Galveston-Houston Electric Railway

Houston and Galveston were linked from 1911 to 1936 by a high-speed interurban line, whose cars covered the 50-mile distance, downtown to downtown, in as little as 75 minutes. The Galveston-Houston Electric Railway was a separate operation from the Houston Electric (the city streetcar lines), although it was under the same corporate umbrella and consequently there was some sharing of tracks and facilities.  Although it cannot be compared to such great interurban systems as the Pacific Electric or the Illinois Terminal, as a single-line company it ranks among the very best ever operated, both in terms of physical facilities and quality of service.

Here then, a brief tour of the line in vintage postcards....

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The Houston waiting room was located at several addresses over the years, but was always on Texas Avenue.    Car 107 was one of ten built in 1911 by the Cincinnati Car Co.   These fine cars served until abandonment of the line in 1936.




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Union Station at Texas and Crawford streets was an important transfer point for interurban travelers.  This photo shows it in its original state, shortly before two additional stories were added.  This building is now restored as part of the Houston Astros' new baseball field.




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This viaduct over the Gulf, Colorado & Santa Fe Railroad near the Houston city limits was a third of a mile long and represented one of the few grades on the entire interurban line.  The Gulf Freeway now covers this site.



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The Galveston-Houston interurban was famous for its 34-mile "tangent," one of  the longest sections of dead straight track on any electric line in the nation.  Interurban cars routinely traversed this section at 55 mph or higher -- not bad for 1911.  Here a car crosses Dickinson Bayou, about two-thirds of  the way to Galveston.




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The $2 million Galveston Causeway was a major engineering feat, paid for in part by the interurban company.  In this very early view, note that the automobile road (at right) was not yet completed when interurban cars started using the structure.




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The Galveston Terminal was on 21st Street between Church and Post Office streets.  Space was provided for both passenger and express (freight) traffic.





Residents of Galveston and Houston were proud of their interurban line, and consequently many postcards were issued depicting it.  I am still looking for cards showing the Park Place and South Houston stations.  Please contact me if you have any of these.  I already have plenty of Causeway cards!

What happened to the interurban right of way after abandonment?   Click here for photos!