Texas Railroad History - Tower 110 (Dayton) and Tower 148 (Fullerton)

Two Trunk Line Crossings of the Trinity Valley & Northern Railway near Dayton


Above: This undated (c.1920) linen track chart (collection of Bruce Blalock, Jim King photo, 2008) shows the main line of the Texas & New Orleans Railway running generally east/west through Dayton. The Tower 110 junction west of the yard had Trinity Valley & Northern rails going north and Dayton & Goose Creek rails going south, with connecting tracks in all four quadrants. A drawing in the interlocker archives of the Railroad Commission of Texas (maintained at DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University) shows Tower 110 in the southeast quadrant; the nearby connecting track was behind the tower. The T&NO main line had two tracks, hence the abandonment of the tower in March, 1927 resulted in the removal of two diamonds, but the tracks in all directions remained in place. The track to the north was abandoned c.1933, but the one to the south remains intact today as do both of the main line tracks.

West of the town of Liberty across the Trinity River, the community of West Liberty morphed into the town of Dayton ("Day Town"), named for land owner, I. C. Day. By 1860, it was known as Dayton Station on the Texas & New Orleans (T&NO) Railroad between Houston and Beaumont. The railroad had been chartered by a lumber company in 1856 for the purpose of connecting southeast Texas with the port of Galveston. Three years later, the vision shifted toward establishing a rail line between Houston and New Orleans. By 1860, tracks had been laid between Houston and Orange, and as the Civil War commenced, the T&NO briefly became a military supply line. The condition of the tracks deteriorated quickly, and in the post-war years, there was only intermittent service on short track segments. Eventually, the line was rehabilitated and reconstituted into a new company under the T&NO name. The first post-war train between Houston and Orange operated in November, 1876. In 1880, the T&NO commenced scheduled service between Houston and New Orleans, making it attractive to Southern Pacific (SP). SP was assembling a southern transcontinental route out of California, and it purchased the T&NO c.1881 to cover the segment between Houston and New Orleans. In the late 1920s, T&NO became the primary operating company into which SP's lines in Louisiana and Texas were leased (1927) and then merged (1934.) With a main line transcontinental railroad passing through town, Dayton prospered with commerce focused on agriculture (mostly cotton and rice), oil production and lumber.

The Dayton Lumber Company opened a sawmill at Ladd in 1906, a mile northwest of Dayton. To access its timber, the company built tram roads into the nearby forests and immediately established the Trinity Valley & Northern (TV&N) Railway as a tap line. A tap line was a chartered and incorporated common carrier railroad owned by a lumber company (and/or its closely related interests, e.g. management investors.) Tap lines moved logs inbound to the mill and wood products outbound to interchanges with trunk line railroads. As common carriers, tap lines were allowed to operate as regular railroads by charging the public for carrying passengers, packages, merchant freight, etc., and they could sign contracts to transport mail. Lumber trams provided plant services to assist in lumber production whereas tap lines sold transportation services to the public. This incentivized lumber companies to create tap lines into which they would transfer portions of their tram operations, and they would do so for debt rather than cash. The debt accounts would be repaid by profits from tap line operations. As common carriers, tap lines also could receive income from trunk lines through division rates (a percentage of the total price paid by the end recipient of a shipment.) With lumber company and tap line ownership often overlapping 90% or more, the entire enterprise (lumber company plus tap line) would realize increased revenue compared to simply selling lumber products.

Left: The Railway Age edition of June 29, 1906 carried this item regarding the contract (presumably with Dayton Lumber Co.) to build the TV&N from Dayton to Cleveland. That Cleveland was listed in the charter as the TV&N's destination became potentially valuable twenty years later.

Above: An article in the February 12, 1910 edition of
American Lumberman discussing the Dayton Lumber Co. notes that it had begun construction of its sawmill in December, 1905 and had begun sawing logs in July, 1906. For this photograph, the barely legible caption reads: "Panoramic view entire plant and sawmill town of Dayton Lumber Company, Dayton, Tex.; rough and dressed lumber sheds, planing mill, lumber yard, dry kilns, engine No. 1, and thirteen cars of logs; hotel, office and town in background showing at left the Trinity Valley & Northern Railway station at Ladd with switch directly into Dayton company's yard, affording excellent shipping facilities."

In 1909, the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) began an investigation into more than one hundred tap line railroads in Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi to determine whether they were complying with their common carrier obligations, specifically by posting public tariffs and following them, and by handling passengers and freight without discrimination. In particular, this required tap lines to charge their lumber companies to move logs and finished products just as they would charge any other sawmill. A hearing before ICC examiners was held in St. Louis on January 23, 1911 at which the TV&N's auditor, J. J. Balderach, was questioned. The hearing transcript provides interesting details of the TV&N's history and operations.

