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Industry, Regulation, and the Texas Railroad Commission

Southern Pacific Acceptance Letter, 1857

In this letter, the Southern Pacific Railroad notifies the state that it has accepted the provisions of Texas law that permit it to operate in the state.

This is not the Southern Pacific that later became one of the major railroads in the United States but a much smaller railroad that operated near Marshall. This railroad was first chartered as the Texas Western in 1852 and changed its name to the Southern Pacific in 1856. In 1858, the Southern Pacific faced losing its state charter if it did not begin service to Marshall, but the steam locomotive they had ordered had not yet arrived. The railroad began offering service using ox-drawn rail cars. The oxen pulled the cars up the grades and then rode back down. Later, when the locomotive did arrive, it earned the nickname "The Bull of the Woods" for its habit of "boldly leaving the rails and charging off into the woods like an enraged bull."

Much of the Southern Pacific line, which ran from Caddo Lake to Marshall, was destroyed during the Civil War. What was left of the railroad was acquired by the Texas Pacific in 1871.

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Southern Pacific acceptance letter, 1857

December 19, 1857

Resolved that this Company hereby accepts
the provisions of the law passed by the
Legislature of Texas on the 30 January 1854
entitled an act to encourage the Construc-
tion of Rail Roads in Texas by donation
of land, and also that this Company
accept the provisions of the law entitled
an act for the investment of the Special
School fund in the bonds of Rail Road
Companies incorporated by the State,
passed August 13th 1856 and that
the Secretary forward certified copies
of this resolution under the Seal of the
Company to the Governor, Treasurer, and
Commissioner of the General Land Office[.]

“A true extract from the Minutes”

[?] [signature]

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Southern Pacific Acceptance Letter, 1857. Records relating to railroads, Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

Page last modified: August 17, 2011