ENNIS RAILROAD HERITAGE
Cornelius Ennis, namesake of the community of Ennis, served as director of the Houston and Texas Central Railroad, the railway company responsible for establishing the Ennis community along its northern terminus. Supposedly grateful for the leg-up, Ennis residents chose “Ennis” as the name of their town once a name was required in 1872 (although it’s also possible the name suggestion came from the entity calling the shots – the offices of the Houston and Texas Central Railroad). In 1891, the Texas and New Orleans Railroad joined the community, establishing a division point complete with a roundhouse. The railroad relied on the city to provide water for its rolling stock, a service Ennis citizens were more than happy to accommodate. Additional “liquids” were provided to rail employees by Ennis’ thirteen saloons and six beer halls.
Today, Ennis railroad heritage is preserved inside the Railroad and Cultural Heritage Museum, located in the former Van Noy Restaurant building, a 1915 tribute to fine, early twentieth century travel dining. The original Ennis Depot, unfortunately, was destroyed in a fire sometime in the 1930s. The city purchased the restaurant building for use as a museum from Southern Pacific in 1991. Adjacent to the museum building, visitors will find the former Wells Fargo freight office, now serving as the Ennis Visitor Center.