To Big D by Road or Rail or River

Call it “the Funnel.”

Through a narrow neck of the East Side (measuring just 2,400 feet from north to south) have passed five of the important connections between Fort Worth and Dallas:

1. Trinity River. The Trinity is a river of famine or feast: Too often it either has too much water and floods or has too little water and couldn’t float a leaf. Thus, as a connection with Dallas the river is more symbolic than practical. However, for years people have wanted to open up the river for navigation, the most grandiose dream being that of canalizing the Trinity from the gulf to Dallas and even to Fort Worth. This clip is from the Dallas Herald of 1868.

Then came Carter. From 1930 until his death in 1955, Star-Telegram publisher Amon Carter Sr. lobbied state and federal governments to canalize the Trinity River all the way to his town. This clip is from 1930. Over the years bills were passed, studies were conducted, authorities were authorized, but Fort Worth has yet to become Port Worth.

2. In the summer of 1876 Texas and Pacific railroad workers were working against a deadline to lay track from Dallas to Fort Worth. Especially daunting was bridging Sycamore Creek (see trestle at lower right corner of aerial photo). But they got ’er done, and on July 19, 1876, T&P engine No. 20 brought Cowtown the railroad, the third of the six spurs to its early development. This clip is from the New Orleans Times-Picayune of July 20, 1876.

Note that, predictably, extension of the railroad from Dallas to Fort Worth fed the intercity rivalry. This clip is from the Times-Picayune of August 22, 1876.

3. The main road between Fort Worth and Dallas began as a wagon road in the 1800s. As these two clips (1888 Dallas Morning News and 1908 Fort Worth Telegram) show, the road was called the “Fort Worth Pike” from the Dallas perspective and the “Dallas Pike” from the Fort Worth perspective. It also has been called “Front Street,” “Bankhead Highway,” “State Highway 1,” “U.S. Highway 80,” and, of course, “East Lancaster.”

4. The interurban electric railway (1902-1934) between Fort Worth and Dallas ran on tracks laid on what are now the eastbound lanes of East Lancaster. The interurban car barns and shops were located at Pine and Lancaster, just west of the area in the aerial photo. Today that property houses one of the interurban’s descendants: the T.

Soon after the interurban opened, as this Fort Worth Telegram clip of December 3, 1902, shows, Dallas was complaining about the class of people that Cowtown was sending its way.

This 1928 map of the Funnel (pre-Riverside Drive) labels four of the five connections: Trinity River, Dallas Pike, interurban, and Texas and Pacific Railway. Note the legal description of the subdivision just south of what would become the ghost fork of the Trinity: “Interurban Addition.” The map also shows the interurban line to Cleburne. (Map from Pete Charlton’s “The Lost Antique Maps of Texas: Fort Worth & Tarrant County, Volume 2” CD.)

5. The interurban had been gone twenty-three years when the Fort Worth-Dallas Turnpike opened in 1957. The turnpike was built remarkably quickly after the two cities stopped arguing over whether the official name of the road would be “Dallas-Fort Worth Turnpike” or “Fort Worth-Dallas Turnpike.”

Just east of the Funnel, motorists on the turnpike from the beginning ran an olfactory gauntlet: To their north was the Riverside sewage treatment plant; to their south was the hog farm of A. L. Miner. Both facilities had been there for years. The odor could bring a nose to its knees. Fort Worth movers-and-shakers worried about the first impression made on turnpike visitors from the east. Finally, in the 1970s the city closed the sewage treatment plant, and Mr. Miner grew weary of fighting city hall, sold his hog farm, and took his pigs elsewhere. Probably not to Dallas.

This entry was posted in East Side, Life in the Past Lane, Rails 'n' Roundhouses, Rollin' on the River. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to To Big D by Road or Rail or River

  1. Bryan Richhart says:

    Mike,

    Go look in the morgue, Rich did a TON of stuff on the trinity river project, find a gold mine there.

    Bryan

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