Flashback : Dallas

A Miscellany: History, Ads, Pop Culture

Category: Railroads

The Dallas News Special: Fast Train to Denison — 1887

dallas-news-special_belo-collection_smuThe Dallas Morning News, full speed ahead! (Belo Collection, SMU)

by Paula Bosse

In October, 1885, The Galveston News decided to launch a sister publication in Dallas, The Dallas Morning News. They sent 26-year old George Bannerman Dealey to run it. Before that first month was up, go-getter Dealey had made a special arrangement with the Texas & Pacific railroad — “at considerable expense to The News” — to extend its route and pop into Dallas to pick up papers destined for its subscribers west of the city. (The photo at the top may or may not show that very first “Special Mail train.”)

news-train-fort-worth_dmn_102885DMN, Oct. 27, 1885 (click for larger image)

A year and a half later, The News one-upped itself and made the announcement that it would operate a special train to Denison — again, “at a vast expense.” This train would transport editions of the paper in the wee small hours in order to assure that The Dallas Morning News would actually BE a morning newspaper for as many of its subscribers as possible, whether they lived “within a block of the press” or a hundred miles away (DMN, Sept. 30, 1888). News-hungry Denisonians could read their papers over breakfast at the same time their Dallas counterparts did.

news-train_dmn_052287DMN, May 22, 1887

The train was dubbed by some “The Comet” (not to be confused with the MKT’s later Katy Komet). It was a “fast train” that carried passengers as well as newspapers along the Houston and Texas Central rails.


ad-special-news-train_dmn_052287-det2DMN, May 22, 1887

Not only was this a clever way to extend its reach and expand its circulation, but, as the Handbook of Texas notes, it also “enabled the paper to meet the threat of the St. Louis newspapers, which in 1885 had a larger circulation in North Texas than did any state paper.”

A rousing account of the first Dallas-to-Denison run appeared in the pages of both The Dallas News and The Galveston News (which often shared content). A link to that full story is below, but here are a few passages from an article written the next year, touting the wondrous success of the News Special, written as only a nineteenth-century newspaperman could write it (and the writer might well have been G. B. Dealey himself).

First, one encounters a mention of Plano in a more grandiose combination of words than one might expect, as the writer describes his pleasant pre-dawn train trip along the route.

Plano was reached before the drowsy god of day had wiped his eyes at the first yawn. He rolled over in his couch by the time it reached McKinney, and he was sitting on the side of it when the train was at Melissa. And here the mocking birds, with no ruddier iris upon their breast, but moved with the spirit that makes the burnished dove mourn out his love, made the air resonant with their chatter and their songs. Into Sherman and Denison the train plunged and the trip was done.

Um, yes. Then he breaks it down in a little more specifically. Actually a LOT more specifically.

It starts. Two minutes are consumed at the Missouri Pacific crossing five miles out, two minutes at Caruth’s, five minutes for water, two minutes at Richardson, two minutes at the Cotton Belt crossing, three minutes at Plano, two minutes at Allen, three minutes at McKinney, two minutes at Melissa, fifteen minutes at Anna for a meeting point, three minutes at Van Alstyne, two minutes at Howe, five minutes at Sherman. Total forty-eight minutes. The distance between Sherman and Dallas is sixty-four miles. The time card calls for two hours and five minutes from Dallas to that point. Forty-eight minutes is consumed in stoppages. Anyone can make the calculations, sixty-four miles in seventy-seven minutes, and see the terrific speed that this train makes, has made for over a year, and made it without a single accident, and it is a good road — an awful good road — to make it over.

And then he congratulates his employer on giving even its most distant readers “an even whack.”

Is there anything like this in the history of newspapers? True, some of them in the north run special trains on special occasions, but THE NEWS stands without a rival in this sustained work of giving its remote patrons an even whack with its people of the city. (–The Dallas Morning News, Sept. 30, 1888)

Below, a train identified as this H&TC News Special to Denison, even though it looks remarkably similar to the T&P train (in the photo above) which may or may not have been that earlier 1885 mail train to Fort Worth. Dealey is identified as the man in the light-colored suit, standing on the steps (he also resembles the man in the top photo, but now with a full beard).


The train would slow down as it neared a small-town depot, and, without stopping, a man would toss bundles of papers from the train into the waiting arms of another man on the platform, who would then divide them up and hand them off to men and boys on horseback who would race to deliver them to stores and homes before breakfast.

The Dallas Morning News ran its hot-off-the-presses newspapers up to Denison for several decades on this train until, presumably, cheaper trucks were pulled into action. But did the rather less romantic trucks, rattling up to Grayson County, inspire the mockingbirds to “[make] the air resonant with their chatter and their songs” as had the noble locomotive speeding the news through the night? I think not.


