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The Mesquite Belt Railroad Town: Sealy, Texas
The Mesquite Belt Railroad Town:
Sealy, Texas

Picture taken near the ATSF double main looking South towards Downtown Sealy; Interlocker Tower 163, in 1959.
MKT tracks in front of depot-Houston to the left or East, LaGrange to the right or West.  Bellville is 12 miles behind you.
Note the wooden box with platform on the telephone pole to the right of the depot...they are still is now a bee hive!
Sadly, the depot was not as lucky.       Photo courtesy of Texas Interlocker website @

Sealy  was founded by the Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe Railway in 1875 and named for the President of the railroad, George Sealy, as it built north from Galveston toward Brenham.  The railroad established yards and a roundhouse, and in 1880, a Post Office was granted.   Some years later, the railroad moved the roundhouse and constructed a new yard in Bellville, about 12 miles to the North.

In 1882, the Texas Western, a narrow gauge railroad, entered Sealy from the east.   Direct connections could not be made because the Santa Fe railway was standard gauge and within a few years, the Texas Western went into receivership.

Recent construction in 2005 on property bordered by the old Smithville Sub, the old Cane Belt (ATSF Matagorda District), and Lux Road uncovered what looks to be the foundation for a locomotive turntable.   This foundation is located about 500 feet east of Lux Road along the Smithville Sub main, south of the tracks.   One Union Pacific employee observed a diameter measurement of 60', and deduced that this must have belonged to the Texas and Western narrow gauge railroad, as the turntable's size precludes use by a standard gauge locomotive.   T&W would have abandoned this facility around 1893, when it went out of business, it is presumed.    Some sources say that Texas and Western had facilities as far west as Sealy, and others say that the T&W ran no farther west than San Felipe.   The foundation is easily accessible.   The construction that brought about this archeological discovery is that of a fence protecting a future carbide unloading facility to be used by Western Gas, which has a facility between Bellville and Hempstead along TX 159.   Carbide will be used in the production of acetylene gas.  Track has already been laid in the facility, and a prefabricated turnout (switch) lies beside the Smithville Sub where the facility's tracks will tie into the former MKT mainline.
The recently dicovered turntable foundation, believed to be the Texas & Western.
       Photo by Matthew Dittert,  Mesquite Belt Public Relations Department

Looking East, with the recently dicovered turntable foundation, with the MKT mainline just to the North.
Schier Grain's bins are visible just to the left of the trees in the background.
       Photo by Matthew Dittert,  Mesquite Belt Public Relations Department

In 1892, the Missouri-Kansas-Texas or Katy Railroad crossed the Santa Fe in Sealy as it constructed its main line into Houston from Waco.   In 1900, the Cane Belt RR built a line into Sealy from Eagle Lake, and this line was eventually acquired by the Santa Fe.   Today, the Santa Fe line remains heavily used by BNSF.

UP now owns the Katy line which has been severed east of Katy, Texas; due to expansion of Interstate 10.   As a result, there is little traffic east of Sealy, except for aggregate and some grain traffic from Katy.   Most UP traffic through Sealy uses the Santa Fe line to or from the UP main line at Rosenberg to the south @ Tower 17.
The Cane Belt line to Eagle Lake from Sealy has been abandoned; though tracks remain in place as far south as Interstate 10.  

In the late 1980's while riding for Austin County EMS, where both of my parents grew up, I read the railroad stories by Ray L. Head, aka Doug Ratchford, telling stories about working on the Santa Fe during college.  The names and places were changed not to protect the innocent; but to keep those involved from finding this past employee and stop him from telling anymore "war stories" from his days on the railroad.

For example, Houston was renamed Hotsun, since Houston can feel as hot as the sun with 100+ temperatures and 100% humidity.   It is the Cane Belt with the numerous Mesquite trees, that was renamed the Mesquite Belt in the articles.  I still have that issue I read over lunch one day, that has Mesquite Belt circled.  That was to be the name for my railroad, with the Cotton Belt being in the heart of cotton country, and everywhere you looked, you saw Mesquite trees, then Mesquite Belt it was!  The rest is history, or as it might be said one day "Now you know the rest of the story"

Map of Sealy, with other railroads (and ROW) shown.

Map courtesy of Texas Interlocker website @

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