on Denison's Viaduct Causes a Look Back to Its History
... Denison's first viaduct was in the very early days. A wooden structure carried a street car track and other traffic across across the Austin Avenue route. People living and working north of Morgan Street had no trouble coming and going, but those living south of Morgan had a problem. The Katy's Roundhouse, shops, and switch yards stretched from Lamar Avenue on the east to Mirick Avenue on the west and that meant a detour for those in South Denison to get to town in the early days.
That problem was somewhat solved in the 1880s, according to Jack Maguire in his book, "Katy's Baby" , when the wooden viaduct was built. It carried tracks for the "dummy line" and the first mule-powered streetcar as well as a place for pedestrians to walk. Horses and wagons also probably crossed over the "yards" to get to town....
The Rest of the Denison Viaduct
... second viaduct ... Denisonians living in the south part of town were served by wooden viaduct that in pictures looked a little shaky from its beginning in the early 1880s until about 1915. Before the wooden structure was built, those living in the area south of town had to go the long way around to get down town. Transportation wasn't plentiful in those days and for many that meant a lot of walking. The wooden viaduct was a lot safer in many instances. But by 1915 the old viaduct with its tracks for the "dummy line" and the first mule-powered streetcar along with a small walkway for pedestrians had outlived its usefulness. When talk began about needing a new viaduct, a controversy arose over where to put a new two lane concrete structure. City leaders were divided in their acceptance of plans for the span to begin on Rusk Avenue and end on Austin Avenue.
In fact, opposition almost forced the city into a special election until the council took some fast action to prevent it, saying there were no funds for such an election. At that time a viaduct fund collected by a special tax levy to build a viaduct over the Katy shops, had only $5,527 in it. Mayor Alexander Acheson said that a viaduct as planned by the city and railroad would cost not less than $60,000 and possibly $75,000. He said it would take two years to build. It's not known if money in that special viaduct fund helped build the new span.
The council issued a special letter to Denisonians, outlining reasons for the crooked viaduct. Opening words of the letter were "The council declines to change the location of the viaduct." Their minds were made up...
The letter continued.... the building of the viaduct would have to be postponed indefinitely.
It may have been the "postponed indefinitely" statement that finally changed the minds of the people of Denison. Those living on the south side of town were anxious to have easier access to downtown even though the viaduct would have a break-neck crook in the span that later became a deathtrap to many people. Other residents were finally convinced at how important the viaduct would be to the city....
While the viaduct was completed as planed from Austin to Rusk avenues, the opposition's argument turned out to be true and the viaduct became a nightmare for travelers from the very beginning.
Even pedestrains complained that they didn't feel safe walking across the crooked span. In those days, fewer people had cars and there were a lot of walkers coming and going to work across the viaduct...
Fortunately by 1954 the old viaduct was showing its age with signs of decay. Thanks to the Texas Highway Department, a new $800,000 shortcut to downtown was opened by way of the Austin Avenue viaduct that started and ended on Austin Avenue. That structure was a blessing to many Denisonians. For one thing, it had four lanes instead of two and it was STRAIGHT!
On November 26, 1954 at 2:45 p.m. barriers to the center aisle were removed, opening the span without fanfare or even a ribbon-cutting ceremony....
John Simon Knaur and his son, George, established the first cheese factory in the Texoma area.
Grayson County TxGenWeb
Elaine Nall Bay