Hoyt to Van

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  • States: Texas   
  • Railroads: T&P, TSL   

The Texas Short Line Railway

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Interlocking Tower Point of Interest

Texas Short Line locomotive #403 is seen in service in this undated photo. (Submitted by Jeff Ford)

The Texas Short Line Railway was chartered in 1901 to build from Grand Saline, TX north to a connection with the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad at Hoyt, near present-day Alba, TX. The line opened in September, 1902, also serving some coal mines near Alba and a salt mine at Grand Saline. In 1910, the TSL built another mile of track within Grand Saline to connect to the Texas & Pacific line that ran between Dallas and Shreveport, LA. In 1929, the T&P purchased Texas Short Line outright, but continued to operate it as a separate entity. A year later, after the discovery of oil in Van Zandt county to the south, the TSL built another 10 miles to Van, located in the middle of the oil field.

As freight begin to taper off, TSL found itself in a deficit. The line between Grand Saline and Alba was abandoned in 1959; the remainder of the Texas Short Line between Grand Saline and Van was abandoned three years later.

Interlocking Towers

Nbr Location Railroads Type Authorized Retired Map
130 Grand Saline T&P, TSL    Cabin 2/20/1926

There was also a spur that ran down to the salt mine south of Grand Saline.

Terry Taylor
Dallas, TX
8/25/2010

[Yes Terry, I believe that spur served the Morton Salt mine and is still in use today.  —Greg Harrison]

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The spur that still serves the salt mine is the remainder of the branch that went to Van. The branch was cut back to the salt mine, becoming a spur that only served that industry. Also in Grand Saline, on the old Van branch is an old, abandoned cotton gin. Close to this cotton gin, I am told, was a cattle loading chute. There is no sign of this.

Until a few years ago, the grading of the Alba branch could be seen in Grand Saline, just south of the intersection of High St. and King St. Housing development has removed most of it now. The original line to Alba was built to bring coal, from the Alba coal mines, to the salt mine. The original salt mine was about where the TSL came off the T & P, about where the Brookshires grocery store is now, at Frank and Naid St. It burned down in the late 1940's and was rebuilt at the current location, on the Van branch.

There is a UP caboose by the T & P depot in Grand Saline. The caboose has information about the TSL. The T & P depot is leased to the city and used as a public library.

Ron Duke
Canton, TX
9/15/2010

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The old Missouri-Kansas-Texas line ran right through our property where I grew up. I used to walk the 3 miles of grade between home and Alba and back again collecting spikes and glass insulators. Great write up. I had thought Hoyt abandoned in the early 1900s but I guess it persisted much later than I had thought. I only see a mistake on the map which probably has little to do with the author. It says that Alba was formerly Hoyt when in fact Hoyt was just short of a mile south east of Alba. Years ago there was a State Historical marker for it on Highway 17.

Kirstin
Alba, TX
12/6/2012

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