Since the ICC was trying to determine whether the TV&N qualified as a bona fide common carrier, they eventually asked an obvious question: Had the Railroad Commission of Texas (RCT) granted common carrier status to the TV&N? RCT had been created by law in 1891, and from the outset it had occasionally granted or denied common carrier status to railroads in response to applications requesting such declaration. Recently, RCT had begun to question their own authority to make such decisions, and their policy changed as they considered TV&N's application. RCT's concern was based on the fact that railroad charters were actual state laws, passed in the Texas Legislature and signed by the Governor. Railroad companies with state charters also subjected themselves to a myriad of state laws that governed how railroads operated, including common carrier obligations. Railroads were also subject to any special provisions that might have been included in the laws establishing their charters. RCT was bound by state law just as much as the railroads, and nothing in RCT's enabling legislation mentioned the power to determine common carrier status. Thus its Commissioners had begun to question whether such declarations were legally ultra vires ("beyond the powers").

Mr. Balderach responded to the ICC examiner's question by reading an order received in response to TV&N's 1909 application to RCT requesting a common carrier declaration. Early in the order, RCT succinctly spells out their revised policy (which had garnered two votes of the three-person Commission):

The Railroad Commission is given no authority to determine when railroad companies are common carriers. On the contrary, the law itself fixes the status of such companies, and does this absolutely without reference to the judgment or opinion of the Commission. Every railroad company organized under the laws of Texas has the right to construct and operate a railroad and are declared to be public highways and all railroad companies common carriers. A railroad company having a Texas charter and owning a Texas line is a common carrier by force of the statute, and it is its duty to operate its road as a common carrier, complying with the laws of the State regulating such carriers, and obeying and conforming to the authorized rates, rules and regulations of the State Railroad Commission.

: It was the TV&N's request for common carrier declaration that triggered the change in policy that had been contemplated by two of the Commissioners. This was big news, and RCT's order to TV&N was printed in the
Houston Post of June 26, 1909. It had been included in a letter to the newspaper from Commissioner O. B. Colquitt (who would be elected Governor in 1910) wherein Colquitt took issue with a report out of Austin claiming that RCT had made a "...ruling permitting tram roads to become common carriers on the filing of their charters." Colquitt explained that the erroneous article "...grew out of a misunderstanding on the part of the reporter on the meaning of what was done and said." He proceeded to cite various obligations of common carrier passenger services that were beyond the means of a typical tram road. These included running a passenger train over the entire line at least daily (except Sunday), providing comfortable "heated and lighted" passenger depots, and complying with various crew and service hour laws applicable to passenger trains.

Under the new policy, Texas companies chartered by state law as railroads automatically qualified as common carriers for intrastate traffic. They could, however, forfeit their charters through judicial proceedings if they did not comply with the legal obligations inherent to all Texas railroads. Initially, tap lines had sought RCT's common carrier blessing because it allowed them to derive revenue from moving passengers and freight beyond that of the lumber company, and because it lent credibility to their efforts to seek division rates from the ICC for interstate traffic (where RCT had no jurisdiction.) Under the new policy, tap lines in Texas could begin providing transportation services to the public without the need for RCT's blessing and they could request ICC approval for division rates. They could not, however, establish division rates for intrastate traffic without permission as such rate-setting was exclusively within RCT's purview. In the Houston Post article referenced above, the bottom sub-headline asserts that to whatever extent RCT had ever authorized division rates between trunk line railroads and lumber trams (or other private rail lines, e.g. sugar plantations), those days were over.

The ICC ruling was issued in April and May, 1912, presenting their analysis of each railroad and their findings that thirty-six of them did not qualify as common carriers. In its summary ruling (courtesy Texas Transportation Archive) the ICC did not object to the TV&N's common carrier claim, but it did set a limit of one cent per hundred pounds that the TV&N could receive from a trunk line on interchanged freight. Collectively, the railroads appealed to the Supreme Court, which remanded the case to the ICC for revision in light of legal standards made plain by the Court. The initial ICC ruling had in most cases concluded that a tap line converted from long-existing tram lines and still largely owned by the same lumber company was per se not a common carrier (perhaps favoring the TV&N, which had been chartered as soon as the lumber company began sawing logs.) The Supreme Court overruled the ICC, requiring a substantially greater and individualized inquiry into each tap line's operations. Industry observers viewed it as a loss for the ICC, but ultimately, the most deficient tap lines either increased their compliance with ICC regulations or reverted to tram status. In response to the remand, the ICC began to focus on establishing a settled regulatory environment in which tap lines had clear rules under which they could operate.

Left: This image has been edited from a U. S. Army Corps of Engineers topographic map and annotated to show the route of the TV&N (red line) north from Dayton (pink). By the map date of 1922, the TV&N connected to the Dayton & Goose Creek Railway (purple line) on the south side of the T&NO main line (light blue). The mill at Ladd (orange) was about a mile northwest of the crossing, and was the maintenance base for the TV&N. Farther north at Fullerton (blue), the TV&N crossed the Beaumont, Sour Lake & Western (BSL&W, yellow line), a component of a large network known as the Gulf Coast Lines. Whether Fullerton was ever more than a rail junction, it no longer exists. Farther north, the TV&N passed through Perkins (white) and Fouts (purple). Fouts was a logging camp and Perkins may also have been, but neither survives today. Kenefick (green) remains a town whereas Martha (black) at the BSL&W crossing of the main road toward Cleveland is only a historical location.

