More RailRoad History

Emmigrant Cars plus some Section House data

             The T&P concentrated its efforts on securing Ger-
            mans and Swedes, as they were considered splendid
            industrious farmers, inured to work and used to the
            plow. Since the T&P established and owned the town
            of Pecos, it must have been responsible for the French
            immigration to Texas reported in November, 1891. A
            party of forty-seven winemakers, direct from the wine-
            making district of Southern France arrived ... on No-
            vemher 1 and left for Pecos. This was the first colony of
            500 who proposed to locate in West Texas for the pur-
            pose of cultivating grapes for winemaking. As a result
            these newcomers settled at Pecos, Barstow, Pyote and
            Grandfalls to put to use their expertise in irrigation and
            cultivation of crops of grapes, peaches, pears, cantal-
            oupes, cotton, alfalfa, some small grain, and other feed

             In its zealous selling job, the T&P also operated its
            "Emigrant Sleeping Car" and built a big hotel-like "Im-
            migrant's Home" at Baird, where newcomers might
            stay until locating sites. Settlers were carried for half
            price (2 1/2c per mile) and allowed 200 pounds of bag-
            gage for each person. Children between 5 and 12 were
            carried at half the adult fee. The "Emigrant Sleeping
            Car" would stay for three days at each point on the
            T&P, giving newcomers ample time to study the area.

             These emigrant groups were called "Zulus" and five
            different racial colonies were brought in by the T&P in
            response to the T&P advertising. In an interview with
            Waters Farnum, he says:

               Our family came in 1908 from Clemon, Texas. I
              was one year old. My father worked for Dr. Melton
              on his alfalfa farm. Father came out in an Emigrant
              Car. You leased the car, put household goods and
              farming equipment in one end and livestock in the
              other end. You were allowed one attendant with-
              out charge.

             A clear description of these Emigrant's Cars was
            given in the Marshall, Texas, News-Messenger, May 31,

               An old car built by the Litchfield Car Company
              in 1883 is being restored and overhauled at the
              T&P shops to be sent to the Centennial at Dallas. It
              was one of the 12 cars used by the Texas and Pa-
              cific Railway in hauling many of the early day im-
              migrants from the old Eastern states into Texas
              and were known as Emigrant sleeping cars in their
              days. These cars had four windows on the side and
              were equipped as sleeping cars on the interior with
            slat seats that could be pulled together to be used
            as beds. They had no upholstery or drapery but
            were of plain wood finish. Another old car is being
            converted in a combination coach and baggage
            car. This car was brought from the Pullman Palace
            Car in 1876 and was given No.50 when it was
            placed in service. One of the latest of all steel bag-
            gage cars is being converted into a "bath house," to
            be placed in Pullman City during the Centennial at
            Dallas. The car has 14 shower bath rooms, with hot
            and cold seats, mirrors and all conveniences of a
            bath house.

             Another description of the Emigrant Car is given us
            by Walter Burkholder of Barstow:

             On the 15th of December, 1912, my dad loaded
            an Emigrant Car, which had a cheap rate, with fur-
            niture and the panel job, one pony and a bicycle
            among other things. He and my older brother
            shipped through to Pecos. My dad sneaked in and
            rode as a stowaway. You were allowed to bring
            livestock in this car if you wanted to and were al-
            lowed one attendant. They had a shetland pony
            that the kids had ridden and that their grandfather
            had given them. They brought him to Texas with
            them. They brought a crate of Indian runner ducks
            and they didn't have their mouths shut from the
            day they left up there (Iowa) until they got down
            here. He never hated ducks so bad in his life. They
            had their furniture packed in one corner of the car
            and a bicycle about halfway up. He could go right
            through the frame of the bicycle where he had a
            bed back there 'cause he stowed away. They did
            all right until they come out of some little town in
            Texas. They came around the curves and they
            were both standing in the car door. The brakeman
            in the caboose saw that there were two people in
            that car and the next time the freight stopped, here
            he came. He said, "Where is that other fellow?"
            My brother said, "Well, there's nobody else." "We
            saw. We know there's somebody else in there."
            "OK. Come up and search." They crawled up in
            that car and they searched through that panel job
            wagon and all through the horses and the bales of
            hay, but they never did see the hole where the bi-
            cycle was. So they didn't find him.
            Mr. Burkholder also gives a picture of the kind of
            freight that was shipped on the T&P from this country:

