Train depot mailbag
My story back in March about the old train depot in Orange brought in a record three e-mails.
That beats my previous one from a column in the Houston Chronicle in 2004, where I got three messages but only one was actually about the column. The other two were trying to sell me a book or a Web site or something.
In this case, all three messages had to do with the subject matter.
Historian Dr. Howard Williams tells me the fading white depot house on Green Avenue was the second one there.
In his book “Gateway to Texas” he offers a photograph of the first one being moved off to be replaced by the present building.
Mike Hickey writes that he remembers, “ … a lot of steam and hissing.
“We would go and pick up our elderly aunt from New Orleans. She would stay with my dad’s sisters. My dad was Carl Hickey and his sisters were Anna and Artiemise Hickey. One time when she came in and I couldn’t have been over 4-5 years old. I remember she was asked how the trip was and she said something about she felt terrible. Now Aunt Nan-Nan was a New Orleans lady, born about 1880, and it was about 1948 now. I asked her the only thing I had heard around home about feeling bad. I asked her if she was constipated. Not a good thing I found out. Still remember that. I remember my sister, Eileen and I, playing under a tree by the tracks at the Capistrano. We were 4-5 years old I guess. We were there to pick up somebody or somebody going. That tree stayed alive for years and years, getting a little more worn down every year till recent. I have to go look and see if it’s still there. There are people who must remember this place during the war years. Probably really something.”
Angus Peveto remembered that his wife’s grandfather, Walter Scott Jackson, was the depot’s train master, or manager, for several years.
“He lived on Cypress and walked home and back to the station for lunch! His grandson, Scot Jackson, now lives in that same house.”
Charlotte Seals wrote that her mother worked for Southern Pacific for some 40 years.
“Back around 1960 she worked at the depot. I was about 4 or 5 years old at the time, but I spent many hours there with her.”
Orange journalist A.F. Burns, writing in 1936, described a typical turn-of-the-century day about another depot in Orange.
“Dick Johnson, a former sheriff, recalled that great crowds met at the old depot on Front and Second Street every other evening at about 7 o’clock to see the mixed train come in from Houston, with its passengers and freight. The smoking and puffing locomotive left the following morning around 7.”
The Green Avenue depot is more than 100 years old and available for listing by the National Register of Historic Places. The depot does not have an historical marker.
According to Dr. Williams, three lines gave Orange solid connections with the entire U.S., including the ports on the Gulf.
The most economically important of those was Southern Pacific.
Thanks to everyone who contributed. If you or someone in your family has a memory to share about the depot, please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Until the next mailbag, keep smiling …