Stephen F. Austin State University

The Junction could be a scary place (June 2018)

The Junction could be a scary place

By Van Craddock

Longview Junction's reputation was richly deserved.

When the International Railroad completed its line to Longview in 1873, commercial and residential development began around the new depot and railroad shops located just east of the village called Longview.

(In way of reference, Longview's Amtrak station is located in the Longview Junction neighborhood just east of downtown. A state historical marker at the station on Pacific Avenue gives a brief history of the Junction.)

Residences, hotels, restaurants, churches and schools developed in "the Junction" to accommodate railroad families and travelers.

However, the unincorporated area also became known for its saloons, gambling and violence. One early resident in 1878 noted there was "nary a freight train that didn't bring more tramps and vagrants to town."

Families in Longview warned their children not to venture on the "wrong side of the tracks" to the Junction. Their fears were not imaginary.

In the summer of 1880 the Longview City Council passed an ordinance that prohibited establishment of certain "offensive businesses" in the town, mandating that "disreputable" women would have to be off city streets by 9 p.m. Council members didn't want to see their town become another "Junction."

Longview Junction's reputation wasn't exactly enhanced when, in July 1882, City Marshal George Tabler and County Attorney Jeff Teague had a confrontation at a Junction saloon. The following day, Tabler killed Teague in a shootout.

The Longview Times-Clarion reported an 1886 ruckus in Junction:

"Two carloads of tie handlers are having considerable trouble at the Junction. One car is composed of Arkansas boys and the other filled with Texans. The former have no weapons, while the latter are well supplied and have organized a scheme for bringing the Arkansas men under subjection. They began upon them this morning by entering their car with drawn knives and clubs and with revolvers, completely terrorizing them."

In March 1892, when an Alabama traveler had her pocketbook stolen while waiting for a train at the Junction depot, a deputy sheriff quickly nabbed a suspect.

"When No. 4 (train) from Galveston arrived, there were over 300 railroad men and citizens of Longview waiting with torches … and yells of 'Bring him out!' 'Hang him!' After much persuasion the officers prevailed on the men to let the matter rest until morning, when the lady could identify him."

Another Junction incident occurred in March 1894 and was reported:

"Yesterday about 8 o'clock, West Booth came upon John Bass and John Moore … and attacked them with rocks and pieces of iron and ran them into the shops of the railway. This morning (Booth) met the two and fired twice at them. The boys returned the shots which resulted in Booth receiving several bullets in his body, killing him instantly."

February 1902 saw this item in the paper:

"John R. Watson, deputy sheriff, was shot this afternoon at the Junction. He became involved in a controversy, which resulted in his being shot twice, one ball passing through his thigh and the other through the hand. The wounds are not necessarily fatal." Watson recovered from his wounds.

The numerous stories of illegal activity at the Junction caused one local resident to write a Dallas paper lamenting the Longview "murders, rows, and crimes of high and low degree" that were reported in the Big D press. "The impression would, not unnaturally, be made that the people of Longview were like the denizens of the typical frontier town and that Longview was one of the outposts."

In late 1904, Longview annexed Longview Junction. Over the years the area became "respectable" although some parents still prohibited their youngsters from hanging out in the Junction.