Crossing of the International & Great Northern (I-GN) Railroad and the St. Louis Southwestern (Cotton Belt) Railway
|Looking due south, the MoPac was abandoned in 1967 and the ROW was converted to a dirt road for access to farmers' fields in the area. The Cotton Belt, abandoned in 1940, crossed at approximately this location, but the grade is completely gone due to cultivation of surrounding fields. Photo by Jim King.|
|Concrete foundations in the foreground are the only remnants of various railroad structures that were associated with this crossing, identified officially as Interlocker 181. Photo by Jim King.|
In the late 1880's, A. L. Coleman arrived from Mississippi
and bought 100 acres in what is now Mertens; there he built the
first house and the first business, a blacksmith shop. When the
St. Louis, Arkansas and Texas line (later, part of the Cotton
Belt system) was built from Corsicana to Milepost 35 in 1887,
the station, called Mertens for the wife of the engineer on the
first train, was built near the Walling place.
Walling opened a general store, acted as station agent for the railroad, and served as postmaster when Mertens received a post office in 1888. By 1890 the community had some seventy-five residents and a number of businesses, including physicians, carpenters, general stores, a blacksmith shop, and a gristmill and cotton gin. The International and Great Northern Railroad, building north from Waco to Ft. Worth, reached the community in 1902-03, making Mertens a railway crossroad. In 1940, the Cotton Belt abandoned the line from Corsicana to Hillsboro that passed through Mertens. This line mostly paralleled Highway 22 on the south side, and ran along the south side of N. Front St. The Missouri Pacific abandoned the former I-GN line in 1967 and it still shows on the map. Note that with two railroads in Mertens, there were two "Front Streets" (E/W and N/S) !