A Crossing of the Gulf, Colorado & Santa Fe Railway and the Kansas City, Mexico & Orient Railroad
San Angelo was chosen as the route for the Gulf, Colorado & Santa Fe (GC&SF) Railway's westward push to New Mexico because of the significant business potential there for livestock shipping. Santa Fe arrived in San Angelo in 1888 after a two-year construction delay in Ballinger. Santa Fe historian William Osborn explains...
...there was debate within the company regarding the best destination for its westward terminus. On June 8, 1885 the charter was amended to provide for a change of route west of Temple, routing through the counties of Bell, Coryell, Lampasas, Brown, Coleman, Runnels, Taylor, Tom Green [San Angelo], Nolan and Mitchell, forming a junction there with the Texas & Pacific Railway. Jay Gould’s Texas & Pacific line between Fort Worth and El Paso had been completed in 1881, linking Texas and California.
This main line from Temple to San Angelo included a short branch line to Coleman from "Coleman Junction", a location between Coleman and Santa Anna. Although Santa Fe planned to push further west from San Angelo for a connection with the Texas & Pacific (T&P) in far west Texas, this did not come to pass. Instead, in 1912, Santa Fe completed an extension of their Coleman branch northwest to Slaton, connecting with the T&P at a junction east of Sweetwater that became known as "Tecific". Tecific was never included in the Railroad Commission of Texas (RCT) list of numbered interlockers; it was an unusual design -- and remains very active today -- where the two main lines are parallel for nearly two miles, sharing a common siding between them, and then crossing at a grade separated location 1.5 miles further west. Since Santa Fe had existing tracks beyond Slaton that connected with their transcontinental main line in New Mexico, the Coleman branch quickly became the main line. William Osborn adds...
In later years, when traffic on the line northwestward to New Mexico eclipsed the San Angelo branch traffic, the company began to refer to this [Coleman Junction] as “San Angelo Junction”.
A 43-mile westward extension from San Angelo to Sterling City was built in 1911 by the Concho, San Saba & Llano Valley Railroad (financed and acquired by Santa Fe), but this was as far west as Santa Fe ever went via San Angelo.
Following Arthur Stilwell's grand plan to connect Kansas City with the Pacific port of Topolobampo, Mexico, the Kansas City, Mexico & Orient (KCM&O) Railroad entered San Angelo from the north in 1910, crossing the Santa Fe line at a location that became known as Alvery Junction. Tower 82, an electric interlocker, was quickly established there in late December, 1910. As KCM&O's construction continued, reaching Girvin southwest of San Angelo by 1912, the railroad went into receivership due to an inability to produce adequate local traffic. Construction continued under receivership to reach Alpine in 1913, providing a transcontinental connection with Southern Pacific's Sunset Route. The KCM&O continued in varying states of financial difficulty until 1928 when it was bought by Santa Fe. In 1930, Santa Fe completed a branch line from San Angelo to Sonora that had been started by KCM&O.
A document from the Santa Fe Legal Archives maintained by the Houston Metropolitan Research Center indicates that sometime prior to 1924, Santa Fe removed the Tower 82 and Tower 88 (Sweetwater) interlockers without RCT permission. In April, 1924, Santa Fe's legal department advised management to reinstate the interlockers because RCT's interpretation of "the law" had not changed. The memo does not elaborate further; an image of this document is available on the Tower 88 page.
Today, the Tower 82 diamond has been removed but all legs of the original crossing are intact for switching purposes. Tower 82 is long gone and its fate unknown. The KCM&O line to the north is abandoned but the route to Alpine (and further south to Presidio) remains intact, operated by Texas Pacifico, which also operates the former Santa Fe line east to San Angelo Junction.
Above: A Santa Fe track chart of San Angelo from the Santa Fe Archives. Note the name "Del
Rio Junction", indicating KCM&O's plan to build a second line to the Mexican border. Two
depots are shown - the original Santa Fe depot and the grand KCM&O depot.
Tower 82 Site Photos
Above: Looking north, the railcars at left are on a stub of the original Santa Fe line to San Angelo, while the tracks
along the right side of the image are of KCM&O vintage, heading south to Ft. Stockton. Tower 82 would have been
visible in this photo where the rail lines converge near the center of the image. North of this crossing, the KCM&O tracks
are intact only to serve a switching yard while the Santa Fe tracks to the east constitute the main line to San Angelo Jct.
Below: Facing north, this bird's eye view of Alvery Junction shows that the crossing diamond has been removed. The
main line is now to the south and east. The tracks at lower left are on the original Santa Fe line into San Angelo but
they are only used for loading and switching, and terminate a few hundred yards to the southwest. The tracks to the
north lead to another switching yard, but are severed at the north end where the former KCM&O route to Sweetwater