Flint Texas History

Flint Texas History

The site, named for local landowner Robert P. Flynt, became a stop on the Kansas and Gulf Short Line Railroad in 1882. The post office began operations in 1887 as "Flint" since the local postmaster misspelled the town name on the post office application form.

Abandoned railroad line of the St. Louis and Southwestern Railway, the Cotton Belt Route, still visible in Flint, TexasAbandoned Cotton Belt Route still visible in Flint, Texas

In 1890 Flint had grown to have a general store, three cotton gins, a physician, and a population of twenty-five. By 1902, 100 families were engaged in truck farming, and shipped 85 railroad cars of tomatoes and large amounts of cabbage, cantaloupes, and peaches.

The town supported a blacksmith shop, a telephone exchange, a telegraph service, two mercantile companies, a cotton gin and gristmill.

By 1914 local farmers shipped record amounts of nursery stock, fruit, and tomatoes from Flint, and the town had six general stores, a bank, and a newspaper, the Flint Weekly Reader. The Great Depression greatly injured the business of the area.

On July 1, 1899, operations of the rail line through Flint was assumed by the St. Louis Southwestern Railway Company of Texas, commonly known as the Cotton Belt Route. The rail line is now abandoned, but its route through Gresham and Flint is still visible.

Abandoned Railroad from Tyler, through Gresham and Flint, to Bullard and Rusk

Tyler to Gresham, Flint and Bullard railroad right-of-wayThose of us that have made the trip down Old Jacksonville Highway, heading south from Tyler to Bullard, have noticed the abandoned railroad right-of-way on the west side of the road. The rail bed is still visible in 2015 in Gresham, Flint, and in downtown Bullard.

The Kansas and Gulf Short Line Railroad Company

The Kansas and Gulf Short Line Railroad Company was chartered in 1880, to connect Tyler with Sabine Pass in Jefferson County. In 1881, the company acquired the property and franchises of the Rusk Transportation Company and its 17 mile line between Rusk and Jacksonville. Part of the roadbed of this company was utilized by the Kansas and Gulf Short Line during the construction of its line between Tyler and Rusk, which was completed on December 12, 1882. The remainder of the line, about 44 miles between Rusk and Lufkin, was completed about July 1, 1885, giving the company ninety miles of mainline, narrow gauge tracks between Tyler and Lufkin.

On April 29, 1887, the company was sold to the St. Louis, Arkansas and Texas Railway Company. Both companies entered receivership on May 13, 1889 and were subsequently sold at foreclosure to Louis Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald conveyed the former Kansas and Gulf Short Line to the Tyler Southeastern Railway Company on January 13, 1891.

Abandoned Cotton Belt Route still visible in Gresham, Texas, near The Crossings development off Old Jacksonville HighwayAbandoned Cotton Belt Route still visible near Gresham, Texas, close to The Crossings

Tyler Southeastern Railway

The Tyler Southeastern Railway Company was chartered on January 12, 1891, to acquire and operate the Kansas and Gulf Short Line Railroad Company, which it converted to standard gauge track by September, 1895. In that year the company owned eight locomotives and 198 cars and reported passenger earnings of $38,000 and freight earnings of $86,000.

Cotton Belt and Southern Pacific

On July 1, 1899, operations of the Tyler Southeastern were assumed by the St. Louis Southwestern Railway Company of Texas, which merged the company on October 6, 1899.

This line, commonly known as the "Cotton Belt", continued to encourage and support the growth of East Texas, including helping farmers convert to a tomato crop after a blight destroyed the peach industry.

Harold J. McKenzie, the president of the Cotton Belt, moved the general offices of the railway to Tyler. A building to house the railway general offices was dedicated on March 22, 1955. Smith County purchased the Cotton Belt building in 1985, and continues to use the building today.

In 1926, tomatoes become the area's cash crop with over 8,000 acres being grown. Jacksonville is still known as the Tomato Capital of the World. In 1932 the Southern Pacific purchased controlling interest in the Cotton Belt.