On this day in 1891, construction began on the Pecos High Bridge in Val Verde County. Completed in early 1892, this structure was actually the second bridge built to serve trains traveling on the Southern Pacific's Sunset Route, and the new crossing greatly shortened the route of the rail line. Located at a deep gorge of the Pecos River, the mammoth structure was an engineering marvel supported by twenty-four towers and spanning a total length of 2,180 feet. Rising 321 feet above the river, the bridge was the highest railroad bridge in North America and third highest in the world. Judge Roy Bean of nearby Langtry served as coroner for workers killed during its construction. The Pecos High Bridge towered as a landmark for many years until a new bridge, located 440 feet downstream, opened in 1944.
On this day in 1930, Braniff Airways was incorporated and went public as a subsidiary of the Universal Air Lines System, with Oklahomans Paul Braniff as secretary-treasurer and Thomas Braniff as president. In 1934 the airline moved company operations and maintenance facilities to Love Field, Dallas, from Oklahoma City, and its administrative offices followed in 1942. The airline was a pioneer in providing air service to Texas cities. After Thomas Braniff was killed in a plane crash in 1954, Charles Beard continued to expand the airline's routes. For a time Braniff was the world's sixth-largest airline. Braniff experienced severe financial difficulties in the late 1970s and ceased operations in 1982. Two attempts to resurrect the airline in the 1980s and 1990s were unsuccessful.
On this day in 1923, attendance hit a one-day record of 117,208 at the Waco Cotton Palace. By 1894 Waco had become one of the major inland cotton markets in the nation, and plans were laid for a fair and exposition center to be named the Texas Cotton Palace. A large main building was erected in Padgitt Park, where the first event, in November 1894, was highly successful. In January 1895 the building was destroyed by a spectacular fire, and the Cotton Palace was not reactivated until 1910. That year, with an elaborately expanded facility, the project was launched again. It continued uninterrupted for the following twenty-one years as one of the most successful such expositions in the nation. More than eight million people passed through its turnstiles. In addition to its spectacular opening-day parades, the exposition featured agricultural and livestock exhibits, competitions of many sorts, art shows, horse racing, athletic events, and operatic and concert attractions. In 1931, however, the palace became a casualty of the Great Depression.