Craddock: Longview has always been a railroad center

On April 28, 1870, legislation was introduced in the Texas Legislature to “incorporate the town of Longview, Upshur County.” (Gregg County didn’t exist until 1873, when Gregg was carved out of what had been the southern portion of Upshur.)

Three weeks earlier, on April 7, Ossamus Hitch Methvin Sr. had deeded 100 acres of farmland to the Southern Pacific Railroad to ensure a rail line would serve his new Piney Woods village.

Southern Pacific Railroad crews began grading a roadway toward the tiny town. In December 1870, the Dallas Herald reported the rail line “from Shreveport through Marshall to Hallsville is progressing.”

The extended line would, the paper said, “do much to develop the resources of the country and accommodate merchants and planters in the interior. In a short time the road will be finished to Longview where the company has already sold lots at prices ranging from $900 to $3,000 apiece.”

In February 1871, the first Southern Pacific train pulled into Longview. A number of residents and elected officials had boarded that historic first train at Hallsville.

On to Dallas

Several weeks later U.S. Congress OK’d a federal charter to the Texas Pacific Railroad (soon to be renamed the Texas and Pacific). The T&P absorbed the Southern Pacific with a mandate to extend the rail line from East Texas all the way to the Pacific Coast.

In May 1871, the Shreveport Gazette reported:

“Two corps of engineers are surveying routes for this road, and have completed their lines 75 miles west of Longview. One party crossed the Sabine River and ran a (survey) line southwest to Tyler. When they reached that town, the citizens were much elated at the prospect of having the railroad located on that survey.

“The other party ran a line north of the Sabine, with the view of crossing that stream near Jordan’s Saline (Grand Saline). When these lines are extended, say two hundred miles, a middle line will be surveyed and then the company will decide upon the best route.”

In July 1872, the rail line project began to take shape west of Longview.

“Grading was commenced at Longview this week, in the direction of Dallas, through which the proposed line passes to Fort Worth,” said the Galveston Daily News of July 7, 1872.

The Shreveport Gazette noted the “country west of Longview … is very broken, and it will require cuts of great depth, and in one place possibly a tunnel. The hills are very high and abrupt, and the road will be compelled to cross the chain of iron ore hills before reaching the table lands of the prairies.”


Meanwhile, the International Railroad was grading a road toward Longview. The line would connect “with the Southern Pacific (Texas and Pacific), which will be completed and in operation by August or September,” said the Dallas Herald. “When this connection is completed, Galveston will be in railroad communication with Shreveport. La.”

The International Railroad reached the Longview area in January 1873. The International (soon to become the International and Great Northern Railroad) built a depot just east of town at Longview Junction while the Texas and Pacific operated a depot in Longview’s central business district.

The T&P line slowly pushed west toward Dallas, reaching there in July 1873 and creating new communities along the route. One East Texas paper urged residents “to extend every facility to the (rail) company, not only by giving the right of way, but by liberal subscriptions by counties, towns and individuals.”

By December 1873, the Galveston paper said: “The health of Longview was never better … The streets of Longview are thronged with country people, and business is good, not withstanding the inclement weather.”

From 1882 to 1912, a mule-drawn (and later electric) streetcar provided transportation between the Texas and Pacific and the International and Great Northern depots.