Milam County Historical Commission
Milam County, Texas
Milam County Historical Commission - Milam County, TX
Statue of Ben Milam at Milam County, TX Courthouse
Old Junior High School Building, Rockdale, TX
Milam County Courthouse - Cameron, TX
Preserve America
Rockdale I&GN Railroads and Depot
Rockdale I&GN Museum
HIstorical Marker: Railroads in Rockdale, Milam County, TX
Railroads in Rockdale
Rockdale owes its founding to the International &
Great Northern Rail Line, along which the town was
laid out in 1873-1874.  The Railroad gave area farmers
access to markets from their crops, and Rockdale
became a shipping point for farmers and other local
businessess.  The San Antonion & Aransas Pass (later
Southern Pacific) Railroad operated a north-south
route through Rockdale from 1891 to 1959,further
contributing to economic growth.  The Rockdale, Sandow
and Southern Railroad, chartered in 1923 to carry
lignite coal to area customers, became Rockdale's
third rail line.  Although the last passenger train
left Rockdale in 1970, the Railroad remains a
significant part of the community's heritage.
I&GN Railroad Depot Museum, Rockdale, Milam County, TX
International & Great Northern
Railroad Depot Museum,
Rockdale, Milam County, TX
11 North Main Street
Rockdale, TX
June 7, 2008
Visitors at the Grand opening of
the International & Great Northern
Railroad Depot Museum, Rockdale,
Sponsored by
The Rockdale Historical Society
I&GN Railroad Depot Museum, Rockdale, Milam County, TX
Milam County Historical Commission members at the I&GN Railroad Depot Museum Grand Opening
I&GN Railroad Depot Museum, Rockdale, Milam County, TX
I&GN Railroad Depot Museum, Rockdale, Milam County, TX
MCHC Members at the Grand Opening of the Rockdale
I&GN Railroad Depot Museum:
Jackie Thornton, Willyne Stanislaw, Bratton
Thomason (Texas Historical Commission),
DeeDee Green, Dolores Sonntag, Geri Burnett
Mayor John Shoemake presides
at the Ribbon Cutting
June 7, 2008
International & Great Northern Railroad Depot Historical Marker, Rockale, Milam, TX
National Register marker - International & Great Northern Railroad, Rockdale, TX
Rockdale Historical Society meets
at 7:00 PM the 2nd Tuesday of each
month at the I&GN Depot.  All
persons with an interest in local
history are invited    
Listed in
National Register
Rockdale Reporter, October 8, 2009
Rockdale Depot Museum:

Depot to host living history day Oct. 24th
The Rockdale Historical Society will host a “Living History Day at the Depot” from 10 a.m.
to 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 24 at the International & Great Northern Historical Depot.
The day begins at 10 a.m. with dedication of a blacksmith shop and continues throughout the
day until 4 p.m. with live demonstrations of turn-of-the-(20th) century crafts.
Those include blacksmithing, flint knapping, candle making, historical re-enactments and
other demonstrations of daily activities.
Sausage wraps, drinks and other food items will be available

Depot named state’s best restoration
By MIKE BROWN, Reporter Editor
Rockdale Reporter, November 12, 2009

It was appropriate for a building constructed in 1905-06 that its state-winning
presentation before a historical group 103 years later was definitely on the “lowtech”

Dr. Lucile Estell, representing the Rockdale Historical Society, was set to give a
Powerpoint presentation about Rockdale’s depot before the Texas Downtown Association awards
gala in Tyler last week.

Her computer quit. That didn’t phase Dr. Estell, a retired school administrator and veteran
of hundreds of presentations. “I can still talk,” she announced.

And she talked well enough that Rockdale’s historic International & Great Northern (I&GN)
was named the best restored building in Texas for 2009.


The depot, a 10-year project of the historical society, beat out two other finalists for
the cherished award.

They were the Whitmire & Whitmire Insurance Building in Wichita Falls and the Hepker
Building in Bastrop.

Competition was intense. “When we got to the gathering and saw photos of that insurance
building we were just blown away,” historical society member Joy Graham said.

But a blue-ribbon jury panel composed of architects, historians and writers selected
Rockdale’s depot as the overall winner.

Judges termed the depot project “a great anchor recaptured for the community” and praised
“attention to architectural details and lighting.”


Construction began on the I&GN Depot in 1905 and it was completed, and dedicated, the next

In 1925 the I&GN was leased by Missouri-Pacific Railroad and operated as a division of MP
until 1955, when it officially merged with Missouri-Pacific.

