I'm trying to remember how old I was—and how disappointed, as well—when I first realized that the St. Louis-San Francisco Railway (the Frisco) never made it to San Francisco. Buried in the names of many a fallen flag are, I am sure, story after story of dreams that turned to dust and grandiose plans which never quite came true. But perhaps in no case were more such stories ever condensed into a single railroad than you will find here. The Waco, Beaumont, Trinity and Sabine Railway Company never made it to Waco. Its tracks never reached Beaumont. No train of the company ever crossed the Sabine River. And it entered Trinity over rails purchased from another company.

The W. B. T. & S. was chartered as the great railroad boom was rapidly winding down. While it received the regulatory approval to build into its namesake terminals, the necessary financing never materialized. Then came the Great Depression, which the fledgling company was unable to withstand. The company entered bankruptcy and receivership in 1930 and all hopes of expansion were soon gone.

The railway gamely struggled on for many years. In 1938, it was providing this six-day-a-week passenger service between Trinity, Livingston and Weldon. It would appear, though, that only those who were truly hard up for a ride availed themselves of this service—and we have an eloquent commentary on its quality from the few who did. It was said by the passengers of the day that "W. B. T. & S." stood for "Wobble, Bobble, Turnover and Stop!"

Read a condensed history of the W. B. T. & S. at the Handbook of Texas Online (opens in a new window).

From the pages of the Official Guide, September 1938

Trains 14, 15, 17, 18

Waco, Beaumont, Trinity & Sabine Railway Co.
March, 1937

17 15 Train Number 14 18
Ex Su Ex Su Miles Ex Su Ex Su
11 36A Dp 0.0 Livingston, TX (CT) Ar 10 56A
11 40A 0.6 West Livingston, TX 10 46A
F11 53A 3.1 East Tempe, TX F10 33A
F12 09P 6.2 Vreeland, TX F10 17A
12 17P 7.7 Blanchard, TX 10 09A
12 37P 11.6 Kickapoo, TX 9 49A
12 47P 13.6 Onalaska, TX 9 39A
F 1 03P 16.8 Pennell, TX F 9 23A
1 25P 21.1 Carlisle, TX 9 01A
F 1 45P 24.9 Sebastopol, TX F 8 41A
F 1 58P 27.5 Pagoda, TX F 8 28A
2 25P Ar 32.9 Trinity, TX (CT) Dp 8 00A
3 20P Dp Ar 6 45P
33.3 Mill Junction, TX
F 3 30P 34.2 Sequoyah, TX F 5 53P
F 3 48P 37.8 Barnes, TX F 5 35P
F 3 58P 39.6 Auburn, TX F 5 25P
F 4 20P 43.9 Kittrell, TX F 5 05P
4 40P Ar 47.6 Weldon, TX (CT) Dp 4 45P

Train 14: 10 stops, 2:56, 11.2 MPHTrain 15: 10 stops, 2:49, 11.7 MPH

Train 17: 4 stops, 1:20, 11.0 MPHTrain 18: 4 stops, 2:00, 7.4 MPH

Connections at West Livingston with Texas and New Orleans R.R. (Southern Pacific Lines) and at Trinity with International-Great Northern R.R. (Missouri Pacific Lines). 

As a teenager in the early '80s I used to go exploring—okay, trespassing—in the old Houston Union Station (now Minute Maid Park) and the now-shuttered Ben Milam Hotel across the street from it. The Ben Milam apparently had been the location of the W. B. T. & S. receiver's office before final liquidation, and the hotel had some displays telling the history of the railroad and a few of its artifacts. Everything is gone now, of course, but I do believe that I will always carry a bit of a soft spot for the old Wobble, Bobble, Turnover & Stop.