Three Forks Families Blog – a Rail Line Arrives in Fort Worth, Texas

Photo by Rich Weatherly

Fort Worth welcomed the long awaited arrival steam power on July 19th, 1876. It was an occasion filled with  joyous celebration. Residents of Fort Worth had long eyed their neighbors in Eagle Ford with jealous envy.   Eagle Ford just west of Dallas had been the last stop for the Texas and Pacific Railroad.  Fort Worth was just a sleepy little town 35 miles west of Dallas, its nickname –  Panther City. As the story goes one morning, a citizen pointed to some marks on a business street and declared, “That’s where a panther slept last night.” Fort Worth leaders made determined efforts to reverse that image. A rail line would open the city to growth and economic expansion.  Getting the rail line  was a race against the clock.

According to Fort Worth records, city leaders worked with the  T&P to hire Welshman Morgan Jones to complete the line before the legislature adjourned. Otherwise, the T&P would have lost the state  land grant. Work continued day and night while  little more than a mile of track was laid per day. A holiday spirit filled the town when Jones’s line finally reached Fort Worth on time. The success made the Welshman a local hero and marked the beginning of a new era of growth for Fort Worth.

The Texas and Pacific Railway had successfully completed the journey to Fort Worth opening a new era of growth and development.  The 2010 Census showed Fort Worth’s growth outpacing that of Dallas after decades of the opposite being true.  History has a way of repeating itself.


City of Fort Worth historical records

Cited in part from Texas State Historical Association, Texas Day by Day

A Race Against Time: The Railroad Comes To “Pantherville”

The Texas and Pacific Railway (T&P) was being constructed westward across the state of Texas and, in anticipation of the railroad’s arrival, Fort Worth boomed.

Capt. B. B. Paddock, a Civil War veteran, had a lot to do with that “boom.” In 1872, he became editor of the Fort Worth Democrat. Boundless in his enthusiasm for Fort Worth’s future, the editor published a map as part of the paper’s masthead showing nine railroads entering Fort Worth — this at a time when the nearest line was some 30 miles away.

Editors in other towns jested about Paddock’s “tarantula map.”

In the autumn of 1872, the T&P had been built to Eagle Ford, six miles west of Dallas.


Filed under Rail Roads

2 responses to “Three Forks Families Blog – a Rail Line Arrives in Fort Worth, Texas

  1. Love the comment about the panther. That would be a great detail to add to a fiction piece. Something so small makes the place seem so real.

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