Right: A continuation of the map north of Fouts shows the TV&N proceeding to Lumm (light blue), the end of the line. Near Lumm, the TV&N passed through Macedonia (yellow), a settlement founded by a Chicago syndicate in 1914 as a community of Greek farmers to raise vegetable crops for market. The community foundered and lost its Post Office in 1922. Sand Spur (green) appears on a 1923 TV&N passenger service timetable; it may have been a logging camp but no longer exists. The communities of Macedonia and Lumm did not survive the abandonment of the TV&N in 1933.

Below Right: In 1909 when TV&N issued its request to RCT for a declaration of common carrier status, RCT responded by scheduling an inspection. This was standard procedure and the decision by the two Commissioners to change the policy regarding common carrier declarations had not yet been made. The
Houston Post of Friday, May 7, 1909 carried this news item noting that the inspection would take place the following day, and presumably it did. Seven weeks later, the Houston Post would carry the article in which Commissioner Colquitt's letter to TV&N was printed, announcing RCT's position that such declarations were not necessary (and never had been) because all chartered railroads in Texas held the legal obligation to function as common carriers.


At Fullerton, the TV&N crossed the Beaumont, Sour Lake & Western (BSL&W), a railroad founded in 1904 to bring oil into Beaumont from the Sour Lake field. By 1905, its line to Beaumont from Grayburg (about thirty miles east of Fullerton) had become a tempting target for B. F. Yoakum, a native Texan with a long history in Texas railroading who had become Chairman of the St. Louis - San Francisco ("Frisco") Railway. Yoakum wanted to compete with SP along the Gulf coast by establishing a rail network centered on Houston, an enterprise he called the Gulf Coast Lines (GCL). Yoakum assembled the GCL by chartering, building and buying railroads as necessary to connect Brownsville with New Orleans. The St. Louis Trust Co. provided the financing for the GCL resulting in an unusual situation; its individual railroads were managed by Yoakum and his team of Frisco executives, but the Frisco corporation did not own the GCL. It was essentially a marketing and operations consortium with Yoakum calling the shots. The GCL's railroads were owned individually through a syndicate backed by the St. Louis Trust Co. The BSL&W's Beaumont - Grayburg tracks and its Texas railroad charter gave Yoakum a head start on building the connection his GCL needed between Beaumont and Houston. Yoakum acquired control of the BSL&W in 1905 and extended it west to Houston, passing through Fullerton c.1907-08. Whether the TV&N or BSL&W arrived there first is undetermined, but they were close in time. During the Frisco's 1914 receivership, the GCL continued to operate, but its railroads were reorganized under an independent corporation, the New Orleans, Texas & Mexico Railway, created to provide executive-level governance.

Fullerton was named for S. H. Fullerton, a well known investor and business executive of St. Louis who probably had some (undetermined) connection with the Frisco and/or the St. Louis Trust Co. Fullerton had large investments in lumber, coal and railroads, and he owned fifty shares of TV&N stock. Though it was a small investment, Fullerton was sufficiently interested in the TV&N to be present at the ICC hearing held in St. Louis in January, 1911. As the ICC examiner probed Mr. Balderach on whether Mr. Fullerton or any of his companies held an ownership share of the Dayton Lumber Co., someone interjected "Mr. Fullerton is here and he can tell you."

Left: This TV&N timetable from the 1910 edition of The Official Guide of the Railways and Steam Navigation shows passenger service into Dayton at 8:20 am with a footnote regarding the T&NO connection, presumably made at the T&NO depot.

A Houston Post article on September 1, 1910 also mentions the TV&N "...connecting at Dayton with Southern Pacific trains." The clear implication from the timetable and the article is that in 1910, the TV&N had a crossing of the T&NO main line for the purpose of reaching the Dayton passenger depot on the south side of the tracks. The ICC Valuation Report for the TV&N (as of 1919) lists only "rails and fasteners" under lease from the T&NO; depot access is not mentioned, but it might have been granted without a lease. [The decision to lease rails and spikes from the T&NO benefitted both railroads: the T&NO, by employing a relatively small amount of its excess rail inventory to help the TV&N generate valuable outgoing freight interchanges, and the TV&N, because leasing was less expensive.] The main line crossing depicted on the linen track chart (top of page) is not known to have existed until construction of the Dayton & Goose Creek railroad and the commissioning of Tower 110 in 1918. If an earlier uncontrolled crossing existed for depot access, it would tend to explain why RCT lists the T&NO and TV&N as the only railroads involved with Tower 110. But if the TV&N did build across the main line to reach the T&NO depot c.1910, the connection does not appear to have survived the implementation of the Tower 110 crossing. The linen track chart does not show a direct connection, although it was still feasible to reach the depot using reverse moves on the D&GC main line and connector.


        Where was the TV&N?
Above Left
: In the vicinity of Dayton north of Farm Rd 1960, Waco St. sits atop the TV&N right-of-way past the mill site at Ladd to the end of pavement. The right-of-way continues another half mile where it turns northeast to cross State Highway 321 onto Tram Rd. After another half mile, Tram Rd. ends but the TV&N right-of-way remains visible into the woods.

Above Center
: The right-of-way continues on the 27-degree Tram Rd. alignment into the woods and curves eastward onto a 68 degree heading for 1.4 miles. It then curves north to become occupied by 600 ft. of County Road 6324 in a residential area. From there, it curves slightly west and takes a generally north-northwest heading following the Bowie Creek drainage. It crosses the former BSL&W tracks just beyond the west end "loop" of Parker Loop Rd. (County Rd. 642.) Fullerton is no longer referenced on maps, if it ever was; the vicinity is now a rural residential area west of Kenefick.

