Conroe Railroad History
Update April 17, 2011
When the Houston Great Northern Railroad pushed North from Houston about 10 years after the start of the Civil War it changed Montgomery County Texas forever. The County Seat was in Montgomery Texas where 2 major stagecoach lines met.
The Houston Great Northern came thru Conroe Northward from Houston to New Waverly about 1871. In 1872 the line was extended from New Waverly to Crockett, Tx. ( Named for Davey Crocket who Camped there on his trek from Tennessee To the Alamo). In 1873 it's tracks were then extended Palestine Texas. The International RailRoad in 1873 operated between Hearne, Tx. and Longview, Tx. That year the Houston Great Northern transfered it's 250+ miles of track to the International and the International Great Northern was formed.. The IGN was aquired by the Missouri Pacific who was aquired by the Union Pacific Railroad. UP uses this line as their Palestine Subdivision with mostly directional running Northbound. A route used for transport by several trains daily with a lot of Gulf Coast chemicals heading for North Little Rock AR. and then to Chicago, St. Louis or points East thru interchange in Memphis TN. One intermodal UP# IHOYC (Houston-Yard Center IL.) passes Conroe in early morning hours. Up to 6 BNSF trains use trackage rights on these UP tracks. HOUMEM ( Houston - Memphis) usually comes thru after 2:00PM and HOUMAD (Houston - Madison) about 11:00AM., DAYBIR (Dayton Tx. to Birmingham , AL.) DAYGAL (Dayton, Tx - Galesburg, IL.) and weekly Pearland, Tx Autorack trains North and various grain trains.
The East - West railroad connection of Conroe could probably be traced to the Central and Montgomery Railway. In 1878 it built 27 miles of track from Navasota, Tx. Eastward to Montgomery, Tx. In 1882 railroad was bought by George Sealy and control given to Gulf Colorado Santa Fe. This transaction was found to be not sound by the courts. So the Gulf Colorado Santa Fe acquired the Central Montgomery in 1887 at a sheriff's sale.
In 1892 the Texas, Lousiana And Eastern Railroad constructed 22 miles of track between Conroe and Cleveland Texas to the East. Over next 2 years it added another 8 miles of track East of Cleveland beyond Meriam Tx. The railroad was bought by W.A. Kincade of Galveston in 1895 and deeded to Gulf Colorado Santa Fe in 1897. In 1902 this line was extended to Silsbee, Tx. to the East.
The Gulf Colorado Santa Fe built the 291 mile Richmond Texas to Fort Worth Line in 1880 and 1881 (Now The BNSF Galveston Sub.). I am not sure when the connection was built from Navasota to Somerville to connect with this line. The Gulf Colorado Santa Fe was aquired by the Atchison Topeka Santa Fe in about 1887 but continued to operate as a subsidiary until 1965. (Effective July 3, 2004 BNSF leased from MP 52.5 near Dobbin tx. East to Watco's Timber Rock Railroad)(October 2006 Timber Rock Files With STB to Discontinue this service & BNSF take it back) Today the 140+ mile line from Somerville Tx. to Silsbee, Tx. is the BNSF Conroe Subdivision. With the interlocker with the UP in downtown Conroe.
There was a shared Depot between the Santa Fe and Missouri Pacific in the NW quadant of interlocker. However it burned in early 1970s. Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad maintains a small yard and office starting about 1 block East of interlocker. UP maintains a MOW depot comprised of a couple metal buildings made from shipping containers in NW corner of interlocker where passenger depot once stood. There were transition tracks between the Santa Fe and Missouri Pacific and though they still are evident, they were disconnected many years ago. The Union Pacific has Trackage Rights on BNSF Conroe Sub.
Today the BNSF again runs 2 locals from Conroe Yard. UP operates the LHR35 local thru Conroe from Lloyd Yard in Spring Texas North to Huntsville, Tx. 30 miles North of Conroe.
So though this area that is now Conroe was settled in 1830's. The coarse of history was determined when a former Union Calvary Officer moved his saw mill to the railroad junction in early 1880s. His new mill became a station on the IGN. So in 1884 the first Post Office, with Issac Conroe the Northern Calvary man the first postmaster, was opened and town called Conroe Switch in his honor.,which within ten yers was shortened to Conroe and population rocketed to 300. ( See Historic Marker at NE Corner of 1st St and Ave A) In 1889 the County seat was moved from Montgomery, Tx. to Conroe which had the only railroad junction in Montgomery County. The 2000 census put Conroe's population over 30,000. In 2011 the city of Conroe announced it's population topped 50,000!!!
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Updated September 7 , 2014
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