Texas Railroad History - Tower 11 - West Orange

A Crossing of the Orange & Northwestern Railroad and the Texas & New Orleans Railroad

Originally a tram road built to move east Texas logs to mills in Orange, the Orange & Northwestern (O&NW) was chartered in 1901 as a common carrier railroad to convert the tram line to standard gauge and extend it northward to Buna. In 1902, the conversion and northward extension was complete, crossing the Texas & New Orleans (T&NO) railroad Sunset Route at grade west of town. The T&NO had first arrived in Orange in 1860, but the tracks were destroyed during the Civil War and not rebuilt until 1876. Pursuant to a Special Order dated 5 June 1902 resulting from a hearing held by the Railroad Commission of Texas (RCT) on 21 May 1902, the O&NW was ordered to construct and install an interlocker at the T&NO crossing. Although the O&NW had the obligation to build the interlocker, it was actually installed by the T&NO, and on 27 June 1903, it was approved and assigned as Tower 11.

The O&NW was acquired by railroad magnate B. F. Yoakum in 1906 and extended northward to Newton. Yoakum believed the O&NW would be an excellent feeder line for his Gulf Coast Lines via a connection at Mauriceville. Yoakum was attempting to piece together a continuous rail line between New Orleans and Houston to compete with the Sunset Route. A gap in Yoakum's New Orleans-Houston railroads was bridged by rights on the Texarkana & Ft. Smith between DeQuincy, LA and Beaumont. This line intersected the O&NW at Mauriceville, a site that was later interlocked as Tower 125. Union Pacific now owns both railroads. The junction at Tower 11 still exists but is no longer a crossing. The O&NW tracks southeast of the crossing have been removed. The tower is long gone.

 Microsoft Visual Earth Images - Tower 11 Site

Above: This annotated image shows the location of the Tower 11 crossing in West Orange. The ex-O&NW line proceeds northwest toward Mauriceville. The ex-T&NO line runs mostly horizontal across the image from west (toward Beaumont) to east (toward New Orleans). As can be seen from the image, additional connections between these two lines now exist. Below: Aerial view of the Tower 11 crossing. RCT drawings on file at DeGolyer Library at SMU indicate that Tower 11 was located on the southwest side of the crossing, presumably near the utility pole visible in the image.


Last Revised: 09/16/2008 - Contact the Texas Interlocking Towers Page.