A Crossing of the Trinity & Brazos Valley Railroad and the St. Louis Southwestern Railroad
The St. Louis Southwestern Railroad was better known in Texas as the Cotton Belt. Their primary route was from Texarkana to Tyler, and, by the 1880s, continuing to a major junction at Corsicana where they exchanged traffic with the Houston & Texas Central Railroad. The Cotton Belt main line proceeded west to Waco, passing through the newly organized town of Hubbard in 1881, the first railroad into a small farming community that had been unincorporated for 20 years. In 1902, the newly chartered Trinity & Brazos Valley (T&BV) Railroad established corporate offices in Hillsboro and began construction there, building southeast to Mexia in 1903 and northwest to Cleburne in 1904. The line to Mexia passed through Hubbard, crossing the Cotton Belt. Shortly thereafter, a manual interlocker, Tower 46, was authorized for operation in Hubbard on July 7, 1904.
The T&BV had an interesting and tumultuous history, but this part of its route system had limited traffic. The line from Hubbard to Hillsboro was abandoned in 1935, eventually eliminating the need for Tower 46 in 1940. In 1942, the opposite direction, to Mexia, was abandoned, leaving Hubbard with only Cotton Belt service. Much of the former T&BV right-of-way is now occupied by Texas Highway 171 between Hillsboro and Mexia. The Cotton Belt was absorbed into the Southern Pacific system and the line to Waco was abandoned in the 1980s.
Historic Map - Tower 46 location
Above: This 1909 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map of Hubbard shows the crossing of the
two railroads on what is actually the northeastern edge of town. The T&BV line from
Hillsboro to Mexia crosses left-to-right at an angle, with a spur extending vertically
down to the center of town. The Cotton Belt line rises vertically from the bottom of
the image (southwest) to the northeast with a slight curve east before the T&BV
crossing at Tower 46.
Tower 46 Location, Bird's Eye View
Having survived an additional four decades, the Cotton Belt right-of-way through Hubbard is easier to find than
that of the T&BV. The Cotton Belt right-of-way is visible above as a tree line crossing approximately horizontally
through the center of the image. The T&BV was the tree line that begins in the upper left corner of the image
and stops abruptly at the Cotton Belt. The T&BV tracks probably passed between the small pond at the bottom
of the image and the adjacent house, though neither may have been there when the line was abandoned. Perhaps
the light colored spot visible at the apparent crossing is the Tower 46 foundation? [Not likely!]
Location Map, Tower 46