The Visual Culture of the Railroad in the Texas Panhandle



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The arrival of the railroad to the Texas Panhandle was a foundational moment that connected the area to the rest of the state, the High Plains region, and the American nation. My thesis on the visual culture of the railroad in the Texas Panhandle will focus on the architecture of the railroad depot, and primarily on the Santa Fe Railroad company, given the availability of archives, the number of depots that are still standing, the use of traceable architects, and Harvey House connections with the Santa Fe line. The structures of depots were often altered as needs arose, and some were torn down and new ones were built in the same or in different locations. Therefore, tracing the development of railroad depot architecture is a daunting task, and the historian must reconstruct lost structures and observe the fluctuations of these buildings over time. Though early depot design was not normally standardized, and depot construction was often not the work of a trained or named architect, there were some known architects who worked on depots, including Guy Callander, E.A. Harrison, and Louis Curtiss. This thesis explores the stylistic innovations of Harrison and Curtiss, as Callander's depot design has proven quite difficult to trace. My project aims to assess depot architecture as a visual language of great significance for the regional identity of the northwest portion of Texas.



Train depots, Architects, Santa Fe Railroad: Texas Panhandle


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