sidebar menu icon


COLUMBUS TAP RAILWAY. The Columbus Tap Railway Company was chartered on February 2, 1860. The Buffalo Bayou, Brazos and Colorado, the first railroad built in Texas, had mapped its route from Harrisburg through Alleyton to Austin up the east side of the Colorado River, bypassing Columbus. The citizens of Columbus, to protect their trade area, decided to build their own railroad to connect with the BBB&C at Alleyton. Six men were appointed commissioners to organize the company: Charles W. Tait, George W. Smith,qqv A. M. Campbell, John G. Logue, W. E. Wallace, and Isam Tooke. The railroad had a capital stock of $300,000 divided into shares of $100 each. The charter authorized the company to establish a ferry across the Colorado River to be used until a bridge was constructed. From William Harbert the commissioners bought a 2½-mile right-of-way 150 feet wide, extending from the east bank of the Colorado River to Alleyton. By orders of the commissioners, directors of the Columbus Tap Railway Company were elected on September 15, 1860. Of the six directors elected, Logue became president; he was soon succeeded by E. P. Whitfield. Tait was treasurer, and C. Windrow was clerk.

The Civil War disrupted plans by slowing construction of the road, but two miles had been graded by January 15, 1861. The railway proved to be needed by the Confederate Army, and Gen. John Bankhead Magruder ordered impressment of 100 men to work on its roadbed in 1863, though the project failed to reach completion in the war years. Some reports indicate that after the war in 1865 the line was built to the river, where the ferry gave Columbus rail service. Contemporary newspaper accounts, however, indicate that the track was not completed until 1867. The BBB&C contracted for the construction of a bridge in its own name, and after its completion in 1867 by Nathan Wheeler and John R. Brooks, the Austin was the first locomotive to cross the Colorado River into Columbus. The BBB&C was authorized to buy the Columbus Tap on September 21, 1866, but each railroad retained a separate legal existence until July 7, 1870, when the legislature authorized a merger. At that time the BBB&C amended its charter and changed its name to Galveston, Harrisburg and San Antonio.

James G. Hopkins

Image Use Disclaimer

All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.

For more information go to:

If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.


The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, James G. Hopkins, "Columbus Tap Railway," accessed November 22, 2017,

Uploaded on June 12, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.