Texas Railroad History - Tower 18 - Fort Worth (Hodge)

A crossing of the Texas & Pacific Railway and the St. Louis - Southwestern Railway

The precise structure and location of Tower 18 remains a mystery, even though the crossing it controlled is well known. The mechanical interlocking plant designated by the Railroad Commission of Texas (RCT) as Tower 18 is known to have controlled the crossing of the St. Louis - Southwestern ("Cotton Belt") Railroad and the Texas & Pacific (T&P) Railway in northeast Tarrant County. The T&P line ran from Sherman to Ft. Worth via Whitesboro, built in 1880 to connect the western terminus of the T&P's Sherman-Texarkana line with their main east-west line passing through Ft. Worth. Since this connection passed through Whitesboro to which the Katy Railroad had built from Denison, the T&P line provided a convenient route for the Katy to reach Ft. Worth. A long-term trackage rights agreement was signed by the Katy and the T&P. As a largely north/south carrier, the Katy probably used this line as much or more than the T&P. The Cotton Belt line was a long branch line built in 1888 connecting Ft. Worth into the Cotton Belt system via Commerce and Mount Pleasant.

The two rail lines crossed northeast of Ft. Worth at a location listed by RCT as "Joint Track" in the their 1902 annual report. This is presumably a reference to the joint operation of the T&P and MKT, but there is no rationale for this being the name of the crossing location (all other locations were either towns or other geographic points). This has led to some confusion in properly identifying the location of the tower. The listing of Tower 18 as being located at "Joint Track" persists through the 1923 RRC Annual Report. In 1924, the location is listed as "North Ft. Worth" and this designation persists through the 1927 report. Unfortunately, it also conflicts with the traditional name of Tower 60, a few miles away. In 1928, the location of Tower 18 is listed as "North Ft. Worth (Hodge)". In 1931, the interlocker type is listed as being "automatic" - all previous reports listed it as a mechanical interlocking. The 1931 report was also the last report to list the locations of all interlocking plants.

In modern times, the location "Hodge" refers to a rail junction located 2.5 miles southwest of the T&P/SSW crossing, but the track diagrams in the RRC files clearly show the Tower 18 interlocking as controlling the T&P/SSW crossing. Is it possible that the controls for the crossing were moved to Hodge in 1924? (...or perhaps 1928?) A photo of the tower has not been located, and the confusion over the Hodge reference remains to be resolved. Today, the T&P line is a Union Pacific main line while the Cotton Belt line is operated by the Fort Worth and Western short line, which also hosts the Grapevine Vintage Railroad along this route.

From the memory of Chuck Harris:
Glad to help out with the StLSW/T&P-MK&T crossing near Hodge. The place was called Swestern on the Cotton Belt (SSW). It wasn't very far from the SSW yard office at Hodge and the T&P-MKT yard office at Hodge. The two railroads were about a mile or so apart and made a gradual slant toward each other before crossing. You could see the crossing of the two railroads from North Sylvania Ave grade crossing which was at the east end of the SSW yard. I would say a mile or so. Yes, there was a tower there, but probably gone by 1925 or 26. A 1916 dispatcher's train sheet for the SSW shows a telegraph call for that location which would indicate it was occupied.

9/22/04 - Update on Tower 18 by Kal Silverberg:
Tower 18 now has a connection in place in the northwest quadrant so southbound trains on the former T&P can go west on the former SSW through Hodge Yard. There is a new track along the north side of Hodge Yard, and it has CTC signals at the east end of Hodge Yard (by Sylvania St. crossing) waiting to be turned on. The new track ties into the former FWD line just east of Deen Road. It is my understanding that UP will run directionally between Towers 18 and 55.

Modern Photos of Interlocker 18

Above: An equipment cabinet houses the automatic interlocking system formerly controlled
by Tower 18.  Photo by Jim King.

Above: A replacement of the crossing diamond with a diamond from another location
forced a curved relocation of the Fort Worth and Western's tracks east of the interlocker.
This has since been corrected.  Photo by Jim King.

Above and Below: Additional photos of the Interlocker 18 location.  Photo by Jeffery L. Ritter

Above: The acute angle of the Tower 18 crossing is easily seen in this aerial image from Microsoft Virtual Earth. North is up.
Below: Map of the Tower 18 crossing location

Last Revised: 09/17/2008 JGK - Contact the Texas Interlocking Towers Page.