Friday, August 24, 2012
However, there were problems with the new railroad. Just importing the workers and building the first section of track had cost the New York, Texas & Mexico Railway Company some two million dollars. Only 92 miles of track had been laid and half of the workforce had already quit because of sickness and poor conditions. What was a crisis became a total disaster in July of 1882 when Texas ordered a halt to all railroad construction in the state. The problem was a rather major bookkeeping error by which Texas had issued land grants for about 8 million more acres than were available. Oops! Math can sure be a pain. However, Count Telfener did not let that get him down. He still ran trains on the 92 miles of track he had already put down in Texas until 1884. The next year his track was bought by the Southern Pacific company so that the old “Macaroni Line” is still around today, running through towns which bear the name of the family of Count Giuseppe Telfener. There is Telferner (yeah, they spelled his name wrong), Inez (named after his daughter), Edna (named after his other daughter), Louise (his sister-in-law) and the towns of MacKay and Hungerford named after his business partners.
Culture came to north Texas thanks to Italian innovation. It started with Antonio Ghio who owned and operated a dry goods store in Jefferson, Texas from 1867 to 1873. When the locals refused to allow Jay Gould to build a railroad through Jefferson, Ghio decided business prospects would be better elsewhere and he moved to Texarkana. In that famous city, Antonio Ghio helped organize a Catholic Church and supported the establishment of a Catholic education system. With business flourishing he also brought the first railroad to Texarkana, built an artificial gas plant and an opera house to give the area some refinement and Italian culture. In 1884 he opened a second theatre and three years later the attraction of Spring Lake Park. Anthony Ghio was elected Mayor of Texarkana, serving three terms, was married and had eight children. One of his granddaughters, Corrine Griffith-Marshall was one of the first big American movie stars in the early days of the silent pictures.