THE ATCHISON, TOPEKA and SANTA FE
Ballinger, established in 1886, may owe its existence to two factors: the construction of a new railroad terminal by the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway and a dependable water supply, courtesy of the convergence of the Colorado River and Elm Creek. To secure the expansion of a community surrounding their new terminal, the railway company offered free land to nearby Runnels City residents and churches willing to relocate to the new terminal site. The plan worked and soon the town of Gresham arose, changing its name to Hutchings the finally to Ballinger (all three names belonged to Santa Fe Railroad Company stockholders). Although the new community prospered, the arrival of the railroad also drew less desirable characters including gamblers and outlaws, increasing the occurrence of stagecoach robberies in surrounding Runnels County. In 1911, Ballinger’s railway freight stop began accommodating passenger service as well once the Santa Fe built a passenger and railway express terminal. The depot continued to serve arriving and departing passengers until the railway company ended its passenger service in 1965.
By the 1980’s the Santa Fe Railroad became part of the Southern Pacific Transportation Company and Balllinger’s Santa Fe Depot, now owned by the city, received a completion restoration. The City of Ballinger adapted the native limestone structure, with its Spanish Colonial flourishes, for municipal use and it now houses City Hall.
Santa Fe Depot