General Histories of Coleman County, Texas

Santa Anna's Santa Fe
by R. W. Balke and W. V. Priddy

In the early years the town of Santa Anna had its start in what was commonly known as The Gap.  In 1886 men moved into this area in preparation of building a railroad that has served almost one hundred years.  As a start, an old box car was used as a depot.  Soon a small frame building was built and then remodeled in 1905 where it was in use until the depot service was officially closed and the depot was dismantled.  The early settlers in “The Gap” and newcomers gradually moved closer to the railroad so that it became the center of the town.  The first Agent was L. V. Stockard who came with the advent of the railroad from Calvert, Texas. Others to follow were F. L. Brown, F. W. Lazalier, Wilbur DuBois, Fred Martin, D. W. Nickens, A. B. McClanahan, J. C. Williamson and Grady Wester.  The railroad was a very important factor in the development of Santa Anna and surrounding territory.  The first trains came from Temple to Coleman.  The train would back up about a mile and a half to the Coleman Junction to turn around and go back to Temple or go on to San Angelo.

In 1898 there was a train robbery near the Coleman Junction.  There were three men and one 18 year old boy involved.  The latter was promised an equal share of the loot but failed to receive it, so turned States evidence and was cleared.  A Santa Fe fireman testified that he was ordered to take a crow bar and open the express car.  When the question was asked of the fireman by a lawyer, “Did you obey?” the fireman said, “Yes, I wasn't working for the Santa Fe then!”  On a table in the court room was a gun used in the robbery.  The fireman was asked if the gun looked like the one drawn on him in the cab, to which he replied, “I did not see the handle.  I was looking down the barrel.  The robbers received a few years in the State Penitentiary as punishment.

In the early years one mode of transportation was called an immigrant car, which was an ordinary box car which would allow the party moving to place their furniture and personal belongings in one end, and fence off the other end for their livestock.  One man was allowed to go with the car to care for the animals.  This being a farming area, the fanners and ranchers were now furnished better and faster means of transportation for their crops and sale of livestock.  Cattle were shipped directly to the Fort Worth Stock Yard.  These trains had the right of way over all others but the passenger trains.  Special cars were built for the live poultry that had several decks for the cages and plenty of ventilation.  Produce houses were opened and operated by Ed Jones and H. B. Monroe who bought fresh eggs, milk and fowl from the local farmers.  The eggs were shipped cases of 24 dozen each, milk and cream in ten gallon cans.  All were shipped by express on passenger train to San Angelo, thence west to Big Lake, Mertzon and McCamey, which were then booming oil field towns.  In the early 1920's refrigeration cars came into use.  Fowl that was raised in the county could he dressed and shipped direct to Chicago and New York.  In the 1940's the Santa Anna Silica Sand Plant was in operation.  A small track was laid east of town up the mountain where as many as 26 cars a day of refined sand was transported to various places as far away as Mexico.  The plant closed operation in 1965 and the small track was removed.

The Santa Fe Railroad has always had the reputation of paying its fair share of taxes.  One little known incident during the depression year's transpired to bear this out.  The liberty school located east of Santa Anna was threatened with closing after only a six-month term due to the lack of funds to operate.  When the Railroad officials learned of this plight of the school district, they paid their school taxes in advance so that the school could operate a full nine month term.

The Santa Fe Railroad has been progressive in these many years, from early steam engines that had to get water at the Coleman Junction to make steam run, to the most modern diesel engine now in use.

(Images to be added)

The train depot at Santa Anna in the 1890's.

Coleman Junction - 1906.  The small building is the pump station for water to run he engine on steam.

(From A History of Coleman County and Its People, 1985
edited by Judia and Ralph Terry, and Vena Bob Gates - used by permission.)

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This page last updated November 25, 2007
© 1982 - 2007 Ralph Terry.  All rights reserved.