Sources & Notes

Top photo, titled “The Dallas Morning News special train,” is from the Belo Records, DeGolyer Library, Central University Libraries, Southern Methodist University; it can be viewed here. It’s a bit confusing, but this may show the inaugural run of the DMN’s special train to Fort Worth on May 22 ,1885, along the Texas & Pacific Railway. If anyone has suggestions on where this photo may have been taken, please let me know.

I came across a cropped version of the second photo in the March, 1976 issue of Texas Historian, with the caption: “The Comet, Dallas News special train operated between Dallas and Denison in 1887. G. B. Dealey, then Dallas News business manager, stands on first car platform.” The version seen above is from the George A. McAfee photographs collection, DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University here; it is titled ”The Dallas News Special (H&T.C.).”

If you’re into trains (and even if you’re not), you might enjoy reading the following three stories from The Dallas Morning News:

  • “Special  Mail Service, Observations of a Staff Correspondent Along the Route” (DMN, Oct. 27, 1885), describing the new Fort Worth route and how The News convinced (i.e. paid) the Texas & Pacific Railway to include a stop in Dallas to load up on newspapers and haul them westward, can be read here.
  • “The News in North Texas, The Special Mail Train Service” (DMN, May 23, 1887), a rousingly written ride-along narrative, is here. (I would advise more fragile readers to skip to the next paragraph when they come across mention of a cute little calf — nineteenth-century journalism is not for the overly sensitive.)
  • “News Special Train, Between Dallas and Denison Before Day, Remarkable Record, But the Following Cheerful Narrative Tells the Whole Story, Extending Over Sixteen Months, Over Fifty Miles an Hour” (DMN, Sept. 30, 1888), another genuinely exciting and poetic account of the special train and its crew, again, probably written by Dealey, can be read here. The few sentences that are illegible at the bottom of the first column: “He rang it with jerks in town, he rang it clangingly at crossings, but away out in the solitudes of the country, softly and gently he would peal it slowly, as if he had quit; softly as if his head had dropped upon his bosom. Lyerly is promoted now. Lasher is on the regular passenger train, and R. R. Roe has beautifully and [evenly?] taken his place. But Gentry still sits upon his old seat on the right hand side and watches growing into beefhood the….” 

Click photos and clippings to see larger images.


Copyright © 2015 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.


Locomotive & The White Swan Building

white-swan-bldg_locomotive_flickr_colteraBack when the N. Lamar area was a bit more industrial (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Just a quick one today: loco chugging past the White Swan Building.


Image from Flickr, captioned “Vintage postcard: MKT railroad engine,White Swan Building, Dallas, Texas”; viewable on Flickr here.

The historic White Swan Building is located at 2200 N. Lamar, just north of Woodall Rodgers; it currently houses the House of Blues.


Copyright © 2015 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Santa Fe Railroad Ads: “Main Line to Progress” — 1955

ad-magnolia-petroleum-welcoming-new-santa-fe-line_dmn_120455-det_smMagnolia Petroleum Co. ad (detail), 1955 (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

In the previous post, “White Rock Station,” I wrote about the opening of a new passenger depot that had been built to serve suburban travelers along the new stretch of Santa Fe track laid between Dallas and Denton in 1955, opening up direct through-travel to Chicago. This was big news, and as was the charming custom back then, when a new business endeavor opened or expanded, other businesses (often direct competitors) placed ads in the local papers to welcome them and wish them well.

Here are a few of the ads that appeared in December, 1955 to promote/congratulate the new line. I’ve chosen these details of ads because they feature illustrations of the city’s skyline — I always love to see the Dallas skyline in ads, but I particularly like the style of commercial art from this period.

At the top is a detail from an ad placed by the Magnolia Petroleum Company, with the tag-line “Main Line to Progress.”

Next, a cool detail from a Hutchings-Sealy National Bank of Galveston advertisement.


And, lastly, a detail from a large double-page Santa Fe Railroad ad.



The previous Flashback Dallas post on this new Santa Fe line and its two new depots in Dallas and Denton can be found here.

All images larger when clicked.


Copyright © 2015 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.


White Rock Station

white-rock-station_glen-brewer_062468White Rock Station, June 24, 1968 (click for larger image) © Glen Brewer

by Paula Bosse

The White Rock passenger station — the Santa Fe railroad’s first suburban train depot built in the Southwest — opened on December 5, 1955 on Jupiter Road, about a quarter of a mile south of Kingsley (located mere steps across the Garland city line), a few miles northeast of White Rock Lake. It was the culmination of a $7,000,000 construction project in which two depots were built and 49.3 miles of new track was laid between Dallas and Denton (or, more specifically, between Zacha Junction — the area near Northwest Highway & Garland Road — and Dalton Junction, an area just northwest of Denton).