             One year we shipped from 4000 to 5000 cars of
            hay, alfalfa hay down into Louisiana. They had in
            those days what they called "Common Freight"
            rate and it was five dollars a ton to ship hay from
            Barstow to Louisiana. They put it on a mileage ba-
            sis and the farmers in Oklahoma could ship it in
            much cheaper than they could. They lost their
            market and had to quit raising hay. Also in those
            days they had a big deal in the summertime with
            the hauling of hay from all those farms. All that
            hay had to be baled and had to be hauled from 34
            mile to 5-6 miles out of town into Barstow to the
            railroad and loaded into those cars and shipped
            out. Mr. T.F. Moore is the man who handled most
            of the hay and was the commission man who had
            his own office. In 1914 when I was about 16, one
            Sunday they came after me to sew sacks at the
            thrashing machine where they were hauling the al-
            falfa seed. I stayed on there the rest of the year,
            and I never missed a year running the thrashing
            machine until I went into the army in 1918.

          One of El Paso's most widely known pioneers, W.W.
         Bridgers, was also one of the ablest historians as well
         as a member of Texas House of Representatives. He
         remembers when, at the age of twelve, he was a water
         boy for the J.H. Comstock Construction Company, one
         of the contracting outfits hired by Jay Gould to put
         through the Texas and Pacific. He and the other mem-
         bers of the crew were camped near the Pecos River
         when the famous furious race between the Texas and
         Pacific ended in 1881 with an agreement near Sierra
         Blanco which terminated all contracts and made neces-
         sary no further roadbuilding. Representative Bridgers,
         in a reminiscing mood, believed the rumor ran rife that
         Huntington of the Southern Pacific cornered the rail
         market in the U.S. At the time he heard that the South-
         ern Pacific had taken an option on all steel rails
         produced in the United States and he further believed
         that the Southern Pacific shipped those rails over the
         two other transcontinental railways, Union Pacific and
         Central Pacific, which had been in operation since
         1879, while Gould, under a disadvantage, had to have
         his rails shipped from England by boat. Further remi-
         niscences revealed that Bridgers as a water boy had to
         haul water seven miles to the dump for the workers
         and that on the long trip back to El Paso, after the crew
         had been dismissed, he and his party averaged twelve
         miles per day.

          Another thrilling story told by one of the early day
         workers was found in the Railroad Man's Scrapbook.
         The following dispatch, filed at Stockton, Texas, in
         1880, affords a glimpse of the courage and drama that
         rode with the men who surveyed and built the rail-
         roads in this section of the country:

             Major R.J. Lawrence and corps of the Texas and
            Pacific Railroad surveyors, after a number of days
            of extreme suffering from thirst in the White Sand
            Hills, miraculously arrived at the Pecos River with-
            out the loss of any men, but with the loss of some
            stock. Wagons were abandoned at different inter-
            vals of 40 miles along the trail. Great suffering was
            experienced by both men and stock, men strag-
            gling along the trail arriving at the river. From the
            morning of the 28th until next morning, with the
            assistance of those first arriving at the river the last
            of the stragglers were brought in with much diffi-
            culty, as numbers of them were crazed from thirst
            and had entirely stripped themselves of all wearing
            apparel. Three of them were found within 100
            yards of the Pecos River where they were drinking
            the blood of an animal they had killed. Some of the
            men were totally blind and on arriving at the river
            plunged in head foremost. The party congratulated
            themselves on a narrow escape from perishing an
            the plains. Had it not been for several of the expe-
            rienced and their bravery, the greater number
            would have died in the sand. The survey was
            abandoned in the Sand Hills, but will be resumed
            as soon as the men and animals recuperate.

          When the sun and wind parched the prairies in the
         early 188Os, many a frontier farmer and rancher kept
         his family from going hungry by gathering buffalo
         bones and selling them. Large sections of the grasslands
         were strewn with the whitening bones of several mil-
         lion buffaloes killed by the hide hunters in 1874-79.
         Prairie fires had destroyed some of the bones, but
         enough were left to provide a boon for those who
         hauled them to the towns, and even an appreciable
         business for the railroads.

          Some of the early Texas hauling was from the Pan-
         handle to Dodge City, Kansas. The roundtrip took a
         month to six weeks, the time depending on the
         weather. Other bones were shipped by coastal steamer
         from Galveston or by rail from San Antonio. New mar-
         kets were provided as the Texas and Pacific built west
         from Fort Worth. A trainload of bones shipped from
         this area to New Orleans brought such good prices that
         thousands of bone gatherers flocked to the ranges. The
         bones were shipped to carbon works in St. Louis and
         eastern cities. The old, weatherbeaten ones were
         ground into meal for use as fertilizer. A few choice
         ones went into bone china. But most of them were pre-
         pared for use in refining sugar. Horns were used in
         making buttons, combs and knife handles.

