www.txrrhistory.com - Towers 106 and 107 - Dallas Union Terminal

Towers Controlling Dallas Union Terminal from the North (106) and South (107)

Partly as a result of the devastating Trinity River flood of 1908, Dallas city leaders sought a long term infrastructure growth plan and hired George Kessler to produce it. By the time Kessler reported to the Dallas Board of Commissioners and Park Board in 1910, the idea had lost some of its momentum, and many of Kessler's recommendations were ignored or set aside for long term implementation (including, for example, the construction of a rail "belt line" around Dallas which was delayed for a decade, but eventually encompassed key junctions that became Towers 118 and 119). A major component of Kessler's plan that was not ignored was the need for "the building of a union passenger station along this belt railroad in the vicinity of Main and Broadway at the present western terminus of the business district." The seven railroads that served Dallas understood the need and combined to charter the Union Terminal Company in 1912 to begin planning and constructing a union passenger station on the west end of downtown. The terminal company ownership was expanded to eight railroads, each having a 12.5% share: the Texas & Pacific; the Frisco; the Rock Island; the Cotton Belt; the Southern Pacific; the Santa Fe; the Katy; and the Trinity & Brazos Valley (T&BV). The T&BV ownership share was later sold to the City of Dallas.

The station officially opened on October 14, 1916, designed for an ultimate capacity of 50,000 passengers and 80 trains every day. The track design for Dallas Union Terminal incorporated two new interlocking towers, Tower 106 on the north end and Tower 107 on the south end. Together they would manage the flow of trains through the terminal, replacing Tower 57 which had managed the existing rail junction on the west end of downtown Dallas since 1904. Tower 106, known as North Tower, and Tower 107, known as South Tower, were authorized for operation by the Railroad Commission of Texas (RCT) in April and October, respectively, 1916. An article in Volume 10 (1917), Railway Signal Engineer states that both interlockers were actually placed in service on October 1, 1916. The towers are essentially identical in appearance and both are still standing; North Tower is owned by the Dallas Area Rapid Transit system (DART). Ownership of South Tower has not been determined, but DART would be a good guess.

Historic Photos, Towers 106 and 107

Above and Below: The 1917 issue (Volume 10) of Railway Signal Engineer had a lengthy article
with details of the interlocking design for Dallas Union Terminal. The photo above shows North
Tower with two 7-track bridges while the photo below shows a close up of South Tower.

Above: Tower 107 sits beside an interurban bridge (with overhead wires barely visible) in a photo provided by the John W Barriger III
National Railroad Library
. The photo was probably taken sometime in the late 30's or early 40's. The staircase in the background provided
pedestrian access to the Houston St. Viaduct to Oak Cliff.
Below: Another Barriger image, this one of Tower 106 looking north.

Jim King photos c.1999

Above: Tower 106 now sits in a parking lot. Note the yellow DART light rail vehicle
passing behind the tower.
Below: Tower 107 with Reunion Tower in the background

Below: In this 2013 Google Earth image looking east, Dallas Union Terminal is bookended by the two towers, now with red roofs.

The tower operator in Tower 106 played a minor part in the events of November 22, 1963 when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas. Lee Bowers was the operator on duty during the time the Presidential motorcade made its way in front of the Texas School Book Depository building adjacent to the tower. Bowers had a clear view of the rear of the "grassy knoll" and he testified for the Warren Commission investigation.

Last Revised: 2/24/2014 JGK - Contact the Texas Interlocking Towers Page.