Texas Railroad History - Tower 35 - Dallas (Hiland)

A Crossing of the Houston & Texas Central Railway and the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad

Above: This image of Tower 35 is from photo MKT117 of the John W Barriger III National Railroad Library. The shot was taken by Mr. Barriger
from the rear platform of his business car as it was southbound on the Katy railroad heading to Dallas Union Station. The date is unknown, but late 1930s or early 1940s is a reasonable guess based on other photos in the library. The view is looking to the northeast along the Katy. The street crossing in the foreground is Airline Drive, and the house visible in the image is still standing (see below), though it has been substantially updated.

Below: This Feb. 2017 Google Street view shows the house on Airline Drive that is visible in the above photo next to the former Katy right-of-way. The house has been updated considerably as would be expected for a span of 80 years. The garage in the foreground has been rebuilt, and a second story was added in the back of the house. The arched upper window remains intact but the windows below left have been converted to a windowed doorway.

When the Houston & Texas Central (H&TC) Railway built through Dallas in 1872, the town was just another rural community in north Texas. By 1886, when the Missouri-Kansas-Texas (MKT, "Katy") Railroad entered Dallas from the north under the charter of the Dallas & Greenville Railway, Dallas was developing into a major rail and transportation center on the banks of the Trinity River. The two rail lines crossed a few miles north of downtown Dallas where both companies moved significant traffic across the diamond. On March 31, 1904, Tower 35 was established to interlock the crossing. The Railroad Commission of Texas (RCT) 1904 Annual Report is the first to list Tower 35, identified as being located at "Carruth" with a 12-function interlocking plant installed by the H&TC. The name "Carruth" is a misspelling of the Caruth family name, owners of much of the land near the crossing. By this time, the H&TC had already come under ownership of Southern Pacific (SP), but it continued to operate under its own name.

Although the tower's physical location never changed, the 1915 RCT Annual Report re-identified Tower 35's location as "Oasis", the name of a community in Dallas County located about a mile northeast of the tower. The next descriptive change occurred with the 1924 RCT Annual Report where "DUT" (Dallas Union Terminal, legally "Union Terminal Co.") was cited as one of the railroads involved with the interlocker, in addition to the MKT and H&TC. The "DUT" citation remained in subsequent annual reports until 1927 when it was shortened to "UT". The 1930 report made a significant change, replacing "UT" with "DTR&UD", the abbreviation for "Dallas Terminal Railroad and Union Depot." Unfortunately, Dallas Terminal Railroad and Union Depot was not the same company as Dallas Union Terminal! This was likely a mistake by RCT; the 1931 report reverted to "UT", the final annual report to list all interlockers in Texas.

The involvement of DUT with Tower 35 is interesting because Tower 35 was a long way from downtown where the DUT provided switching services to the eight railroads that shared its ownership. The company was chartered in 1912 as part of the development of Dallas Union Station and it began building switching tracks in 1916. Division of Expense documentation obtained by Carl Codney from SP's offices in Houston provides some insight into DUT's involvement with Tower 35. One document states that the Union Terminal Company's "connection put in service Oct. 8, 1201 AM. This division of expense effective Oct. 8, 1916." The connection referenced was a track between the MKT and H&TC rail lines in the northwest quadrant of the Tower 35 diamond. Apparently, this connection was deemed necessary for DUT to meet its switching obligations to its owners, and it meant that DUT had to pay their fair share of the maintenance expenses for Tower 35 (even though RCT did not list them as part of Tower 35 until late 1923.) The document also mentions that H&TC operated and maintained the tower. Handwritten notations document H&TC's removal of two distant signals, one in 1927 and one in 1928, that reduced its expense share to 25%. DUT and MKT each paid 37.5%.

In 1923, the Dr. Pepper Company was founded in Dallas and built their headquarters and bottling plant in the northeast quadrant of the diamond (including a siding known to railroaders as "Oasis".) Five years later, Mrs. Baird's Bread opened a modern bakery in the northwest quadrant of the diamond; the bakery remained in operation until 2002. And despite having been identified as "Carruth" and "Oasis" in RCT records, Tower 35's location was commonly known to railroaders as "Hiland", an abbreviated reference to "Highland Park", a real estate development begun in 1907 southwest of the crossing that became (and remains) an incorporated town in Dallas County. The 1916 Division of Expense document used "Highland", but the two superseding documents used "Hiland", as does a summary list produced by SP.

As Dallas continued to grow, the H&TC tracks through downtown became a safety and traffic congestion problem. In 1926, the Dallas Belt Line was completed, enabling SP to bypass downtown Dallas. At that time, the former H&TC main line was relegated to secondary status between Tower 118 and Gifford, a location several miles north of Tower 35 where SP trains bypassing downtown connected to SP's main line to the north. In 1927, the H&TC was integrated into SP's operating railroad in Texas, the Texas & New Orleans (T&NO) Railway, and shortly thereafter, T&NO passenger trains began using Katy's tracks between Union Station and Tower 35 to reduce activity on the former H&TC tracks into downtown. This routing used the DUT connecting track in the northwest quadrant of the diamond to facilitate southbound T&NO-to-Katy and northbound Katy-to-T&NO transitions. A new Division of Expense statement was issued effective October 9, 1930; the expenses were divided as 35.29% for DUT, 41.18% for MKT, and 23.53% for H&TC.

