Past Treasure of the Month – June 2020

Galveston’s Railroad Depots
1876 railroad depot at Avenue A and 23rd Street

1876 railroad depot at Avenue A and 23rd Street

In 1876, Galveston’s first railroad depot was built at the corner of Avenue A and 23rd Street. The simple, one-story structure was operated by the Galveston, Henderson, and Houston Railroad. The G. H. & H. was chartered in 1853 to build a rail line connecting Galveston to Henderson, Texas through Houston. For many years, it was the island’s only rail connection to the mainland.

1878 passenger ticket for Galveston, Houston, and Henderson Railroad

1878 passenger ticket for Galveston, Houston, and Henderson Railroad

In 1873, a second rail line was chartered out of Galveston. The Gulf, Colorado, and Santa Fe Railroad also operated out of the G. H. & H. depot. However, G. C. & S. F. executives realized that the company needed a larger depot with space to accommodate its expanding operations.

Ca. 1910 postcard of the Union Depot, 25th and Strand

Ca. 1910 postcard of the Union Depot, 25th and Strand

In 1896, construction began on a new Union Depot building at the corner of 25th Street and the Strand. The modern facility was designed to make a positive first impression on new visitors to the city. The four-story, red brick building was designed by Dallas architect A.J. Armstrong. The new depot was described as “one of the most complete and imposing of its kind in the Southwest,” by the Galveston Daily News in February 1897.

Passenger waiting area at the Union Depot, ca. 1910

Passenger waiting area at the Union Depot, ca. 1910

In 1914, the Santa Fe Railway added an eight-story office building next to the 1896 depot. The two structures were connected via a two-story annex in 1919.

The 1896 depot was razed in 1931 when construction of a new Santa Fe Station began. Although railroad operations closed during the late 1960s, the building still stands today. After being restored by the Moody Foundation during the 1980s, it was re-dedicated as the Shearn Moody Plaza office building. The Galveston Railroad Museum is headquartered on the first floor of the historic train station.

1914 passenger ticket for Galveston, Houston, and Henderson Railroad

1914 passenger ticket for Galveston, Houston, and Henderson Railroad