Formation are two of the prominent formations in the Austin area.  The Glen Rose Formation is well known for its abundance of dinosaur tracks.

938   Cross Colorado River, the 18th longest river in the Nation.  The river begins in northwestern Texas, and flows through Austin to the southeast, entering the Gulf of Mexico at Matagorda Bay.  Along its course are several manmade impoundments, including Lake Austin and Town Lake, the part of the river which flows through the Austin area.  The river is more than 800 miles long, and flows entirely within the State of Texas.

          On the south side of the river, on the left (southbound) is Auditorium Shores at Town Lake, which is the home of Town lake Park and the Long Center for the Performing Arts.  The park is known as the site of major music performances such as South by Southwest and Fun Fun Fun Fest, as well as a number of other events.

941   Pass beneath Highway 71.  Ahead on 71 on the right (southbound) a couple miles, the highway crosses the Colorado River and ascends up to the edge of the Edwards Plateau, which is composed of Lower Cretaceous Edwards Limestone.  Most of the City of Austin, through which we are still traveling, is underlain by Upper Cretaceous-aged Austin Chalk.

944   We are passing through the southern part of Austin, and are still traversing the Upper Cretaceous-aged Austin Chalk.

947   Cross Slaughter Creek.  Look for exposures of white Austin Chalk along the creek bed.

947.5 On the left (southbound) is the village of San Leanna, which began an Austin subdivision in the 1950’s.  The village was incorporated in 1970.

948    Pass through the unincorporated community of Manchaca, named after the nearby Manchaca Springs, which were in turn named after José Antonio Menchaca, who camped near here.  The post office, named Manchac House (pronounced “Man-shack”) opened in 1851, and the community soon became known as Manchac.

949    Cross Bear Creek, which flows into Onion Creek approximately ½ mile east of the railroad.

950   Enter HAYS County, named after Tennessean Capt. John Coffee Hays, who was a captain in the Texas Rangers and a military officer of the Republic of Texas.  Hays served in several armed conflicts from 1836–1848, including against the Comanche people in Texas and during the Mexican-American War.  The early settlers of Hays County were a mix of old Texans and Georgia and Arkansas immigrants. With the coming of the Civil War a majority of the residents favored secession.  The county was created on March 1, 1848, by the Texas legislature, from a part of Travis County.  The county seat is San Marcos.

         Geologically, we are now crossing a section of complexly-faulted Upper Cretaceous sedimentary rocks, including the Edwards Limestone. Austin Chalk, Eagle Ford, and Buda Formations, as we continue to traverse the Balcones Escarpment (see MP 918 and 937.5 above).

951.5 Cross Onion Creek.

952-953 Pass through Buda, which was established on April 1, 1881 and platted by Cornelia Trimble, and was called Du Pre. At that time, the International Great Northern Railroad came through the area.  In 1887, the town’s name was changed to Buda, since there was already a Du Pre in the State of Texas.  The name Buda is likely a corruption of the Spanish word viuda, which means “widow,” in reference to a pair of widows who cooked at the Carrington Hotel in the 1880’s.  The hotel and the town gained a reputation as a popular stopping off and eating spot for the railroad after it came through.

         Buda today is a suburban town to Austin.  Buda is home to the popular wiener dog races, which are held each April, and are organized by the Buda Lions Club.

954-955 A large quarry in the Austin Chalk is visible on the left (southbound).  A normal fault on the other side of the quarry separates the Austin Chalk from the overlying Ozan Formation and Pecan Gap Chalk, all of Upper Cretaceous age.

955.5 On the right is a part of Mountain City, which developed along the stagecoach route between Austin and San Marcos. The community was originally settled in 1846, and in 1857, Postmaster William Walton Haupt introduced Angora goats and Brahman cattle from Alabama to the area.  In 1880, when the International Great Northern Railroad came through the area, many of the residents left for the larger communities of Buda or Kyle (see MP 958 below).