          All the up and coming towns along the T&P became
         important shipping points for bones. Tom Low and
         others made good money hauling them to Sweetwater
         before the railroad reached our area. Prices varied con-
         siderably but averaged about $8 a ton.

          Some of the haulers watered their bones to make
         them heavier. One who hauled them from Kent County
         to Colorado City always spent the night at Lone Wolf
         Creek where he allowed the bones to soak while he
         slept. This increased the weight about one-fourth. In
         the Texas towns the wagons stood in the streets while
         the buyers went from one another and offered bids. Af-
         ter making a sale, the driver moved on to the railroad
         and added his load to one of the piles along a siding.

          The matter of obtaining water has always been a
         large problem for the railroad. In a letter dated Febru-
         ary 14, 1968, to Mrs. Belle S. Toole, Mr. Malone dis-
         cusses water trains that were used at one time:

             There are no official records of those old water
            trains. The forerunners to the short-lived water
            trains were, of course, the water tank cars or in
            most instances box cars carrying barrels of water
            which were so much a part of the work trains that
            followed right on the heels of the construction
            forces laying the track. Water was not only a requi-
            site for the construction workers but also for the
            railroad's considerable herd of beef cattle and
            horses in the construction period in West Texas.

               While I cannot substantiate this as factual, it is
             my opinion that the water trains lasted only a very
             few years at most. To provide the tremendous
             quantities of water necessary to operate the steam
             engines, the railroad, shortly after construction,
             went about setting water tanks all up and down
             the line. These first water tanks-and there were
             two of them at Monahans-were wooden. But also,
             the records are lacking as to when they were first
            The railroad under the guidance and strict orders of
           General Dodge continued to be built across the western
           plains at the rate of one mile and a half a day. The sec-
           tion houses were built from ten to twelve miles apart. 
           Ward County has been associated with several num-
           bers, but according to the Texas and Pacific records in
           Dallas, the number assigned to the first section house in
           Ward County was 603.37 which meant that this section
           house was 603.37 miles from Texarkana.

            These structures served for depots, equipment stor-
           age and housing for labor crews until eventually in-
           creased usage required larger, more modern facilities.
           When the Texas and Pacific started to operate, it used
           boxcars for passenger and freight stations, but by 1887
           that era had almost passed. Spick and span station
           houses stood along the right-of-way at regular inter-
           vals. In addition to the stations, about every ten miles
           there was a residence for the section foreman. These
           "section houses" were identical wooden structures
           neatly stripped from ground to roof. In design they
           were rectangular prisms twice as long as wide, gabled
           at the ends. Across one of the long sides of each was a
           sturdy spacious porch. On the opposite side was a shed
           room, used for storage. Up the outside wall of one of
           the gabled ends, a ladder-like stairway slanted to a
           door on the second floor, the only entrance to or exit
           from the upstairs quarters, reserved for the telegraph
           operators at some sites. The ground floor was for the
           use of the section foreman and his family if he hap-
           pened to have one. These sites were seats of official-
         dom ... The section foremen and their crews who
         lived in long, low buildings near the section houses
         were not able to maintain the tracks without the aid of
         "extra foremen" who were sent where special work
         was needed. Those extra foremen and their crews lived
         in special boxcars on the tracks until their assignment
         was finished. Sometimes a regular section foreman was
         made an extra foreman and vice-versa.

          The records of the T&P Railway gives a picture of
         what was in Ward County as clearly as any other state-
         ment that we have been able to find. We have included
         Metz which was in Ector County in order to show the
         relationship of all the other section houses and build-
         ings and because many of those who worked in Mona-
         hans had at sometime or another lived at the section
         house at Metz. The following is a statement of the
         buildings, water stations, coal chutes, turntables, stock-
         pens, etc. in Ward County (and Metz in Ector County)
         on January 1, 1910.

