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)