Since 1872, Palestine has been a train town, and can trace much of its heritage to the development brought by the railroad and the many men and women whose livelihood was the railroad. The size of the city, commerce and industry is tied to the rich history of the railroad. Countless generations of railroaders lived throughout the area and any given person knows someone who works for the railroad.
In 1872, the International Railroad and the Houston and Great Northern Railroad met in Palestine. The following year, the two merged to become the International and Great Northern Railroad (IGN). The expanding railway line in the 1870s caused Anderson County to flourish. In 1875, IGN President H.M. Hoxie moved to Palestine and built the first Victorian Mansion. Merchant owners and railroad executives built other elaborate homes along South Sycamore Street, which then was dubbed, “Silk Stocking Road.”
Palestine became an important location for steam locomotive and coach repairs when the IGN built its first major depot here in 1892. In 1902, a modern passenger coach shop was built. These shops remained in operation until 1954, when the present facility was built exclusively for freight car repair. During this period, the IGN became part of the Missouri Pacific Railroad, then ultimately Union Pacific Railroad.
Today, the Palestine Car Shop is one of only two car shops on the Union Pacific Railroad that perform heavy modifications and repairs to freight cars. The Palestine workforce of more than 100 employees has earned a reputation for safely and efficiently delivering quality work to their customers -- known as “Palestine Pride.”
The history of Palestine and Anderson County is dotted with the affect of the train and is forever linked to the rails. The sounds of the whistles echo throughout the historic downtown area still today.