The new track — touted by a Santa Fe ad as being “the longest main line construction over new territory by any railroad in 25 years” — was important because it offered passengers from Dallas the ability to travel for the first time directly to Chicago without having to change trains. It also reduced freight line distances by 65 miles. The swanky streamlined Texas Chief shuttled passengers between Dallas’ Union Station and Chicago in about 19 hours — travel time between Union Station and the new White Rock Station was 25-30 minutes.

white-rock-station_dmn_120455_det-map_smSanta Fe ad detail, Dec. 4, 1955

The breathless copy from the giant two-page advertising spread heralding the new line included the following description:

And just wait until you see the special lounge car and dining car on the Texas Chief — the last word in luxury in railroad equipment, decorated in the style and smartness indicative of Dallas…. A lounge decorated to please a Texan! Wide open and spacious feeling, with really comfortable modern sofas and chairs, casually grouped to make you want to relax. You’ll see the Star of Texas and famous cattle brands tooled into the rich leather back-bar — and Texas-inspired murals in hand-hammered copper. Even the walls are richly paneled — in smart, new frosted walnut. Just wait until you see it, you’ll say there’s nothing like it.

And here they are (click for larger images):


Below, the Texas Chief, pulling out of the station, heading north. (To see a grainy closeup of the station in the background, click here.)

texas-chief_degolyer_smu_122956Photo by Everette DeGolyer, Dec. 29, 1956, via SMU


white-rock-station_dmn_120455_det-drawingwhite-rock-station_dmn_120455_renderingAbove two drawings from Santa Fe ad, Dec. 4, 1955

white-rock-station_c1956_portalCirca 1956, photo by M. D. Monaghan


UPDATE: Watch color home-movie film footage taken at the station in this clip from the Portal to Texas History (the pertinent footage begins at the 3:00 mark). More on this cool piece of film can be found in another Flashback Dallas post, here.


Interesting tidbit: the engine of the Texas Chief was christened at Union Station on Dec. 5, 1955 with a bottle of water from White Rock Lake! The caption of a photo of the christening in the Dallas Morning News read: “NEW STREAMLINER CHRISTENED — With a bottle of water from White Rock Lake, Mrs. Fred G. Gurley, wife of the Santa Fe Railway’s president, christens the new Dallas-Chicago Texas Chief in ceremonies Monday at the Union Terminal. At right is Miss Sandra Browning of Garland, who presented the local bottle of water,” (DMN, Dec. 6, 1955). Champagne? Pffft! We’ve got pure-dee White Rock Lake water!

And I found footage of that! Here is a screenshot of Mrs. Gurley wielding the bottle of East Dallas’ finest (as Miss Garland, Sandra Browning looks on).


And here is the short clip of the Texas Chief on Dec. 5, 1955, the day of its inaugural run from Dallas to Chicago — in color!. There are shots of the ceremonies at Union Station in Dallas, of the new White Rock Station, of the streamliner with the Dallas skyline behind it, and, possibly, footage from the other big ceremony in Denton.


santa-fe-line_corsicana-daily-sun_120555Corsicana Daily Sun, Dec. 5, 1955 (click to read)


Sources & Notes

Top photo shows passengers waiting for the train on June 24, 1968; photo © Glen Brewer.

The two photos showing the dining and lounge cars of the Texas Chief were taken around 1956; both are from the Museum of the American Railroad Collection, Portal to Texas History. Other photos of the Texas Chief from this collection can be seen here.

Photo of the Texas Chief pulling out of the White Rock Station was taken by Everette L. DeGolyer on Dec. 29, 1956; it is from the Everette L. DeGolyer Jr. Collection of United States Railroad Photographs, DeGolyer Library, Central University Libraries, Southern Methodist University. The photo (“Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe, Diesel Electric Passenger Locomotive No. 11, White Rock Station”) can be viewed here.

The two drawings, and a few quotes, are from large advertisements placed by the Santa Fe railroad to announce the opening of their new line.

The last photograph, showing the station, is dated “circa 1956” and credited to “Monaghan, M.D.”; it can be viewed on the Portal to Texas History site, here.

The YouTube video showing color footage of the Texas Chief’s inaugural festivities is titled “New railroad into Dallas. Archive film 93424,” from the Huntley Film Archives, here.

A 1962 map showing the location of the station is here. A present-day Bing map showing where the station was is here. A Google Street View image of the area today is (…if you must…) here.

An article on the construction of the Denton and Dallas (White Rock) depots — “Work on New Santa Fe Depot To Start Here” (Denton Record-Chronicle, July 13, 1955) — can be read here.

For anyone doing research into this specific new rail line, there was a 16-page section in The Dallas Morning News on Dec. 5, 1955 which was bursting with helpful info, civic pride, “welcome to the neighborhood” ads, and corporate puffery. There was an even larger (MUCH larger!) tribute to the sainted Santa Fe which consumed the entire Dec. 4, 1955 edition of The Denton Record-Chronicle (there was even a ghost image of a Santa Fe engine which covered page one).