Above Right
: About 200 yards north of the BSL&W crossing, the TV&N right-of-way becomes occupied by County Road 6473 running due north for three quarters of a mile to its intersection with Cumberland Rd. The road ends but the right-of-way continues due north for another half-mile and then begins a very long radius curve over the next mile where it assumes a north-northwest 333-degree heading. The alignment shifts to a 340-degree heading for 0.3 miles and then almost due north for 0.8 miles to reach Farm Rd 1008 where Fouts was located.

The TV&N's course beyond Fouts was essentially due north. The TV&N opened the line to Lumm in 1911, but testimony at the ICC hearing early that year revealed that the Dayton Lumber Co. had already been operating along the right-of-way for at least a year, most likely using primitive roadbeds and temporary rails for hauling logs to Fouts to be interchanged with the TV&N. The tram tracks to Lumm were upgraded in sections by the lumber company to the TV&N's standards and the sale was conveyed by adding to the debt account. Between Macedonia and Lumm, the grade ran directly beside (west of) County Road 2309, but elsewhere, only a few dirt road segments follow the route. The right-of-way between Fouts and Lumm is readily apparent on satellite imagery, and it noticeably extends north of Lumm a few miles, crossing State Highway 105 and eventually becoming occupied by County Road 2185. This is in the direction of Lamb, a station on the Santa Fe line (now called Hightower) east of Cleveland to which the TV&N had completed a preliminary survey according to Mr. Balderach's testimony.

Above: Google Street View provides glimpses of the tram line crossing of TX 105 looking south (left) and north (right). Although Mr. Balderach's testimony states that a survey to Lamb had been performed, it is likely that the actual extension of the tram line north of Lumm -- which produced this TX 105 crossing -- was done by the South Texas Hardwood Co. in the 1920s.

In 1912, Dayton Lumber Co. defaulted on loans, resulting in a takeover by a group of creditors. The creditors continued to operate the mill at Ladd, changing its name to Dayton Mills in 1915. Whether Ross S. Sterling, one of the founders of the Dayton Lumber Company (and the TV&N) was still involved is undetermined, but if so, he was unlikely to be paying much attention. Sterling was surely focused on the oil company he and three others had founded in 1911, Humble Oil Co., with Sterling as President. Five years later, the Goose Creek oil field south of Dayton was proven with a 10,000 barrel-per-day well in August, 1916. This undoubtedly played a role in Sterling's decision to have Humble Oil build a major refinery near the oil field, along the Upper San Jacinto Bay outlet of the Houston Ship Channel which had opened officially in 1914. As construction of the refinery commenced, the company changed its name to Humble Oil and Refining Co.

To support building the refinery and shipping its products, plus the need to ship oil directly from the field to other refineries, Sterling personally founded (and owned virtually all of) the Dayton and Goose Creek (D&GC) Railway on July 24, 1917. Important though it was, founding the D&GC was not the peak of Sterling's career. Sterling sold out of Humble Oil (long before it became Exxon), went into the real estate business, bought and merged the Houston Post and Houston Dispatch, became Chairman of the Texas Highway Commission, was elected Governor of Texas in 1930 (serving from January, 1931 to January, 1933), founded an investment company and another oil company, became President of American Maid Flour Mills, and was named Chairman of the Houston National Bank. He used his spare time (?) focusing on philanthropy.

The D&GC promptly began construction of a 23-mile line from Dayton south to the Goose Creek field. Carrying oil and refined products to both the T&NO and BSL&W connections at Dayton and Fullerton, respectively, was an important aspect of the plan. Reaching Fullerton required the D&GC and the TV&N to connect at Dayton, which meant that a crossing of the T&NO was necessary. To whatever extent a crossing may have existed for TV&N passenger trains to reach the T&NO depot, it was clear that it would need to be rebuilt to account for heavier and longer trains, additional connecting tracks, an interlocking tower, and a wye north of the T&NO so that D&GC locomotives could be positioned properly when exchanging railcars. The interlocking plant was ordered by T&NO in November, 1917 and service to Goose Creek commenced May 1, 1918. Seven months later, Tower 110 was commissioned by RCT to control the Dayton crossing. By 1919, the D&GC had been extended 2.5 miles farther south to serve the Humble Oil refinery under construction at Baytown.

Left: Tower 110's 24-lever mechanical plant built by Saxby & Farmer was ordered by T&NO in the fall of 1917. It was commissioned December 18, 1918 and appeared in RCT's annual list of active interlockers dated December 31, 1918. The list shows Tower 110 having 18 functions, a size indicating control of connecting track switches and signals. Like this article from the November, 1917 issue of Railway Signal Engineer, RCT lists the TV&N as the railroad that crossed the T&NO at Tower 110.

