A Little Port Arthur History
By James West lll
continued from home page

So when he got off the road, he moved to Chicago, and then to Kansas City, which was a MAJOR transportation hub as the country expanded westward. He sold real estate, he was always a salesman, and then decided to expand his operations. What he realized was that there was no quick route to get from the Gulf of Mexico to Kansas City. So instead of waiting around, he took it upon himself to build a railroad.  He called it the  Kansas City, Pittsburg and Gulf Railroad Company., and later the name became the Kansas City Southern railway, or KCS for short.
With the right of way  for this new railroad line, and being the traveling  salesman he was, he plotted land for towns along the way, , and either sold the land or put businesses up. Those towns included  Mena, Arkansas, Stilwell, Oklahoma, and the town at the end of the railroad line, named after a traveling salesman from Rochester, NY named Arthur E Stilwell - Port Arthur, Texas. No surprise, this fella founded over 40 towns across the US, and his real concern was not the town, it was the Port of Port Arthur, which he thought would be the greatest port in the United States.    His wife reportedly hated the heat and mosquitoes with a passion. Let's just say, she was not very fond of her husband's town sake. And he founded 40 towns, Port Arthur was just another on the list to him.  Now this is where it gets interesting.
Folks from Rochester, NY could be forgiven for not having a keen grasp of things like Hurricanes, and mosquitoes on steroids before there was a cure for Yellow Fever. So let's just say that things did not go as expected, so this Stilwell fellow, who they named the town after, lost his money, his railroad, and the town they named after him, to a fella named Gates -   John Warne Gates to be exact. I used to go read books as a kid at a Library which was named after him.
Not much happened until a few years later when some other fellows were poking holes in the ground north of Port Arthur, and one of them holes had a lot of oil in it. So things picked up, really picked up, and people from all over, but mostly Louisiana moved into town, and set up shop.
As for the fella from Rochester, NY, well, traveling salesman are a hearty lot, so since he did not have a railroad from Kansas City to the Gulf of Mexico, he picked another big body of water and built a railroad from Kansas City to the Pacific Ocean, and called it the  Kansas City, Mexico and Orient Railway. Now, unbeknownst to Stilwell, a little thing called the Mexican Revolution was getting started and that threw a monkey wrench into those plans, so he lost that railroad as well, and decided to get out of the railroad business altogether so he moved back to NY, played Tennis, read books, and tried to stay warm in the Winter.  He never, EVER, again set foot in Port Arthur.
The KCS Passenger Train station was started in 1901 and completed in 1913. As late as 1968, you could still travel directly to Kansas City, Missouri. So two pictures of the KCS station, and one of early downtown Port Arthur on Proctor Street, with folks who  not scared of hurricanes and mosquitoes. We know those folks well, don't we? Now there was another train station in Port Arthur, coming down Austin Avenue, but that station was built for a different reason.  I will talk about that later.