As mentioned above, there is home-movie film footage taken at the station — more about this can be found in the Flashback Dallas post “White Rock Station (And a Helicopter Ride),” here.

And, lastly, check out a YouTube video of Henry Mancini’s version of Johnny Mercer’s “Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe” — with loads of cool period film footage of train travel — here.


Copyright © 2015 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

One of the Victims of the Great Trinity Flood: The T & P Railroad Trestle — 1908

flood_t-p-trestle_1908_legacies“T. P. Trestle Before Break, Dallas, Tex.” (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Above and below, photos of the Texas & Pacific railroad trestle spanning the Trinity River, destroyed during the great flood of May, 1908. Five people died in the flooding — in which the Trinity crested at an incredible 52.6 feet — and damage to property was unbelievable. The railroad trestle was just one of numerous victims of the worst flood Dallas has ever known.



Photo from the article “After the Deluge: The Impact of the Trinity River Flood of 1908” by Jackie McElhaney (Legacies, Fall, 1999), which you can read here.

Postcard from Flickr, here.

The May 25, 1908 Trinity River flood on Wikipedia, here.

Click pictures for larger images.


Copyright © 2015 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

The Interurban Parlor Car: Perusing the News in Comfy Chairs

interurban-interior_tx-historian_jan81(Click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

The height of comfort!

You know this photo was taken for promotional purposes, because none of the men has a reeking cigar clenched between his teeth.


Texas Electric Railway Interurban ad reprinted in Texas Historian, Jan. 1981.

Interurbans were great. I wish we still had them. Read about what they were, here.


Copyright © 2015 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Views From a Passing Train — 1902

edmunds_pacific-bryan_free-lib-phil_1902Pacific, looking west toward Bryan, 1902 (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Franklin Davenport Edmunds (1874-1948) was a Philadelphia architect whose hobbies were travel and photography. A 1902 train trip to Mexico took him through Texas, during which there as a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it stop in Dallas.

edmunds_whos-who-philadelphia_1920Who’s Who in Philadelphia, 1920

On the way to Mexico, he stopped in St. Louis for a while (where he took several photos on Feb. 12), passed through Arkansas (on Feb. 13), apparently saw very little of Dallas as he rolled through, and then took a lot of photos when he reached San Antonio (by Feb. 14). He then continued on to a vacation of at least two or three weeks in Mexico, where his camera was never far from his side.

The two photos that were taken as he passed through Dallas (which I’m assuming were snapped from the train) were probably taken on Feb. 13 or 14, 1902.

The location of the photo above is not noted, but it appears to be Pacific Avenue looking west. Peter S. Borich’s sign-painting business was on the northeast “corner” of Bryan and Pacific (at the point of the diagonal intersection). The photo shows the back and side of his building. It’s hard to see them, but there is a wagon with a team of horses at the Bryan St. intersection. Behind Borich’s is a blacksmith shop, and across the street, there are several furniture stores. Straight ahead is an almost mirage-like smoke-spewing locomotive heading toward the camera. (Unless Edmunds was standing in the middle of Pacific, I’m guessing he was taking the photo from the rear of the train.)

Seconds later, the train would have pulled into the old Union Depot (located about where Pacific would cross present-day Central Expressway).

edmunds_old-union-stn_free-lib-phil_1902(click for larger image)

Even though not identified in the photo description, the distinctive old Union Depot is instantly recognizable (an unrelated photo taken from about the same spot can be seen in this one from the George W. Cook collection at SMU’s DeGolyer Library). Again, the photo appears to have been taken from the train.

Edmunds took a ton of photos on this trip, but, sadly, he seems to have merely passed through Dallas without wandering around to explore its streets (which I would think would be interesting — if not downright exotic — to a Philadelphia architect) — I’m not sure he even got off the train to stretch his legs! But I’ve never seen these two photos, and they’re pretty cool. So, thanks, Frank — you should have hung around a little longer.


Both photos by Franklin Davenport Edmunds are from the Free Library of Philadelphia. The Pacific Avenue photo can be accessed here; the Union Depot photo, here. Other photos he took in Texas during the 1902 trip (and a few from a previous 1899 trip) can be viewed here.

A biography of Edmunds can be read at PhiladelphiaBuildings.org here.

A detail from the 1905 Sanborn map showing the businesses located at Pacific and Bryan, with Borich’s business circled in red and the camera’s vantage point in blue, can be seen here.

Below, a detail from a map (circa 1890-1900), showing the locations of the two photos, with the Pacific Ave. location circled in green and the Union Depot location in yellow.

dallas-map_ca1900(click for larger image)

And, lastly, a present-day image showing the same view as the top photo (from Google Street View).


