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From: jdent1 AT optonline DOT net
Date: Wed, 10 Dec 2003 15:59:00 -0500
Subject: Floresville, TX
"1210depot.jpg" - image/pjpeg, 12517 bytes, 200x305 (24bit)

I'm pretty sure this was one of our stops during the 2002 convention in San Antonio...

Floresville structure is to become a small museum

By Jeorge Zarazua
San Antonio Express-News

Web Posted : 12/10/2003 12:00 AM

FLORESVILLE A piece of history rolled back into town Tuesday, bringing with it a bygone era built on steam engines and steel rails.

The Floresville train depot, constructed in 1885, was hauled back to its original site near the city's historic downtown square to serve as a small museum anchoring a planned hike and bike trail.

The wood-frame structure with loading dock bays is one of a few still in existence built by the San Antonio and Aransas Pass Railroad.

The Floresville station was the first stop along the SA & AP route from San Antonio to Corpus Christi.

"It's exciting to have our depot back," said Josie Escamilla, a city administrator who stood beside Texas 97 taking pictures as it was being moved. "It's part of our history."

The Floresville Economic Development Corp. paid $18,000 for the depot and another $16,000 to move it from a ranch about 10 miles outside the city.

The structure was placed on a flatbed trailer, and crews from at least four different utility companies had to hoist overhead wires out of its path. Escorts blocked sections of the highway.

"It's unbelievable," Floresville High School employee Jan Schellhase said of the process.

"But it's so nice to have a piece of history back where it belongs."

The cost to restore the depot is estimated at $175,000.

The search for the depot began after Southern Pacific Railroad dismantled its tracks in Wilson County in 1998, said Harry Grove, the city's Main Street Program manager.

All that remained was the right-of-way, which grass and brush covered over time a disappointing end to the city's railroad history, which began with a bang in January 1886, when the SA & AP made its trial run.

About 2,000 spectators turned out, including then-Gov. John Ireland.

In 1925, Southern Pacific Railroad took over SA & AP holdings and ended passenger service to Floresville in 1950. Southern Pacific continued to move freight to Corpus Christi through Wilson County until 1987. Freight service to Kenedy ended in 1993.

Grove located the old depot at the Bueno Creek Ranch, where it had sat for 30 years.

He said Wayne Connolly, the brother of former Gov. John Connolly, bought it in the late 1960s to use as a storage barn.

Some say he paid a dollar for it, but no records could be found, said Judy Feuge, whose family owns the Bueno Creek Ranch.

She said the family sold the depot because of the city's plans to transform it into a museum of the area's railroad and peanut industry.

"We decided that this was a good home for it to come back to," she said.

The Floresville depot is similar to other depots that SA & AP constructed along its tracks, which stretched from Laredo to the south, Waco to the north and Houston to the east.

While many of them have been razed, some remain in cities such as Cuero, Poth, Simonton and Yorktown.

"I don't know about the rest of the line, but the depot is an integral part of our history," said Jesse M. Perez of the Floresville Economic Development Corp.

"It opened up a lot of commerce for Floresville. In essence, it put the city on the map."



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jzarazua@express-news.net




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