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MISSISSIPPI AND PACIFIC RAILROAD. The Mississippi and Pacific Railroad was an attempt by the State of Texas to encourage the construction of a southern transcontinental railroad through Texas. Enacted on December 21, 1853, the legislation authorized Governor Peter H. Bell to request proposals to be received on or before August 1, 1854, for a railroad from the eastern boundary of Texas to a point at or near El Paso. As an incentive to potential builders, a large area of land was set aside as a reserve for land grants. Once the railroad was located, the reserve was to be redefined as a thirty-mile wide strip on each side of the proposed line from which the company could select twenty alternate sections of land for each mile of road completed after fifty miles was built. In addition, the company was to receive free right-of-way through the public lands. The company was required to post a $300,000 bond in gold to be forfeited if fifty miles were not completed within eighteen months of entering into the contract. The Atlantic and Pacific Railway Company, a New York corporation, was desirous of obtaining the sole franchise for the transcontinental railroad. This company, whose chief agents and directors were Robert J. Walker, Secretary of the Treasury under President Polk, and ex-Congressman T. Butler King of Georgia, acquired the rights to the Texas Western, which had been chartered in 1852, and conditionally acquired the charters of the other projected transcontinental lines. Thus the only proposal to build the railroad was submitted by the Walker and King group. However, the securities the company submitted for its bond were rejected by Governor Elisha M. Pease who declared the contract void and advertised for new proposals. There were no bidders on the second round, and on August 26, 1856, the Texas Legislature opened the reservation for settlement as of January 1, 1857.

Alexander Deussen, "The Beginning of the Texas Railroad System," Transactions of the Texas Academy of Science for 1906 (1907). S. S. McKay, "Texas and the Southern Pacific Railroad, 1845–1860, " Southwestern Historical Quarterly 35 (July 1931).
George C. Werner

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Handbook of Texas Online, George C. Werner, "Mississippi and Pacific Railroad," accessed November 18, 2017,

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.