My previous post, “The Old Union Depot in East Dallas: 1897-1935” — a history of the station with several photos — can be found here.

Images larger when clicked.


Copyright © 2015 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

The Old Union Depot in East Dallas: 1897-1935

east-dallas-depot_rendering_art-hoffmanFrom the collection of Art Hoffman (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

I saw the above rendering of the old East Dallas rail depot posted recently in a Dallas history group. It was bought several years ago by Art Hoffman who was told it had belonged to a former employee of the Houston & Texas Central Railroad (which, along with the Texas & Pacific, served this station). It’s an odd thing for an architect to sketch — a boarded-up railroad depot. I couldn’t find anything on E. L. Watson, the architect who did the rendering (perhaps a member of the Watson family who were prominent Dallas contractors?), and I couldn’t find any connection between the depot and the F. J. Woerner & Co. architectural firm. The drawing might have been done in 1931, with what looks like “31” next to the artist’s signature. Could the drawing have been done merely as a study for E. L. Watson’s portfolio?

But back to the building itself. It was referred to by all sorts of names: Union Station, Union Depot, East Dallas Depot, Old Union Station, etc. With all these permutations, it took considerable digging to determine exactly when it had been built and when it had been demolished.

A couple of stations had previously occupied this site (about where Pacific Avenue and Central Expressway would cross), the first being built in 1872 at the behest of William H. Gaston who was developing the area, well east of the Dallas city limits. Due to the presence of the railroad, the area grew quickly, and in 1882, it was incorporated as the city of East Dallas. It thrived and continued to grow and on January 1, 1890 it was annexed and became part of the city of Dallas.

dallas-map-ca1900Location of depot in red — map circa 1890-1900 (click to enlarge)

The depot pictured in the drawing above was built in 1897. The previous station, a woefully inadequate and outdated “shanty,” was, by early 1897, being nudged toward demolition in order to remain competitive with the new Santa Fe depot then under construction. In the Feb. 10, 1897 edition of The Dallas Morning News, it was referred to as “the present eye-sore in East Dallas” which would be better off “abandoned and used for kindling wood.”

On April 4, 1897, it was reported that plans for a new Texas & Pacific passenger depot were nearly completed. By the beginning of June, the shanty had been torn down, and on June 6, 1897, the drawing below appeared in the pages of the Morning News, giving the people of Dallas a first look at what the much grander station would look like when completed. (It’s unfortunate that the actual architectural rendering was not used, but, instead, a more rudimentary staff artist’s version was printed.) The accompanying information revealed that the new depot had been designed by Mr. O. H. Lang, an architect who worked in the engineering department of the Texas & Pacific Railroad. This was an exciting tidbit to find, because I had wondered who had designed the structure but had been unable to find this elusive piece of information. And it was Otto Lang! Eight years after designing this railroad depot, Lang and fellow architect Frank Witchell would form the legendary firm of Lang & Witchell, and they would go on to design some of Dallas’ most impressive buildings.


east-dallas-depot_dmn_060697-TEXTDallas Morning News, June 6, 1897

The building was completed fairly quickly, and its official opening was announced on Oct. 12, 1897.

east-dallas-depot_GRAND-OPENING_dmn_101297DMN, Oct. 12, 1897

Here’s what the station looked like soon after it opened for business, from an 1898 Texas & Pacific publication (click for larger images):



Much better than a shanty!


Below in another early photo of the depot:


Can’t pass up an opportunity of zooming in on a detail:


Here it is around 1910, a hotbed of activity, now with the addition of automobiles:


The station served an important role in the growth of (East) Dallas and in the everyday lives of its residents for almost twenty years, but in 1916 the many “independent” passenger and freight depots that had been spread out all over town were shuttered, per the Kessler Plan’s directive to consolidate and run all the rail lines in and out of the new Dallas Union Terminal. (This was when the word “old” began appearing ahead the East Dallas station whenever it was mentioned.)

east-dallas-depot_1916-portal(circa 1916)

So what became of the East Dallas depot? From “Relic of City of East Dallas Being Demolished,” a Dallas Morning News article from Jan. 20, 1935:

Last use of the depot for railroad purposes came in 1933 when it was abandoned as a freight station in August of that year. After that it was used as a station for interviewing destitute clients for the relief board but for several months has been boarded up.

So that original rendering may not have been done in 1931 after all (unless it was a high-concept architect’s vision of what the depot would look like one day all boarded up…).

At some point it was determined that the station would be torn down. It may have been one of those beautify-the-city projects done in preparation for the Texas Centennial Exposition the next year, but it was probably time for the building to come down. It was January of 1935, at the height of the Great Depression, and  not only did the city make it a point to hire laborers on relief to assist in the demolition, but it also approved the use of salvaged materials from the site to be used in building homes for “destitute families.”

