The relationship between Bryan, Texas, and the Union Pacific Railroad has its beginnings years before Bryan or UP even existed.
In 1848 a new railway was chartered to serve the area of Texas from Houston to the Brazos River and points beyond. First called the Galveston and Red River Railway, by 1856 the company name had changed to the Houston and Texas Central. In 1860 directors of the H&TC purchased 640 acres of land that would become the town of Bryan, Texas. The town voted to incorporate in March 1867, but the reconstruction government denied the request until 1871. Meanwhile, the first train arrived in Bryan on August 19, 1867.
Since its birth up until today, Bryan, Texas, has been a train town. Not only do the tracks of the original rail line still run through the heart of Bryan’s central business district, quite a few streets remain named after the first directors of the H&TC.
In 1873, the H&TC connected with the Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railroad in Red River City, Texas. The MK&T was comprised of portions of the southern branch of the Union Pacific, sold three years earlier in 1870. Ultimately, the Southern Pacific operated most of the H&TC assets during the 20th century until that company again became part of the Union Pacific in 1996.
Many citizens of Bryan alive today remember the famous mile-a-minute Sunbeam that connected Bryan to Dallas and Houston between 1925 and 1955.
During two major periods, 1901 to 1912 and later 1996 to the present day, the Union Pacific has directly controlled the main rail right of way through Bryan. However, no matter what the name of the line, no matter what the freight -- coal, cattle, cotton, cars or college kids – Bryan, Texas, has always been a train town.