Texas Railroad History - Tower 81 - Houston (T&NO Jct.)

A Crossing of the Galveston, Harrisburg & San Antonio Railway and the Gulf, Colorado & Santa Fe Railway

Historic Photos - Tower 81

Above: John W. Barriger III took this photo of Tower 81 out the back of his private railcar as his train headed south on
Santa Fe tracks toward Alvin. The photo is undated but it is very possible that this photo was taken shortly after he took a
photo of Tower 84 on April 14, 1934; both photos were taken southbound leaving Houston on Santa Fe tracks.
(John W. Barriger III National Railroad Library)

Below: Tower 81 in 1936, looking west on the Texas & New Orleans tracks (courtesy Greg Johnson)

Above: A northbound train passes Tower 81 to enter New South Yard.

Tower 81 is located in southeast Houston at the junction of the former Galveston, Harrisburg and San Antonio (GH&SA) Railroad and the former Gulf, Colorado & Santa Fe (GC&SF) Railway. The tower was commissioned on May 7, 1910. The GH&SA line was a major route running from nearby Harrisburg on Buffalo Bayou west to San Antonio and El Paso, a legacy of the first railroad built in Texas. The Santa Fe line was a major branch into Houston from their main line at Alvin. By 1910, the Santa Fe line north of Tower 81 was being operated under lease by the Houston Belt & Terminal (HB&T) Railroad, of which Santa Fe was a principal owner. The HB&T constructed New South Yard just north of Tower 81 and continues to operate significant levels of traffic through it. The GH&SA became a Southern Pacific (SP) property and was integrated with SP's principal operating railroad in Texas, the Texas & New Orleans (T&NO) Railroad. Today, the former T&NO tracks are owned by Union Pacific (UP), and the former GC&SF tracks are owned by Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF).

Modern Photos of Tower 81 Site

Above: An equipment hut numbered "81" replaced the manned interlocking tower at the
site of Tower 81. The nearby sign denotes the crossing as "T&NO Junction". Photo by Jim King c.2000
Below: A Google Street View of the crossing taken in early 2017 shows a newer equipment cabinet has replaced the one in the photo above.
The sign on the cabinet still references "T&NO JCT".

Tower Locator Map, Southeast Houston


Last Revised: 2/20/2018 JGK - Contact the Texas Interlocking Towers Page.