958-959.5 Pass through Kyle, named after Fergus Kyle, who, along with David E. Moore, established the town on July 24, 1880, when they deeded the land to the International Great Northern Railroad for a town site.  By the early 1940’s, Kyle was the only Texas town with an all-woman government.  From 1892 to 1901, Kyle was home to the Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Katherine Anne Porter, many of whose most famous short stories, such as "Noon Wine", are set in locations in and around Kyle.

960-961 Interstate 35 is now adjacent to the railroad on the left (southbound).

963   Cross Blanco River, a relatively short river which begins in a series of springs northwest of here.  The river flows into the San Marcos River.

964    The bluffs on the right (southbound) are composed of Austin Chalk overlain by the older Eagle Ford and Buda Formations, which are separated from the Austin by a series of normal faults, the upthrown side of the fault being the west side of the fault, which brings the older formations physically above the younger formation.

967    On the left (southbound) is the 30,000 seat capacity Bobcat Stadium, part of Texas State University, which opened in 1981.

         On the right is Spring Lake, which was formed by the San Marcos Springs, an artesian spring complex which is also the source of the San Marcos River.  The average flow of the springs, which emanate from the Edwards Aquifer, in the Lower Cretaceous-aged Edwards Limestone, is 152 ft3/sec, or 4300 liters/sec.  The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment (formerly Aquarena Center) is also located here, an educational center dedicated to the preservation of the unique archeological and biological resources of Spring Lake.  There is also a golf course here at Spring Lake.

967.5 On the right (southbound) is the campus of Texas State University (formerly Southwest Texas State University), the alma mater of 36th U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson, who graduated in 1930. The University was founded as Southwest Texas Normal School in 1903.  The university consists of 10 colleges, and offers degrees in 97 bachelor programs, 87 master programs and 12 doctoral programs.  Other well-known alumni of the University include country artists George Strait, Randy Rogers, and Sunny Sweeney, plus many others.

968    SAN MARCOS station, 338 S. Guadalupe Street.  Elevation approximately 585 ft.  The station also serves CARTS, the Capital Area Rural Transportation System. San Marcos is the county seat of Hays County, and was first explored in the 1680’s by the Spaniard Alonso de Leon, who arrived at the beginning of the San Marcos River on April 25 of that year, the Feast Day of St. Mark the Evangelist, thus the river was named the San Marcos, and the town that arose later was given the same name.

          In November of 1846, the first Anglos settled in the vicinity of the San Marcos Springs.  In 1846, the Texas Legislature designated San Marcos as the Hays County seat.  The town became a center for ginning and milling local agricultural products.  The town's most notable founder and early settler was General Edward Burleson, a hero of the Texas Revolution and former Vice President of the Republic of Texas.  In 1881, the In International Great Northern Railroad came through the area, and cattle and cotton subsequently provided the basis for the growth of San Marcos as a center for commerce and transportation.  In 1899, Southwest Texas State Normal School (now known as Texas State University) was established as a teacher's college to meet demand for public school teachers in Texas. In 1942, the San Marcos Army Airfield was opened, then renamed San Marcos Air Force Base in 1947, then finally renamed in 1953 in honor of Lieutenant Arthur Edward Gary, who was killed at Clark Field in the Philippines on December 7, 1941, the first San Marcan to die in World War II.

                The second Saturday of June each year marks the beginning of the annual Texas Water Safari in San Marcos, a 262-mile nonstop canoe race from San Marcos to Seadrift, Texas, north of Corpus Christi, in which participants must navigate the San Marcos and Guadalupe Rivers, along with San Antonio Bay.  Each September, San Marcos hosts the Republic of Texas Chilympiad, a State chili cooking contest, with the winner going on to the World Chili Cookoff in Terlingua, Texas.  San Marcos is also the home of Wonder World, a large earthquake-formed cave system associated with the Edwards Limestone and the Balcones Escarpment.