“All Aboard TEXRail. Next Stop: Yesteryear” (Part 2)

Let’s continue our virtual tour of the history that riders of a TEXRail train pass during the twenty-seven-mile ride from the Texas & Pacific passenger station to DFW Airport (see Part 1).

Mile 2.4. We resume our journey a mile north of the courthouse. On your left, across a swath of railroad tracks, on Samuels Avenue is Traders Oak and one probable location of the cold springs.

2.5. On your left on Samuels Avenue at Northeast 12th Street once stood another tree:  At Hangman’s Tree two men were lynched by mobs in the early 1920s—a time when the Ku Klux Klan was active in Fort Worth.

3.3. On your left three railroad bridges dating from about 1900 cross the Trinity River just east of the Samuels Avenue bridge. The railroad bridges are sometimes called the “Three Sisters.”

The bridges were on the tracks of the Rock Island, Fort Worth & Denver, and Santa Fe railroads. The Katy railroad also used the FW&D bridge.

Today the Three Sisters have a new sibling: A fourth bridge was built to carry TEXRail trains over the river.

3.6. Now the train is traveling along the eastern edge of Niles City, the enclave that included the Stockyards and packing plants.

On your left about 1,200 feet away is what remains of the Swift packing plant.

4.1. On your left, now squeezed between two railroad tracks, is little Mitchell Cemetery.

4.2. On your left at TEXRail’s North Side Station, a Ford and two Chevies rust in peace atop the wall of an auto salvage yard.

At mile 4.6 the track curves from north to northeast and runs in a fairly straight line for about twenty miles to Grapevine.

5.0. We pass over Schwartz Street in Dixie Wagon addition, named for Henry Schwartz and his wagon works that once stood there.

6.0. We pass over Fort Worth & Western railroad’s Hodge Yard. Both the Cotton Belt and Katy railroads had yards at Hodge. The Katy yard played a role in the Battle of Buttermilk Junction in 1886.

8.8. We pass over Haltom Road, named for Fort Worth’s king of diamonds.

9.4. We pass over Denton Highway, named, like the city and the county, for a soldier killed at the Battle of Village Creek in 1841.

9.5. As we cross Big Fossil Creek where it flows through Iron Horse golf course, to the left is a red caboose.

9.5. We enter North Richland Hills. In 1952 Clarence Jones began developing his 268-acre dairy farm into a suburban addition. Lumber for the new homes came from Jones’s lumber company. In 1953 the addition, with a population of five hundred, incorporated as the city of North Richland Hills.

11.5. We pass over Rufe Snow Drive (originally Birdville-Watauga Road). Rufus Snow (1867-1957) was a farmer who was elected county commissioner for Precinct 4 in 1914. His house appears on this 1895 county map next to the road that today bears his name. (Photo from Find A Grave.)

Rufe Snow is buried in Birdville Cemetery.

13.3. On your right, hanging in a back yard, is the sign that hung at Cromer’s Ace shop downtown. Cromer’s Ace duplicated keys and repaired locks, sold and repaired bicycles, and repaired small electric appliances.

The Cromer family operated businesses in Fort Worth for much of the twentieth century. In fact, Henry Cromer had begun selling bicycles here in the 1890s (and in 1902 bought Fort Worth’s first automobile. Son Theo Cromer operated Cromer’s Ace for seventy years.

In the 1950 ad, note the FOrtune phone exchange.

And note that in 1950 downtown had two Schwinn dealers.

13.4. We pass over Smithfield Road and stop at TEXRail’s Smithfield Station. The community of Smithfield, established before 1870, originally was named “Zion.” A post office opened there in 1878. When the St. Louis Southwestern railroad (Cotton Belt) laid track a quarter-mile south, a new area of Zion developed near the tracks and drained population and commerce from the original area, which was abandoned. The new area was named “Smithfield” for brothers Eli and David Smith, two “good specimens of the genus homo” who had donated land for a church and cemetery in Zion. By the late 1940s Smithfield had 350 residents, but after a bitterly contested election, nearby North Richland Hills annexed Smithfield in 1958.

After Smithfield Station, the train doesn’t stop again for nine miles: one-third of the total distance of the TEXRail route.

13.5. On your right at Davis Boulevard are vintage service station signs.

And a longhorn and calf.

15.0. We enter the city of Hurst, named for William Letchworth Hurst.

16.0. We enter Colleyville, another Cotton Belt town, named for Dr. Lilburn Howard Colley. Colley is buried in Smithfield Cemetery.

16.4. Let us switch momentarily from history to zoology. Along the route we see an occasional horse or cow, especially on ranchettes that back up to the railroad right-of-way. And on your left just after the train passes L. D. Lockett Park in Colleyville is a small herd of alpacas.

