Cane Belt RR
Railroad History
SP Depot in 2004
SA&AP Depot in 1911
Tower 115 in 1977

Railroads and Their Structures in Eagle Lake, TX

The first railroad in Texas—called the Buffalo Bayou Brazos and Colorado— built through Eagle Lake in 1859. It became part of the extensive Southern Pacific Railroad system and the line is now part of Union Pacific Railroad. The SP had separate passenger and freight depots located on the south side of the tracks across from the present day fire station and police station buildings. These are indicated on the above map as GH&SA Depot. In the early 1950's, the passenger depot was modified to serve as a combination passenger and freight depot, and that building remained in use by the railroad for various purposes until it burned in July 2011.

The SP constructed Tower 115 to control the junctions of the three railroads and placed it in service in 1925. The tower was closed in 1991 after the Santa Fe abandoned their line into Eagle Lake and the building was subsequently demolished in 1996.

The San Antonio and Aransas Pass Railroad arrived in 1887 on its way to Houston. Their depot was located near the Eagle Lake Supermarket and a 1911 image cropped from an aerial view of Eagle Lake is shown. This depot was closed to the public on May 9, 1925 after the SA&AP was acquired by the Southern Pacific. The SA&AP depot was used for a period of time as a transfer freight building, and the last mention of it in the local newspaper occurs in 1931. Local residents do not remember this structure existing in the 1940's so it disappeared relatively early. After the SA&AP was merged into the Southern Pacific system most of its track was abandoned - especially in the 1950s. A small part of this line is still utilized by Union Pacific west of Eagle Lake to near Altair.

In 1898, two local residents, William Dunovant and William T. Eldridge, decided to build a railroad to their plantations south of Eagle Lake, and thus the Cane Belt Railroad was chartered. Headquartered in Eagle Lake, the railroad eventually reached Sealy to the north, and Matagorda on the coast and was acquired by the Santa Fe in 1903 . As can be seen in the above map, the Cane Belt main track (shown in blue) passed about 3/4 mile east of downtown Eagle Lake, and the town was served via a spur track that paralleled the Southern Pacific and ended near the SP passenger depot. Eagle Lake passengers and freight using the Cane Belt / Santa Fe were serviced via an arrangement with the Southern Pacific until the Eagle Lake Santa Fe Depot was built in 1911.
Of all the railroad buildings in Eagle Lake, the Santa Fe depot is the only one that remains. The Eagle Lake Depot Museum celebrates all of Eagle Lake's rich railroad history and contains artifacts from each of the railroads listed above plus many other TX lines.
Eagle Lake Depot, Inc. is dedicated to the preservation, education, and research of railroad history in the state of Texas with a special focus on Colorado county and the surrounding area. We have artifacts from dozens of Texas short line railroads, and the agent's office, waiting room, and baggage room look as if a train will be arriving and departing any minute! While you can learn a fair amount via this web site and our facebook page, we hope you will visit in person to enjoy an enriching experience!
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