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Houston Belt and Terminal Railway

George C. Werner General

The Houston Belt and Terminal Railway Company was chartered on August 31, 1905, to provide passenger and freight terminals in Houston for four railroads. Three of the lines, the Trinity and Brazos Valley Railway Company, the Beaumont, Sour Lake and Western Railway Company, and the St. Louis, Brownsville and Mexico Railway Company, were part of the system being constructed by Benjamin F. Yoakum. The fourth participant was the Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe Railway Company. Each railroad owned a 25 percent interest in the Houston Belt and Terminal. The office was in Houston and the initial capital was $25,000. Members of the first board of directors were Sam Lazarus, H. N. Tinker, Hyman Levy, J. M. Rockwell, Edward H. Harrell, B. F. Bonner, and John Summerfield. Construction began in 1905, and the Houston Belt and Terminal opened for operations on January 1, 1908. Construction of Union Depot began in 1909. Designed by the New York firm of Warren and Wetmore, the three-story station opened on March 1, 1911. Within two years an additional two stories were added. In order to build the passenger terminal, twelve blocks of land had to be cleared of some of the finest homes in the city. In mid-1916 the company operated twenty-three miles of main track and sixty-one miles of all tracks and owned seven locomotives and two cars. The Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railway Company of Texas was a tenant at Union Station for several years around 1912. During World War I the United States Railroad Administration took control of the railroads and moved the passenger trains of the International and Great Northern to the depot. This arrangement was formalized in 1921, and the International and Great Northern and its successor remained as tenants as long as the carrier existed. The last passenger train left Union Station on July 31, 1974. However, the station building remains in use for railroad offices, and the Houston Belt and Terminal continues to provide freight facilities for the Missouri Pacific Railroad Company, the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway Company, and the Burlington Northern Railroad Company.


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

George C. Werner, “Houston Belt and Terminal Railway,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed September 20, 2020,

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