16.8. On your right as we cross Bransford Road is another red caboose.

The community of Bransford was named for pioneer settler Felix Grundy Bransford. The town, like so many other Texas towns, began or prospered because of the arrival of a railroad, in this case the Cotton Belt. Map is from 1913.

In 1906 Bransford was one of eighty-one school districts in the county. Like Bransford, many of the communities listed have vanished.

22.5. We arrive in downtown Grapevine. Grapevine claims to be the oldest settlement in Tarrant County. Hard to argue with that. In 1843 Sam Houston traveled to Bird’s Fort to hold a peace council with several Native American tribes, but some of the tribes feared that the council at the abandoned fort was a trap and shied away. So, Houston moved the council north to Grapevine Springs, named for the mustang grapes in the area. That council laid the groundwork for a later council at Bird’s Fort. The Treaty of Bird’s Fort of 1843 opened the area to settlers, and the community of Grapevine began to form. The 1883 map shows Grapevine to be just below the homestead of Archibald Franklin Leonard.

On your right as we approach TEXRail’s Grapevine Station is engine 771 of the Southern Pacific on static display. The engine, built in 1913 by Baldwin, is a 2-8-2 configuration.

As the train stops at the TEXRail station, on your left is Grapevine Vintage Railroad’s depot, home of Puffy the 1896 steam engine (Puffy’s more formal names are “engine 2248” and “William S. Davis,” a founder of Fort Worth & Western and brother of Cullen Davis).

25.0. With Grapevine Station behind us, at DFW Airport North Station we curve from northeast to south.

27.0. We arrive at TEXRail’s DFW Terminal B Station. Even this airport, representing the latest in technology and transportation, has some history behind it now: Dallas Fort Worth International Airport opened in 1974—forty-five years ago. The vice chairman of the airport board, J. Lee Johnson III, was the grandson of the widow of Clay Allison.

End of the line. Have a safe flight, and thank you for traveling back in time with us.

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4 Responses to “All Aboard TEXRail. Next Stop: Yesteryear” (Part 2)

  1. Ryan Harris says:

    BNSF 999729 is not a former Santa Fe caboose, though it is painted to look like one. But don’t feel bad; almost everyone mistakes this caboose for one from Santa Fe.

    It is likely from the group 10700-10749 built in 1972 or 10750-10799 built in 1973 for Burlington Northern. Santa Fe’s cabooses of the extended vision type in classes CE-6, CE-8 and CE-11 had centered cupolas and did not have running boards on the roof or end ladders. A portion of the left-hand ladder and running board support remaining on the roof is visible in photos of BNSF 999729. The cupola on this caboose is mounted slightly off-center as was typical for the vast majority of International Car Company’s extended vision caboose production.

  2. Hey Mike!

    A little NRH history…according to me… 🙂

    The old Cromers Ace sign is in the backyard of a guy I know. His name is Kevin Murphy. As I understand it from Kevin, the way he came to have that old Cromers sign is that he bought out some of the remaining bicycle parts when the shop closed. Kevin, today, has a business out of his home there, where the sign lives, as an eBay vintage bicycle parts seller. In part, he buys out old bike businesses and sells the stuff on eBay. His home and those other buildings out there on his lot by the tracks are packed with vintage bicycle stuff.
    He is a great friend of Scott McCaskey, who runs the Bicycles Inc store in Hurst. I have known Scott for around 25 years.

    And the Longhorns, up the track, at the Bates Cardboard factory, are “Bubba & Buddy, the Bates Bulls”. They have guarded the factory from train robbers for many years now…

    That area of Tarrant County has been my stomping grounds since 1971.

    BTW, the grandson, (Mark Cummings), of the NRH Jones Farm Family is a longtime friend of mine.
    The original Jones Farmhouse still lives in the town according to Mark. It is the only 2 story home on one of those area streets. I looked it up once long ago. I believe it is on Cummings Dr. Just North of the Kroger Store on Hwy 26. and Glenview(????)
    Marks Mother was a Jones. Daughter of Clarance Jones, Naomi (Sis) Jones Cummings. That is where the Cummings name comes in. ‘Sis’ Jones married a Cummings. Marks Dad. (Mark was adopted) I knew Sis Cummings pretty well, but I never met Marks Dad. (Sis passed a number of years ago) The two were divorced, perhaps before I knew Mark(???)
    Marks Dad was the proprietor of the old “Haltom Bank” on East Belknap, when it still existed. I think the bank is a Wells Fargo today(???)
    Mark lives today in his mothers old home on Maryview Terrace in Haltom City. (In view of the old Haltom Homestead). He now has another place in Italy, where he spends part of the year. Mark is a great fan of Italy and Italian Motorcycles, and that’s how I got to know him.

    • hometown says:

      Thanks, Paul. I did not know that is Bates Container. I went to high school with Brad Bates’s wife June.

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