When a new roof was added in 1936 the depot lost its landmark cupola, a cost-saving

By 1957 the only job remaining at the Rockdale depot was railroad agent. That post was
eliminated and the final passenger train left Rockdale July 15,1970.

The depot officially closed that year and was used as a feed storage location for the next
28 years. It also survived a fire.

The historical society purchased the depot on Dec. 1, 1999, and began a decade long project
which restored the building to its Victorian Era glory, including restoration of the
Rockdale Reporter, November 12, 2009
I. & G.N. Railroad Depot Museum, Rockdale, TX
Rockdale, TX Historical Society wins
Rockdale Historical Society members got
a huge boost last week in Tyler when the
I&GN Depot was named “Best
Restoration” in the state at the Texas
Downtown Association conference. At
left, Ernest Garza and Mary Phillips in
period dress at the recent Living
History Day in front of the downtown
Rockdale Reporter - Mike Brown
Rockdale Reporter, November 12, 2009
All smiles after winning top state award,
historical society delegation (L-R) Toby
Johnson, Mary Phillips, Joyce Dalley, Dr.
Lucile Estell, Joy Graham, Dave Phillips.
photo courtesy Dr. Lucile Estell
Rockdale Reporter, November 12, 2009
                 Peek-a-boo! History around the corner
                            Mike Brown, Reporter Editor
                        Rockdale Reporter, December 3, 2009

                State-award winning depot shows many faces to town
Texas’ best historically-restored building has become a symbol for the town of

The former I&GN Depot, now a museum, is always on view at the corner of Main and Milam
and sometimes it will pop into view unexpectedly.

Travelers on US 79 get an unexpected glimpse of the 103-year old building through the
“hole” in downtown Rockdale created by the 2002 fire that destroyed Arledge Antiques
and Ballard Furniture Etc.

It pops up in the middle of FM 908 after anyone northbound into Rockdale at that venue
rounds the sweeping curve at Roberts Street.

There are many places where the depot, with its distinctive red cupola, built by
volunteer Gary Jackson, stands out.

                               Best restoration
Last month the depot was named the best historic restoration in Texas by the Texas
Downtown Association, beating out restorations from much larger cities.

A blue-ribbon panel of architects, historians and writers praised the depot’s
“attention to architectural details and lighting” and termed it “a great anchor
recaptured for the community

Purchase saved depot
The “new” depot—it replaced an original structure several blocks away—was occupied in
the spring of 1906 and sold its first passenger ticket on May 1 of that year.

A Reporter article in the newspaper’s May 3, 1906, edition describes the structure this

“This handsome edifice is veneered with red, pressed brick, trimmed in cement, and its
handsome slate roof is capped with a dome of flaming red which can be seen from all
parts of town.”

Of course, Rockdale was much smaller 103 years ago but the restored depot, which looks
identical to the description from 1906, can still be seen from much of downtown.

Passenger train service to Rockdale ceased in 1970 and the building was purchased by
Adolph McVoy to store feed for his business which was located across Milam Street.

That purchase is credited with saving the structure for future generations.

Throughout Texas old depots were simply bulldozed so railroads could take them off the
tax rolls.

As early as 1976, history-minded volunteers had approached McVoy about purchasing the
depot but the sale did not take place until 1999, after the founding of the Rockdale
Historical Society.

The restoration process took almost a decade. Key feature in the restoration was
Jackson’s reconstruction of a cupola.

The depot is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Rockdale, TX - Old City Cemetery and cupola of I&GN Depot
Depot and Old City Cemetery share the same era.  Depot was built in
1906 and cemetery has been on near-by hill since the 1870s.
ANother view of the cupola of the I&GN Railroad Depot in Rockdale, TX
Restored Cupola on I&GN Railroad Depot, Rockdale Texas
VIew of Rockdale, TX I&GN Railroad cupola
Cupola looms over McVoy Feed & Fertilizer which is
bottom sotry of the old three-story Mundine Hotel
which burned June 4, 1888, killing 11 people.  It
was Rockdale's worst fire ever.
Depot is visible thru downtown
"hole" created by the Dec. 13, 2002
fire that destroyed Arledge
Antiques and Ballard Carpets Etc.
Drive into Rockdale from the south on FM 908, round a curve and there it is: 
The town's symbol.
Photos by Mike Brown
Rockdale Reporter