The 1940 Colonial Revival depot, recently renovated by the city to serve as a multimodal center, provides modern amenities while retaining historic features.
905 Pacific Avenue Longview, TX 75602
- Annual Station Revenue (2014)
- Annual Station Ridership (2014)
|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
For information about Amtrak fares and schedules, please call 1-800-USA-RAIL (1-800-872-7245).
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On May 10, 2014—National Train Day—officials from Longview, Amtrak and the East Texas region gathered with local residents to dedicate the city’s renovated depot, which first opened for service in May, 1940. The dignitaries included Mayor Jay Dean; Richard Anderson, Chairman, Ark-La-Tex Corridor Council; Peggy Harris, General Manager Passenger Operations, Union Pacific Railroad; and Joseph McHugh, Amtrak Vice President, Government Affairs. Following the ceremony, the depot was open for tours, as was the Amtrak Exhibit Train.
The dedication was held in conjunction with AlleyFest & Historic Depot Days. The former is an annual festival featuring live music acts, great food, arts and crafts vendors and a popular kids’ area, while the latter highlights the town’s rich rail heritage. Many activities, including an antique car show and movie showings at the public library, had a 1940s theme.
The depot is located east of downtown at the former junction of the Texas and Pacific Railroad (T&P) and the International—Great Northern Railroad (I-GN). In 1937, a delegation of city leaders traveled to Kansas City to petition the Missouri Pacific Railroad (which controlled the T&P) for a new facility. Constructed of red brick, the new depot replaced an 1874 structure that was considered outdated and unbefitting of a modern, growing city. Its Colonial Revival style, quite popular in the early 20th century, includes stylized quoins, brick cornice and grey stone trim used to highlight the coping, keystones and lintels.
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 (UP), which had taken control of the Missouri Pacific. Following years of negotiations with the railroad, 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 broke ground in early 2013 on a $2.2 million project to transform the depot into a multimodal transportation center serving Amtrak, intercity and Longview Transit buses, shuttles and taxis. Prior to the rehabilitation, the Amtrak waiting room and ticket desk were located on the west side of the building in what had originally been as an open air waiting area. Although the UP occupied part of the building, the majority of it was empty and in need of repairs.
When first opened to the public, the gabled one-and-a-half story central block contained passenger areas such as a 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. 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.
During the renovation, workers installed new dormers and the open-air waiting room was recreated. In August, 2013, the Hubbard-Watlington Foundation contributed $25,000 to support the restoration and finishing of the open-air patio. Special paving bricks serve to commemorate members of the armed forces and railroaders who have passed through the building over more than seven decades. Inside, the spaces have been modernized for passenger comfort but retain their historic ambiance. The building includes a passenger waiting room, baggage room, community meeting space and offices for the Union Pacific Railroad and Longview Police Department. The city also hopes to install a cyber café on the main floor.
The station project was 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.
In late January, 2014, the depot was named a Recorded Texas Historical Landmark by the Texas Historical Commission; the designation indicates that a property is at least 50 years old and historically and architecturally significant to the state.
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 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.