The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 35, July 1931 - April, 1932 Page: 7
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Texas and the Southern Pacific Railroad, 1848-1880
The question of state aid to railroads continued to be a press-
ing one and became an issue in the election of 1853. The legis-
lature was chosen largely from the standpoint of the attitude of
the candidates toward internal improvements. The result was the
general railroad law of January 30, 1854.1
The act granted to any railroad company in the state sixteen
sections of land for every mile of road constructed in good order,
provided not less than twenty-five miles of road should be so con-
structed within two years after the passage of the act. The rail-
road companies were to have the land surveyed for sixteen miles
on each side of the route and alternate sections were reserved for
the state. Lands were required to be alienated in the same man-
ner and time limits as was provided in the Mississippi and
Pacific Railroad referred to above. It was provided that an addi-
tional twenty-five miles should be completed every year after the
first two-year period if land donations were to continue. A
further requirement was that the rails should weigh at least
fifty-four pounds to the yard. Roads which had been chartered
to receive only eight sections of land per mile would now be en-
titled to eight additional sections per mile of road constructed.14
But the highest point of interest in Texas projects for internal
improvements came about 1855 with the advocacy of a state-
owned system by Governor Pease and others. For several years
a strong faction of Texas citizens had contended for a system of
state-owned public works. A railroad convention at Houston in
1842 had recommended a state system.:" In 1850 John Dancy,
representative from Travis County in the state legislature, pro-
posed the use of the public domain and $5,000,000 for the con-
struction of trunk lines of railway from Galveston and Matagorda
Bays northward and the necessary intersecting lines running east
In disappointment at the Federal government's inactivity in
regard to a Pacific railroad a convention of Texas delegates met
in Austin in November, 1851, to discuss the subject of railway
2'Texas State Gazette (Austin), April 30, 1854. (Quoted by McKit-
rick, Reuben, The Public Land Rystem of Texas, 1828-1910, 59.)
"1Gammel, H. P. N., Laws of Texas, III, 1455.
'Report of the Committee on Internal Improvements in House Journal,
Sixth Legislature, 401ff.
16Deussen, Alexander, "The Beginnings of the Texas Railroad System,"
in Transactions of the Texas Academy of Soience, IX, 49.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 35, July 1931 - April, 1932, periodical, 1932; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101092/m1/11/: accessed May 25, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.