www.txrrhistory.com - Tower 30 - Houston (Harrisburg, Katy Neck)

Crossing of the Galveston, Harrisburg & San Antonio, the Galveston, Houston & Henderson, and the Galveston, Houston & Northern railroads

Construction of the first rail line in Texas began in 1853 as the Buffalo Bayou, Brazos and Colorado (BBB&C) Railroad built westward toward San Antonio from Harrisburg, a settlement on Buffalo Bayou. A few years later in the 1857-1860 time frame, the Galveston, Houston & Henderson (GH&H) railroad built north from Galveston to Houston, crossing the BBB&C just west of Harrisburg at what was effectively the first major crossing of two railroads in Texas. After the Civil War, the BBB&C was taken over by the Galveston, Harrisburg and San Antonio (GH&SA) Railway. In the 1880s, the GH&H was sold to the Missouri-Kansas-Texas (MKT) Railroad, commonly known as "The Katy". At that time, the Katy did not yet reach Houston, so the GH&H was leased to the International-Great Northern (I-GN) Railroad. Years later, the Katy reached Houston and connected with the GH&H, and the GH&H ownership was split between the Katy and the I-GN, both railroads using the line for access to Galveston.

The Galveston, La Porte and Houston (GL&H) Railway was another railroad that passed through Harrisburg. The GL&H owned tracks between Harrisburg and La Porte, paralleling Buffalo Bayou, from La Porte to Texas City, paralleling the coastline of Galveston Bay, and from Harrisburg to Magnolia Park. At Harrisburg, the GL&H tracks crossed the GH&H and GH&SA. In 1899, a newly chartered railroad, the Galveston, Houston & Northern (GH&N), was established to acquire the GL&H. The GH&N operated until 1905 when it was acquired by GH&SA. On December 31, 1903, the Railroad Commission of Texas (RCT) authorized operation of Tower 30 to control the complex rail junction at Harrisburg. Years later, the junction at Tower 30 became known as "Katy Neck", a term still in use by railroaders today. Eventually, all of the GH&SA and GH&N tracks became owned by the Texas & New Orleans (T&NO) railroad, Southern Pacific's principal operating railroad in Texas. Today, all lines crossing at Katy Neck are owned by Union Pacific.

Historic Photo, Tower 30

Tower 30 photo, David Milton Collection. This photo was originally
published in the SP Bulletin, May/June 1951. There are no photo
credits in the magazine. The SP Bulletin was a publication of the
Texas and New Orleans Railroad Co. J.C. Carter was editor. The
photo is facing west on the Harrisburg line towards West Junction.
The GH&H tracks are crossing in the foreground. Track from
mainline switch is now removed.

Modern Photos, Tower 30

Above: A modern view of the former location of Tower 30.  Photo by Jim King, 2005.
Below: A gray scale reduction of a 1969 photo taken by Greg Johnson. Tower 30 was
a cabin interlocker in those days.

Another 2005 view of the Tower 30 automatic interlocker.  Note the Tower 30 sign on the
equipment shed.  Photo by Jim King.

Historic Map, Tower 30

Tower 30 appears as a small square "Signal Tower" at the center of this image from
the 1951 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map of Houston. The image was rotated so that
north is up, resulting in some upside down lettering for the "Eddy Refining Co. Inc.".

Location Map, Tower 30

Satellite Image, Tower 30 Vicinity

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