RCT records show that T&NO staffed Tower 110's operations (and almost certainly its maintenance as well.) No photo of Tower 110 has been found, and it does not appear on Sanborn Fire Insurance maps of Dayton; it was too far west. The ICC's Valuation Report for the D&GC states that the tower was owned by T&NO and leased to D&GC for 50% of the cost of operation. RCT interlocking records reflect track ownership (TV&N) at the crossing, but the ICC reports reflect operations, i.e. the D&GC and T&NO were splitting the sustaining costs for the interlocking since they were the operational participants, even though D&GC was not listed in annual RCT interlocker reports.

Left: This snippet from a 1917 D&GC map (courtesy Texas General Land Office) shows the initial plan for the Tower 110 crossing at Dayton (incorporating four "pile cattle guards" !) The map was drawn with the intent of having the D&GC tracks generally depicted horizontally so that the connections to companion maps would be along the right edge of the drawing. This resulted with North being toward the lower left corner (where "T&VN" is mistakenly labeled instead of "TV&N" ). The map shows the D&GC without connecting tracks to the T&NO; its only connection is directly to the TV&N. This seems odd, but by the date of the ICC's preliminary valuation for the D&GC (December 31, 1920), the D&GC and T&NO had built 1.5 miles of "...yard tracks and sidings at Dayton." These tracks were "owned equally and used jointly..." and presumably included the tracks east and west of the D&GC that appear on the linen track chart. The oval directly above the two crossing diamonds (in what is actually the southeast quadrant) likely represents the planned interlocking that became Tower 110.

A 1920 track chart shows a "Dayton & Goose Creek Wye" north of Tower 110, going east off the TV&N main line a short distance south of Ladd. This suggests that a D&GC locomotive would bring its oil train through Tower 110, decouple from the train and move onto the wye track. A TV&N locomotive would back down from Ladd to connect to the train and take it north to Fullerton while the D&GC locomotive turned around using the wye and either waited for the return train or went back south to Baytown.


Right: SP's Beaumont - Galveston Division Timetable of December 5, 1920 shows whistle codes for T&NO and D&GC locomotives to request tower operators to set switches and signals for movements. The implication is that the tower was manned and most likely two stories. It was near a busy T&NO yard and had codes for both railroads; operators would need the elevation for good visibility in all directions. An earlier March 1, 1920 T&NO timetable lists the TV&N as the other railroad, the only TV&N code governs main track movements, and the third T&NO code is for "West End Stock Pen Track". Why did the whistle codes change between March and December? Perhaps the D&GC connectors were built in this timeframe.

There is no doubt that T&NO built Tower 110, hence it undoubtedly resembled other SP towers in Texas, e.g. Tower 26 and  Tower 115, which opened, respectively, well before and well after Tower 110. All SP towers in Texas were two stories and all carried an architectural resemblance. Since the construction of the D&GC created the need for the interlocker, D&GC (perhaps through TV&N's books) would have paid the entire capital cost of the tower (it was a post-1901 crossing; capital expenses for interlockers at pre-1901 crossings were shared equally.)

Left: In June, 1922, Sterling sold the D&GC for a million dollars to the GCL. (Bay City Daily Tribune, June 19, 1922)

The GCL operated independently after the corporate entity was established during the Frisco's receivership. When D&GC began shipping oil through the Fullerton connection in late 1918, the GCL undoubtedly realized rather quickly that they would come out ahead if they simply acquired the D&GC. Although shares of the BSL&W's revenue for each oil shipment through Fullerton were taken by both TV&N and D&GC based on division rates, TV&N's share was tiny whereas D&GC originated the shipments and had a longer haul. D&GC was, however, only a small part of Sterling's wealth and he had larger endeavors on which to focus. His decision to sell may also have been impacted by the Transportation Act of 1920 and the lawsuit he initiated against it. The Act terminated the U. S. Railroad Administration's control of the railroads that had been in place during the World War, but it contained a controversial provision, the Recapture Clause, authorizing the ICC to set a fair rate of return for railroads and mandating that the ICC "recapture" half of any excess profits. As Time magazine explained (January 21, 1924)... "The moneys received by the Government under this provision of the Act are placed in a fund from which loans are made and equipment leased to railways, the purpose being to bolster up the weaker roads with part of the excess earnings of the stronger roads."

The D&GC line to Baytown had been so profitable that it had nearly paid for itself in only a few years. As a result, D&GC was required to remit "excess profits" earned in 1921 (and in future years) to the Federal government. D&GC sued in Federal Court for the Eastern District of Texas claiming that the recapture was an unconstitutional taking of private property (the "excess profit") in violation of the Fifth Amendment. The D&GC lawsuit was joined by nineteen other railroads and taken all the way to the U. S. Supreme Court. The Court ruled unanimously against the railroads on January 7, 1924.

Long before the Supreme Court ruling, Sterling had received more bad news -- the ICC had rejected Sterling's proposed sale to the GCL. The ICC's rationale was that the price was "greatly in excess of the value of the physical property involved" and that the motivation for the high price was simply "to secure a larger proportion of the traffic". The ICC did not view the price as reasonable nor the sale to be in the public interest, much to the surprise of railroad industry observers. Subsequently, the value of the D&GC physical plant rose substantially. In 1926, Sterling proposed to sell the D&GC to SP for $900,000 and the ICC approved. SP promptly conveyed the D&GC to the T&NO and it became fully integrated into T&NO operations.

