The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 84, July 1980 - April, 1981 Page: 48
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
and the Dallas-Terrell Interurban (later the Texas Interurban) wanted
to string wire over the Texas Midland.21
Texas holds the distinction of continuing its traction promotion well
past the time similar agitation ceased elsewhere. While rubber tires
and not flanged wheels symbolized popular interest in intercity trans-
portation after World War I, Texans not only persisted with their
interurban plans, albeit fewer in number, but actually opened three
new roads: Roby & Northern (1923), Texas-Terrell Interurban (1923)
and its electrified M-K-T Dallas-Denton line (1924), and the Houston
North Shore (1927). The latter holds the honor of being the last inter-
urban enterprise developed in the country. Only one of these firms-
the Texas-Terrell Interurban--proved an immediate financial flop.
The other two roads lasted past the time that the vast majority of
electric interurbans were junked: Roby & Northern survived until
1941, and the Houston North Shore continued its electric operations
until 1949. This latter carrier, in particular, developed a strong carload
and package freight business. The argument can be advanced then
that this twilight traction promotion made sense. Yet, the larger pic-
ture in both Texas and the nation reveals that the dual impact of the
depression of the 1930s and the triumph of the cheaper and more con-
venient automobile and truck, using highways built by "good roads"
agitation, penned the swan song for the interurban. Indeed, the inter-
war years witnessed the rapid decline of intercity traction lines. Mile-
age nationally plummeted from 15,337 in 1920 to 3,197 twenty years
later, and the Texas network shrank from 527 to 263. Ultimately resi-
dents of the Lone Star State achieved their objective of improved inter-
city travel with internal combustion vehicles and not with electric
21S. G Reed, A History of the Texas Railroads and of Transpoltation Conditions under
Spain and Mexico and the Republic and the State (Houston, [i941]), 465, 469, 481; Henry
C. Dethloff, A Centennial History of Texas A&M University, 1876-1976 (2 vols.; College
Station, Texas, 1975), I, 19o; ER , XXXIII (Feb. 13, 1909), 31o, XXXIX (Feb. 3, 1912),
226, XLI (Feb. 15, 1913), 314, XLIII (Apr. 4, 1914), 8oo, XLIV (July 18, 1914), 151, LIX
(Mar. 4, 1922), 392, LX (Oct. 21, 1922), 685, LXII (Aug. 11, 1923), 231 (Oct. 20, 1923), 714.
22Hilton and Due, Electric Interurban Railways, 187, 227-228, 238. The companies that
operated electric interurbans in Texas were. the Bryan and College Interurban Railwa)
(1913-1923); the Eastern Texas Electric Company (1913-1935); the Galveston-Houston
Electric Railway (1911-1936); the Houston North Shore Railway (1927-1949); the Northern
Texas Traction Company (1902-1934); the Rio Grande Valley Traction Company (1913-
1932; Clint-Forbens line closed in 1918); the Roby and Northern Railroad (1923-1941);
the Southwestern Traction Company (1905-1923); the Tariant County Traction Com-
pany (1912-1931); the Texas Electric Railway (1908-1948; Dallas-Corsicana line closed
in 1941); and the Texas Interurban (or Texas-Terrell) Railway (1923-1931). For brief
histories of these companies, see ibid., 376-380.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 84, July 1980 - April, 1981, periodical, 1980/1981; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101225/m1/68/: accessed July 27, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.