           Distance from Stations
           Texarkana   593.05.... METZ

                         Section house 167-168, 16x32,
                           I story frame
                          L. 16x24, 1-story, 4 rooms
                          Front gallery, 7x28
                          Back gallery, 7x22
                          Mexican house, 12x72,
                           1-story frame, 6 rooms
                          Tool house, 12x12
                          Water house, 5x16
                          2 privies, 4x6 each
                          Stock pens-
                           I pen, 27x39
                           1 pen, 54x118
                           I pen, 65x118
                           I pen, 55x155
                           I pen, 36x91
                           1 pen, 18x23
                           I chute
                           I alley, lOxIB
                           1 chute platforms, 8x24
                           Wing fence, 180 ft. long
           603.37....SANDHILLS    Section House 169-170, 16x32,
                           1-story frame
                          L, 16x24, 1-story, 4 rooms
         Description and Dimensions
                        Front gallery, 7x28
                        Back gallery, 7x22
                        Mexican house, 12x24,
                          1-story, 2 rooms
                        Mexican house, 16x20,
                          1-story, I room
                        Tool house, 12x12
                        Water house, 5x16
                        2 Privies, 4x6 eac604.37 .... SAND PIT
                        No Company Buildings
                        608.58....MONAHANS  Comb. Depot, 24x27,
                          1-story, frame
                        Office, 10x24
                        2 waiting rooms, lixiS
                        Freight room, 22x24
                        Freight platform, 1,000 sq. ft.
                        Double closet, 6x10
                        Agent's dwelling, 14x24,
                          1-story frame
                        L, 12x24, 1-story, 4 rooms
                        Gallery, 6x16
                        Side gallery 6x30
                        Shed room, 4 ft. 6 in, x 11 ft.
                        Privy, 4x6
                        Pumper's dwelling, 14x24,
                          1-story frame
                        L, 12x24, 1-story, 3 rooms
                        Gallery, 6x16
                        Privy, 4x6
                        Shed Addition, 10x16
                        Old Pump house, 12x12
                        Stock pens-
                          1 pen, 55x118
                          1 pen, 50x56
                          1 pen, 47x50
                          I pen, 32x64
                          I pen, 18x64
                          1 pen, 32x43
                          1 pen, 21x32
                          1 alley, 10x160
                          1 alley, 10x43
                        Wing fence, 94 ft.
                        I Chute
                        1 Chute platform, 8x24
                        Water troughs
                        Cotton platform, 30x36
                        Crane house, 20x28, 24-ft
                          huge frame
                        Coal bin, 26x240
                          Coal chutes, 7 pockets
                          Incline and level track,
                          492 ft. long
                        Pile and frame, 5 pile bents;
                          B.D. 29 frame bents on
                          B.D. pile foundations
                        Level track 16 ft. high
                          Coal heaver's house, 14x32,
                          1-story, 2 rooms
                        Junk house, 12x14, used to be
                          dry sand house
                        Water tank, 16x24, cypress on
                          wood foundations
                        Water tank, 11x27, Calv. steel
                          on stone foundation
                        Pump house, 18x18
                        Water from 3 dug wells

                        Coal house, 10x2613.90.... AROYA
                        Section house 171-172, 16x32,
                          1-story frame
                        L, 16x24, 1-story, 4 rooms
                        Front gallery, 7x28
                        Back gallery, 7x22
                         Mexican house, 18-6x73,
                          1-story, 5 rooms
                         Tool house, 12x12
                         Water house, 6x16
                         2 Privies, 4x6

         619.38          Water tank, 16x24, cypress
                          on stone foundation
                         Pump house, 12x14
                         Coal bin, 10x20
                         Pumper's dwelling, 14x16,
                          1-story frame
                         L, 12x14, 1-story frame,
                          2 rooms
                         Gallery, 6x12
                         Water from dug well

         623.44...,PYOTE Comb. depot, 24x32,
                           1-story frame
                         Office, 8x14
                         Waiting room, 14x15
                         Freight room, 17x23
                         Double closet, 6x10
                         Section house, 173-174, 16x32,
                          1-story frame
                         L, 12x20, 1-story, 4 rooms
                         Front gallery, 6x28
                         1 Mexican house, 12x18
                         I Mexican house, 12x14
                         1 Mexican house, 18-6x73,
                          5 rooms,
                           1-story frame
                         I tool house, 12x12
                         Privy, 4x6
                         Cotton Platform, 16x32
                         Stock pens-
                          I pen, 20x42
                           1 pen, 32x58
                           I pen, 48x58
                           1 alley, 10x20
                           I chute
                           I chute platform, 8x24

         830.69.... QUITO WATER
               STATION   Water tank, 7x26, Galv. steel
                          on wood foundation
                         Pump and boiler house, 10x36,
                          1-story frame
                         Coal bin, 8-28
                         Well derrick, 32 feet high
                         Water from 2 drilled wells

         632.37.... QUITO WATER
               STATION   Water tank, 7x26, Galv. steel,
                          stone foundation
                         Pump house, 12x12
                         Coal bin, 8x28
                         Water from pond

         632.69.... QUITO    Section house, 175-176, 14-26,
                          1-story frame
                         L, 12~4, 1-story, 3 rooms
                         Gallery, 5x22
                         Outhouse, 13x15
                         Back room addition, 13x15
                         Mexican house, 16x86, 1-story,
                          6 rooms
                         Privy, 4x6
                         Stock chute, 24 ft. long
                         Platform, 8x24

