Railway Construction Pledge

Broken pledge to build a railroad through Belton

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In June 1880, the people of Belton, Texas, pledged $75,000 to secure the right-of-ways for the Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe (GC & SF) Railway to build a main line through the center of their town. This Belton resident pledged $300 to be paid in three $100 yearly installments.

In the late 1800s, when railroads were being built across Texas and the nation, where a railroad company decided to route its lines could make or break a town. On June 12, 1880, the GC & SF Railway entered into an agreement with the City of Belton to build its main line through the city’s center and to place a train station in a convenient location. The citizens of Belton valued a position on the main line so much that they agreed to foot the bill themselves. Through individual donations, they raised $75,000 to be paid to the railroad company. Not long after the pledge was made, the GC & SF decided not to build through Belton. Instead they bypassed Belton in favor of Temple, a town that did not exist yet but would be built on land owned by the railway company.

Two years after breaking their agreement with Belton, the rail company instead built a branch line connecting Belton to Temple. The “conveniently located” train station was a lone stop outside the city limits, more than a mile north of the town center. Despite the GC & SF Railway going back on its agreement, most people paid their donations.

Temple quickly surpassed Belton as the largest town in Bell County and became the commercial and transportation center of the region. Belton survived while many bypassed towns could not because it remained the county seat and was close enough to Temple to benefit from regional trade.

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Railway Construction Pledge Artifact from Temple, TX
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