TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - After the Civil War, the Tyler area faced economic doom by the construction of two area railroads that would bypass the city. However, the mayor figured out a solution and had a role in creating the Tyler Tap Railroad. It’s this week’s subject for Mark in Texas History by Mark Scirto.
Mayor James P. Douglas wanted a faster way to ship his fruit and petitioned the Texas Legislature to grant the rights for Tyler Tap Railroad Company. It was to be a railroad not to exceed 40 miles, and it was decided to connect Tyler Tap with Texas and Pacific in Big Sandy.
The first train chugged its way down the tracks on October 1, 1877.
Even though it started as a local effort, the Tyler Tap Line quickly gained attention from outside investors. In 1879, it was renamed the Texas and Saint Louis Railway. By 1886, this railroad became a part of a larger system extending from Missouri to Gatesville, Texas.
A new charter renamed it again in 1891 as the Cotton Belt.
That Cotton Belt Depot is now a museum where you can learn more about it and the history of the tracks. Admission is free.
The historical marker and museum are at 210 East Oakwood Street. If you want to take the family to the museum, they’re open today from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.