         634.42.... QUITO QUARRY No Company buildings

         639.12.... BARSTOW  Comb. depot, 20x51,
                          1-story frame
                         Office, 11x20
                         Waiting rooms, 15x20
                         Freight platform, 1,560 sq. ft.
                         Water house, 5x8
                           Douhie closet, 6x10
                           Cotton platform, 16x96
                           Stock pens-
                             I pen, 28x38
                                   1 alley, 10x48
                                   1 alley, 11x28
                           Wing fence, 40 ft.
                           1 chute
                           I chute platform, 8x24
                           Sand bin, 8x34

            Even though the terrain through the county was
           rather desert-like and uneven as far as sandhills were
           involved, there were little bodies of water that required
           span bridges for the railroad. The T&P listed four such
           bridges in the area of Quito and the Pecos River.

            Water played an important part in the development
           of the railroad as it passed through this area. Monahans
           had three wells with capacity of 200,000 gallons daily;
           Pyote had a well with "Limited" daily capacity; Quito
           had two wells with "Limited" daily capacity also. Since
           Ward County was being developed as a cattle raising
           area, the T&P provided for cattle crossings and other
           traffic crossings along the line.

            It is interesting to hear those who have lived in this
           area at one time or another relate their experiences as
           they and their families tried to cope with the raw unde-
           veloped country. Laverne Gay Holloway of Whitney,
           Texas, and her brother, Raymond Gay, visited Mona-
           hans Sandhills State Park in 1977 and related the fol-
           lowing to Edith Grissom of the museum:

            My father, W. Sim Gay, was foreman at the T&P
           section camp near the present park entrance in
           1908. I was five and Raymond was nine months
           old. We were the second family to live in the fore-
           man's cottage which is now the Concessions build-
           ing in the Sandhills State Park. Our family was in-
           vited to dinner with the ranchers and they were all
           impressed as they had new potatoes with flour
           sprinkled over them and cooked in milk. They
           were just the most delicious potatoes we had ever
           eaten. We had never seen a black person, so our
           aunt dressed up as one and we were really scared.

           One day a hobo stopped at our house and was
           showing off for some cowboys and he picked up a
           rattlesnake, holding the head with one hand and
           the tail with the other. The snake outwitted him
           and bit him on the hand. He was so very sick all
           day on the front porch with his hand soaking in a
           bucket of coal oil (kerosene) and when it turned
           green, we would get a fresh bucket. When a freight
           train came by, he was taken to a hospital. He lived.
            In an interview with Mrs. W.T. "Willie" Chandler of
           Midland by Mrs. Rita Feaster on May 14, 1979, Mrs.
           Chandler tells what it was like to live in the housing
           provided by the developing railroad:
          Before we lived in Monahans, we lived at Metz
         in a box car that they fixed up for us to live in
         while they were building us a section house at
         Monahans. We were at Metz 14 months. That was
         51 years ago (1928) because I remember my last
         baby was born when we were in the box car. I
         came to Midland for the delivery. They built the
         section house in Monahans for us and we stayed
         there until February of 193a. The house was a three
         room house-a well built house-painted that old
         yellow and bordered in black, the railroad colors.
         They had a fence around the front of our house
         and at the back were the Mexican houses-five of
         them. There was a signal maintainer who worked
         with his motor car. He took care of the signals on
         the blocks and he lived up town somewhere. If I'm
         not mistaken, he was a single man. The workmen
         had two room houses and they were as well built
         as ours. There was no indoor plumbing. We had an
         outdoor toilet and I don't remember how we got
         our water. There was a ranch house up kinda
         north of us. I don't know whether it was Jim
         Tubb's house or not. It was kinda out in the pas
         ture like. For water we had a company well west of
         the depot, and I guess it was piped down there as
         best as I can remember. That was the best water I
         think I have ever tasted.

          I sure do miss hearing the trains running, 'cause
         you know we lived right on the tracks. People used
         to wonder how I ever stood the noise of the trains
         passing through. Lots of times I didn't even know
         they were going by. You know you just kinda get
         used to them. The early passenger trains would run
         early in the morning before time for us to get up
         and we wouldn't know whether the train had run
         or not. My husband would go down to the depot to
         get a schedule to see if the train had run or not. Of
         course, he'd go out on his motor car with his men
         and he'd want to know if the train had run. They'd
         laugh at us - living right on the track and
         wouldn't know whether the train had come or not.

Courtesy: Ward County 1887-1977 Historical Archives.

Last Updated: August 04, 1998