AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — The Santa Fe Railroad Depot in Amarillo was built in 1910 and stands now as a historic symbol of the Santa Fe Railroad as well as the labor provided for it by Mexican immigrants during the 20th century.
MyHighPlains.com previously reported on the story of Mateo Lopez and how he came to Amarillo to work on the railroad alongside many other Mexican immigrants. These workers did much of the labor on the railroad like laying down railroad tracks, making them essential in building the tracks seen and used today in the Panhandle and West Texas.
“So, you know, the conductors and the porters and all of that are all very, very well and good. But you got to get people onto the trains and off the train. So, you have to have them fed and you have to have a place for them to stay in and all that the freight needs to move around and get put onto trucks and moved all over town,” said Scott Metelko executive director of Amarillo Depot. “So, having that at the time was all very labor intensive. So having a workforce that can do that helped build Amarillo.”
Metelko said that because many early Mexican immigrants found work on the railroad, it led to them living in a neighborhood close to the railroad known today as the Barrio.
“So, we had the three rail lines that all intersect right about in the same area over there. And the Barrio was built on the other side of the tracks as was the custom at the time, but really close to where all the work was so that you could get to work,” said Metelko. “People didn’t have cars in 1910, you know, so they, they had to walk to work. So, the neighborhoods were close to where they worked.”
Metelko went on to say that the history of the railroad can still be seen today, and many have created families and history here in Amarillo.
“Well, you had your had families that were established here, based on the work that was done, families that moved here based on that work,” said Metelko.
Metelko said that this history is important for everyone in the community to know so they can have a better understanding of their city.
“How things developed and why is very important, because, you know, why the barrio neighborhood is where it is. You know, why the opportunities that are there are there and why there’s a lack of opportunity, in some cases there,” said Metelko. “So just knowing the history of how it was developed helps you understand where we are today, and what we need to do to move forward in a positive manner.”
To learn more about future plans for the Santa Fe Depot you can visit the Amarillo Depot website.