Gainesville, Henrietta and Western Railway
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|Dates of operation||1886–1887|
|Track gauge||4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge|
The Gainesville, Henrietta and Western Railway Company was chartered on July 23, 1886, to build a rail line from Gainesville in Cooke County, Texas, to Seymour in Baylor County, Texas, a distance of 130 miles (210 km). The line was to cross Montague, Clay and Wichita counties.
Between Gainesville and Henrietta, only the town of Saint Jo existed. Other towns vied for access to the railroad, such as Montague, Texas; however, land for the right of way was offered across northern portions of Cooke, Montague, and Clay counties, and the railway would produce new towns along the route, to include Myra, Muenster, Bonita, Nocona and Belcherville, Texas. The town of Ringgold, also along the line, would develop after the crossing of the Rock Island line in 1892.
Before the line was completed in 1887, it was sold to the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad. The line was initially completed only from Gainesville to Henrietta, a distance of 70 miles (110 km). It began moving cotton and people across the farming communities of north central Texas. The rail line brought prosperity and settlers to the area, and towns bypassed by the line quickly vanished as citizens moved to towns on the line. Nocona, a midpoint on the railway, particularly prospered as settlers from northern Montague County moved into town. It became the largest town between Gainesville and Wichita Falls as a result.
The automobile and America's love affair with it brought the end to the small-town rail lines. In 1969, the line was abandoned with the exception of a small stretch near Wichita Falls. In 1971, the tracks were removed and sold for scrap metal. Many of the towns that developed along the line vanished long before the railroad, but others continue to prosper without it. Portions of the old right of way can still be seen in various places (between Henrietta and Nocona, particularly). On the eastern side of Henrietta, a U.S. Route 82 bridge over nothing still stands as a reminder of the Gainesville, Henrietta, and Western Railway and its contributions to north central Texas.