Tower 35 was replaced by a cabin interlocker on December 31, 1936 and a new Division of Expense was issued setting MKT's share at 55.56% and H&TC's at 44.44%. DUT was dropped from paying for the interlocker maintenance and operation since the cabin was only operated by T&NO train crews as needed, and the plant did not control DUT''s switches. Presumably the tower structure was removed at this time. The move to a cabin interlocker is not surprising since the Katy tracks had become the main passenger route and the Dallas Belt Line had eliminated the need to use the former H&TC tracks for freight. T&NO apparently still served a few customers that required crossing the Katy via a cabin interlocker, but it was clear by this time that the former H&TC line would not survive much longer. Different SP documents list different dates for the final demise of the Tower 35 interlocker: one says February 15, 1941 and another says March 8, 1951. Although the 1941 date seems a bit early, we do know that in 1947, the T&NO right-of-way between downtown and Hiland was officially abandoned (per RCT records) and soon became the construction path for Central Expressway. This does not prove that the 1951 date is incorrect; it's possible that H&TC's tracks across the Katy were still intact south of the tower for a short distance (i.e. served from the north), and it might have taken until 1951 for the freeway construction to reach the tower site several miles north of downtown.

In the early 1990s, the Katy line through Dallas was taken out of service by successor Union Pacific and was purchased by Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) for conversion to light rail use. Although the Katy tracks northeast of the crossing were converted to light rail, DART elected to use a tunnel beneath Central Expressway between downtown and Mockingbird Station, the vicinity of where Tower 35. The Katy segment between downtown and Tower 35 was then converted to a hike and bike trail.


Tower 35 Track Charts (from T&NO Archives)

Above: These 1926 track charts (with North to the left) show an approximate relationship between the Tower 35 junction and the Oasis siding ("passing track".) The crossing was at a more acute angle than is depicted on the charts, with the Katy on a NE/SW heading and the SP heading approximately north/south. The black square depicting Tower 35 is in the southwest quadrant of the crossing. The track labeled "U.T.Conn" in the northwest quadrant was added to facilitate Dallas Union Terminal movements by SP passenger trains. Note the "coal spur" off of the "SMU Spur" in the left frame, where Southern Methodist University received coal shipments for distribution to heating facilities around campus. The right frame shows a connecting track in the southeast quadrant "removed Sept. 1922". The purpose of this connection is unknown, but one possibility is that it was installed to support the 1909-11 construction of White Rock Lake, east of Tower 35, to which the Katy built a spur to supply coal to the pump house (and, perhaps, building materials during construction of the dam, which was located near the pump house.)

Below: This snippet from a late 1920s map of Dallas County shows the Hiland crossing at lower left. Proceeding east along the MKT line from Hiland there are three significant railroad items to note. First, the Texas Electric interurban line crossed over the Katy. Today, this is a power line ROW. Next, the spur to the White Rock Pump Station splits off from the Katy and heads southeast to the lake, crossing under T&NO's Dallas Belt Line as it neared the lake. And finally, the Katy crossed over the Dallas Belt Line near Fisher.

1930 Aerial Photo, Tower 35

Above: In October 1930, Sherman Mills Fairchild took 93 aerial photographs of Dallas and surrounding areas commissioned by the City of Dallas. This photo is part of photo #60 available on-line from Southern Methodist University. The small black square in the center of the image is the shadow of Tower 35. The tower is a small white square immediately below (south of) the shadow, between the tracks, southwest of the crossing diamond. The map legend identifies 17 as Cornell Ave. The crossing diamond was located where a line extending east on Cornell Ave. intersected the two rail lines.

Katy Railroad Bridge Construction

Above: The design of Central Expressway required the freeway to pass beneath the Katy Railroad. To facilitate construction, a temporary track was built to permit rail operations to continue during the bridge construction. In this photo, the bridge abutments have been constructed on both sides of the freeway, but the central span of the bridge is not yet in place. The view is looking south with Mrs. Baird's Bakery visible at lower right.

Above: In this February, 2017 Google Street View of the Airline Drive crossing over the Katy Trail, the view is to the northeast toward the site of Tower 35. Sound walls for Central Expressway are visible beyond the end of the trail. The house visible in Barriger's photo is behind the trees and fence at left.

Above: This Google Earth image of the vicinity of Tower 35 shows the extensive development that has occurred there since the tower was abandoned. The east/west thoroughfare is Mockingbird Lane, with the DART station immediately north of where the Katy right-of-way crosses. The DART Blue Line uses the former Katy right-of- way to the northeast while the DART Red Line curves back to the north to rejoin the original SP alignment. South of Mockingbird Station, DART uses a tunnel to reach downtown. Tower 35 would have been in the middle of where the former Katy bridge crossed Central Expressway.

Last Revised: 3/27/2018 JGK - Contact the Texas Interlocking Towers Page.