With its newly acquired line to Baytown, T&NO could now prefer its own network for oil and refinery traffic, eliminating the movements through Fullerton. Since the BSL&W line through Fullerton and the T&NO line through Dayton both went to Houston and Beaumont, railcars could be transferred to the BSL&W at those points if necessary rather than Fullerton. This hit the TV&N hard as it had derived steady revenue from carrying oil shipments on its tracks. With oil traffic no longer moving through Fullerton, the primary need for Tower 110 was eliminated. RCT files show that the tower was authorized for abandonment on October 18, 1926, and was actually removed from service on March 18, 1927. It seems likely that T&NO simply removed the TV&N diamonds, retaining the connecting tracks while closing the tower.

Right: The 1923 edition of the Official Guide of Railways and Steam Navigation included this timetable for TV&N passenger operations effective September 1, 1922. The mill at Ladd no longer shows a station, although it is likely that the train overnighted at Ladd. Service commenced at Dayton at 10:55 am and went as far north as Lumm -- the end of the line for the TV&N. The entire round-trip was only once daily, finishing back at Dayton at 2:15 pm.

New stops along the line compared to the 1910 schedule were at Sand Spur, Macedonia and Lumm, all north of Fouts, and at Perkins and Linney Creek south of Fouts. The T&NO and BSL&W connections remained listed, with the connection at Dayton implying that TV&N had some way of negotiating the crossing at Tower 110 to reach the T&NO depot. This was prior to the demise of Tower 110 and likely involved one or more reverse moves. There was a wye near Ladd that may have been used. How the TV&N managed to reach the T&NO depot across Tower 110 for passenger service is undetermined, but the removal of Tower 110 in 1927 certainly ended it.


 Above Left: A short section of the former TV&N tracks (pink arrows) may have existed at the Tower 110 crossing site when this image from 1952 ((c) historicaerials.com) was captured. If so, then it was accessed from the T&NO by a northwest quadrant connector (orange arrow.) The opposite connector (yellow arrow) appears abandoned. The TV&N had crossed over (pink dashes) the T&NO to connect to the D&GC main line (blue arrows) on the south side. The D&GC east connector (green arrow) led to T&NO's yard and passenger depot. Among all four quadrants, the southwest connector (red arrow) is the only one that remains in place, as shown (above right) by this January, 2022 Google Earth image. Below: A grade-separation project plan is being developed to eliminate the Waco St. grade crossing of the main line and the US 90 grade crossing of the southwest connector. (Google Street View, May 2023)

In January, 1920, Dayton Mills was sold to the South Texas Hardwood (STH) Co., a company based in Houston with its production done at a contract mill in Cleveland. STH had acquired rights to approximately 70 million feet of timber in north Liberty County five miles north of Lumm, a location the company called Havens (undoubtedly named for STH's principal owner, A. C. Havens.) The TV&N ended at Lumm and thus did not actually extend as far north as Havens. Yet, there is a right-of-way clearly visible on satellite imagery extending north from Lumm, crossing over TX 105 (images farther above) into what should be the vicinity of Havens.

Far Left: This annotated snippet from a map sketched by the Gulf, Colorado & Santa Fe (GC&SF) Railway shows the area identified as Havens. The dashed line (red highlight) running through Lumm to Havens is indicative of the TV&N because south of Lumm (on the larger map), it goes to Fullerton and Dayton.

Near Left: There is a right-of-way visible on Google Earth satellite imagery that runs generally north from Lumm (yellow arrows.) North of State Highway 105, the right-of-way eventually becomes County Road 2185 (pink arrows.) The shape of the right-of-way where it is occupied by County Road 2185 -- a slight west curve followed by a larger east curve followed by a straight section on a 45-degree heading -- generally matches the drawing of Havens' location on the map. Nearly a decade before the sale to STH, at the January, 1911 tap line hearing before the ICC examiners, Mr. Balderach had testified that the TV&N had completed a preliminary survey of a route north from Lumm to Lamb (now Hightower), a location on the GC&SF. He also stated that Dayton Lumber Company was operating a tram north of Fouts.

Balderach later stated that the lumber company was not yet operating all the way to Lamb. Havens was reported to be five miles north of Lumm, which places it where the big curve is located on County Road 2185. It was also described as 12 miles southeast of Cleveland, but it's closer to 11 miles due east. There is no obvious visual evidence that a right-of-way ever existed beyond Havens to Lamb, at least not a direct one.

As the timber between Dayton and Lumm played out by the late 1920s, it is likely that the only raw logs being shipped to Ladd were from STH's harvesting at Havens. Logs would have been carried by tram rails to Lumm and over the TV&N tracks to Ladd. STH and the TV&N must have determined that hauling logs from Havens to Ladd would be less expensive overall if the tracks between Lumm and Fullerton were returned to tram status. This is inferred from TV&N's decision to request permission from ICC to abandon the tracks north of Fullerton. Apparently, no other traffic was being carried on this segment and thus, no external revenue was being generated by TV&N. Most likely, the logging camp at Fouts was no longer in use; STH had established camps much closer to Havens. Tram employees were probably running the logging trains the entire distance to Ladd, with TV&N simply collecting rights fees (which effected no net gain to the enterprise as a whole.)

