Incorporated in May, 1968, Riverside, Texas, is
located twelve miles North of Huntsville on State Highway 19.
The city of Riverside, Texas, was founded in 1872 when
the economy was run by cotton gins and the railway, and the
Houston & Great Northern Railroad (later International
& Great Northern) was being built in the area.
The reason the railroad was built was that the river
dried up in late summer and the steamboats could no longer
navigate all the way to Riverside. Walker County landowners
give earth, timber and rock to the railroad in order to gain
shipping facilities. We
began as a railroad town and grew alongside the tracks on the
South side of the Trinity River, thus the name “Riverside
The first map of Riverside was made in December,
1873, by G. A. Grow and Ira H. Evans, president and secretary
of the railroad. It
was filed in Huntsville on March 18, 1874, and shows eight
blocks South of the Trinity River.
The eight blocks run East and West with Front Street
alongside the tracks. Another
map filed in 1881 shows Front Street And twenty-five small
developed churches, a four-teacher school and two blocks of
the building of the railroad, passengers bound for Trinity and
points North had to disembark at Riverside (the train backed
up to Dodge and took another route) and continue by taking a
ferry across the Trinity River.
In 1914-15 the Wisconsin Bridge and Iron Company
erected the Riverside Swinging Bridge, perhaps the last
surviving railway structure of its type in Texas.
The bridge was designed to turn a complete ninety
degrees to permit the passage of steamboats and barges on the
Trinity River. At
294 feet long and 15 feet wide, the Riverside Swinging Bridge
is located on the main-line track of the Missouri Pacific
Railroad, across the Trinity River.
It may be approached on foot along the railway
right-of-way from town, but it should be noted that the bridge
and its approaches are private railroad company property.
The bridge itself is dangerous and visitors are warned
not to trespass on the structure.
Perhaps the best view of the bridge is from the State
Highway 19 bridge over the Trinity River.
was first known for its cattle, cotton gin and cottonseed oil
mill. As the river
and the railroad were close at hand, this was a means for
shipping these products North.
one time, Riverside boasted cotton gins, steamboat docks, a
blacksmith, livery stable, barber shop, saloon, hotel, and a
general mercantile, which housed a make-shift bank.
Eventually that bank merged with the Huntsville Bank
and over time became Huntsville National Bank.
In 1921 Conoco and Texaco both built refineries for
Fuller’s Earth, a natural purifying agent. The last pit
closed around 1980. A
fire in 1925 consumed two city blocks, including the hotel,
which was never rebuilt.
World War II, a prisoner of war camp was located three miles
West of Riverside. Prisoners were brought to
Riverside by train, and marched to the camp. After the war
Houston State Teachers College (Now Sam Houston State
University) purchased the facility for $1.00 to use as a Country
Campus. The site
still bears the name.
The old Trinity River Bridge was designed by the
Texas Highway department and completed by P & B Construction
Company in 1941. A
new bridge was built to expand the highway to four lanes and was
dedicated on September 29, 2003.
The old bridge has been refurbished, is now an historical
site, and is accessible from the Trinity County side of the
Since its incorporation in 1968, many changes have taken
place in Riverside, including a new City Hall, Volunteer Fire
Department, Post Office and paved streets.
There are five churches within the city limits, and more
in the surrounding area. The
Riverside United Methodist Church was built in 1903, and still
holds services every Sunday.
Businesses and employment in Riverside include
real estate offices, beauty shops, convenience stores, gas
stations, restaurants, churches, marinas, gift shops, boat
dealers, RV campgrounds, a grocery store, several water-supply
corporations, and part of Sam Houston State University.
While the population within Riverside’s city limits is
only around 450, the area affected by its industry, services,
businesses, and facilities reach a much larger part of Walker
County. For good
reason, Riverside is known as the “Small Town With a Big
by Christine Hennerich