Santa Anna Coleman Co.  Milepost 369+1436’  

Origin of Station Name


Named for Comanche Chief believed to have camped at springs near the base of twin mesas overlooking the town, the U.S. Postal Service misunderstood the name and approved “Santa Anna” when it approved opening of the office in April 1879.

Agency Opened


April 1, 1886

1886 Personnel


L. V. Stockard              Stationmaster          $70/mo.

J. J. Cox                        Operator                $60/mo.


B. H. Melton                 Section Foreman    $55/mo.

Supervising seven laborers at $1.25/day; these were Jim Webb, James Thornhill. George Saunders, Austin Nix, L. D. Rivers, Mike McCann and Jack Wilson.  Melton provided them all room and board, for this being paid $80.35 for the month of September.


1890 Insured Structures


Depot                          $1485

Section House             $655  (Section No. 42)

Water Tank & Frame  $540

Water House, Steam Pump & Boiler   $660


1921 Depot(s)


New depot built in 1915 to the company’s 1906 standard plans, 24’ by 145’, wood frame, drop siding with wood shingles.


1946 Traffic Report


“Silica sand deposit in this area is used for glass making and supplies most glass factories in Texas.  Traffic forwarded aggregated 184 cars in 1944, and 311 in 1945, including 169 cars of other grain, and 1025 bales of cotton in 1944, and 212 other grain and 69 sand and gravel and 418 bales of cotton in 1945.  Received traffic aggregated 106 cars in 1944 and 67 cars in 1945.”


“The Earth” Press Coverage


One article, in the March 1928 issue, discussing turkeys, chickens and cotton.


Employee Magazine Coverage


No coverage.

Junction Other Lines



Agency Closed


Railroad Commission authorized discontinuance of agency on June 13, 1969 in docket 2056 RO.


Photographic Images



Operating Bulletins


Five bulletins, see index.  Samples:


  • All trains setting out or picking up on glass factory spur at Santa Anna will hold on to enough cars so that engine will not have to operate on this track beyond the warehouse.  (March 8, 1937)(engine tonnage punishing to light weight spur track, trying to keep weight off of most of spur)
  • We are again in receipt of complaint from citizens in vicinity of Santa Anna of what they consider excessive whistling by trains passing through that city…(admonition etc.) (Nov. 5, 1938) (Mesa cliffs apparently bounced sound back over the community.)


Railroad Commission Complaints


Six complaints between 1896 and 1919, see index.  One of these complaints concerns the inability of a Wichita Falls glass factory to obtain cars for sand loading at this station in 1919.


Legal Department Files


One file, see index.  Relates to improvement of city streets between 1930 and 1949.




            This community was first locally called “gap” and located in the gap between the two mesas now known as the Santa Anna mountains.  In May of 1886 the Santa Fe laid out a townsite alongside its tracks, which passed a short distance south of the mesas, and the small Gap community shortly picked itself up and moved.  The first agent at this station, as shown in the September 1886 payroll ledger, was Leroy V. Stockard.  He lived at first with his wife and young son Robert Willett Stockard in a two story wood frame hotel in the gap.  His mother-in-law, Mary Julia Lappington, took pen in hand on April 14, 1886 to describe the scene as she was seeing it on a visit at that time:  “a beautiful country with 25 to 30 homes and a nice two story hotel in the gap of the mountain with a splendid cook that made $40.00 a month and didn’t even wash the dishes.”  Stockard would take root and become prominent in this community, as a deacon for the Baptist Church and otherwise.  He built a large two story rock store and opera house a block from the depot, and engaged in various facets of the local real estate business. He remained as agent for some years, fathering a total of seven children, and was killed when struck by a switching freight train in the Santa Fe yard at Santa Anna on the evening of April 4, 1923.  He had just reached 65 years of age.


            Section Foreman B. H. Melton also took root here.  The hotel at the Gap was disassembled and the lumber used to construct a new establishment a block from the depot, named the Walker Hotel.  Melton purchased this structure and furnished meals here for railroad employees and passengers.  If he kept the same cook to whom Mrs. Lappington referred a few months earlier, the seven laborers he was contracted to provide room and board for in September 1886 ate well.  As proprietor of this establishment, Melton probably helped pay for some of the advertising about Santa Anna which began to appear in Galveston newspapers shortly after the line was completed.  The community billed itself as a “healthy mountain resort” and therefore a desirable summertime escape from the likes of yellow fever and malaria which were sometimes then plaguing the coastal country.  By the dawn of the 20th Century, the Santa Fe itself was advertising to healthseekers the country between Santa Anna and San Angelo as “free from all miasmatic conditions”.  What it lacked was humidity. 


