Preserving the Legacy of the St. Louis Southwestern Railway


Commerce Depot
Cotton Belt Depot, Commerce, Texas
Ed Cooper photo | Robert McFatridge engineer

The 8th Annual
Cotton Belt
Railroad Symposium

Sam Rayburn Student Center
Texas A&M University-Commerce

Commerce, Texas

Friday-Saturday, Oct. 4-5, 2013.

The 8th Annual Symposium is scheduled for  Friday Evening and Saturday on the first weekend in October.

Friday evening's activities include an informal "Show-And-Tell"/"Mix-N-Mingle," the premiere viewing of Steve Goen's video of the St.LS-W #819's 1988 & 1992 trips to Tyler, and an acoustic music Jam Session.  Bring your acoustic instrument and join in.  Railroad artifacts and information will be displayed by a number of museums, historical societies, and individuals.  If you have items of railroad interest, particularly of significance to the Cotton Belt, you would like to display, please contact Jason Davis so we can arrange for appropriate table or display space.  Please note that this is NOT a swap-meet.

The formal event on Saturday will consist of a panel discussion, the premiere viewing of Steve Goen's video of the St.LS-W #819's 1993 trip to Tyler & Athens, the induction of Harold J. McKenzie into the Texas Transportation Hall of Honor, a luncheon with musical entertainment, and update on NETEX/Blacklands Railroad operations on the Cotton Belt's former C-branch, and a presentation on Cotton Belt's FT Locomotives by Ed Cooper.  Audience participation is encouraged.  North Texas T-Trak will have an operating model train layout on-site during the event on Saturday.

After adjournment at the Student Center, Railroad Partners, Inc., will present a display of working railroad motorcars on the track at Dyer Junction in downtown Commerce and the East Texas Model Railroad Club will host an open house viewing of their club layout in the rear of the former Commerce Middle School Gymnasium, next to the downtown Fire Station.

Harold J. McKenzie
Cotton Belt President, 1951-1969

Harold J. McKenzie
Harold J. McKenzie | Photo: Texas A&M Transportation Institute

The Cotton Belt Symposium Committee is honored to collaborate with the Texas A&M Transportation Insitute in acknowledging the outstanding leadership and transportation contributions of Cotton Belt President Harold J. McKenzie.  The Symoisum will host the official ceremony to induct Harold J. McKenzie into the Texas Transportation Hall of Honor.

Harold J. McKenzie joined the Cotton Belt Railway at its president on July 1, 1951, following 25 years as an engineer for the Southern Pacific and the completion of an Advanced Management degree at Harvard.  McKenzie is credited with the successful reorganization of the railroad and improving its safety and efficiency.  He retired from the Cotton Belt on October 31, 1969, and devoted his remaining years to active railroad consulting and civic leadership.

The 2013 Cotton Belt Symposium is dedicated to the memory of Cotton Belt Railroad President, Harold J. McKenzie, 1904-1991.

Luncheon (RSVP deadline past)

A Luncheon, sponsored by BNSF Railway and featuring live musical entertainment, is held on Saturday.  Sorry, we can no longer accept meal ticket reservations.  The deadline to request tickets was Tuesday, October 1.  Anyone may still join us for the accompanying musical entertainment, with or without a meal ticket.  Off-campus dining is available locally at a number of Commerce's fine dining establishments.

Presented by

TAMU-Commerce College of Science, Engineering, & Agriculture

TAMU-Commerce Department of Engineering & Technology

James G. Gee Library Special Collections

Commerce Public LibraryCommerce Public Library logo

2013 Sponsors

Luncheon Sponsor:


Gold Spike Sponsors:

Petra Strassberg & Jacqueline Book

Blacklands Railroad
Wayne Defebaugh, President

Bronze Spike Sponsors:


JetStream Technologies

NETEXCletis Millsap, Chair, Northeast Texas Rural
Rail Transportation District (NETEX)

Mei-Ying Elaine Lin

Dr. Madeline & James Justice 

Sponsorship Opportunities Available...

You or your company could appear here and on our printed promotional materials for the upcoming symposium!  Multiple sponsorship levels are available.  All sponsorship contributions are tax deductable.  For more information on becoming a sponsor, please see our Sponsorship Opportunities page.  Sponsorships are accepted anytime, but must be confirmed by Friday, Sept. 23, 2013 to ensure inclusion in our major print materials in order to meet printing deadline.  Sponsorships confirmed after this date will still be acknowledged on the website and at the event.
The Symposium Committee reserves the right to decline any sponsorship application.

Symposium History