San Autovio Welcomes the
DONALD E. EVERETT
S AN ANTONIO can now take a position in the great family
of first class cities," a local newspaper writer proudly
declared on February 2o, 1877, "and move grandly on
to that greatness and prosperity that could never have been
reached without the aid of the iron horse."'
Only the evening before some eight thousand citizens of San
Antonio joined by ranch families from surrounding areas had
participated in a torchlight procession to welcome the "Sunset,"
the first train into the Alamo City. For two days the throngs
rejoiced as they participated in such festivities as balls, dinners,
practical jokes, speeches, and organized gatherings in local beer
gardens. Distinguished visitors from Houston, Galveston, and
Austin, along with out-of-state railway officials added to the
impressiveness of the occasion for the citizenry. Local civic leaders
were justly proud of their achievement in bringing a railroad
to the city, a circumstance which they had anticipated and sought
to bring about for more than a quarter of a century.2
As early as 1852 the city and Bexar County had subscribed
$50,000 each in stock of the San Antonio and Mexican Gulf
Railroad which was organized two years previously in Boston.3
Instead of the promised twenty miles of track each year, the only
apparent activity was just outside the city where workmen cut
some underbrush and ploughed a furrow to comply with legal
technicalities. Suits involving the city, the county, and the rail-
roads were still pending in 1877 in federal courts, even though
'San Antonio Express, February so, 1877.
2Ibid., February 2o, 21, 22, 1877.
8Hubert Howe Bancroft, History of the North Mexican States and Texas (2 vols.;
Vols. XV and XVI of The Works of Hubert Howe Bancroft; San Francisco, 1886-
1889), II, 570-571; S. G. Reed, "Land Grants and Other Aids to Texas Railroads,"
Southwestern Historical Quarterly, XLIX, 518.
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 65, July 1961 - April, 1962. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101195/. Accessed March 14, 2014.