Texas Railroad History - Tower 27 - Quanah

A Crossing of the St. Louis - San Francisco Railway and the Fort Worth and Denver City Railway

Quanah was surveyed by the Ft. Worth & Denver City (FW&D) Railway in 1884, three years before the tracks reached the town. Named for the famous Comanche Chief, Quanah Parker, the town became the seat of Hardeman County in 1890. Deposits of natural cement and gypsum were discovered near the town, leading to the development of a significant local industry in gypsum mining and related products. In 1903, the St. Louis - San Francisco ("Frisco") Railway wanted to capture a share of the gypsum freight business for its rail network at Oklahoma City and points east. With this objective, the Oklahoma City & Texas Railroad, part of the Frisco system, crossed the Red River from Oklahoma and built nine miles of track into Quanah, making a connection with the FW&D. Tower 27 was established at this junction near downtown Quanah in October, 1903.

But the Frisco had a problem... gypsum production was actually centered at Acme, a few miles west of Quanah, and the two major plants there were served exclusively by the FW&D which had no interest in sharing freight business with the Frisco. Word of the Frisco's planned construction into Texas preceded its arrival, helping to motivate Samuel Lazarus, owner of the Acme Plaster Co., to charter his own railroad in 1902 as a means of bypassing the FW&D. The new Acme, Red River & Northern Railroad (ARR&N) proposed to build a line from Acme to Quanah which would enable Lazarus to move his gypsum products via the Frisco, providing competition for the FW&D. Before he could proceed with building the new line, the FW&D proposed an agreement to grant rights to the ARR&N to switch both plaster companies, and to use trackage rights into Quanah on the FW&D to exchange traffic with the Frisco. The ARR&N accepted the offer and operated this way for several years.

In 1909, the ARR&N was re-chartered as the Quanah, Acme & Pacific (QA&P) Railway and plans were announced to expand west to serve the growing agricultural business in the area. The QA&P also purchased a 200 ft. right-of-way on the south side of the FW&D from Acme to downtown Quanah with plans to build their own line into town. Instead of building the line into town, they negotiated a new arrangement to continue using the FW&D tracks into Quanah. The agreement allowed the QA&P to build tracks adjacent to their newly constructed passenger and freight depots on the south side of the FW&D near downtown Quanah, with the FW&D providing a connection to the QA&P depot spur off their main line. Meanwhile, the expansion to the west proceeded, with the QA&P departing the FW&D main line at Acme and proceeding southwest to Paducah and Roaring Springs. Within a few years, the QA&P came under Frisco ownership, but continued to operate as a separate entity, eventually completing their line all the way to Floydada and establishing a connection there with the Santa Fe railroad (a connection later interlocked as Tower 213).

In late 1929, as a result of a dispute with the FW&D, the Interstate Commerce Commission authorized the QA&P to build its own line into Quanah from Acme. Rather than use the land they had acquired in 1909 (along the south side of the FW&D), the QA&P acquired new property parallel to and north of the FW&D, and constructed new tracks from Acme into Quanah. About a mile west of Tower 27, the new tracks curved to the north and then back due east to connect with the Frisco north of downtown. This provided a much faster transit through Quanah for trains operating between Floydada and Oklahoma because it bypassed Tower 27. Since the new tracks were north of the FW&D, the QA&P had to install a diamond and an interlocker (Tower 171) at Acme to cross the FW&D in order to reconnect their line to Floydada. In Quanah, the QA&P depot remained south of the FW&D (where it still stands today). To reach it, the QA&P built a connecting track from their new line to the FW&D so that QA&P trains could reach the depot.

Both the Frisco and the FW&D were eventually absorbed into the Burlington system, now Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF). The FW&D tracks are a BNSF main line but the QA&P tracks west of Acme were abandoned in the late 70s and early 80s. The QA&P rail line between Acme and Quanah was retained to provide a long siding for the ex-FW&D main line, and the Frisco tracks to Oklahoma remain in place, mostly serving agricultural freight. Tower 27 is no longer standing and its fate is unknown.

Historic Photo of Interlocker 27

Photo from the book, "The Quanah Route", by Don L. Hofsommer (1991, Texas A&M University Press).

Historic Location Map, Tower 27

Above: This annotated image from the index map to the 1931 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map of Quanah
shows the junction managed by Tower 27. The Frisco passenger station is identified near the bottom
of the map next to the "4". Frisco's line continued south another six blocks and ended. The QA&P line
was a spur that joined the FW&D main line further west.
Below: This satellite image shows the QA&P bypass around the north side of Quanah built in 1930.

Above: This 1931 Sanborn map shows the QA&P passenger and freight stations located near the Hardeman County Jail.
The FW&D depot was located between the FW&D main and the QA&P spur a few blocks further east, closer to Tower 27.
Below: The QA&P Passenger Station (left) and the old Hardeman County Jail (right) photographed during the Lone Star Rails
2008 NRHS Convention's Quanah Zephyr excursion (Jim King photos)

Last Revised: 2/11/2010 JGK - Contact the Texas Interlocking Towers Page.