Thirty-one years ago, a party was planned to showcase the discovery and a debate ensued if it was worth saving. So was it?
Editor’s note: Take a look back in The Dallas Morning News Archives.
Economic prosperity in the 1920s in Dallas saw an increase in the automobile and eight major railroads cutting up sections of Dallas, resulting in major traffic jams and overcrowding. So, the Santa Fe Railroad decided on a different path to move merchandise around the inner city: It built an underground rail system.
The discovery and fight for preservation
“The Santa Fe tunnel was built by the railroad in the 1920s so steam trains could deliver goods beneath four downtown buildings,” as reported by The Dallas Morning News’ Steve Blow in 1988. “Train travel in the cavernous tunnel has been idle since the late 1940s, but the infrastructure has remained one of the city’s historical curiosities.”
“The Santa Fe railroad built four 10-story warehouse buildings and a tunnel beneath them. The first building, on Commerce Street, also included a 20-story office tower that served as the railroad headquarters. The three other buildings are in a row atop the 1,000-foot tunnel. The tunnel entrance, long since sealed.”
Ron Emrich, who was a planner for historic preservation, and Mary Rose, a chairwoman of the publicity task force for the Dallas Landmark Commission in 1988, thought it was worth the fight against Bill Trantham, the lawyer representing the demolition company. To sway public opinion on the preservationists’ side, they threw a “tunnel party” to invite locals to weigh in on the issue.
By Hannah Evans
6:00 AM on Dec 5, 2019