The Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railroad – Through Architecture!

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For decades, the SWC has been home to dozens—nay hundreds!—of architectural renderings of structures along the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railway. And now many of these have been digitized and placed online for your viewing and/or researching pleasure. Take for example the plans, above, for a hotel in Albuquerque, New Mexico, drafted in 1953.

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A little background: chartered in 1859 as the Atchison and Topeka Railroad Company by Cyrus K. Holliday, the organization’s rail lines eventually extended to Los Angeles, California, by 1887, after breaking ground in Texas in 1881. The Gulf, Colorado, and Santa Fe Railway was added in 1886 to obtain a connection to the Gulf of Mexico. Construction of new buildings along the line proceeded well into the 20th century, such as the Dodge City car icing house, above, constructed in 1929.

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By 1888 the Texas Panhandle was well-integrated in the railroad’s service lines. The historic Round House in Slaton, Texas (above) is a Lubbock-area testament to its influence. The organization was renamed the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railroad (ATSF) Company in 1893 when its lines became part of the Santa Fe Railroad system. The company remained active in land colonization, town-site development, and transportation throughout its history.

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Our ATSF records don’t just consist of plans for dormitories on the rim of the Grand Canyon, such as the one above. They also contain early 20th century correspondence between local businesses and various local, state, and regional divisions of the ATSF, most prominently those in Abilene, Lubbock, and San Angelo, Texas. Other correspondence and financial documents cover various subjects and hail from small, scattered towns throughout the ATSF’s area. And, as with any railroad collection, we have reams of timetables, train order slips, annual reports, and other such goodies.

So if you’re interested in seeing more ATSF materials, head over to our digitized plans or look over the collections’ finding aids. Then give us a call, and we’ll get them into your hands!

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Women of Texas Music

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Mary Jane Johnson (photo courtesy of Texas Monthly™)

March is Women’s History Month, and in recognition of that the Crossroads Music Archive at the Southwest Collection/Special Collections Library has curated an exhibit entitled The Women of Texas Music.

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The most prominent musician among those featured is Mary Jane Johnson. Counted among the great dramatic sopranos and considered one of opera’s premiere interpreters, Johnson has toured North America, South America, Europe, and Asia. Among her many heralded interpretations, that of Minnie in La Fanciulla del West stands out. It has been heard on stages around the world including the Teatro Communale in Bologna, the Puccini Festival in Torre del Lago, at the Baths of Caracalla in Rome, on tour in Japan with La Scala, and with the Santa Fe Opera Festival. Her career went to the next level when she appeared with Luciano Pavarotti in a televised performance as Musetta in Puccini’s La Boheme with the Opera Company of Philadelphia.

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Susan Grisanti, known as the “First Lady of Classical Guitar in the Southwest,” was a recognizable figure in Lubbock, Texas music for over four decades. A gifted guitar instructor, she taught over 5,000 students during her career and served as a resident house musician at local Lubbock institutions. The Crossroads Music Archive contains the materials donated after her death in 2013. In fact, the “Susan Grisanti Memorial Fund” was established to help preserve her music legacy at the Crossroads Music Archive.

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Beginning in the 1950s, the Hancock Family helped usher in the era of modern Lubbock Music. The family has participated in notable bands from The Roadside Playboys to the Texana Dames. The Dames was an all-female trio, with mother Charlene Hancock and siblings Traci and Conni Hancock. Their career spanned some 25 years. The Dames music varied from cumbia to country, and was a favorite for dancers.

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The Heart Beats were an all-female garage rock band based in Lubbock and founded around 1966. They were led by drummer and lead vocalist Linda Sanders, along with younger sister Debbie Sanders (guitar), Debbie McMellan (bass guitar), and Jeannie Foster (guitar and keyboards.) They attracted nationwide attention in the summer of 1968 when they won the battle of the bands on the popular ABC-TV variety show Happening 68, hosted by Mark Lindsay and Paul Revere of Paul Revere & the Raiders.

The materials documenting the lives and careers of musicians both female and male can be found at the Southwest Collection/Special Collections Library. In fact, our always-helpful Reference Staff would be happy to arrange for you to view them yourselves.

– by Curtis Peoples & Robert Weaver