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February 2007

Release Date: February 15, 2007

All Aboard for Railway Exhibit at West Texas Collection, Historic Depot

The West Texas Collection at Angelo State University and the Railway Museum of San Angelo at the Historic Orient-Santa Fe Depot will debut a joint display on the history of the Kansas City, Mexico & Orient Railway with a public opening 6-9 p.m. Thursday, March 1, at both locations.

The dual exhibits will feature original documents dating to the inception of the railroad by entrepreneur Arthur Stilwell and will mark the first time these documents have been seen as a group. The papers making up the bulk of the display were donated to the West Texas Collection by Robert Pounds of Temple.

Both the West Texas Collection on the second floor of ASU’s Houston Harte University Center and the Historic Orient-Santa Fe Depot at 703 S. Chadbourne will be open for the display. The depot houses numerous railroad displays and models as well as historic photographs. Admission to both is free and trolleys will shuttle guests between locations from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

Area citizens signed on in support of the KCM&O in 1900 and San Angelo became the state headquarters for the railway. The rail line was planned to run from Kansas City to Topolobampo, Mexico, though it was several years before the road was completed in Mexico.

This railroad ran through Mertzon, Big Lake, Texon, Fort Stockton and Alpine before reaching Mexico. A major problem that limited the success of the line was the periodic destruction of the line that occurred in Mexico during the Mexican Revolution. The rail line was a particular target of Pancho Villa.

The line’s busiest and most profitable years occurred in the mid-1920s, starting on May 28, 1923, when Santa Rita No. 1 struck oil at Big Lake. Subsequent oil discoveries in Reagan, Crane, and Upton counties increased traffic on the line to serve the nascent oil industry in the Permian Basin. The resulting increase in profits made the line attractive to other rail companies and in 1928, the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway Company acquired the line.

For more information, contact the West Texas Collection at 942-2164.