100 Years Of Memories And Stories At Cotton Belt Depot - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News


100 Years Of Memories And Stories At Cotton Belt Depot

When America was sprawling and East Texas was slick with oil, folks travelled by train.
One major stop along the tracks, was right here in East Texas. The Cotton Belt Depot in Tyler celebrated 100 years of travel and change Saturday.
It's been closed for almost 50 years. But for just a few hours Saturday, you could almost hear it again: that slow chug, the train is coming.
It's at the depot families hugged and kissed each other hello and goodbye. There are stories and memories that go far deeper that just the bricks. Just ask David McDaniel.
"I worked the railroad, my granddaddy worked the railroad, my daddy worked 50 years for the railroad," David said.
It's that family tradition David tried to save. He's collected more than a few tokens over the years like brass and leather baggage claim and a ticket puncher.
A ticket in 1905 from Terrell to Tyler was $2.15. That's barely a gallon of gas these days.
"If you wanted to go from Terrell to Mineola, to Tyler, you'd come through Lindale and Swan," David said.
It was 80 years ago, quite a few tickets were passed along to a young Jesse Beaseley.
"I'm 92 years old and I used to be at this old depot," Jesse said Saturday. "I just get on it and go somewhere else. Get on the old steam engines you know, smoke come back over you."
Others came out to relive their childhood.
"My father was an engineer with the Cotton Belt," Kenneth Standifer said. "You would hear trains constantly running up and down the track, smell the diesel. When I was younger, it wasn't allowed, but I road on the switch engines here in the yards. It tickled me to death just to get to ride on the switch engine."
The old Cotton Belt Depot is alive again. Bustling with faces coming and going.
"They really took care of it, they got it real nice in here now," Jesse Beaseley said.
The Cotton Belt Depot is now also home to Tyler Transit. Visitors to the museum inside can also find a working miniature train exhibit.

Maya Golden reporting, mgolden@kltv.com

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