History of the Railroad in South Texas
Home Up Need Help? Tamaulipas Nuevo Leon Coahuila Nueva Espaņa Lineages Notables Database/Book Surnames Search Queries Links Bibliography Glossary About


Brief History of the Railroads in South Texas

Missouri Pacific Railroad Map
of the Lower Rio Grande Valley (circa 1920's)
(Click to view full size)

Rio Grande Railroad Company
Chartered in 1870, it covered a span of 22 miles from Brownsville to Point Isabel. At the time the port at Brazos Santiago was thriving, and this railroad helped to make transport more efficient

Corpus Christi, Rio Grande and Narrow Gauge Railroad Company.
Construction began in 1875, project was headed by Col. Uriah Lott with financial help from Mifflin Kenedy and Richard King. Original branch spanned from Corpus Christ to San Diego and Eagle Pass. A branch line also developed from San Diego to Laredo and was completed in 1879. Lott sold the railroad and it later became known as the Texas-Mexican (Tex-Mex) railroad.

International and Great Northern Railroad (I & GN)
Jay Gould’s standard gauge railroad reached the Rio Grande near Eagle Pass in December of 1881. On December 15th of that year, it reached Webb station 30 miles north of Laredo. This railroad eventually had a much greater economic impact on the area than the Texas Mexican, since it linked not only with San Antonio, but the entire midwest and east of the U.S.

Rio Grande and Eagle Pass
A narrow guage railroad that was planned but never developed. It would have served the coal mines of Webb County, about 30 miles northwest of Laredo. Work actually did start in March of 1882, but was promptly halted due to lack of financial resources.

St. Louis, Brownsville & Mexico Railway
Incorporated on January 12, 1903, work actually began July 18. Rail reached Harlingen from the north in April 1904. Construction then continued on towards Brownsville which was reached in summer of 1904. The western route from Brownsville continued towards Hidalgo county and was called the "Sam Fordyce Branch". This branch arrived Mission in August 1904 and finally reached Rio Grande City in Starr county on August 23, 1925.

San Benito and Rio Grande Valley Railroad
The "Spider Web" Railroad was described as a network of feeder spurs which eventually grew to include about 128 miles of track. The first leg completed in June of 1912, was a 43 mile stretch from east of Rio Hondo to one mile west of Santa Maria. In 1913 a twenty two mile stretch from Sammons, below Mission to Monte Cristo about 15 miles north was completed. Between 1925 and 1928 these two lines were linked between Santa Maria and Sammons. By the 1940’s it eventually faded out of existence, due to the rise in popularity of highways. Developed by Sam Robertson and backed by Lon C. Hill.

San Antonio and Rio Grande Railroad
Project also headed by Sam Robertson, it encompassed 7.79 miles of track from San Juan northward to William Sprague’s ranch "La Coma". Sprague and John Closner also helped in the operation.

Southern Pacific
Construction began out of Alice on September 24, 1903 reaching Falfurrias on June 1, 1904. Reached Edinburg on January 11, 1927, on January 22, Harlingen on February 8, and Brownsville on October 22. This line provided this part of the valley with the vital link to the northern towns.

Last Updated: August 30, 2002

This is a work in progress.

Please Email any suggestions, feedback etc to stnem_genealogy@hotmail.com.