What Hath Rail Wrought? Fresh Oysters and Homes in the Sunny South

The eight pages of the Daily Fort Worth Standard of October 11, 1876, a scant three months after the first Texas & Pacific train arrived on July 19, show how much the railroad was changing Fort Worth.

oct 11 briefs daily standard

Suddenly you could get fresh oysters from Baltimore. The new passenger depot at the foot of Main Street at the T&P tracks, had a bar.

oct 11 dallas ad

Rail service to Dallas now made it practical for a Dallas merchant to advertise in a Fort Worth newspaper. The ad of Hoskins & Howell even featured the image of a train.

oct 11 arrivals

The list of hotel arrivals shows how the railroad had connected Fort Worth to the east: visitors from Kentucky, Massachusetts, New York, Illinois, Missouri, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, Nebraska, Virginia, Iowa, Arkansas. Cowtown was becoming cowsmopolitan, y’all!

oct 11 editorial daily standard

This editorial called the proposed T&P route from Marshall to San Diego “a great national highway” less affected by winter weather than was the northern transcontinental route.

oct 11 train t&p ad daily standard

The Texas & Pacific boasted service from Fort Worth “to all principal points east” and to Houston, Austin, Galveston, and San Antonio on “the Great Through Line.”

oct 11 train st louis ad daily standard

Likewise, via connections, the St. Louis, Iron Mountain and Southern Railway could carry Fort Worth residents to “all points north and east.”

Fort Worth’s first passenger depot was located at the foot of Main Street one mile south of the courthouse. It was a two-room, one-story wooden building.

oct 11 train daily standard panel

In the top article, the Standard seems slightly in disbelief that it’s really happening, that the depot and “the many trains” are “still there,” making Fort Worth “an outlet to the great marts of the continent.” Mayor Burts in 1874 had said the population was six hundred. In 1876, the middle article shows, the population boom had begun, with lots being sold near the depot to all “who may want homes in the Sunny South.” By 1880 the population would be six thousand.

The bottom brief shows that Fort Worth passengers could travel to St. Louis and back for $28. Fort Worth passengers were probably encouraged to avert their gaze as the train passed through Dallas.

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