The Railroad in Converse, Texas

The original railroad depot in Converse, Texas, was large enough to house seasonal migrant labor. It also housed the local agent and his family
 
Original railroad depot in Converse, Texas, in the 1930s.
Converse is a community on the eastern edge of Bexar county, on HWY 87. It takes its name from James Converse, the senior construction engineer of the Galveston, Harrisburg & San Antonio railroad which built through the area towards San Antonio from Houston in 1876. It's first depot was an usually large masonry structure for the time. It was capable of accommodating migrant laborers brought in by the railroad, whom the local farmers were reluctant to accommodate on their property overnight, creating yet another source of revenue for the Southern Pacific.
The second, smaller railroad depot in Converse, Texas. Built in the early 1940s, it is now located at the Texas Transportation Museum in San Antonio
 
The second, smaller railroad depot in Converse, Texas. Built in the early 1940s, it is now located at the Texas Transportation Museum in San Antonio
By the 1940s the original depot was no longer needed. The local economy had been transformed and the community's proximity to San Antonio rendered travel by rail a thing of the past. At the same time, property taxes on railroad properties were being increased and companies were looking for ways to reduce costs across the board. Towards this end the original structure was demolished and replaced with a much smaller structure, geared to freight and other railroad tasks rather than passengers. The building very pointedly lacked any running water, to emphasize it was no longer a residence for the station master. The need for even this smaller depot had passed by the late 1960s and it was closed and scheduled for demolition. It was rescued by the Texas Transportation Museum and moved to its current location at their property near the international airport in 1969. As such it has been in its current location far, far longer than it was in Converse. With pleasing irony, it now sells tickets to more railroad passengers in any given month than it did in its entire time in its original location. James Converse would approve.

 

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