Marshall experienced tremendous growth in the 1870s when a rail depot was built, connecting Marshall to eastern states. The rail line brought new people to Marshall, including many freedmen seeking higher education at Wiley College. Educators and students at Wiley quickly developed a reputation for academic excellence and leadership, with names like Matthew Winfred Dogan, Rebecca D. Buard, and Melvin Tolson gaining national prominence. Marshall would later become an epicenter of the Civil Rights movement in Texas.
Today, the Buard History Trail—a driving tour—includes a number of important African American sites, such as historic Wiley College, New Town, and the Old Powder Mill Cemetery. The Marshall Convention and Visitors Bureau provides a trail guide brochure.Buard History Trail