Amarillo Railroad Museum continues mission of preservation

It could easily be argued that railroads made the expansion and settlement of the United States possible - especially so in Amarillo. "Amarillo wouldn't be here today if it weren't for the railroads," said Bob Roth, president of the Amarillo Railroad Museum. Indeed, Amarillo was quite literally built around the railroads, which were an exponentially cheaper, faster, and more efficient way to transport cattle to and from places like Denver and Santa Fe. In 1887, the Fort Worth-Denver City Railroad was under construction across the Texas panhandle, and a construction camp grew into a tent city named Ragtown. A few months later, a man named J.T. Berry established a township nearby, which he named Onieda. Onieda would later be named Amarillo. November is National Model Railroad Month, and the Amarillo Railroad Museum opened its doors to the public today (Nov. 9) for a sneak peek at the Phillip Pratt Memorial Garden Railway, a model railway meant to illustrate the scale and significance of railroads in our area. "What we're doing is building a model of a railroad historically from Canadian to Clovis on the Santa Fe Trans-Con through Amarillo," said Terry Ball, one of the museum's directors. "We'll have all the little towns; we'll have Miami and Canadian and Bovina and Friona, Farwell, Texico, and all the little towns in between, and Amarillo will be a center point." Railroads are in Terry's blood - his father worked for the railroads, and he followed suit. He says the historical significance of railroads cannot be overstated. "Trains played an important role in the earlier days," said Ball. "Amarillo was developed around the railroad, so railroads were important as far as moving products and people across the country before truck traffic." The model railway has been on ongoing project for some time, and as a non-profit entity, the museum needs donations for materials to see the project through to completion. You can learn more about the museum and how to donate and get a more detailed history of railroads in our national and area history at the links attached to this story.