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First train to Brownsville touches off Kingsville celebration


On this day in 1904, the first regular passenger train passed through the new railroad town of Kingsville, sparking a civic celebration, as the St. Louis, Brownsville and Mexico Railway completed construction of its first 142 miles of track from Robstown to Brownsville. The railroad was intended to form one of the sections of a continuous line from Chicago, St. Louis, and Memphis to Baton Rouge, Houston, Brownsville, Tampico, and Mexico City. Henrietta King, owner of the King Ranch, gave 75,000 acres of land in Cameron and Kleberg counties for the railroad right-of-way, 640 acres for the townsite of Kingsville, and forty acres for shops. The townsite was laid out three miles east of the ranch headquarters. After considerable negotiation with the town leaders, railroad officials decided to locate their headquarters in the community. In 1913 Kingsville became the county seat of the newly organized Kleberg County. The railroad was Kingsville's main source of income, though the town also became a trade center for farm and ranch families, and in subsequent years the petroleum industry, Texas A&M University at Kingsville, and a naval air station all contributed to the expansion of the Kingsville economy even after the railroad closed its general office and shops in the early 1950s.

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