Valley of the Caddo Museum & Cultural Center
Housed in the historic Santa Fe-Frisco Depot, the Valley of the Caddo Museum & Cultural Center explores the history and culture of Lamar, Fannin, Delta, and Red River counties. Its exhibits highlight Native American culture, astronomy, art, archaeology, and natural history. It also offers a variety of educational programming for visitors of all ages. The depot itself was built in 1912 and served three railroads: St. Louis-San Francisco Railway (known as the Frisco), the Gulf, Colorado & Santa Fe Railway, and the Texas Midland Railroad. The depot is a fine example of Italianate and Prairie School architecture, featuring red brick exterior, a 77-foot-tall watchtower that mimics an Italian bell tower, and a tiled, hipped roof with overhanging eaves and brackets.
Backstory and Context
By the time the depot was built, Paris had long been an important railroad hub. The first railroad arrived in 1875. The St. Louis-San Francisco Railway (the Frisco) and the Gulf, Colorado & Santa Fe (the Santa Fe) later built lines to the city in 1887. The Texas & Pacific Railroad arrived by 1912. Each built small depots but a large, wood-frame one was built in the early 1900 at this location. As noted above, the present depot was built by in 1912. It was owned by the Frisco and the Santa Fe owned most of the grounds, but every five years the workers at the depot switched between the two companies.
The depot began to decline after World War II, during which was its busiest period. The increased use of personal automobiles gradually lowered the number of passengers using the station. As a result, the Santa Fe and the Frisco ended passenger service in 1954 and 1956, respectively. Freight service continued, however, for several decades. The city acquired the depot in 1997. It is unclear when the museum opened.
"Santa Fe-Frisco Depot." National Park Service - National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form. August 20, 1998. https://catalog.archives.gov/OpaAPI/media/40969833/content/electronic-records/rg-079/NPS_TX/88001939.pdf.
"Union Station." The Historical Marker Database. Accessed October 17, 2020. https://www.hmdb.org/m.asp?m=96916.
"Valley of the Caddo Museum & Cultural Center Inc." Tripadvisor. Accessed October 17, 2020. https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g56424-d7653907-Reviews-Valley_of_the_Caddo_Museum_Cultural_Center_Inc-Paris_Texas.html.
Wikimedia Commons: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Union_Station_(Paris,_Texas)