“You’re the first person I’ve seen taking a photograph of the train station seats,” said curator Scarlett Daugherty at the Quanah, Acme & Pacific Railway Museum (QAPR) in Quanah, Texas. I found that an unusual statement and came back at her, “Really?” I thought it would be natural to take photos of the seats because of the history behind them.
I’ve trained eyes to notice and observe the uncommon things. Part of that could be my mind working just as oddly, so when I saw the seats the first thing that popped into my mind was the history those seats could tell if they indeed could talk.
If those seats could tell the historical stories of the hundreds of people that came to sit in them over the years waiting to board the next train at the depot then our understanding of the early life of people in the region would be greatly enriched.
As I gazed upon the row of seats I wondered if even the Comanche War Chief Quanah Parker himself even sat in them. Quanah was an original partner in the QAPR. According to Daugherty during our visit Quanah walked on the floors we were walking on in the depot. Wow – exciting history I thought to myself.
It is said that Quanah visited the town named for him quite often wearing either his traditional Indian costume or a business suit. Too bad his mom and my great, great, great aunt, Cynthia Ann Parker never got that opportunity to visit the town named after her son.
The depot was constructed in 1909 to serve as a passenger depot and for the railway offices of the QAPR. This railroad was a 124-mile long railway between Quanah, Texas and Floydada, Texas. In 1916 the railway had two passenger cars earning the railroad a reported over $63,000 in passenger revenue for that year alone.
The Acme in the railroad name comes from Acme, Texas. At that small town was one of the largest plaster production areas in the U.S. For years the huge gypsum deposit at Acme was mined where it was converted to plaster and cement products and were later shipped by rail nationwide.
The QAPR merged with Burlington Northern Railroad in 1981. A year later the company closed this rail line and abandoned the depot.
Alas, the history of the passenger seats will forever remain a mystery. Their stories are now left to only the ghosts who may remain. Thankful the museum was able to preserve this row of depot seats for me to photograph and for future generations.
Photograph – © Christena Stephens Photography