www.txrrhistory.com - Tower 35 - Dallas (Highland)
A Crossing of the Houston & Texas Central Railroad and the
Historic Photo, Tower 35
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 mid
to late 1930s 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, though it has been substantially updated.
Below: This recent 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, but the window pattern matches in both photos, particularly the arched upper window that is
partly obscured by the tree branch. The arch is more easily detectable in the Barriger photo when it is adjusted for brightness and contrast.
1930 Aerial Photo, Tower 35
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. This is important because only the Katy right-of-way can be determined today
with any precision -- the H&TC right-of-way was obliterated by the construction of Central
Expressway. Since Cornell Ave. is still intact, comparing this image to current maps shows that
the crossing diamond was in the middle of what is now Central Expressway where the former
Katy Railroad bridge crossed. The bridge was built when the freeway was constructed, by which
time the H&TC line had been abandoned.
When the Houston & Texas Central (H&TC) Railroad built through Dallas in 1872, the town was just another rural community in north Texas. By 1886, when the Missouri-Kansas-Texas ("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 lines crossed a few miles north of downtown Dallas at a location that became known as "Highland". Both lines moved significant traffic through the diamond, and in 1904, Tower 35 was established to interlock the crossing. Some years later, Mrs. Baird's Bread Co. built a bakery west of the junction, and later, the Dr. Pepper Company built its headquarters northeast of the junction. A rail siding next to the Dr. Pepper building was known as "Oasis".
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 to permit the Southern Pacific, owner of the H&TC, to bypass downtown. The former north/south main line was relegated to secondary status and then eventually abandoned. In 1927, SP passenger trains began using the Katy tracks between Union Station and Tower 35. After World War II, the H&TC right-of-way was used for the construction of Central Expressway, one of the first freeways in Texas. In 1950, Tower 35 was decommissioned, and in the early 1990s, the Katy line was taken out of service by successor Union Pacific.
Katy Railroad Bridge Construction
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 appears to be looking south with
Mrs. Baird's Bakery visible at lower right. [Editor's note: I have lost my
information for the source of this photo. If you know, please contact me.]
Tower 35 Track Charts (from
These 1926 track charts show an approximate relationship between the Tower 35 junction and the Oasis siding. 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. South is to the right; east is "up".
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 a connection
for Dallas Union Terminal movements, and was used for SP passenger trains after they began using the Katy tracks between Dallas Union Station
and Tower 35.
Portions of the former rights-of-way of both railroads are now used by the Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) system north and east of the station.
The abandoned right-of-way of the Katy Railroad is still evident immediately south of
Mockingbird Station. (Jim King photo c.2000)
Mockingbird Station is below ground to facilitate access to the DART tunnel beneath Central Expressway south to downtown.
(Jim King photo c.2000). This entire area is now the Mockingbird Station mixed-use development.
Tower 35 Vicinity, Satellite Image
This Google Earth image of the vicinity of Tower 35 shows the extensive development that has occurred here since the
tower was abandoned in the 1950s. 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. The abandoned Katy right-of-way south of the station is still intact although the bridge over
Central Expressway is long gone. West of the freeway, the paved Katy Trail provides a hike & bike path to downtown Dallas
along the Katy right-of-way. Tower 35 would have been in the middle of where the former Katy bridge crossed Central