Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 9, Number 1, January, 1999 Page: 17
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Consider the Lily: The Ungilded History of Colorado County, Texas
1867, sixty local backers of the railroad presented a petition suggesting that the City of
Columbus invest $10,000 in the railroad to be used to complete the bridge and the track into
town, and asking that the county authorize an election to determine if the city should bor-
row the money. On June 20, the railroad amended its contract with Tait and Wheeler, noting
that Tait had resigned from the enterprise and been replaced by Brooks, lengthening the
approaches to the bridge by 120 feet, and authorizing Brooks and Wheeler to bring in dirt
and other materials and build up the bank on the east end of the bridge. At a special meeting
of the police court the next day, a second petition, this one raising the amount to be invested
by Columbus to $12,000 and suggesting that the debt be paid with revenues generated by a
special tax, was presented. The court set the election for the following November 16. Six
days before the election, nearly every citizen of Columbus was exhilarated by the arrival of
the first locomotive in town, which steamed across the just completed bridge to the accom-
paniment of celebratory yells and cannon fire. That, and the railroad's promise, on October
20, to use the money invested by Columbus and half the revenues of the Columbus Tap to
pay Brooks and Wheeler, ensured that the measure would pass. It did, 97-0, and the special
tax to pay for the bridge was imposed. The citizens of Columbus then fully expected the
construction of a bridge across the Colorado River on the north side of town so that the
railroad could press on toward La Grange and Austin.27
In anticipation of the growth the railroad was expected to bring, John S. Hancock
and Samuel Henderson had laid out an addition to the City of Columbus, adding six blocks
on the northwest side of the city on May 15, 1867. Shortly after the bridge was opened,
William Jefferson Jones, who by then had moved to Galveston, and George Washington
Smith added 22 square blocks and ten "ranges" of varying lengths on the northeast side of
Columbus. The "ranges" were set at an angle to the rest of the city's blocks to accommodate
the route of the track to the expected north bridge. Jones and Smith filed the plat of their
addition on November 30, 1867. Three months earlier, on August 11, 1867, the two had
reached an agreement with the railroad by which they expected to profit greatly. In return
for a right of way across the eastern side of Jones and Smith Addition which included ample
space for depots and other installations, the railroad agreed to let Jones and Smith construct
track across the rest of their land on the north side of Columbus, and to use that track, if
constructed, as part of their extension to the west, paying, presumably, suitable royalties to
Smith and Jones each time that they crossed it. Within a short time, the railroad had con-
27 Colorado County Police [Commissioners] Court Minutes, Book 1862-1876, pp. 92, 93, 94, 105;
Colorado County Bond and Mortgage Records, Book F, pp. 150, 188; Galveston Daily News, February 9, 1867,
February 15, 1867, May 4, 1867, November 15, 1867; George M. McCormick to Willis B. McCormick, May
15, 1867, Draper/McCormick Papers (Ms. 6), Archives of the Nesbitt Memorial Library. The cannon used to
greet the train was undoubtedly that built by Andrew Jackson Nave during the Civil War. It was certainly used
for other similar events in later years.
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Nesbitt Memorial Library. Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 9, Number 1, January, 1999, periodical, January 1999; Columbus, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth151405/m1/17/?q=nesbitt%20memorial%20library%20journal: accessed May 25, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Nesbitt Memorial Library.