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New book out on local railroad

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Review Courtesy of Randy Bigham

ELLIS COUNTY - Ellis County is the focus of a new book on the railroad that first connected local communities to Dallas, Houston and other large centers of commerce in the 1870s.

Railroading in Ellis County was released Monday, Aug. 23 by Arcadia, a national publisher specializing in regional history studies. The 128- page softbound volume features some 200 archival images of area sites, including depots, station yards and street scenes in Ferris, Ovilla, Red Oak, Forreston, May-pearl and Italy.

Although much of the book involves Ennis, long-time division headquarters for the Houston and Texas Central Railroad, the number of photos, maps and other illustrations of smaller towns along the line offer rare insight into the rural life of the county a century or more ago.

Author Laurie J. Wilson said the book is as much about the people of the various cities linked by the railroad as the trains that chugged and whistled through the stations. She added that the hundreds of images have helped bring the county’s railroad past alive.

"In history it has always been the people that have drawn me, their struggles and accomplishments," she said. "These pictures give us a glimpse of that and their part in making Ellis County the community it is today."

In addition to Wilson’s research, Railroading in Ellis County features an introduction by Ennis City Manager Steve Howerton. Many of the photographs in the book appear courtesy of the Ellis County Museum in Waxahachie, of which Wilson is a board member. The Ennis Railroad and Cultural Heritage Museum also provided assistance to this project.

Railroading in Ellis County by Laurie J. Wilson and Peggy Holland Rankin can be purchased for $21.99 at local and online booksellers or through Arcadia Publishing at www.arcadiapublishing or 888-313-2665.


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