On April 30, 1903, with a spray of sand, a belch of smoke, and a hiss of steam, International & Great Northern Railroad Company began service from Fort Worth, leaving the 1899 Texas & Pacific passenger terminal for points south.
The I&GN railroad had been formed in 1873, once had been owned by railroad tycoon Jay Gould. The words International and Northern were in International & Great Northern’s name, but I&GN was a Texas-only line, stretching from Longview to Laredo and from Fort Worth to Galveston. I&GN’s headquarters—including a railroad hospital similar to the Missouri Pacific railroad’s hospital in Fort Worth—was in Palestine. I&GN’s Fort Worth office was in the 1894 Worth Hotel. Note that the first ticket in Fort Worth was sold to J. W. Watson, who paid thirty cents to ride the train to Everman, which was named for John Wesley Everman, who had worked for I&GN and later for Texas & Pacific.
“The new road,” “the Texas road”: A few weeks after I&GN began Fort Worth service, the railroad ran this full-page ad in the Telegram (the Star and the Telegram would merge in 1909).
I&GN trains definitely were not expresses: I&GN stopped at fifty-seven stations between Fort Worth and Galveston, some of the stations just one mile apart.
This 1907 time table shows which of Fort Worth’s two passenger stations—T&P and Union Station—each railroad used. Fort Worth in 1907 had a population of about seventy thousand. The city limits were roughly from downtown south to Hemphill Heights and from Mistletoe Heights east to Glenwood. Imagine the sights and sounds and smells—and dangers—in a town with so much coal-fired rail traffic.
In 1918 mail moved between cities by rail, even by the interurban. Mail moving on I&GN left the main post office at 6:35 a.m. and 7:30 p.m.
By 1931 I&GN had 1,106 miles of track in Texas. But it also had a lot of debt. I&GN, like many other railroads, sporadically suffered financial trouble. I&GN went into receivership in 1878, 1889, 1908, 1911, and 1922. In 1924 Gulf Coast Lines bought I&GN, but in 1925 Missouri Pacific bought Gulf Coast Lines, although Missouri Pacific operated I&GN as a separate division. In 1933 IG&N again went into receivership. Finally, in 1956 Missouri Pacific absorbed Gulf Coast Lines, and I&GN ceased to exist.
Today what relics remain to remind us of I&GN?
An I&GN rail bridge, standing on iron-clad legs, still spans Sycamore Creek in southeast Fort Worth.
On the near East Side, the trestle carrying the I&GN track over Stella Street survives. The railyard was just beyond where Lone Star Metals is today.
The I&GN in 1902 had bought the land for the railyard just north of Stella Street and just west of Hub Furniture Company in Glenwood.
This aerial photo of 1939 shows the railyard, including the roundhouse and the railroad trestle over Stella Street in the upper left. In the lower right is Hub Furniture Company. I think at least part of the locomotive turntable and roundhouse survive on the property of Lone Star Metals but could not get permission to look. (Photo from University of Texas at Arlington Library.)
This aerial photo from 1949 shows the fading footprint of the I&GN yard, Hub furniture factory, Waples-Platter canning plant, city bus barn, Vickery Boulevard and East Lancaster Avenue, and one house of the Cobb brothers’ North Glenwood addition. (Photo from University of Texas at Arlington Library. [Thanks for the tip, Ghost Writer in Disguise.])
But the biggest relic of I&GN survives just east of the South Freeway and south of Berry Street. On July 4, 1902 the railroad announced that it would dig a storage lake near Fort Worth to supply water for its steam locomotives. Clip is from the Telegram.
The I&GN storage lake is shown in this 1920 Rogers map.
Today that 1902 I&GN storage lake is called “Echo Lake.” The park around the lake was developed by the county in the 1970s and now belongs to the city. Unlike nearby Katy Lake (a reservoir built for the Missouri-Kansas-Texas railroad), which was drained in 1959 to make way for Seminary South mall in 1962, Echo Lake lives on. Water from the lake flows into Sycamore Creek.