Left: The March 2, 1929 edition of  The Traffic World summarized the ICC Finance Docket entry on the proposed abandonment of the TV&N between Fullerton and Lumm "due to line having served purpose of transporting logs." Perhaps "having served" should be interpreted as "only serving".

On April 13, 1929,  Tower 148, a cabin interlocker with an 8-function mechanical plant, was commissioned by RCT to begin service at Fullerton governing the TV&N's crossing of the BSL&W. A mere three weeks later on May 4, 1929, the ICC authorized the TV&N to abandon its tracks north of Fullerton. Why would TV&N (or, for that matter, the ICC) allow a cabin interlocker to be planned for Fullerton knowing that the abandonment of the tracks north of there was in progress? The existence of Tower 148 lends credence to the idea that, despite the abandonment, logging trains would continue to operate across the BSL&W at Fullerton. The abandonment between Fullerton and Lumm did not remove the rails; it merely changed how the tracks were operated and managed, i.e. by a logging company tram line instead of a common carrier. South of Fullerton, the TV&N continued to operate as a common carrier, shipping lumber products from the mill at Ladd to its two trunk line connections (and thus, as a tap line, continuing to receive revenue divisions from each shipment.) RCT records list the BSL&W and the TV&N as the railroads responsible for Tower 148, but that did not preclude logging trains from operating through Fullerton with STH crews and equipment while paying trackage rights fees for the privilege.

Left: This image and caption appears in East Texas Logging Railroads (Arcadia Publishing, 2016) written by noted Texas rail historian (and well-known musician) Murry Hammond.

The crossing at Fullerton had never been interlocked, but it was almost certainly gated, with the gate lined against the TV&N. TV&N trains had to stop at the diamond to open and close the gate, but the TV&N operated very few trains overall, so its delays were inconsequential. The BSL&W had more traffic through Fullerton, and its trains had to slow to a restricted speed to observe the gate at Fullerton to determine whether they had to stop. The Kenefick station was only a little over a mile east of Fullerton, so BSL&W trains would be operating slowly through Fullerton anyway, approaching or departing Kenefick. For the BSL&W, the overall impact of the gated crossing at Fullerton had apparently been insufficient to motivate installation of an interlocker prior to 1929.

The BSL&W and its affiliated GCL railroads became owned by Missouri Pacific (MP) in 1925. For reasons undetermined, MP embarked on a major push in 1929 to install cabin interlockers throughout the GCL network. In addition to Tower 148 at Fullerton, cabin interlockers were installed at Edinburg and Edinburg Jct. (Towers 149 and 145), Edcouch (Tower 146), Lantana (Tower 147), Rosita (Tower 151), Angleton (Tower 154), Grayburg (Tower 155), Allenhurst (Tower 156), Blessing (Tower 157) and Placedo (Tower 158), all of them in 1929, all of them cabin interlockers, and all of them at crossings of GCL tracks. There was no special reason to interlock Fullerton in 1929; it was simply on MP's list.

A cabin interlocker was an inexpensive way of controlling a crossing without the need for a manned tower. For Tower 148, logging trains would stop at Fullerton and a crewmember (or perhaps a STH employee who had traveled to the crossing ahead of time) would enter the trackside cabin to set the interlocker controls to signal any approaching BSL&W trains to stop before reaching the diamond. This would also change the home signal for the logging train to proceed across the diamond. If a BSL&W train was already too close to the crossing, the interlocker would prevent changing the signals until after the BSL&W train had passed. After the logging train had crossed the BSL&W, a crewmember or employee would reset the controls to signal unrestricted movements on the BSL&W tracks.

The January, 1929 edition of Railway Signaling and Communications provided a list of Automatic Block Signals Contemplated for 1929 in which there are two entries involving the GCL at Fullerton: "Gulf Coast, Tex. to Fullerton, 33 mi." and "Fullerton, Tex. to Beaumont, 50 mi." If block signals were being contemplated by GCL for the entire distance to Beaumont from Gulf Coast Junction (where the BSL&W intersected the East Belt in Houston -- see map at Tower 80), wouldn't one simple entry in the list, e.g. "Gulf Coast, Tex to Beaumont, 83 mi.", suffice to convey the block signaling being contemplated? The information was most likely supplied by the railroad and Tower 148 was installed three months later, so it's fair to assume that two separate entries of block signals involving Fullerton was associated with the impending interlocker installation. The specific implication for whether (and how) the interlocking plant might ultimately have been tied into the block signals is unclear. The eight functions of the Tower 148 interlocking plant are undetermined but four home signals and four derails would be a good guess. Distant signals were not needed on the TV&N -- trains always stopped at Fullerton. Distant signals were probably not needed on the BSL&W -- trains were operating at restricted speed into or out of Kenefick.

: This annotated 1952 aerial image ((c) historicaerials.com) of the Tower 148 crossing at Fullerton shows that there was little left to see some twenty years after the 1933 abandonment of the TV&N between Dayton and Fullerton. The siding / exchange track appears to have been west of the diamond on the south side of the tracks. The visible gravel road is now the far west end of Parker Loop Rd. It previously curved abruptly south to cross the tracks at a location where the road could match the elevation of the grade. It then curved sharply back north to reach the siding and exchange track. It now continues straight across the former right-of-way and terminates where the exchange tracks and sidings were located. (A "Bird's Eye View" image of the exchange track area can be seen here -- be patient; the map loads quickly but the image loads very slowly.)

