Other Views from 1890

Where is Alvord?

Above: Thaddeus Mortimer Fowler (1842–1922). Alvord, Texas 1890, 1890. Toned lithograph, 9.9 x 17.2 in. Published by T. M. Fowler and James B. Moyer. Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth.

Alvord in 1890

The Fort Worth and Denver City Railway reached Alvord, about 13 miles from Decatur, early in 1882 as a part of the company’s pell-mell rush to meet the construction crews from Denver in the Texas Panhandle.[1] The small Wise County town had begun life as Nina, a tent city on the railroad about fifty miles north-northwest of Fort Worth. It was named Alvord in honor of the president of the railroad and grew to the point that it was incorporated in 1890, the year that Thaddeus M. Fowler documented it.[2]

Fowler viewed the city from the south, depicting the street grid and overall topography accurately. Wise County has a combination of rolling hills, significant stands of timber, pastureland, and creeks, one of which is traversed by the railroad bridge at the right-center edge of the image. The business section seems concentrated at the intersections of Wickham and Trapier streets with Elm Street, which runs parallel to the railroad. The depot is located on the tracks between Trapier and Wickham, and Brown’s Hotel, later the Alvord Hotel, is located just east of the depot. Fowler’s illustration is fairly detailed, but he omitted the alleyways that bisected each block. Although windmills had been in use for several years making the settlement of West Texas much easier, Fowler seems to be the first bird’s-eye view artist to include them in his pictures.[3]

Fowler’s technique is especially evident in this view, because the several buildings that he emphasized (the public school, 1 on map; the Alvord Mills, 5; the churches, 2, 3, 4) seem to be so much larger than the nearby structures, even when the structures are two-stories tall.