            There is much disagreement as to where West Texas begins, with one demarcation line connecting the courthouses which have on their lawns a Confederate War Memorial. Traversing the Santa Fe’s line west from Temple, there is encountered a strong sense of “otherness” after leaving Brownwood for the west and cresting the mesa between it and Bangs.  The soil turns from black to red at this point, and a few miles further to the west, after passing the Bangs station, the native Live Oak trees suddenly disappear in favor of mesquite.  The traveler arriving in Santa Anna from the east has an inescapable feeling that a geographic boundary of sorts has been suddenly crossed, a climactic “dry line”, a place where the summertime nights are pleasantly cool and humidity is markedly lower.  In this respect the railway company’s promoted lack of “miasmatic conditions” was accurate.  Other promotional statements about colonization prospects at various points along the line were not at all accurate, but that subject will be covered elsewhere.


            Luckily for the community of Santa Anna, its fortunes would not depend entirely upon agriculture (or healthseeker tourism, though an unusually nice hospital and sanitarium was built here, bearing the famed Sealy name).  Sand deposits in the Santa Anna mesa complex were found to be nearly pure silica, and mining for glass production started here in 1911.  The Santa Fe had at this station accidentally stumbled upon a lucrative source of specialized mineral traffic uniquely suited for rail transport, a phenomenon known to have occurred in only one other place on the GC&SG system (sulfur, at New Gulf in Matagorda County).  In the 1930s Santa Anna residents built a glass factory, which employed 60 men to produce 52,000 bottles/day in 1932.  A new company payroll this size had an astonishing economic impact on a very small town mired in the depths of the Depression.  The new factory specialized in milk bottles, but also made vinegar and beer bottles, the latter much in demand with the end of prohibition in 193___.  The success of this manufacturing effort soon attracted unwelcome attention, in the form of a lawsuit by the Hartford Empire Glass Company of Connecticut.  Hartford Empire owned patents on most of the commonly used bottle manufacturing processes of this era, and its attention was likely directed to the new manufactory by other Texas glass plants which were paying it license fees, and found the competition in Santa Anna unwelcome.  By manufacturing its bottles at the source of the raw material, the Santa Anna plant could be in a position to undercut the cost charged by the more distant plants to their customers since the freight charge for the raw material was avoided.  University of Texas history professor Walter Prescott Webb wrote in detail about this litigation in the second and subsequent editions of his 1937 book, “Divided We Stand”, a vociferous condemnation of the power of northern corporations over southern and western economic interests.  Webb’s book was provoked by his anger at the 1936 decision of the U.S. Supreme Court declaring unconstitutional the Agricultural Adjustment Act, a New Deal farm support program which represented one of the centerpiece efforts of the Roosevelt administration to reduce oversupplies of various agricultural commodities.  Webb biographer Necah Stewart Furman stated that his book, prominently featuring “The Story of the Texas Milk Bottle”, influenced the decision of the Roosevelt administration shortly thereafter to issue the “National Emergency Report on Economic Conditions in the South”.  The Santa Anna Glass factory shut down before the end of the 1930s, beset by lack of adequate capital to meet the various obstacles which had arisen.  Thereafter, sand mining operations resumed and the Santa Anna Silica Sand Company consigned many carloads of its product to glass factories around the state.    


            The last agent at Santa Anna was Grady Wester.  When the agency was closed in 1969 he purchased some of the office equipment, including the depot safe, which he shortly traded to Martin Lehnis of Brownwood in exchange for 18 one dollar silver certificates and a Montgomery-Ward .410 shotgun.  Thirty years later, Martin Lehnis made a much more lucrative trade with the author for this safe.  Restoration efforts have uncovered a beautifully painted logo on the door, in silver script, “Wells Fargo Express Company”.  Wells Fargo had an exclusive contract with the Santa Fe for its Texas express business until 1917, when its successor the Railway Express Agency took charge and painted over all of the old logos.  The author has restored two other old Santa Fe safes.


The Lappington quote and some of the information about Stockard and Melton is extracted from an extremely well done local history; “A History of Coleman County and Its People” (Anchor Publishing, San Angelo, 1985).  Photographer and historian Ralph Terry of Coleman has devoted a considerable portion of his life to stewardship of the County’s collective memory of its history, and he spearheaded the preparation of this work.