By Carol Adams
Our Katy Depot is a familiar sight; the caboose parked next door is a local landmark. In 1898, it was built just east of what is now Pin Oak road. It followed a standard plan with broad eaves, projecting windows to allow the station agent a view of incoming trains, and a large loading platform for cargo and passengers.
In 1919 the depot was enlarged. It was actually cut in half, the east end was moved 10 feet and a segregated waiting room was added to the building.
There were several railroad stops between Katy and Houston. Delhi was four miles from Katy, near Mason Road. Trains also stopped at a depot at Barker, near Barker Cypress Road and at Addicks, near Highway 6. The Hillendahl depot was in the Spring Branch area and Eureka was closer to Houston. One key reason why the Katy depot remained busy when the other depots closed was because it was 30 miles from the Houston station. Early steam engines could travel 30 miles before needing to stop to take on water.
As the use of trucks and automobiles increased, the need for rail began to decline. Passenger service in Katy ended in 1957 and the depot was abandoned in the 1970s.
In 1978 the depot had deteriorated and was slated to be removed or destroyed. The Katy Heritage Society was formed for the purpose of saving it. The city purchased the building from the MKT railroad for $25 and in 1979 it was moved to an area near Katy City Park. The new society carefully researched and restored it. A few years later the group acquired the caboose.
In 2005 the city of Katy acquired land near the original depot location, so the MKT Depot and Caboose were moved once again to build Railroad Park. The location on First Street is very near the original depot location and today the depot is used for the City of Katy Visitors Center as well as the Katy Heritage Society’s museum of local MKT railroad history.
It is a great example of railroad history, one of the most accurately restored depots in the nation and one of very few that still exist. The depot is open for tours Monday through Saturday.
Carol Adams is the author of “HISTORIC KATY: An Illustrated History.”
Category: Katy Texas History