Relief Administrator E. J. Stephany received approval Saturday of a project to get men to tear down the old structure and use the materials in building homes for destitute families and work is expected to start immediately. (“East Dallas Station To Be Torn Down and Converted Into Homes,” DMN, Jan. 13, 1935)

Demolition of the depot — which The News called “The Pride of the Gay Nineties” — began on January 18, 1935. The first solemn paragraph of an article reporting on the razing of the landmark is below.

Shorn of all the dignity it possessed for years as the East Dallas Union Depot, the old red structure near the intersection of Central and Pacific avenues began crumbling beneath the blows of wrecking tools wielded by laborers from the Dallas County relief board Friday.” (“Relic of City of East Dallas Being Demolished,” DMN, Jan. 20, 1935)

The red stone slabs bearing the word “Dallas” (3 feet long, 18 inches thick) were offered to the Dallas Historical Society “for safekeeping.”


So did that relief housing get built? Sort of. All I could find was an article from June, 1935, which states that one little building was constructed with some of the brick and stone from the razed depot. It wasn’t a house for the needy but was, instead, headquarters for relief caseworkers in donated park land in Urbandale. Presumably there was housing built somewhere, but all that brick and stone salvaged from the old depot may not have been used for its intended purpose. BUT, there is this tantalizing little tidbit:

As a reminder of the historic antecedent, the new structure [in Urbandale Park] has as a headpiece for its fireplace the large carved stone bearing the name Dallas. (“Relief Structure Made of Materials From Razed Depot,” DMN, June 20, 1935)

Does this mean that the Dallas Historical Society might still have the second slab? If not, what happened to it?

I checked Google Maps and looked at tiny Urbandale Park at Military Parkway and Lomax Drive, just east of S. Buckner, but I didn’t see anything, so I assume the building came down at some point. (UPDATE, 3/20/16: Finally got around to driving to this attractive park. Sadly, the little building is no longer there.)

It would have been nice if that little bit of the old depot had survived — a souvenir of an important hub of activity which sprang to life when memories were still fresh of East Dallas being its own separate entity — the “David” Dallas to its neighboring “Goliath” Dallas. I would love to learn more about what might have happened to that “Dallas” sign which, for a while, hung over the fireplace of an odd little building in an obscure park in southeast Dallas where it lived out its days in retirement.


Since I keep adding photos of the depot to this post, I’m going to just start putting new additions (with captioned and linked sources) here:

east-dallas-union-depot_degolyer-lib_SMUDeGolyer Library, SMU

union-depot_east-dallas_1933_degolyer-lib_SMUDeGolyer Library, SMU

“Your Dallas of Tomorrow” (1943), Portal to Texas History


Sources &  Notes

Original rendering of the old Union Depot at East Dallas by E. L. Watson is from the collection of Art Hoffman, used with his permission.

More on architect Frank J. Woerner (who designed, among other things, the Stoneleigh Hotel), here (see p. 10 of  this PDF).

History of Old East Dallas (and the city of East Dallas), here and  here.

More on architects Lang & Witchell here, with an incredible list of some of the buildings designed by their firm here.

1898 photos of the depot’s exterior and interior from Texas, Along the Line of the Texas & Pacific Ry. (Dallas: Passenger Department of the Texas & Pacific Railway, [1898]).

Photo immediately following the photos from the T & P book is from a postcard, found on Flickr, here.

Photo (and accompanying detail) immediately following that is from Dallas Rediscovered by William L. McDonald (Dallas: Dallas Historical Society, 1978). (McDonald identifies the photo as being “c. 1890” — well before the station was built in 1897.) From the collection of the Dallas Historical Society.

Photo of the depot with automobiles is a detail of a larger photograph from the collection of George A. McAfee photographs in the DeGolyer Library, Central University Libraries, Southern Methodist University. The original can be seen here.

Photograph dated 1916 from The Museum of the American Railroad, via the Portal to Texas History site, here.

More information in these Dallas Morning News articles:

  • “East Dallas Station To Be Torn Down and Converted Into Homes” (DMN, Jan. 13, 1935)
  • “Relic of City of East Dallas Being Demolished” (DMN, Jan. 20, 1935) — very informative
  • “Historical Society Will Be Given Slabs of Former Station” (DMN, Jan. 31, 1935)
  • “County Gets Land To Install Relief Depot; Later Park” (DMN, Feb. 27, 1935
  • “Relief Structure Made of Materials From Razed Depot; Station Occupies Land in Urbandale Donated to County For Park” (DMN, June 20, 1935)
  • “Salvaged Materials Go Artistic” (DMN, June 20, 1935) — photo of “relief structure” which accompanied above article

More photos of this immediate area can be found in these posts:

  • “The Union Depot Hotel Building, Deep Ellum — 1898-1968,” here
  • “The Gypsy Tea Room, Central Avenue, and the Darensbourg Brothers,” here

Many of the pictures and articles can be clicked for larger images.


Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.


A Lost Photo of Director Larry Buchanan, Celebrated “Schlockmeister” — 1955

buchanan-katy-camera_1955_bwLarry Buchanan (in bowtie) in his ad-man days, 1955

by Paula Bosse

I got all excited when I saw the above photo posted in the Lone Star Library Annex Facebook group. It accompanied an article and another photo from the Katy Employes’ Magazine (August, 1955) (seen below) — the poster was interested in the railroad-angle of the article and photos, but the name “Larry Buchanan” was what grabbed my attention.



The photo was posted because it was a wonderful piece of M-K-T Railroad-related ephemera. Before reading the accompanying text, I thought that the idea of a 1955 Chrysler tricked-out to ride along Katy railroad tracks (so that M-K-T officials could, presumably, ride the rails in comfortable air-conditioned splendor as they moved from one inspection site to the next) was the cool thing about the article. Then I got to the name “Larry Buchanan.” And it became much, MUCH more interesting.

So who is Larry Buchanan? Briefly, Larry Buchanan is one of the greatest exponents of grade-Z, low-low-low-LOW-budget filmmaking, a director with a cult following amongst those who enjoy movies in the “so-bad-they’re-good” genre. He shot most of his movies in the 1960s in Dallas, taking advantage of lots of locations around the city, even if the movies he was shooting weren’t actually set in Dallas (one movie had Highland Park Village standing in for Italy, and “Mars Needs Women” was set in Houston, even though the movie is crammed full of easily recognizable Dallas locations such as the downtown skyline and the Cotton Bowl). The movies that have earned him his place in the pantheon of cult figures are primarily his sci-fi movies, like “Mars Needs Women,” “Attack of the Eye People,” “Curse of the Swamp Creature,” and “Zontar: The Thing from Venus.” Many were re-makes of earlier low-budget sci-fi movies commissioned by American International Pictures, and Buchanan was usually the producer, director, writer, and editor — “auteur” seems like the wrong word to use here, but that’s what he was, a filmmaker intensely involved with every phase of the production.

Buchanan was born in 1923 and grew up in Buckner Orphans Home. After a fleeting thought of becoming a minister, Buchanan — long-fascinated by movies — left for Hollywood and New York where he worked as an actor in small roles or on the crew (during this time there were professional brushes with, of all people, George Cukor and Stanley Kubrick). By the early 1950s, Buchanan was back in Dallas, employed by the Jamieson Film Company (3825 Bryan St.), working on industrial films, training films, television programs, and commercials. It was at Jamieson that he learned all aspects of film production, including how to get things done quickly and how to bring projects in under budget. It’s also where he met co-workers Brownie Brownrigg, Robert B. Alcott, Bob Jessup, and Bill Stokes, all of whom went on to have film careers of their own and most of whom Buchanan used as crew members when shooting in and around the city.

It was during this period that the photo above was taken. There are countless websites out there devoted to Larry Buchanan’s film oeuvre, but there are very, very few photos of him online. I found exactly three:

larry-buchanan_bob-jessup_texas-monthly_lgLarry (left) with cinematographer Bob Jessup

larry-buchanan_tx-monthly_may-1986-photo_detIn 1986 (Tim Boole/Texas Monthly)

larry-buchananDate unknown

The photo at the top of this post is from 1955, before Buchanan had really begun cranking out his own movies. I can’t say for sure that this IS a photograph of Larry Buchanan, but it seems likely that it is. In that striped shirt, he looks like the kind of hip, energetic, ever-enthusiastic director I imagine him being. I can only hope that it IS him, straddling railroad ties, behind a camera pointed at a retrofitted Chrysler, in Dallas’ Katy railyard. One wonders if that Chrysler spot had a higher budget than some of the movies he was making ten years later. UPDATE: In the comments, below, Larry’s son Barry identifies his father in the top photo, but not as the man behind the camera, but as the man behind the car, wearing the bowtie. Thanks for the correction, Barry1)

From all reports, Larry was a tireless, driven, upbeat guy who loved making movies, and I think it would have been a lot of fun hanging out with him. If I ever have enough disposable income, I’ll fork it over and buy a copy of his entertaining-but-pricey autobiography, the well-received It Came From Hunger: Tales of a Cinema Schlockmeister (McFarland & Co., 1996).

It’s been fun researching Larry Buchanan. There’s a lot more to tackle later. I mean, I haven’t even touched on the legendary “Naughty Dallas” yet!


Tons of links here….

First two photos and text from the Katy Employes’ Magazine (Aug. 1955).


