The Buffalo Bayou, Brazos and Colorado Railway (BBB&C) was the first to begin operations in Texas, the first component of the Southern Pacific open for service, and the second railroad west of the Mississippi. Needless to say, the BBB&C was an important milestone for the history of railways not only in Texas, but the United States as well. The first locomotive that ran was named after Sidney Sherman, a key figure in the Texas Revolution and one of the original owners of the railroad. In 1853, the first 20 miles of track were opened from Harrisburg west, and Sherman’s train was ready to leave the station.
The Harrisburg, as the BBB&C was commonly referred to, extended its rails to Richmond on the edge of the Brazos in 1856. By 1860, the BBB&C railroad track extended 80 miles to Alleyton, near the east bank of the Colorado River. The onset of the Civil War halted construction of new tracks. In 1867, two years after the Civil War ended, the BBB&C extended its business over the Columbus Tap track, which helped the company cross over the Colorado.
The BBB&C eventually faced financial troubles and was sold in 1868 to Col. William Sledge for $13,000. Col. Sledge kept a 25 percent interest and sold the rest to a group that included Thomas W. Peirce. This group reinvented the Harrisburg, and they bought new locomotives and cars, which had not happened since before the Civil War. Facing difficulties with bridges and the Brazos River, however, the BBB&C had trouble staying efficient enough for business. In 1870 it was sold again, this time for $25,000. Peirce became president of the company and merged it with Columbus Tap and the Brazos Iron Bridge. The name was changed to the Galveston, Harrisburg, and San Antonio Railway.
Harrisburg did not develop into the major city on Buffalo Bayou as the first backers had originally hoped, but the railroad was still successful, in a sense. It was the first railroad in Texas and today is a major part of Southern Pacific’s transcontinental Sunset Route, which stretches from New Orleans to Los Angeles. It handled heavy freight traffic as well as Amtrak’s Sunset Limited west of Houston.
(from the Legacy of Texas)