Sunset in 1890
Sunset was among the communities that benefited from the construction of the Fort Worth and Denver City Railroad through northeast Texas. Located about eight miles northwest of Alvord, Sunset dates from the 1870s, when a few settlers arrived from Denton County. When the FW&DC built its line through the county in 1882, several residents moved to the site of Sunset to be near the tracks, and the small community began to take form. By the time Fowler arrived in 1890 there might have been 500 residents in the town, including shopkeepers, professionals, hotel proprietors, railroad men, and farmers.
There are no contemporary maps available to compare to Fowler’s view of Sunset, but Fowler’s original drawing provides an unusual comparison with the finished lithograph. Fowler depicted the city from the north. The railroad follows a southeast to northwest course through the city. The first street on the east side of the track is named East Front, and the first street on the west side of the track is named West Front. The businesses seem to have congregated along both the railroad track and Cottage Grove Street, with the public school adjacent to the track on the west side, the Baptist Church located on Forest Street a block and one-half west of the track, and the railroad depot and the Commercial Hotel located at the intersection of the railroad track with Cottage Grove. The Texas State Gazetteer and Business Directory for 1890–91 contains an advertisement for Sunset College, but if it existed at the time of Fowler’s visit, he did not identify it.