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Transformation of Texas Transportation


This lesson plan was written for grades 9–12.


Students will:


Materials needed are:

Note: Those without classroom Internet access may use the poster of the 1891 Fort Worth view to complete portions of this lesson. The poster is available through the Amon Carter Museum’s Teaching Resource Center.


1. Explain to students that the growth of farming and railroads led to an industrial revolution in Texas. Between 1879 and 1889, 6,000 miles of railroad track were laid in the state. Have students brainstorm about how the railroad helped the economy of a city. (Possible answers include the following: businesses could now ship goods to other parts of the country, new immigrants could arrive in Texas to work and buy goods, goods could be brought in from other places, and new businesses could develop.)

2. Tell students that cities located where the rail lines met, such as Austin, Dallas, and Houston, saw rapid gains in population and increased economic activity. Working as a class or in groups, have students look closely at bird’s-eye views of Austin, Dallas, and Houston.

3. As evidenced in the Austin, Dallas, and Houston views, numerous railroad companies had their eyes on Texas cities. Explain. Have students read the article “Shall We Take the Stock?” from the December 14, 1871, Austin American Statesman. Tell students that in 1871 Austin was deciding whether to allow the Indianola, Lavaca, and Austin Railroad Company to come to Travis County. This letter to the editor supports the position of the Indianola, Lavaca, and Austin Railroad Company.

4. Two options for the concluding activity are as follows:

TEKS Connections

Social Studies

Language Arts

This lesson plan was created by the Education Department of the Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth, Texas, to accompany the Texas Bird’s-Eye Views Web site and was made possible by a generous grant from Burlington Northern Santa Fe Foundation representing BNSF Railway Company.