Texas Railroad History - Towers 25 and 26 - Houston

Crossings of the Texas & New Orleans Railroad with the International - Great Northern,
Houston East & West Texas, and Houston Belt & Terminal railroads

Historic Photos, Tower 26

Above: A view of the east side of Tower 26 taken in the 50's (Joe R. Thompson courtesy of the Railroad
and Heritage Museum in Temple).

The above view is of the north side of Tower 26 looking south on the HB&T. This image, and the two glimpses of Tower 26
below, are from photos in the John W Barriger III National Railroad Library that were probably taken in the late 30's or 40's.

Below: A view of the west side of Tower 26 with an eastbound freight passing by. (Joe R. Thompson courtesy
of the Railroad and Heritage Museum in Temple).

Modern Photo, Tower 26 (Photo by Paul Fafrak)

This Tower 26 structure was built in 1959.

On September 29, 1903, Towers 25 and 26 began operation as adjacent manned interlocking towers 1300 ft. apart on an east/west segment of the Texas & New Orleans (T&NO) Railroad north of downtown Houston. Both had electrical interlockers built by the Taylor Signal Company. Tower 25 was to the east and controlled a crossing of the T&NO and the International - Great Northern (I-GN) Railroad. It was located in the northwest quadrant of the diamond. Tower 26, to the west, controlled the T&NO crossing of the Houston East & West Texas (HE&WT) Railroad's main line to Shreveport. Tower 26 was located in the northeast quadrant of this crossing. Midway between the two towers a north/south segment of the Houston Belt & Terminal (HB&T) Railroad crossed the T&NO. This was a northerly extension of Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe (GC&SF) Railway tracks that had been transferred to HB&T when it was established by Santa Fe and three other railroads in 1905. In 1927, Tower 26 was relocated eastward to be adjacent to the HB&T crossing. This allowed Tower 25 to be decommissioned on June 21, 1927 and its functions taken over by Tower 26. It has not been determined whether this was a completely new Tower 26 structure; the original tower would have been more than 20 years old and possibly too small to house the additional equipment for the Tower 25 interlocking. The fate of the Tower 25 building has not been determined. Please contact us if you have a photo of Tower 25 or additional information.

Over the years, Tower 26 took on additional control responsibilities as other Houston-area towers were closed, replaced by remotely controlled electrical interlockers. Tower 26 took over the functions of Tower 71 in 1930, Tower 210 in 1961, and Tower 13 in 1966. The controls of Tower 207 (roughly 100 yards west of the original location of Tower 26) were probably transferred to Tower 26 sometime in the 1960's. In 1959, Tower 26 was rebuilt at the same location. It was eventually replaced by fully automated systems and was finally demolished on November 10, 2001. The towers are gone, but the tracks past Tower 26 continue to carry extensive traffic for owner Union Pacific Railroad.

Tower 26 sits beside the automatic interlocking cabinets that replaced it.  [Jim King photo]             UP EMD SD40-2 power going past Tower 26 [Tom Horan photo]

Amtrak's Sunset Limited rolls past Tower 26 in June, 1978 (photo credit unknown; if this is your photo, let us know!)

Above: The 1907 Sanborn map shows Tower 26 (magnified at right) in the northeast quadrant of the T&NO/HB&T crossing.
Below: The 1907 Sanborn map shows Tower 25 (magnified below right) in the northwest quadrant of the T&NO/I-GN crossing.

Above: The 1951 Sanborn map shows the new Tower 26 (magnified at right) at the intersection of Burnett Ave. and Mary St. in the northwest
quadrant of the T&NO/HB&T crossing. The 1951 map also shows the two original tower locations as vacant.

Tower 25/26 Area Satellite Image

Above: This 2013 satellite image of the Tower 25/26 area annotated with historical ownership and locations shows the extensive
changes that have occurred in the 100+ years since the towers were commissioned. The image shows new construction underway to
build the "Maury St. Connector" between UP Terminal Subdivision Main Track 1 and UP West Belt Subdivision Main Track 1 (hat tip
to Chris Tolley for the explanation).

Below: This 2011 Google Street View image faces west-southwest along the former T&NO (now Union Pacific) tracks with downtown
Houston in the background. Parallel HB&T tracks cross the center of the image. Between June, 1927 and November, 2001, Tower 26
sat trackside near the grove of trees on the right. The automated interlocking cabinets are visible further down the tracks.

Last Revised: 5/6/2017 JGK - Contact the Texas Interlocking Towers Page.