Buffalo Bayou, Brazos and Colorado Railway
The Colorado in its name is the Colorado River of Texas, not Colorado state. In the line's early days, it was often called the Harrisburg Railroad. In 1868, it changed owners and became the Galveston, Harrisburg, & San Antonio Railroad (reporting mark GHSA). Today, it is the oldest component of the Southern Pacific system (reporting mark SP).
The line was the creation of Texian General Sidney Sherman, a hero of the Battle of San Jacinto, who in 1847 purchased from the Harrisburg Town Company the unused town lots previously allocated to the failed Harrisburg and Brazos Railroad. After finding northern investors, he succeeded in chartering the company by act of the Texas legislature on February 11, 1850, and organizing it on June 1 of that year. Jonathan F. Barrett was the company's first president, and the company included some of the leading men of the state: General Sherman himself, Hugh McLeod, John G. Tod, John Angier, William Rice, Ebenezer A. Allen, William A. van Alstyne, James H. Stevens, Benjamin A. Shepherd, and William J. Hutchins[disambiguation needed].
Surveying began in 1851 near Buffalo Bayou. The roadbed was graded by Benjamin F. Terry, who would later lead Terry's Texas Rangers. The next year, the first locomotive, the General Sherman, was received and the first track laid. By August 1853, twenty miles had been completed to Stafford Point. The charter called for the line to connect Harrisburg to the state capitol at Austin. The line reached Richmond on the Brazos in 1855, Eagle Lake in 1859, and Alleyton in 1860. Although the Civil War stopped construction towards Austin, the citizens of Columbus, Texas, constructed a two and a half miles branch track on their own, connecting their town to the rail at Alleyton to avoid being passed by.
With the financial collapse of Texas during Reconstruction, the line failed. Fortunate in that it had been constructed using standard gauge, its track and rolling stock were purchased and reincorporated as the Galveston, Harrisburg, & San Antonio Railroad. The route was directed towards San Antonio, rather than Austin, using the Columbus branch as part of the new main line. The new owners also constructed the first telegraphs along the route. After reaching San Antonio, the road was continued to El Paso, where it met the Southern Pacific and insured that that line's transcontinental route would use the southern portion of Texas rather than the north.
Harrisburg is now part of Houston, and the line is sometimes misrepresented as beginning there. In the mid-19th Century the two cities were several miles apart and in stiff competition with one another. The Harrisburg Railroad brought the city some prosperity, but the Tap connected Houston to the B.B.B.C. lines in 1858 and after Charles Morgan's Texas and New Orleans Railroad completed a connection between Houston and New Orleans in 1880, even the Galveston, Harrisburg, & San Antonio line sold their properties within Harrisburg and moved to the new hub.
At the end of 1924 (before adding SA&AP) it operated 1380 miles of railroad on 1890 miles of track.
|Name||Builder||s/n||Build date||Whyte type||Notes|
|General Sherman||Baldwin||4-2-0||Purchased on October 12, 1852; named for Sidney Sherman; sold July 1870 to GH&SA; quickly off roster.|
|Austin||Lowell||139||1854||4-4-0||Sold July 1870 to GH&SA; off roster by 1884.|
|Columbus||Hinkley||1857||4-4-0||Sold July 1870 to GH&SA; off roster by 1882.|
|Richmond||Norris||August 1859||4-4-0||Sold July 1870 to GH&SA; off roster by 1882.|
|Harrisburg||Norris||August 1859||4-4-0||Sold July 1870 to GH&SA; off roster by 1882.|
|Ames||Purchased in October 1868|
|Barrett||Purchased in October 1868; sold July 1870 to GH&SA; pulled the first train into San Antonio in February 1877|