The Cotton Belt Depot Visitors Center serves as a travel information center for the Gatesville area, providing tourist/visitor information to travelers, and relocation information to the newest members of the community.
The Gatesville Chamber of Commerce operates this facility and makes it available to the public for community activities. Looking for a small meeting room? Download this Facility Utilization Agreement and then contact us to inquire about using this historic facility.
The Cotton Belt Depot Foundation’s goal is to provide visitors and newcomers with a great first impression of our beautiful city and this historic building.
A Bit of History
Before a year or so of the 1880's had passed, rumors of a railroad for Gatesville became a reality. Citizens organized to persuade the Cotton Belt to extend it's tracks to Gatesville with a cash offer of $30,000. The money was easily raised and land was donated to give the town two trains daily, both passenger and freight. Gatesville became the terminus of the line, making the town the feeder for the whole county. The town began making strides that nearly quadrupled her population, size, and business in ten years.
Built in 1910 (elevation 825) , the Cotton Belt Depot has earned a historical place in the local community. The Depot served Gatesville and the surrounding community until the early 1970’s when train service was discontinued.
The Cotton Belt Railroad's freight service into Gatesville stopped at 12:01 a.m. on Thursday, November 16th, 1972. The St. Louis Southwester (Cotton Belt) Railway ended more than 80 years of service when the last locomotive pulled a couple of freight cars and a caboose out of the depot at 3:40 p.m.
The building sat unused until the early 1980’s when purchased by a commercial business. Title for the 21,375 sq. ft. (0.5 acre) of property and building was subsequently transferred to the Gatesville Chamber of Commerce. Since that time, the Gatesville Chamber of Commerce has operated from this location, serving Gatesville and the surrounding communities by promoting commerce and assisting travelers and local citizens.