The City of Magnolia's critical position along the Union Pacific Railroad earned it an official Train Town designation at a ceremony at the Historic Magnolia Depot Feb. 12.
Juan Carreon, assistant vice president of public affairs with Union Pacific, presented the city with a plaque engraved with the words "Train Town USA," as well as a shield and a ceremonial Union Pacific coin.
Union Pacific, which serves 23 states in the western part of the U.S., celebrated its 150 year anniversary in 2012. The railroad section from Spring to Navasota, which was built around 1901, is one of the most important pieces of the company's history, Carreon said.
"The Union Pacific recognizes the city of Magnolia as a place of historical significance to the railroad," he said. "[We] wish to bestow congratulations on the city for this noteworthy milestone."
The process of being named a Union Pacific Train Town involved a group effort from the city, Magnolia Chamber of Commerce and Magnolia Historical Society, said Barry Tate, chamber of commerce chair. The city applied for the designation and had its application approved by Union Pacific Chairman Jim Young.
Celeste Graves, longtime Magnolia resident and author of the history book "Magnolia Memories," recalled how central the railroad and the train depot were to the community when she was growing up.
"My dad was a dedicated railroad man," she said. "We walked the rails and we took pictures. Every time a train came through, you'd go out and watch it like you'd never seen one before."
Congressman Kevin Brady, R–The Woodlands, recently read a proclamation into the Congressional record acknowledging Magnolia as a Union Pacific Train Town as well.
Magnolia Mayor Todd Kana presented Union Pacific with a proclamation at the Magnolia City Council meeting that evening recognizing the significance of the railroad throughout the city's development.
"If it wasn't for the railroad, the town may not even be here," he said. "We've always been thankful to Union Pacific, which can be seen by our efforts to incorporate the railroad into our functions and our city flag. We know how important it was and is to Magnolia."