Jason “Jay” Gould (May 27, 1836 – December 2, 1892) was a leading American railroad developer and speculator. Gould approached the early leaders of Jefferson with an offer to bring the railroad to Jefferson, but was rejected. Jefferson’s forefathers believed the town to be a riverport town with no need for railroad. According to local legend, Gould cursed Jefferson saying “grass will grow in your streets, bats will roost in your belfries,” and writing in the Excelsior Hotel’s guest register “The End of Jefferson.”
Gould’s private railroad car on display in Jefferson is one of the last cars Gould designed for himself. After his death Gould’s son toured in the car, and during WWI the army used the car as a mobile office. In the 1930s, the car was used to house workers during the oil boom.
In 1954, Gould’s private touring car was discovered among the weeds between Kilgore and Overton. The Jessie Allen Wise Garden Club purchased the car and moved it to Jefferson, where they worked in conjunction with the Texas and Pacific Rail Road and Gould family in order to restore the car and commemorate Jefferson’s railroad history and Jay Gould.
During the mid 1990s, Gould’s great-grandson formally lifted the curse from Jefferson.
Today Jay Gould’s private railroad car is owned and operated by the Excelsior Foundation. It remains a focal point in Jefferson’s heritage tourism industry.
Admission is $5. Visitors may call the Excelsior House at (903) 665-2513 to schedule a tour.