Within a year after the installation of Tower 148 and the formal abandonment of TV&N's tracks north of Fullerton, STH decided that it needed to dismantle the mill at Ladd and relocate it to Havens. While this would greatly reduce the time and expense of moving logs to the mill, it would place the trunk line connections at Fullerton (17 miles) and Dayton (23 miles) at lengthy distances from the mill. It would also require new exchange tracks at Fullerton to be built on the north side of the crossing, or perhaps restructured on the south side since heretofore, all TV&N trains with products shipped out of the mill had approached Fullerton from the south. To obtain common carrier divisions on outgoing shipments, the plan would also require TV&N to reinstate ownership of the tracks between Lumm and Fullerton, and add ownership of the tram tracks between Havens and Lumm (which would probably need to be rebuilt to TV&N's specifications for common carrier use.) Since extensive ICC approvals would be required for this approach, it was apparently determined to be much less expensive for STH simply to build a new 12-mile track from Havens to Cleveland where two trunk line connections were available.

Above: On July 25, 1930, STH applied to the ICC for permission to build a common carrier line between Cleveland and Havens under the TV&N charter. Using the TV&N charter would eliminate the need for a new charter from the Legislature, and it was viable to do so because TV&N's charter had incorporated permission to build to Cleveland. Connecting at Cleveland with two trunk lines -- the GC&SF and the Houston East & West Texas (HE&WT) -- would generate division revenue to TV&N for products shipped from the mill at Havens, but only if the ICC approved construction of the new line under common carrier "public convenience and necessity" rules. If the ICC ruled that the new line had no public benefit, then it could only be built as a private railroad and no division rates would be available at Cleveland for interstate traffic (nor for intrastate traffic under RCT's revised policy.) This map (courtesy Texas Transportation Archive) was produced by the GC&SF in 1930. It was probably created as part of GC&SF's submission of comments to the ICC in response to the "proposed branch"

On April 16, 1931, the ICC issued a ruling that rejected STH's application on the grounds that a rail line between Havens and Cleveland offered no public benefit. As a result, the mill was not relocated from Ladd to Havens and no tracks between Cleveland and Havens were ever built. The TV&N shut down in 1932 and its remaining tracks, Dayton to Fullerton, were abandoned in 1933. It is not known whether the abandonment of the remainder of the TV&N affected the need for Tower 148 since logging trains might still be crossing at Fullerton to reach the mill at Ladd, as long as the mill remained open. The Texas Forestry Museum sawmill database indicates that the mill at Ladd closed in 1934. At that point, if not earlier, Tower 148 could be closed, but unfortunately, the actual date of its closure has not been determined. The BSL&W and T&NO tracks remain in use today as main line routes through Fullerton and Dayton, respectively, both now owned by Union Pacific. Fullerton is simply a historical location; a town never developed. Dayton has become an exurb of Houston with about 40,000 residents living within Dayton's Zip code.  

Right: SP depot at Dayton in May, 1980 (C. E. Hunt photo)

The D&GC Valuation Report states that the railroad shared the T&NO's passenger and freight stations at Dayton by paying 25% of the operating costs. The D&GC undoubtedly did a brisk business moving Baytown residents and other refinery visitors and employees to and from Dayton for access to SP's passenger network.

Traces of the TV&N from Google Street View: at Farm Rd. 1008 near Fouts facing south (above left) and north (above right); north of Fouts at CR 2326 facing south (below left) and north (below right)

Above Left: The pavement on Waco St. in Dayton ends but the TV&N right-of-way continues north. Above Right: A faintly visible "Road Closed" sign marks the end of Tram Rd. where the TV&N right-of-way continues into the woods on a northeast heading. Below Left: Looking north, CR 6473 occupies the TV&N right-of-way for three-quarters of a mile beginning just north of the Fullerton crossing. Below Right: At the north end, CR 6473 tees into Cumberland Rd., but the TV&N right-of-way continues straight ahead. (Google Street View images)

Above Left: North of TX 105, the right-of-way approaches from the south heading for the area STH called Havens. It will become County Road 2185 (Palmer Lake Rd.) as it reaches the camera, which is looking south from FM 2252. Above Right: Palmer Lake Rd. continues north from its T-intersection with FM 2252. The dirt road occupies the right-of-way through the "big curve" (presumably the main site of Havens), but how much farther the tram right-of-way extended is unknown. (Google Street View)

Below: In contrast to the TV&N, these two Google Street Views of UP's former D&GC tracks fail to convey the enormity of the petrochemical industrialization that has occurred between Dayton and the refinery at Baytown. The refinery is so large that there is no good way to show the railroad service into the plant. Left: Looking south from the Grand Parkway, the Baytown refinery is another 12 miles beyond the Exxon Mobil chemical plant in the foreground. Right: This view shows the Shell Oil facility north of the West Winfree Rd. grade crossing in Mont Belvieu, a community between Dayton and Baytown. (Google Street View)


Last Revised: 12/13/2023 JGK - Contact the Texas Interlocking Towers Page.