Texas Railroad History - Tower 109 - San Antonio

Crossing of the San Antonio Belt & Terminal Railway and the San Antonio & Aransas Pass Railroad

Historic Photo, Tower 109

Above: This image, from the John W Barriger III National Railroad Library, shows Tower 109 in the late 30s. The view is northeast toward downtown along the San Antonio Belt & Terminal (SAB&T) tracks, with the San Antonio & Aransas Pass (SA&AP) tracks crossing behind the tower. Below: A view similar to Barriger's photo but taken 50 years later, this image was posted to trains.com in 2010 by "leighant", credit unknown.

In 1917, the Missouri-Kansas-Texas (MKT, "Katy") railroad funded the construction of the San Antonio Belt & Terminal (SAB&T) Railway and then leased it for 99 years (and it expired in 2016 ! ?) to provide switching services among railroads in the San Antonio area. One of the customers for the SAB&T's services was the San Antonio & Aransas Pass (SA&AP) Railroad which had a main line from Corpus Christi to Kerrville via central San Antonio. The SA&AP became controlled by the Southern Pacific (SP) system and was eventually merged into the Texas & New Orleans (T&NO) railroad, SP's principal operating company in Texas. Tower 109 was established in 1918 at a crossing of the SAB&T and SA&AP railroads in south central San Antonio. It was abandoned in 1959.

Location Map, Tower 109

Below: The 1952 republication of the 1912 Sanborn Fire Insurance map of San Antonio shows the tower located immediately west of the crossing. Most likely, this map was updated sometime after the construction of Tower 109 in 1918. Other than a "2" indicating a two story structure, the writing on the map at the tower is illegible under high magnification.

Observations of A. Tyrrell Kott
"One of the interesting things about Tower 109 was that the otherwise double track line from Sloan Yard to the passenger depot necked down to single track to cross the SA&AP Kerrville branch right at the tower. An industry siding off the SA&AP also crossed the MKT single track a few feet north of the main line SA&AP crossing. I think the abandonment of Tower 109 was occasioned more by a drop in passenger and freight (to the freight station) movements on the double-single-double track MKT line than any traffic on the Kerrville branch. However, in late steam days, I used to see Mk-5 2-8-2s on the Kerrville branch with long strings of hoppers and gondolas from the same gravel quarry that it serves to this day. As an interesting note, Union Pacific did not realize that they still served a customer north of this crossing, and they took up the diamond in 2000 in error and disposed of it!! The industry (Judson Candy Co.) still received occasional tank cars of syrup and a piece of track had to be placed over the ex-SA&AP main with a crane every time a car had to be set out or retrieved! I was unable to get photos of the actual operation; does anyone have some?? This strange operation persisted for about a year. As for Tower 109, I measured it in the 1970s and it had been abandoned for years then. It was physically torn down in 1978 or so. I rode the Texas Special once a week to San Antonio from September, 1963 until it was cut off in the summer of 1965 and I remember that Tower 109 was abandoned then, although in much better condition. It must have been abandoned in 1960 or so."

The site of the Judson Candy factory along the SAB&T was converted to loft apartments and condos in 2007.

Tower 109 Vicinity

Above: The blue line is the abandoned right-of-way of the SAB&T; the red line is the former SA&AP track past Tower 109 that remains intact.

Above: This Microsoft Visual Earth image of the Tower 109 crossing shows that the SAB&T tracks have been removed, but the ex-SA&AP tracks remain in use. The tower was located where debris now sits between the end of the parking lot and the SA&AP tracks. Below: Looking south toward the site of Tower 109, the SAB&T tracks remain intact at the Alamo St. grade crossing. Note the SA&AP trestle...still in use. (Google Street View, Dec. 2017)

Below: South of Tower 109, the scars of the former SAB&T wye junction are visible in this satellite image. This junction connected SAB&T lines among Towers 109, 105 and 112. A small segment of the "Sunset Route" east/west main line is visible in the lower left corner.

Last Revised: 1/28/2019 JGK - Contact the Texas Interlocking Towers Page.