Katy magazine scans made with permission of the Facebook page Lone Star Library Annex.

Other examples of automobiles equipped with “railroad wheels” can be found here.

Black and white photo of Buchanan with Bob Jessup (photographer and date unknown) and the great color photo (a detail of which is shown above) by Tim Boole, both from the article, “How Bad Were They?” by Douglass St. Clair Smith (Texas Monthly, May 1986), which you can read here.

That last photo of Buchanan is all over the internet — the only one you ever really see. I don’t know who took it, when it was taken, or where it originally appeared. But it’s a great photo!

Larry Buchanan died in December, 2004, at the age of 81. His obituary from The New York Times is here.

A fond look back at Buchanan’s career by Eric Celeste appeared in the April 2005 issue of D Magazine and can be read here.

The best piece on Buchanan is “A Tribute to Larry Buchanan” by his good friend Greg Goodsell, here.

My recent post on “Mars Needs Women” — with screen caps of movie scenes shot at recognizable Dallas locations — is here.

I never did find that Chrysler spot that had been slated to appear on network TV. I have a feeling it may be in a lengthy collection of Chrysler commercials and films from 1955 which you can watch here. I couldn’t slog all the way through it, but there are a couple of “Shower of Stars” episodes, which are mentioned in the Katy article (they’re odd “entertainment” shows which seem to be nothing more than infomercials for Chrysler starring famous people in bad sketches). If anyone actually finds footage that was filmed that day in Dallas, please let me know!

And, lastly, Larry Buchanan’s movies are fun, but some are more fun than others, “if you know what I mean, and I think you do” (as Joe Bob Briggs — surely one of Larry’s biggest admirers — might say). Many of them are available to watch in their entirety online. Check YouTube and Google.

Click photos for larger images!


Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

SMU’s First Year: The Dinkey, Campus Hijinx, and the Basket Ball — 1915-16


by Paula Bosse

As a companion to my previous post on the first year of classes at SMU, here are a few more photos from the yearbook, these documenting the less studious side of campus life.

The most interesting thing about these photos, for me, is the SMU trolley, nick-named “The Dinkey” (or “The Dinky”). When SMU opened in 1915, it was waaaaaaaaaay outside the city limits, and the rail line extended only as far north as Knox. In order to get to and from downtown (and points beyond), one had to board the Dinkey near Hillcrest and McFarlin and ride to Knox, then change to an official city streetcar and head into civilization.

This reminiscence appeared in a 1984 issue of Park Cities People:

The first time Manning saw the campus was from the wooden seat of the Dinkey, an electric streetcar built for SMU in 1915.

“I told Dad Johnson, the conductor, as I boarded in Highland Park, I wanted to get off at SMU,” Manning said. “He said, ‘That’s as far as it goes.'”

“‘When we got there, I said, ‘Where’s the campus?’ He said, ‘There’s only two buildings. Dallas Hall is the one with the columns.'”

Manning couldn’t see the building from the Dinkey for the four-foot-tall Johnson grass and had to follow a travel-worn path to Dallas Hall.

2dinkey-hpcentennial“The Dinkey ran from Dallas Hall to Knox Street on tracks in the middle of Hillcrest. This photo taken at McFarlin.”

3smu-rotunda-1916_dinkey-stopThe “depot” where the Dinkey picked up and dropped off SMU students, faculty, and visitors.

4smu-rotunda-1916_dinkeyThe Dinkey, garnished with co-eds.


6smu-rotunda-1916_cosmopolitan-univ“Cosmopolitan University” horsepower.


8smu-rotunda-1916_footballBad season?

The inaugural football season started tentatively. The 1915 schedule:

  • Oct. 9th: SMU vs. TCU at Fort Worth
  • Oct. 14th: SMU vs. Hendrick College at Dallas
  • Oct. 27th: SMU vs. Austin College at Dallas Fair
  • Nov. 4th: SMU vs. Dallas University
  • Nov. 12th: SMU vs. Daniel Baker at Brownwood
  • Nov. 19th: SMU vs. Southwestern University at Dallas
  • Nov. 25th: SMU vs. Trinity University at Waxahachie

9smu-rotunda-1916_basketballThe men’s “Basket Ball” team.

10smu-rotunda-1916_girls-basketballThe girl’s “Basket Ball” team.



All images (except the second) from the 1915-1916 edition of SMU’s “Rotunda” yearbook.

Photo (and caption) of the “Dinkey” trolley at Hillcrest and McFarlin from Highland Park Centennial Celebration site, here.

Quote about traveling to the campus from Park Cities People (March 15, 1984).

“Dallas Hall and the Hilltop” by Tom Peeler, an entertaining  1998 D Magazine article on the first days of SMU, is here.

My previous post containing more photos from this first yearbook, is here.

Several photos larger when clicked.


Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

%d bloggers like this: