Allen’s roots run deep. Let history come to life on Allen’s Historical Driving Tour! Experience some of Allen’s oldest and most beautiful landmarks, homes, and buildings while learning about the city’s railroad origins.
ONE OF A KIND HISTORY
Allen’s most recognizable landmark is the Old Stone Dam, built in 1874 and used as a steam locomotive watering station by the Houston and Texas Central Railroad. You can explore the dam by way of Allen Station Park, located on Cedar Drive and Exchange Parkway. Make sure to pack your walking shoes for this stop!
The beautifully shaded, tree-lined path leads directly to the water station bridge overlooking the dam, where you can take in the view and sounds of the water. Enjoy this stop during any season; you’ll often see bike riders, hikers and locals who need a serene escape doing the same. The 1874 Old Stone Dam is one-of-a-kind in the United States for a reason.
We know you’ll be tempted to stop and spend your day here, but keep going! You can choose your adventure by walking along one of the three paths, each with scenic views and a different adventure for any outdoorsy person. Continue your journey along the water station bridge and immerse yourself in a little more history at the gated foundation that once housed the water tower and pump house. Or, stroll down the paved path towards the rest of Allen Station Park, where you’ll run into other fun activities, including a baseball field, playground, wake park, and more. The path that points toward the 1910 bridge will take you where history and art intersect.
Fun Fact: The Old Stone Dam isn’t the only photo op available here. At the four-way stop, head towards the arrow that points to the 1910 Bridge until you find an underpass of Allen’s city long railroad with art from Allen locals. It’s an Instagram-worthy gem.
COPS AND ROBBERS
Story has it that Sam Bass and his gang pulled off the first successful train robbery in Texas at Allen Station while the train stopped for water at the 1874 stone dam. Across the train tracks at Allen Depot (a.k.a Allen Heritage Center), you too can step back in time. Marvel at the restored locomotive and red train car, newly located in front of the quaint yellow replica of the original freight/passenger depot built in the early 1900s.
The Allen Depot now houses a museum of rotating exhibits that give a nod to the “old” Allen. Explore the staged Allen Police Station, antique collections and informative videos to make history come alive.
LIVE LIKE A [OLD TOWN] LOCAL
Next stop, the Allen Heritage Village. Here you will see and experience life from the perspective of some of Allen’s early settlers. The humble brick church on the corner of St. Mary Drive will grab your attention, but the “village” of restored historic homes and buildings are sure to keep it.
The renovated Wetsel house represents what some would call “simpler times.” This beautiful I-house/Pennsylvania Dutch style farmhouse is the oldest structure standing in Allen today. For its time, the home has an unusual stairway banister that indicated the owner’s familiarity with cabinetmaker’s books of the time. (Owner Lewis Westel was known to be a furniture and cabinet maker himself.) This time capsule back to the late 1800s will capture your attention with its Victorian-style décor and intricate woodworking.
Once the largest church in Allen, The Allen Christian Church features original stained-glass windows, and simple trim work true to its craftsman-style architecture. Pay close attention to the details in the baptistry, flooring and original pews.
Follow along the red brick road on the village’s backside, to see hidden features such as an old outhouse or the remains of an abandoned farmer tenant house add to the unique stories. History buffs will want to carve out at least an hour for this in-depth, self-guided tour.
Fun Fact: “The little white church at the end of the lane” also known as St. Mary Church, can still be rented out for small weddings and events. Between its original hardwood floors, green ceiling boards, choir rails, the church, and all its original glory remain a charming and crucial part of Allen’s history.
TELL A TALE
You can learn more about how Allen got its start into becoming the great city it is today by viewing the “Tales of Allen” series produced by the nationally award-winning Allen City Television (ACTV).