Keeping rail artifacts in Denison

By: Stephanie Brletic Email
By: Stephanie Brletic Email

DENISON, TX -- Nowadays trains are used mostly for freight carrying goods all over the country. More than a century ago, Denison was a major stopping point on the Katy, the common name for the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad, with a large passenger station.

The artifacts from the bedrock of Texoma history could be in jeopardy.

"The heart of the Katy is in Denison," says David Heyde, President Katy Railroad historical society.

Beginning in 1872, Denison was known as the ‘Gate City of Texas.’ About 3000 people settled here in about 100 days. Many of the transplants were railroad employees.

"Lots of people here have ancestors that worked on the railroad and we get them everyday, saying their grandfather or great grandfather or uncle worked for the railroad," says Delbert Taylor, museum curator.

The Katy Depot in downtown Denison was a passenger station for many years until August of 1988. When the Union Pacific Railroad merger took place, the depot also served as the center of operations. Now it houses the Red River Railroad Museum.

"It's Denison and this reminds you of your heritage,” says Mayor Robert Brady. “It reminds you of where you were born. I think anytime you have something that's this important, we need to do what we can to preserve it,” he says.

The museum houses plenty of artifacts days gone by, including brake men conductor uniforms, switch locks, maps, pictures, train lanterns, and more.

Now the museum is in jeopardy. The museum is open on an "as needed" basis only because of staffing and money issues and other Katy enthusiasts want to move some of the artifacts to their museums. Some in Denison aren't willing to let this part of their history go easily.

Sunday board members of the Red River Railroad and the Katy Railroad Historical Society met at the depot to brainstorm ways to raise money and keep the artifacts right here in Texoma.

"Our first priority is to keep the artifacts and the stuff, the rolling stocks, the engine and the 401-b in Denison,” says Heyde. “The Katy is a big part of Denison and we want to keep that stuff here."

They are trying to come up with a way to make sure the Red River Museum gets the attention and staffing it deserves. Railroad museum workers say there are ways you can help by volunteering time and money.

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  • by Don Location: San Antonio on Feb 14, 2008 at 08:04 AM
    I was stationed at Perrin AFB during the early 60's and remember the Katy Station and Ray Yards north of town. I can still remember the last Texas Special coming thru and regret not riding it down to Dallas. I hope the folks in the Denison area appreciated the wonderful station and the proud history of the MKT. Please help preserve it for future generations to enjoy and learn from.
  • by Ralph Location: Denison on Feb 5, 2008 at 09:43 PM
    Anonymous: Denison may not be a thriving city, but this news story contradicts your point about selfishness. Those interested in preserving the railroad museum do so out of respect for our history, not for personal gain or enrichment.
  • by Anonymous on Feb 5, 2008 at 11:22 AM
    DENISON IS NOT A THRIVING CITY,DENISON is a god awful place to live.people in denison ONLY care about their self,
  • by Ralph Location: Denison on Feb 4, 2008 at 03:32 PM
    To Anonymous, Denison....I see you are a "Theylaborer". It is THEY who can do this or do that. It is THEY who have so much time on their hands. It is THEY who have hounded the city and foundations,It is THEY who should get no help. It is THEY who should feel the sting. It is THEY who can actually try to make a differnce. So, why should they care? It is apparent that anyone who has interests that do not coincide with yours, or who may feel passionate about causes you seem to find unworthy, are somehow beneath you. The few people in this town who try to get involved, only to be labeled as crazies by many in the local political/social establishment, have a genuine interest in seeing Denison prosper as a small town with a character far beyond the urban sprawl, tiltwall burbs that dot the north Texas landscape. You may disagree, but your vitriol diminishes your position.
  • by Anonymous on Feb 4, 2008 at 10:00 AM
    to anonymous in denison --how rude!I hope you dont count yourself as part of our community! Denison is a thriving city and we should be albe to have memories if how its thrived in the past.
  • by Anonymous Location: Denison on Feb 4, 2008 at 08:44 AM
    OMG! This is the perfect opportunity to gather the folks who sat outside watching the old high school demolition day after day. Since, they have so much time to spare and they are looking for something to do, this would be perfect. Instead of wasting taxpayer’s dollars, they can actually try to make a difference. I have to admit though; I don’t think they can do it. Eventually, they will come to the City and Foundations looking for money from the people/boards they have hounded and disrespected since the demo crews showed up. I for one hope they get NO HELP, so they can feel the sting they so truly deserve!
  • by LC Clyde Location: Denison on Feb 3, 2008 at 09:31 PM
    I agree too much has been lost already .There is a rumor that the Depot cannot make money and could go the way as the Old Denison High soon there will be nothing to even tell that a thriving town a real piece of Americana was ever here at all.Go west and look at Dexter
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