Texas Railroad History - Tower 19 - Dallas

Crossing of the Gulf, Colorado & Santa Fe (GC&SF) Railway and the Missouri-Kansas-Texas (MKT) Railway

Above: John W. Barriger III took this photo from the rear platform of his business car as his train was headed south out of Dallas on tracks of the Missouri-Kansas-Texas (MKT) Railroad. The photo likely dates to sometime between the mid 1930s and the early 1940s. His car has just crossed the Gulf, Colorado & Santa Fe tracks south of downtown where Tower 19 is visible, having controlled the interlocker since the summer of 1903. The view is to the northwest toward downtown Dallas; the crossing was an angled X-pattern and the tower sat in the north quadrant.

Tower 19 was located approximately three miles southeast of Dallas Union Station at a crossing of the GC&SF ("Santa Fe") and MKT railroads. Railroad Commission of Texas (RCT) records indicate the tower began operations on July 27, 1903. The tower ceased operations in 1993, but remained at its service site until August, 1996 when the structure was moved to Fair Park in Dallas and subsequently to the Museum of the American Railroad in Frisco, Texas for permanent preservation and restoration.

  Left:  MKT GP 94 passes Tower 19 heading to Dallas Union Station in February, 1980.

Right: A Santa Fe caboose passes Tower 19 in September, 1982.

(both photos by Myron Malone)

Location Map, Tower 19

Above: In addition to the MKT and GC&SF, Dallas Union Terminal Railroad (DTR) served the vicinity of Tower 19. Burlington-Rock Island trains also passed Tower 19, sharing the MKT line. Tower 10, a mile northeast of Tower 19, controlled a crossing of the Houston & Texas Central (H&TC) Railway and the Santa Fe. In 1932, a  new General Railway Signal Company interlocking system was installed in Tower 19 and the interlocker controls for Tower 10 were consolidated into it. Presumably, Tower 10 was razed shortly thereafter.

In 1990, Santa Fe sold its Dallas yard and the tracks south toward Midlothian to the Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) system. DART planned to use a portion of this right-of-way for a light rail line into southwest Dallas. In 1991, the Southwest Railroad Historical Society, operators of the Age of Steam Railroad Museum at Fair Park, began efforts to acquire and preserve the tower. Even though DART now owned the rail line, the tower was still in service. The original plan was for Tower 19 to remain at its original location until it was removed from service. However, Union Pacific needed additional time to make changes to support removing Tower 19 from service. To prevent delaying construction of the light rail line, Tower 19 had to be moved from its original location. In 1993, the tower was removed from its first floor concrete foundation and shifted about 50 feet east. It rested on movers beams, but had all necessary control functions re-connected for service. The tower was removed from operational service for the last time in the summer of 1993. It remained at the crossing, unused and unprotected except for boards over the windows, for more than two years. The building suffered vandalism and had most of its copper wiring stripped out by thieves. Fortunately, most of the damage was on the lower floor. The upper floor, including the interlocking machine and track diagram, remained intact.

Above Left: By September 1992, the diamond connecting the Santa Fe Dallas Yard to its line to Cleburne had been removed. The sale of the Santa Fe property to DART and the associated changes that would put Tower 19 out of service had begun. In the background, a KCS train can be seen; KCS used the Santa Fe yard as their interchange point in Dallas. Above Right: The tower was moved in August, 1996 to Fair Park and placed on a newly poured concrete base to match the original height of the tower. (Hume Kading photo)

Below: With the tower removed, DART constructed a grade-separated crossing for its light rail line to south Dallas, passing over Union Pacific's ex-MKT tracks. (Microsoft Virtual Earth image)


Above: Track diagrams hang above the interlocking machine to give the operator a visual indication of the area controlled. Small lights on the diagrams would illuminate whenever a train would enter a track circuit at a particular location near the tower. (courtesy Bob Courtney, 1984)

  Left: By pulling or pushing the levers on the interlocking machine, the tower operator could align switches and signals for a specific train movement. Once aligned, a conflicting movement could not be aligned until after passage of the first train. Right: The operator's desk inside Tower 19 incorporates a track diagram at the top of the console. As technology improved, functions which were once controlled by the large handles on the interlocking machine could be reduced in size and controlled by small electrical switches. Tower 19 was controlled by a combination of these small switches and the large handles on the interlocking machine. (courtesy Bob Courtney, 1984)   

Link to Tower 19 Historic Tower 19 Drawings

Below: Google Street View image of Tower 19's new home in Frisco, Texas. The concrete foundation restores the tower to its historic height.

Last Revised: 1/15/2021 JGK - Contact the Texas Interlocking Towers Page.