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.
9/22/04 - Update on Tower 18 by Kal
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.