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Rise of Industrial America
Railroads in the Late 19th Century
Railroad Building in Texas

In the following excerpt, George Storey recounts how land disputes often slowed the building of railroads and the impact that railroads, once built, had on towns located along or near the tracks. What did "right of way" have to do with building railroads? Why might a landowner refuse to grant right of way to a railroad? If right of way was not granted to a railroad, what options did the railroad have? How did the construction of the railroad impact the town of Lott and surrounding communities?

View the entire interview with Mr. Storey from American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1940. Use your browser's Back Button to return to this point.


"I was born at the old Storey home-place near Dodson Wells, Texas in 1858. . . .

"In 1906 I moved to the town of Lott, Texas where I still reside. I will try to give you a little of the history of the town of Lott which has been my home since I moved here in 1906.

"Lott is situated in Western Falls County 12 miles west of Marlin, it came into existence with the coming of the San Antonio and Aransas Pass Railroad. . . .

"The town was named for Uriah Lott, a civil engineer and builder who had much to do with the building of the railroad and its completion. According to my memory quite a lot of difficulties were encountered when the railroad was under construction, its purpose being to connect Waco with San Antonio and the Gulf Coast. For several months a gap in the road from Lott to Cameron was left unclosed. The trouble being financial requirements. It was at this time that Mr Lott stepped in and worked, not only to construct the road but to see that finances were available. He made trips to New York to secure funds for investment and finally was successful. . . .

". . . When the surveyors reached Cameron from the south, a certain land owner refused to sell the right of way. The engineers and railroad authorities relying on the rights as given in the constitution regarding "Rights of ways or construction on behalf of general public welfare, "went right ahead throwing up the right of way on the land in question.

"The district judge, at the demand of the owner's of the land granted an injunction with a view to stopping the engineers from "tresspassing". The attorneys on the other hand for the railroad came into Falls county court, of which the late Judge Goodrich was judge laid the facts before him, and he dissolved the injunction and the railroad officials continued to operate. . . . The tangle was finally ironed out and the gap in the railroad closed, but it delayed the completion for two years.

"During those two years the trains ran from Waco to Lott, (making Lott a sort of terminal, and returned; while trains ran from points south to Cameron and returned. Uriah Lott was untiring in his efforts to connect the road and when it was finally completed in 1892 naturally the town was named for him. Crude as were the first days of the town, it is natural that being a railroad town this brought people from the surrounding communities because of the advantages the railroad had to offer in those days. In they came from the communities which the railroad had passed by.

"These communities suffered from the exit to the railroad towns. Especially did Durango feel the effects of the coming of the railroad and it lost its standing as being one of the foremost communities due to the loss of many of its citizens. . . .

"Among the most outstanding men who helped to build the town is R.W. King, who still lives in Lott. He too, was on the ground when the railroad was completed and the first through trains came thro' town. He was the foreman of the construction company that finished the gap between Lott and Cameron. He also was in charge of the construction of the station house. For awhile he roomed with the depot agent in the station house when it was completed and the rail road agent took charge, as there were robberies in those days of the depot agents money.

"Mr King was also in charge of building the station house at Chilton, and it is worthy of note that many buildings stand today in the town of Lott and Chilton, as reminders of Mr. King's working days when he worked at the trade of building contractor. He built the present building of the Carolina Masonic Lodge, several of the business houses, the Baptist church, the Methodist church, the old Church of Christ building, the old two-story wood building which gave way in 1904 to the newer structure to be replaced in 1935 by the present modern building. When the depot was completed, he roomed for a short time, with the agent because there were so many robberies of safes in the agents offices."
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View the entire interview with Mr. Storey from American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1940. Use your browser's Back Button to return to this point.