www.txrrhistory.com - Tower 4 - Dalhart

Crossing of the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad and the Ft. Worth and Denver Railway

In 1901, the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific (CRI&P) Railroad built southwest across the Texas panhandle from Liberal, Kansas toward Tucumcari, New Mexico, crossing the Ft. Worth & Denver (FW&D) Railway which had built through the area in 1888. The crossing location was named "Denrock", a hybrid of the two railroads' names, but the Post Office later rejected this name, so the new settlement was named Dalhart for the two counties, Dallam and Hartley, whose county line the town straddles. Served by two major railroads, the town quickly outgrew other settlements in the region and became the county seat of Dallam County.

As a rural rail junction, the crossing at Dalhart was a perfect spot for an interlocker. Without one, all trains were forced to stop at the crossing in a town that would otherwise be bypassed by most trains. Since the Railroad Commission of Texas (RCT) rules governing interlockers took effect about the time the crossing was being established, plans for the control tower were able to incorporate those rules. The result was that Tower 4 at Dalhart was one of the earliest authorized interlockers in the state. The railroads crossed in an "X" pattern just north of what became the Dalhart central business district. Tower 4 was originally located on the north side of the X, less than a mile from both depots. The proximity of the crossing diamond to downtown Dalhart created a major traffic congestion and safety problem. The main street through downtown, Denrock Ave., crossed both lines very close to the diamond; waiting trains blocked this and other grade crossings. In 1939, the Texas Highway Department and the City of Dalhart began a major grade separation construction project that would tunnel Denrock Ave. underneath the rail crossing and also create a tunnel for US Highway 87 along the alignment for Pine Street. The widening of Denrock Ave. through the tunnel required Tower 4 to be relocated to the east side of the crossing. A series of temporary modifications to the interlocker was approved by RCT to facilitate continuous operations during the various phases of construction. Today, the FW&D line is a main route of BNSF while Union Pacific operates the former Rock Island "Golden State Route".

In addition to the close-up photograph below of Tower 4 from the John W Barriger National Railroad Library, we also have a fascinating series of picture postcards of the downtown area of Dalhart, taken over a series of years, which document the existence of Tower 4.
 

Historic Photos of Tower 4

Above: Facing east, this photo was taken sometime in the 1930s. The Rock Island station is in the distance.


Above: One of the earliest photos shows downtown Dalhart still in the horse and buggy days.
At the edge of the tree line on the right side of the photo, at the far end of the street, Tower 4
is barely visible.

Below: These two photos show early model cars and dirt streets. Tower 4 is clearly visible in the distance.



Above: Tower 4 is easily seen as a large, two-story structure at the end of the street.
Below: A color photo of Tower 4 from the Traces of Texas Facebook page.


Modern Photo of Interlocker 4

Above: Facing northeast, the concrete and iron railings adjacent to the crossing diamond serve
to prevent railroad workers from falling into the approaches to the highway tunnels beneath the
rail junction at the site of Tower 4. The former Rock Island depot is visible in the distance as a
two-story yellow building to the right of the large tree. (Jim King photo c.1998)

Below: A photo of a tower (presumably Tower 4) hangs on a wall at a museum in Dalhart.
(Help! I have lost the details on who took this photo and when -- if this is your photo, please let me know)

Tower 4 Location Map

Tower 4 Vicinity, Satellite Image

 
Last Revised: 2/19/2014 JGK - Contact the Texas Interlocking Towers Page.