The Sanderson Railroad Depot

Sanderson, Terrell County
2005 Most Endangered List

AUSTIN, TEXAS…The Sanderson Railroad Depot in Terrell County is one of 12 sites that Preservation Texas, Inc. has named to its tenth anniversary retrospective list of Texas’ Most Endangered Historic Places.

Originally named the to the 2005 list of Texas’Most Endangered Historic Places, it is designated a lost site on the 2013 list. Preservation Texas officials announced the selections on the steps of the Texas State Capitol on Preservation Day, February 20. The annual announcement is part of Preservation Day activities organized by Preservation Texas. Advocates from all over the state come to participate in informational sessions, meet with legislators at the Capitol and get an in depth look at lessons to be learned from the sites named to the list.

“The 2013 list provides a retrospective for us,” said Charlene Orr, president of Preservation Texas, Inc., a statewide partner of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. “We decided to focus on lessons learned during the last 10 years by highlighting success stories as well as losses and threatened sites that continue to need urgent attention.” The 2013 list includes six saved sites, three threatened sites and three lost sites.

“Our six saved sites reflect the importance of collaboration between committed grassroots leadership and elected officials and city officials who realize the importance of historic preservation.” she continued. “It’s this powerful combination of resources that can make the difference in preserving a site or losing it.”

“Inclusion of the Sanderson Railroad Depot is important because it illustrates some of the very real obstacles communities face in their efforts to preserve the historic resources of Texas,” said Orr. “Sadly, the depot is part of the history of our state that now is gone forever.”


The Sanderson Depot, constructed in 1883, preceded the town that grew around it. In fact, the town itself was named after the president of the intercontinental railroad construction company. It was a terminal for Southern Pacific Railroad (SPRR) operations for a century, but SPRR moved the crew-change terminal in 1995, devastating the local economy. The depot was abandoned and vandalized.

The Sanderson Depot Association led a valiant effort to save it, but they were faced with many obstacles, including short deadlines from the railroad and a requirement from Union Pacific that the building be moved. With a very bad economy, they were able to raise money for restoration, but not for moving it. In addition, they received continued local opposition from retired railroaders and other groups.

The association also felt that county support was unavailable to them since the county failed to support an attempt to save the depot in the early 2000s. This situation prevented the association from applying for grants that required county involvement.

Though they did have a large contingent of true supporters, a lack of funding options and absence of support from elected officials led to the demolition of the oldest structure in Sanderson in October of 2012. Amtrak continues to have a stop in Sanderson, but there is no shelter, only a platform.