The foundation of Denison, Texas, is forever linked to the Missouri-Kansas-Texas (Katy) Railroad. On December 24, 1872, the first Katy train arrived in the emerging town of Denison, marking a significant milestone as it was the first train to enter Texas from the north. This event played a pivotal role in the growth and development of the Great Southwest.
For more than a century, the Katy Railroad remained a prominent employer in Denison, driving the local economy and shaping the community’s identity. In 1988, the Katy Railroad merged with Union Pacific, ending its direct presence in Denison. However, the legacy of the railroad continues to be an essential part of the town’s history.
Recognizing the need to preserve this rich heritage, a group of former Katy Railroad employees and rail enthusiasts came together to establish the Red River Railroad Museum in 1989. They meticulously collected and preserved artifacts from both the steam engine and diesel eras of the railroad, ensuring future generations could appreciate this remarkable chapter in Denison’s history.
Originally housed in the Katy Depot, the Red River Railroad Museum relocated to 124 W. Main Street in Denison’s historic downtown district in March 2021. The new location offers the museum ample space to showcase its extensive collection, including items on display and those in storage. This move has also enabled the museum to regularly rotate exhibits, providing visitors with fresh and engaging insights into the fascinating world of railway history.