Galveston Railway

By: Nancy Young

Type: General Entry

Published: October 1, 1995

The Galveston Railway, Incorporated, was organized in 1987 to lease the railroad operations at the Port of Galveston. The original company was chartered on February 4, 1854, as the Galveston Wharf and Cotton Press Company. By charter amendment, the name was changed to the Galveston Wharf Company on February 11, 1860. Ten years later, on August 4, 1870, the legislature authorized the company to construct a railroad in the City of Galveston connecting its wharf facilities with the Galveston, Houston and Henderson Railroad Company and any other railroad subsequently serving Galveston. Construction of the railroad began in 1870, and it was placed in operation in January 1872. The railroad expanded as the port grew. There were twenty miles of track in 1897, twenty-four miles in 1898, and thirty miles in 1899. By 1917 the company operated three miles of main track and nearly forty-one miles of yard tracks and sidings. In that year railroad revenues were $186,730, and the Galveston Wharf Company owned eight locomotives and five freight cars. The Galveston Corporation owned nearly 88 percent of the Galveston Wharf Company. However, the City of Galveston owned an undivided one-third interest in the company, which it received in 1909 in settlement of a long standing lawsuit, and was entitled to name three of the nine directors. On November 29, 1940, the City of Galveston bought out the private owners, and the port became a municipally owned facility. The railroad was then operated by the Board of Trustees of the Galveston Wharves. By the mid-1980s economic conditions facing the Port of Galveston required major changes in order to keep the facility competitive. As a result, the railroad was leased to a new non-union operator. The Galveston Railway, Incorporated, was chartered on September 25, 1987. Members of the first board of directors were K. Earl Durden of Diana; Michael E. Durden and Linda Gray, both of Longview; and Edwin Clark and Bobby Parker, both of Dothan, Alabama. The company is affiliated with Rail Switching Services of Dothan. The railroad provides a general terminal and switching service to various industries and the Port of Galveston.

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Nancy Young, “Galveston Railway,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 16, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

October 1, 1995