Texas Railroad History - Tower 8 - East Waco

A Crossing of the St. Louis Southwestern Railway and the International - Great Northern Railroad

Tower 8 was located in east Waco at a crossing of the International - Great Northern (I-GN) Railroad and the St. Louis Southwestern (SSW) Railway (commonly known as the "Cotton Belt"). The Cotton Belt arrived first, building from Athens to Waco in 1881 under the charter of predecessor Texas & St. Louis Railway. Two decades later, the I-GN completed a rail line between Houston and Ft. Worth, crossing the Cotton Belt on the east side of Waco. A 20-function mechanical interlocker was installed at the junction and commissioned as Tower 8 on June 12, 1903.

Over the years, Tower 8 became known locally as "Eastco Tower". It was eventually replaced by an automatic interlocker, probably in the early 1960s. The fate of the tower structure is not known but it may have been relocated south to serve as a yard tower. On November 30, 1966, SSW issued a bulletin announcing that the automatic interlocking at Tower 8 was being taken out of service. Except for two miles of track in Waco, the I-GN line from Marlin to Ft. Worth was abandoned by successor Missouri Pacific (MP) in 1965 (south of Waco) and 1967 (north of Waco). In 1988, the Cotton Belt line was abandoned by its owner, Southern Pacific (SP).

Above: Tower 8 was known locally as "Eastco Tower"; this SP track chart from 1957 shows its location Below: Cotton Belt bulletin announcing the retirement of the Eastco interlocking (both documents courtesy Tom Kline)

Above: In 1965, MP acquired SP's line between Waco and Marlin so that the circuitous I-GN route from Waco to Marlin (via Mart) could be abandoned. A new track (south of this image) was built that connected the I-GN tracks with the old SP route to Marlin. In 1966, MP began sharing Katy's main line from Waco to Ft. Worth. Another new track was built to connect MP's I-GN line with the Katy main; this connector crossed the SSW a short distance southwest of Tower 8, allowing the Eastco interlocker to be abandoned (see bulletin above). The I-GN north of the Katy connector was abandoned all the way to Ft. Worth in 1967. The SSW was abandoned in 1988, and the SSW yard became a storage yard for MP.

Below: This 1983 photo by Lewis Raby shows a MP freight crossing the Cotton Belt on the connecting track
between the Katy and I-GN main lines. (Tom Kline collection)

Last Revised: 3/30/2019 JGK - Contact the Texas Interlocking Towers Page.