A Crossing of the Texas City Terminal, the Galveston, Harrisburg & San Antonio, and the Galveston, Houston & Henderson railroads
Tower 73 was authorized for operation by the Railroad Commission of Texas (RCT) as an 11-function mechanical interlocker in November, 1907. The tower managed a junction of two main line railroads and a port terminal railroad. The first railroad through this area was the Galveston, Houston & Henderson (GH&H), one of the earliest railroads in Texas chartered in 1853. The GH&H's only line was from Galveston to Houston where it exchanged traffic primarily with the Missouri - Kansas - Texas Railroad and the International & Great Northern Railroad, two railroads that shared split ownership of the GH&H beginning in 1895. The other main line railroad that served Texas City was the Galveston, Harrisburg & San Antonio (GH&SA), a part of the Southern Pacific system since 1881. Their ownership of a line through Texas City resulted from a 1905 acquisition of the Galveston, Houston & Northern (GH&N) rail line that ran from Tower 30 at Harrisburg, near Houston, to Galveston via LaPorte. The GH&SA and GH&H tracks merged to parallel just north of Tower 73 and remained this way south to Tower 98 at Virginia Point, the entry point to the Galveston Island Causeway they shared with the Gulf, Colorado & Santa Fe (GC&SF).
The third railroad at Tower 73 was known as the Texas City Terminal (TCT) Railway. The TCT connected to the GH&SA and GH&H to serve port facilities three miles east. A two-mile extension to the west was built in 1907 providing a GC&SF connection. This apparently motivated the construction of Tower 73 since the TCT now crossed the two main lines at grade. Tower 73 was likely a traditional manned two-story structure, but we do not have any photographic evidence. While a cabin interlocker might normally be used to control a slow, shortline railroad's crossing of a main line, cabins were initially used only for "single diamond" crossings, and none are known to have been authorized prior to the establishment of Tower 102 in 1915. At some point, Tower 73 was dismantled and replaced by a cabin interlocker that remains at the site today. The GH&H and GH&SA lines are now owned by Union Pacific (UP). The TCT is still in operation under that name.
Recent Photo, Tower 73 (photo by Stephen Hesse)
A cabin interlocker, possibly still in use, identifies this as the site of Tower 73. Note the control stand with "UP" and "TCT" labels. The
camera is facing east-northeast toward the port of Texas City.
Map, Tower 73 Vicinity
Bird's Eye View (facing east) of Tower 73 interlocker (Microsoft
The parallel tracks across the image are the former GH&SA (upper) and GH&H (lower), heading toward Virginia Point and
Galveston to the right. The TCT crosses both lines at right angles adjacent to the Tower 73 cabin interlocker.