The I&GN track still runs over the dam of Echo Lake and over the track of the Houston & Texas Central railroad. Today Fort Worth & Western leases the track from Union Pacific to reach Carter industrial park in Everman.
And there are other I&GN relics to be found farther afield. On Google aerial photos the old I&GN rail bed can still be traced through open country through southeast Tarrant County to Waco and beyond. Sometimes the rail bed runs parallel to a vehicular road; sometimes it runs across farmland. For example, this photo shows the old I&GN rail bed running parallel to Old Maypearl Road southeast out of Maypearl. Then Old Maypearl Road veers northeast, and the I&GN rail bed continues southeast, lined by trees, across farmland into the lower right corner of the photo, reminding only cows and crows of a time when International & Great Northern was “the new road,” “the Texas road.”
A 1949 view: http://library.uta.edu/digitalgallery/files/original/0dba047425b2be9ec3f90f3d57ff9091.jpg
Thanks, Ghost Writer. I have added that photo. Excellent view of that area: I&GN footprint, Hub furniture factory, Waples-Platter canning plant, bus barn, and one house of the Cobb brothers’ North Glenwood on the right edge. Much closer view than the 1952 aerial I have.
My grandfather Charles Johnson spent most of his life working in Palestine (Texas) for the I&GN railroad. As did his brother Oscar Johnson. Both were born in Calvert, Texas and Charlie attended Southwestern in Georgetown and finished A&M in 1904, before moving to Palestine. He and his brother both married Palestine girls, he Jane Patrick and his brother Mabel Richardson. Charles and Jane took the train to Washington DC and Niagra Falls on their honeymoon. My grandfather died in 1936. I have a shot glass from a bar near the railroad yard in Palestine that was his. I wasn’t born when he died. Charles met Jane in the choir of the First Methodist Church. I have heard stories of his life during the strikes that apparently occured from time to time. The family lived on Park Avenue and Sycamore and Erwin. I never heard stories of the rail line’s financial problems, although it’s noted that financial problems for small rail lines were fairly common. Jane and Charles are buried in East Hill Cemetery east of the courthouse in Palestine.
Do you have any information about The Trestle south of Maypearl between Maypearl and Italy where the rail line crossed Chambers Creek? At one time it was visible from Witten Road but the trees have grown up so much that they cover the view now. A photo would be great. I remember this as being a long trestle.
Kenneth, I have traced the track out of Fort Worth only virtually on Google Earth, and as you know, the ROW is reverting to nature, hiding details such as that trestle. Wish I knew someone down in that area to ask to check.
Fantastic article on a nearly forgotten rail line. I’ve been trying to locate any photos of the Missouri Pacific passenger train that ran over the I-GN out of Fort Worth. I’m doing a series of books on Texas Passenger Trains and cannot find anything on this train. It operated down the “Ginny” from Fort Worth to Everman, Venus, Italy, East Waco, Mart, Marlin, Valley Junction, Bryan, Navasota, Spring and into Houston. I believe they discontinued the run in two actions, Fort Worth-Valley Junction and between Valley Junction-Houston. If you or anyone else has any photos of this passenger train please contact me. I think it was discontinued in the early to mid 1950s before the train was ever dieselized.
Thanks, Steve. You probably long ago turned over every rock I could suggest (Museum of the American Railroad, Portal to Texas History, Texas Historical Museum, Star-Telegram photo archives at UTA, etc.), but maybe your comment will jog someone’s memory.
I wish someone would uncover a photograph or postcard of the I&GN trestle over the Santa Fe line at Venus.
Great article, by the way, in today’s Hometown!
Thanks, Dennis. While looking into the Venus trestle I learned why the I&GN track in southeast FW still has controlled grade crossings even though I have never seen a train on that track: FW&W leases it from UP to get to Carter industrial park in Everman. I guess I’ll look both ways when I cross from now on.