905 Pacific Avenue Longview, TX 75602
- Annual Station Revenue (2013)
- Annual Station Ridership (2013)
|Facility Ownership||City of Longview|
|Parking Lot Ownership||Union Pacific Railroad|
|Platform Ownership||Union Pacific Railroad|
|Track Ownership||Union Pacific Railroad|
|17 Long Term Parking Spaces||17 Short Term Parking Spaces||Accessible Platform|
|Accessible Waiting Room||Accessible Water Fountain||Baggage Storage|
|Bike Boxes||Checked Baggage||Dedicated Parking|
|Enclosed Waiting Area||Help With Luggage||Pay Phones|
- Texas Eagle
(202) 906-3918 (ph)
Local Community Links:
Located east of downtown at the former junction of the Texas and Pacific Railroad (T&P) and the International—Great Northern Railroad (I-GN), the Longview depot opened in May 1940. Three years earlier, a delegation of city leaders had traveled to Kansas City to petition the Missouri Pacific Railroad (which controlled the T&P) for a new facility. Constructed of red brick, it replaced an 1874 depot that was considered outdated and unbefitting of a modern, growing city. The new station, designed in the popular Colonial Revival style, includes stylized quoins, a brick cornice, and grey stone trim used to highlight the coping, keystones and lintels.
The gabled one-and-a-half story central block contained passenger areas such as the waiting room and ticket office. According to historic images, the roof originally had dormers, but they were removed at a later date. A small porch with square columns sheltered travelers from inclement weather as they entered or exited the building. Natural light flooded through the high arched windows and brightened the interior. On pleasant days, passengers could wait outside in the covered, open-air waiting area attached to the west side of the building; it was later enclosed and now serves as the Amtrak waiting room. To the east, a long one story extension included baggage and freight rooms. Wagons loaded with goods were easily wheeled into the rooms through the large doors, and small windows set high on the wall deterred theft.
Longview is one of the busiest Amtrak stations in Texas. In the early 2000s, city leaders and a citizen committee investigated purchasing the depot from the Union Pacific Railroad (UP), which had taken control of the Missouri Pacific. Following years of negotiations with the UP, the city finally bought the depot and obtained a 20 year lease for the land in 2009 for approximately $129,000. Amid much fanfare, the title transfer took place the next year during Longview’s National Train Day celebration.
The city is transforming the depot into a multimodal transportation center that will serve Amtrak, intercity and local buses, shuttles, and taxis; an existing UP communications center will be retained. As envisioned, the station could also house a visitors’ center and museum, community conference room and offices. Work began in early 2013 and should be finished within a year. Project drawings show that the covered, open-air waiting room and the dormers on the roof will be restored to take the building back to its original appearance.
In August 2013, the Hubbard-Watlington Foundation contributed $25,000 to support the restoration and finishing of the open-air patio on the west side of the building, which many years ago was filled in to hold the Amtrak waiting room and an office. Special paving bricks will serve to commemorate members of the armed forces and railroaders who have passed through the building over more than seven decades. Individual bricks can be purchased and personalized with text.
The station project is largely funded through a $2.17 million Transportation Enhancement grant from the Federal Highway Administration, matched by $542,000 from the municipality. City officials believe that the rehabilitated depot will spark renewed interest in the surrounding area and thereby encourage economic development in south Longview.
Longview was founded in 1870 when the Southern Pacific Railroad (no relation to the Southern Pacific of California) built westward from Marshall and bought a 100 acre tract of land from farmer Ossamus Hitch Methvin. The railroad laid out a town site in advance of track construction, naming it for the breathtaking “long view” from Methvin’s home atop Rock Hill.
Commercial train service began on February 22, 1871. The Southern Pacific was soon absorbed into the T&P, chartered by the federal government in 1871 to construct a transcontinental line to California. Within a decade, the town was also served by lines that later became part of the I-GN and the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe. In 1911, the arrival of a fourth railroad, the Port Bolivar & Iron Ore, further solidified Longview’s image as a rail center. A grade crossing at the junction spanned 11 tracks and was one of the longest in Texas; it lasted until 1939 when the T&P built an underpass.
Each company erected its own depot, but growth was centered on the T&P station downtown and at the junction, which was home to railroad division offices and maintenance facilities. In 1883, a mule-drawn street car line went into operation between the two areas to facilitate business. With its excellent rail connections, Longview quickly became the economic hub of East Texas. By the end of the century, the busy junction boasted the luxurious Mobberly Hotel and an assortment of boarding houses, restaurants, and saloons. Large-scale businesses included the Barner family sawmill, which produced up to 20,000 board feet of lumber per day.
Cotton was long the backbone of the regional economy, but exhausted soils and depleted timber resources contributed to economic hardship in the 1920s. The situation worsened in 1929 when the T&P decided to move its operations to Mineola, followed by the stock market crash that fall. However, in late 1930 the East Texas Oil Field was discovered and soon proved one of the biggest in the world at nearly 43 miles long and 5 miles wide. Over the next decade, the town’s population tripled as people came in search of work and riches.
Oil and gas remain important sectors of the economy, but today Longview is also known for its charming downtown and bevy of summer festivals. Although the mercury may soar above 100°F, people come from across East Texas to attend AlleyFest and the Great Texas Balloon Race. The former features live music acts, great food, arts and crafts vendors, and a popular kids’ area, while the latter is a world-class competitive event that attracts the best hot air balloon pilots in the world. The big blue Texas sky proves the perfect backdrop for the graceful, lighter-than-air vessels.
Amtrak provides ticketing and baggage services at this facility, which is served by two daily trains.