Houston and Texas Central Railway

The Houston and Texas Central Railway (H&TC), a predecessor of today's Union Pacific Railroad, was an 872-mile railway system chartered in Texas in 1848, with construction beginning in 1856. The line eventually stretched from Houston northward to Dallas and Denison, Texas. with branches to Austin and Waco.[1]

Houston and Texas Central Railway
Reporting markH&TC
Dates of operation18561934
Track gauge4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Previous gauge5 ft 6 in (1,676 mm)


Ebenezer Allen of Galveston, Texas obtained the charter to establish a railroad company on March 11, 1848. A series of meetings about the establishment of the company occurred in Chappell Hill and Houston. In 1852, the Galveston and Red River Railway (G&RR) company became active.[1]

The start of construction occurred on January 1, 1853, when Paul Bremond and Thomas William House broke ground in Houston. Track-laying of the 5 ft 6 in (1,676 mm)[2] gauge railroad began in early 1856. On July 26, 1856, the track-laying reached the 25-mile (40 km) point, at Cypress. The railroad company name changed from G&RR to H&TC on September 1, 1856. By April 22, 1861 the railroad construction had reached the 81-mile (130 km) point at Millican. Because of the Civil War, the railroad construction was halted. In 1867, with the war over, construction resumed.[1]

In 1867, the H&TC railroad company took control of the Washington County Railroad (1856–1868). That railroad consisted of 25 miles (40 km) of railroad line between Brenham, Texas and Hempstead, Texas, which had been chartered in 1856 and completed in April 1861 with a gauge of 5 feet 6 inches. The H&TC completed the line to Austin on December 25, 1871.[1]

H&TC rails reached Corsicana in 1871, Dallas in 1872, and Red River City, Texas (now Denison) in 1873, where it connected with the Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railroad. This formed the first all-railroad route from Houston to St. Louis, Missouri, and the Eastern United States for freight and passengers.[1]

The H&TC was sold to Charles Morgan in March 1877 but continued to operate independently until 1927, when it was leased to the Texas and New Orleans Railroad, a subsidiary of the Southern Pacific Railroad.[1] The HT&C was merged into the T&NO in 1934. The T&NO was merged into the SP in 1961, and the SP into the Union Pacific in 1996.[3]

See also

Impressions of 1891


  1. Werner, George C. "HOUSTON AND TEXAS CENTRAL RAILWAY". Handbook of Texas Online. Texas State Historical Association. Retrieved January 7, 2012.
  2. "Houston & Texas Central Railroad". Confederate Railroads.
  3. "UP-Southern Pacific Merger Creates Largest U.S. Railroad". Union Pacific Railroad (September 11, 1996). Retrieved 29 October 2019.
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