The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 58, July 1954 - April, 1955

fay ouKld amd the railroadd
CommissioH of rexas
ROBERT L. PETERSON
N DECEMBER Of 1891 a friend and business associate of Jay
Gould was the near victim of the Norcross bomb in New
York City. The rumor quickly spread that there was or-
ganized a gang of assassins who pledged themselves to destroy
the capitalist class. Without doubt, the name Jay Gould was near
the top of their list. The actions of the "wizard of Wall Street"
were direct and characteristic; "he promptly started off on a trip
to El Paso, where he would be out of the way of cranks and
dynamite."'
Gould, in the twenty years before his death, traveled in Texas
a number of times. Often these were inspection tours of rail-
road properties which he controlled. His holdings were so exten-
sive that he virtually "dominated the transportation system of
Texas" in the decade of the 188o's, establishing the policies
through financial control of the Texas and Pacific; the Missouri,
Kansas, and Texas; the International and Great Northern; the
Galveston, Houston, and Henderson; the Cotton Belt; and greatly
influencing all other roads.2 Three of these journeys may have
significance in the consideration of agitation for and opposition
to the formation of the Texas Railroad Commission. This paper
is chiefly concerned with a trip made in the spring of 1890, but
brief mention should be made of two earlier excursions, the first
in 1881 and the second in 1887.
Suggestions for the formation of a railroad commission were
not unusual in the years immediately preceding 1881. Gov-
ernor Richard Coke had, in fact, made a formal proposal in his
'Henry Davenport Northrop, Life and Achievements of Jay Gould, Being a Com-
plete and Graphic Account of the Greatest Financier of Modern Times: His Early
Life and Struggles; Bold Ventures and Brilliant Successes; Wonderful Career as a
Speculator and Railroad King; Vast Operations in Wall Street; His Immense For-
tune Accumulated in a Few Years (Philadelphia, 1892), 288-289.
2S. G. Reed, A History of the Texas Railroads and of Transportation Conditions
under Spain and Mexico and the Republic and the State (Houston, 1941), 311, 575-

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 58, July 1954 - April, 1955. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101158/. Accessed July 22, 2014.