A Crossing of the Houston & Texas Central Railroad and the Gulf, Colorado & Santa Fe Railway
Settlement of Brenham dates to the days of the Republic of Texas in 1843 when the town changed its name from Hickory Grove. Within a year, Brenham was the county seat of Washington County. In 1856, local businessmen chartered the Washington County Rail Road Co. to build a railroad to Hempstead, which was to be on the Houston & Texas Central (H&TC) Railroad's route north out of Houston. The H&TC reached Hempstead in 1858 and the Washington County Rail Road began construction west toward Brenham that same year. With some delay bridging the Brazos River, it was not until 1861 that Brenham saw its first train. After the Civil War, the Washington County Rail Road was acquired by the H&TC which extended the line to Austin, driving the last spike there on Christmas Day, 1871. The second railroad into Brenham, the Gulf, Colorado & Santa Fe (GC&SF) Railway, reached town in 1880 building from Galveston to Temple. In 1914, the Railroad Commission of Texas (RCT) authorized Tower 95 as an electric interlocker to control the grade crossing of the two railroads.
While the GC&SF line through Brenham was a main line, the H&TC line through Brenham to Austin was essentially a secondary route for Southern Pacific (SP), which had acquired the H&TC in 1883 and leased it to SP subsidiary Texas & New Orleans (T&NO) Railroad in 1927. In 1961, SP began abandoning the tracks between Brenham and Hempstead, completing the job in 1962. Brenham and points west were still served by SP trains accessing those towns via the Dalsa Cutoff at Giddings. In 1979, SP abandoned the Giddings - Brenham segment, with some tracks in Brenham sold to Santa Fe to serve local industries. The Santa Fe line through Brenham remains a main line of successor Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway.
Historic Railroad Photos, Brenham
Above: Aug. 1, 1922 photo of Tower 95, provided courtesy of the
Santa Fe Railway Historical and Modeling Society.
Below: A postcard photo of the Union Passenger Depot in Brenham, across the
diamond from Tower 95; note the common fence post style in the tower photo
at the top of the page
Historic Map, Tower 95
Above: The 1931 Sanborn Fire Insurance Co. map of Brenham shows the T&NO/GC&SF
crossing in downtown Brenham, with Tower 95 sitting across the Santa Fe tracks from the
Union Passenger Station.
Below: Magnification reveals a 2-story tower with the stairs located on the north side.