"Cotton Belt Marks 110 Years of Railroading": Article from the Southern Pacific Bulletin, Winter 1987-88 Edition
The age of merger and consolidation, whether it be in railroads, airlines or college athletic conferences, has become a way of life. We miss the Cotton Belt, but then we also miss Trans Texas Airways and the Big-8! We'll adjust somehow.
The Tyler Tap merged into the St. Louis Southwestern which merged into the Southern Pacific which was consumed by Union Pacific.
The International Railroad and the Houston & Great Northern Railroad (H&GN) merged to form the International & Great Northern Railroad (I&GN). The I&GN then was merged into the Missouri Pacific (MP) system in 1956, and the Missouri Pacific was also consumed by the Union Pacific.
Today, Tyler is left with one railroad: the Union Pacific. The east-west trackage is active daily. The old MoPac route running from Troup to Lindale is only partially in use. It is inactive southbound at Whitehouse; it may still serve a concrete plant and the Trane plant just south of Tyler. To the north, it serves a couple of plants, but no longer connects to Lindale. The old Cotton Belt route through Gresham and Bullard is abandoned.
Be sure to view Todd Sestero's excellent Railfan Guide to Tyler Texas (below). Also, we highly recommend linking to Todd's Railroad Signals of the US website for a wealth of railroading information.
Rail traffic continues, but memories of the past are still with us today around Tyler. These vestiges of the past help to remind us of those who lived and worked before us, and to imagine what those years were like on the railroad.
Local Tyler residents who drive south along Old Jacksonville Highway heading to Gresham, Flint, and Bullard have no doubt noticed the abandoned Cotton Belt Route right-of-way on the west side of the road.
Several segments of the rail bed are still visible. Part of the route ran from near the current location of FRESH, behind Advantage Self Storage, passed over CR 164 at the entrance to The Crossing, and then continued behind Stewart Funeral Home.
From there it ran along 164 (Mahar Road) for a distance south, and continued behind Bruno's Pizza, AAA Grass, What-a-Burger and other businesses in Gresham.
The rail line continued on to Flint and Bullard, along a route that is still visible in places today.
Downtown Tyler Railroad Scenes
The Cotton Belt Depot Museum
210 East Oakwood Street, Tyler, Texas (Staff Photo)
|Looking east from the Cotton Belt Depot Museum toward the rail yards
|Looking west from the Cotton Belt Depot Museum
The crossing of the Cotton Belt and I&GN tracks in downtown Tyler, Texas (Staff Photo, September, 2011)
Looking north towards the Cotton Belt Depot Museum on the old MoPac tracks
Cotton Belt Route overpass on Front Street, Tyler, Texas
The Cotton Belt Building which housed the general offices of the St. Louis Southwestern Railway, 1517 West Front Street, Tyler, Texas.
A westbound train being helped with Union Pacific 7193 at the West Houston Street crossing, Tyler, Texas - January 27, 2022
|The Cotton Belt yards, Tyler, Texas, aerial view, 1995
|The Cotton Belt yards, Tyler, Texas, aerial view, 2010
Todd Sestero's Railfan Guide to Tyler, Texas
Created and owned by Rail Fans and Railroad Signals of the US, www.RailFanGuides.us
For personal use only. Provided here with permission of the owner