Harold J. McKenzie (1904-1991) forever changed the face of East Texas, first as the President of the Cotton Belt Railway and then as a founder of what is now the University of Texas at Tyler. Raised in Houston, McKenzie graduated from Texas A&M University in 1927 and worked as an engineer for 25 years at the Southern Pacific Railway in Houston. He then went to Harvard's Advanced Management Program, completing it in 1950. In 1951 he joined the Cotton Belt Railway, becoming the youngest railroad president in the nation. Under his 18 years of management, the Cotton Belt became one of the safest, most efficient railways in the country. McKenzie also moved Cotton Belt headquarters from St. Louis, Missouri to Tyler, Texas, sparking job and economic growth in the area. After retiring in 1969, he spent 15 years as a railroad consultant while helping to found Tyler State College in 1971 where he served as the first chairman of its Board of Regents. With his help it expanded into Texas Eastern University in 1975 and finally the University of Texas at Tyler in 1979. McKenzie was a highly respected man in his profession and locally; among other recognitions, he was named a Who's Who in America in 1977 and was presented the T.B. Butler Award in 1954 and the People of Vision Award in 1982. He was inducted into the Texas Transportation Hall of Honor in 2004, and the North Dallas Tollway McKenzie Plaza is named in his honor.
Preferred Citation: [Identification of item], in the Harold J. McKenzie Papers, The University Archives and Special Collections Department, Robert R. Muntz Library, The University of Texas at Tyler, Tyler, TX, USA.