Lawson writes . . . sharing thoughts and memories

July 7, 2012

The Katy Railroad

Filed under: Uncategorized — lawsonjolly @ 5:00 am

I grew up along the railroad tracks.  Our yard ran to the tracks, and old steam engines with their coal and smoke were part of our environment.  With the exposure to trains for so many years, I was extremely interested in the Katy Railroad.

The Katy Railroad, also known as the M-K-T (Missouri-Kansas-Texas), was the first railroad to enter Texas from the north.  It got its nickname because of the stock symbol K-T.  Some of the more exclusive rail cars had names such as Sam Houston, Stephen F. Austin, David Crockett, and James Bowie.  The engines were bright red with silver side panels and cream yellow on top.  Many of the passenger cars were often painted to match.  The boxcars, caboose, and stock cars were usually yellow.  This was the premier railroad line in Texas.  The Houston suburb of Katy, Texas takes its name from the railroad.

My introduction to the Katy Railroad came as a surprise.  When I left home as a young man to go to Texas, I traveled by train.  Leaving Atlanta, the train was as up-to-date as any train in America.  It was an extremely comfortable and luxurious ride.  I had to change trains in New Orleans.  The train out of New Orleans would take me to Houston, Texas.  Although the train did not rise to the standard of the previous train, it was above what I had seen, and ridden on, that passed by our home each day.

Debarking from the train in Houston, I discovered that I could not simply switch trains.  No, the Katy did not leave from this central railroad station.  It was necessary to travel across Houston to the Katy station.  It was too far to walk and especially with a suitcase and footlocker.  I had to ride in a cab!  This was my first cab ride and it made me a little uneasy.  I did not know how much it would cost or if I should give the driver a tip.  After all, he did have a load with all my belongings.  I had to trust him also to know where the Katy station was and if he could get me there in time for my departure to Waco, Texas.

The driver was extremely helpful and had no problem getting me to the Katy station on time.  In fact, I had a several hour wait.  The station was small, similar to the one in my home town.  The ticket agent explained some things to me, and indicated that boarding would be within the hour.  When the call came for boarding, I walked outside and beheld what seemed to be an antique engine and passenger cars.

Once on board, I settled into a unpadded seat.  The train was noisy with all the windows down.  There were only a few people on board, and the swaying of the train would almost make you seasick.  It was an interesting ride, to say the least.  The trip was almost 200 miles.  I can never forget when the train stopped in Waco.  It was like a scene from the old west.  I debarked about  50 yards from the station, struggling with my suitcase, and hopeful that my footlocker would be unloaded.  It was dry and dusty.  Only one person stood at the very small station waiting for the arrival of the Katy.  But this unique and unforgettable trip set the stage for a new era and time in my life.  The memory is vivid.  It seems  100 years ago, but the sight, sound, and emotion will remain with me forever.

Perhaps the downgrade with each train on this trip had been a commentary on my life.  After all, I was in Texas, hoping to change the direction of my life.  And it did change!  I was not lost in Texas.  God knew where I was!  And He got hold of me and placed me on the greatest journey anyone could ever make.  Yet, perhaps I would have never been positioned for such a change if it had not been for the Katy Railroad.

“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’  declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'”  (Jeremiah 29:11)  “Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.”  (Proverbs 19:21)



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