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The Santa Fe Trail is located in the small city of Wharton, Texas, approximately 60 miles southwest of Houston. The trail’s route was originally a portion of the Cane Belt Railroad, which once stretched from Sealy to Matagorda. The railroad was formed in 1898 to bring the area’s sugarcane to buyers, and later transported sulfur from mines in the vicinity. The line was merged into the Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe Railway (a subsidiary of the better known Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway) in 1948 and ultimately abandoned in the 1990s.
The trail in Wharton now offers a chance to explore a section of the former railroad’s route. Although short, lights, benches and covered picnic areas make the Santa Fe Trail a true asset for the community. A decorative water feature at the trail’s western end is a pleasant place to relax.
Rail history buffs will also want to check out an old caboose from the Cane Belt Railroad, which now sits at the intersection of FM 102 and Branch Street. The car is along the abandoned rail line but beyond where the paved trail ends (roughly 1 mile to the west). The city has also restored a historic depot that once served Southern Pacific, the city’s other former rail line. The depot is located on N. Sunset Street southwest of the Santa Fe Trail and is now used for community gatherings.
Parking for the Santa Fe Trail is available in a dedicated lot at the intersection of E. Santa Fe Street and N. Fulton Street.
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