From Brownsville and Burton up to Mount Vernon and across to Sierra Blanca, train depots in Texas serve as museums, businesses, or active stations. At one time in our state's historic past, every railroad town from Alice to Wichita Falls featured a train depot. Texans of a certain age can still remember waiting on wooden benches for the boarding call. Destination? Grandma's. Before the advent of the automobile, towns utilized the extensive national rail network to move people and products from community to community.
A town's railway depot served as the primary entryway for social and economic egress to and from the rest of world. Depot architecture reflected this prominence, showcasing an elaboration of the most popular building design trends from the Victorian to Art Deco. Although some depots were modest wooden structures, often the best a struggling community could construct, others were brick and mortar union stations where trains, rail lines, people, and goods from across the country converged. The highway system ended much of our personal train travel and, as a consequence, a number of our glorious depots succumbed to the wrecking ball. But enlightened railroad enthusiasts and historians managed to rescue and restore others. A few, like the Sunset Depot in San Antonio and the Amtrak stations in Alpine, Del Rio, Temple, Marshall, and Beaumont continue to serve passengers, which means you can tour part of the state and some historic depots for the same ticket.