Videos about Fate History

The Fate Girls: A History of Fate Texas, stars Jo Leonard, Katherine Stevener, and Billie Stevenson, three of the six original “Fate Girls.” The girls were born and raised in Fate Texas in the 1920s and have been the unofficial keepers of the history of the town. They now tell of the historic past for future generations. The topics include the origin of the city name and the original location, the Zollner "Hobo Ranch,” railroad, cotton farming, the 1933 tornado, Church history, the Fate School District, World War II rations, modernization, and names of influential residents.

Dallas Heritage Village MKT Depot Restoration

When the Missouri, Kansas, and Texas (KATY) depot of Fate was first built in Rockwall County, it served many functions. Passengers and freight moved on and off of trains, Fate’s mail traveled efficiently, and the telegraph chirped messages to distant places.

After the building moved to Dallas Heritage Village at Old City Park in 1973, it remained a multi-use structure. It was an orientation center, with a film projected on a screen in the freight room from a projection booth in the former segregated waiting room, and had a kitchenette for catering. Then it became a static depot exhibit, with train books, a mail-sorting exercise, and a flat car out front.

Changing standards and weather damage took their toll, and by 2014 the depot had long-needed repairs, upgrades, and new exhibit design. The Kalman and Ida Wolens Foundation funded the full project in memory of Bennett Miller, whose many services to the museum included bringing in the rail car. The building, its outside accessories, and its interior could be redone to better educate the public about railroads, depots, and all of their social and economic implications.

Along with a new roof, the structure needed careful, sensitive wood replacement. The battens that were originally replaced by the museum in the 1970s were far from the right size, which had been visually disturbing for forty years. New ones were milled to the original size and profile. Meanwhile, carpenters used geometric calculations to cut new verge boards to match the fanciful design sported by all Katy depots of the late 1800s. Rotted window sills were consolidated with epoxy, and all the windows rendered operable. Visible graffiti in the freight room was verified as authentic by locating the names in the records of the Fate employees.

The rail car took almost as much work as the building. A conservator documented the faint original markings, and Ron Siebler studied the history of flat cars to determine its age and the string of alterations it had endured. Then, the failed paint was removed, and the car repainted with appropriate signage. A cargo exhibit on top includes crates and barrels and agricultural equipment.

The KATY sign hanging near the freight room was in very poor condition, but unquestionably authentic. Conservator Brad Ford Smith of Studio Six Art Conservation restored it, after removing several spots of earlier, amateur repairs. That sign gives visitors a clue to what they will find inside the depot waiting room, a new exhibit on the KATY, the railroads’ role in building modern Dallas, and the social and cultural implications of the railroads. Various travelers have left their trunks open to reveal their lives, including a teacher, a young dentist who would soon be known as Doc Holliday, and Dallas’ first African-American architect, William Sidney Pittman.

The ticket office contains working telegraph keys and a route-planning game for children. As they move to the freight room, they review railroad images from the 1940s and are challenged to calculate freight weights and charges. The interactive nature of this exhibit follows the latest discoveries in effective museum education. It also uses the depot structure to convey historical information in an authentic atmosphere. This project accomplished a stellar act of building preservation. The building now supports Dallas Heritage Village’s dual mission of education and preservation to a new and elevated degree.

2005 Rockwall County Historical Foundation Brown Bag Luncheon

Above is a video recorded during a Brown Bag Luncheon hosted by the Rockwall County Historical Foundation in February 2005 of the "Fate Girls" giving a talk about Fate's history.