In 1874 Galveston County voters narrowly approved $500,000 in bonds to finance construction of a railroad line from the city of Galveston that would bypass Houston, its business rival, and reach across Texas and beyond to Santa Fe, New Mexico. Henry Rosenberg, president of the Gulf, Colorado & Santa Fe Railway Company (GCSF), broke ground at 37th and Mechanic Street on May 1, 1875. In 1879 the company completed a 50-mile line west to Richmond that included a 2? mile wooden bridge spanning the length of Galveston Bay.
Prominent Galveston businessman George Sealy bought the GCSF Company at public auction on April 15, 1879. Sealy led efforts to construct a vital spur line to Houston, acquire East Texas rail interests to supply rail ties, install telegraph lines, and establish numerous towns along the main rail line, including Rosenberg, Sealy, Temple, Killeen, Goldthwaite, and Ballinger.
GCSF joined the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railway (ATSF) in 1886 and by 1900 had added the popular Harvey House hotels and restaurants to its line. By introducing innovative radio communications in 1944 GCSF greatly expanded Galveston's national rail connections. Although GCSF was officially bought out by ATSF in 1965 various rail companies continued to use its former lines.