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Fort Worth's first T&P

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#1 johnfwd


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Posted 14 May 2012 - 01:48 PM

The following is an historical article excerpted from the City of Fort Worth website. I just feel some of our Fort Worth "competitive spirit" is gone, thanks to the effort to "regionalize" with Dallas. It's disappointing to me that, if that high-speed rail project becomes a reality, people in FW are willing to concede the only terminal be placed in Dallas. If we'd had that attitude in 1876, Fort Worth might not be the metropolis it is today.

A Race Against Time: The Railroad Comes To “Pantherville”

The Texas and Pacific Railway (T&P) was being constructed westward across the state of Texas and, in anticipation of the railroad’s arrival, Fort Worth boomed.

Capt. B. B. Paddock, a Civil War veteran, had a lot to do with that "boom." In 1872, he became editor of the Fort Worth Democrat. Boundless in his enthusiasm for Fort Worth’s future, the editor published a map as part of the paper's masthead showing nine railroads entering Fort Worth -- this at a time when the nearest line was some 30 miles away.

Editors in other towns jested about Paddock’s “tarantula map.”

In the autumn of 1872, the T&P had been built to Eagle Ford, six miles west of Dallas.

Then disaster struck.

The Wall Street firm backing the railroad, Jay Cook & Co., failed. A mass exodus brought the population of Fort Worth from 4,000 to less than 1,000.

One morning, a citizen pointed to some marks on a business street and declared, “That’s where a panther slept last night.” No one had seen any panther and the spot might have been where a calf had wallowed. But a young lawyer with a sense of humor, who moved from Fort Worth to Dallas, wrote a letter to the newspaper stating that Fort Worth was so nearly deserted that a panther had slept in the street. Capt. Paddock, however, embraced the reference and dubbed Fort Worth “Pantherville,” giving the city another famous nickname -- Panther City.

Citizens felt that the future of their town depended upon obtaining the T&P, and they soon took up the task of building the line. The Tarrant County Construction Company was organized, the capital stock being subscribed in money, labor, material, forage and supplies.

According to one historian, Maj. K.M.Van Zandt was probably more responsible than any other man for bringing the T&P. into Fort Worth. Van Zandt, a young lawyer, just out of the Confederate army and broken in health and wealth, headed west with his family to start life anew, arriving in Fort Worth in August, 1865. Van Zandt, Captain E.M. Daggett, Thomas J. Jennings and H.G. Hendricks gave the railroad company 320 acres in what was then the southern part of the city. Van Zandt was elected president of the citizens’ construction company and a contract was let for the work, which began in the fall of 1875.

It was a race to save the railroad company from losing a state land grant. One of the provisions was that the railroad had to reach Fort Worth before the legislature adjourned. Some representatives felt the grant was too liberal and made several attempts to end the session. Major Darnell, Fort Worth’s representative was ill and, if he were absent at roll call, there was no quorum. So, day after day, he was taken to the legislative sessions on a cot. Rapid progress was made on the construction of the railroad but, at last, adjournment of the legislature was set, leaving two days to complete the tracks. It seemed almost impossibility that the railroad could reach Fort Worth within the time limit. But in those final days, Morgan Jones, the contractor, did not go to bed, seizing only a few minutes’ sleep now and then. And the work did not end with darkness but continued under the light of torches till midnight.

The rallying caught up with the grading at Sycamore Creek; so, instead of a trestle, cribs of ties were used to support the track over the creek and then the rails were laid on the ground for two miles. One account states that the Fort Worth City Council extended the city limits a quarter of a mile east so the distance could be shortened.

In any event, the first train entered Fort Worth July 19, 1876. The race had been won.People came from miles around; on horseback and in wagons to see the train pull in. Many had never seen a train before.

#2 Joshw


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Posted 15 May 2012 - 01:44 PM

If you ask me, it's more apparent that the powers that be in Fort Worth are hellbent on making sure anything rail related goes to Dallas.

I heard Austin might be getting a streetcar. Perhaps I'll move there, since they actually want rail down there.

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