www.txrrhistory.com - Tower 115 - Eagle Lake

A Crossing of the Galveston, Harrisburg & San Antonio (GH&SA), San Antonio & Aransas Pass (SA&AP), and Cane Belt railroads

Historic Photos, Tower 115, November 1996 (photos by Jim King)

Abandoned, but still standing in November 1996, Tower 115 sits silently
as an eastbound Southern Pacific freight rumbles by on the Sunset Route
headed for Houston. The tower was razed shortly after this photo was taken.


Looking west on the SA&AP right-of-way (SP Bellaire Line), the rails
formerly passed along side the tower. When the Bellaire Line was abandoned
west of Eagle Lake, a connection to the westbound SP Glidden Sub was
retained.


Facing southeast, the Sunset Route passes the tower.

Eagle Lake was one of the earliest railroad towns in the state, and eventually became a destination of three different railroads. The town was founded in 1859 as a settlement on the Buffalo Bayou, Brazos and Colorado Railroad which had stopped construction west of Eagle Lake at the crossing of the Colorado River near Columbus. This line was later extended to San Antonio as part of the successor Galveston, Harrisburg and San Antonio (GH&SA) Railway which was subsequently absorbed into the Southern Pacific system. The second railroad through town was the San Antonio & Aransas Pass (SA&AP) Railroad in 1887 as it constructed its main line to Houston from Kenedy. And yet a third railroad came to town when the Cane Belt built a line from Sealy to Eagle Lake in 1900. The Cane Belt later became the property of the Gulf, Colorado & Santa Fe Railway while the SA&AP became part of Southern Pacific. Tower 115 was established in 1924 to control the crossing of the three lines.

The SA&AP line west of Eagle Lake was severed beyond the gravel spur at Altair in 1964. To the east, the SA&AP line was abandoned in the late 1990s. Santa Fe's ex-Cane Belt line south to Bay City survived into the 1980's before being abandoned in various phases. Other portions of the Cane Belt, including spur tracks to Eldridge and Garwood that formed part of the 'Bonus Loop', were abandoned in 1940 and 1961. The line north to Sealy survived until 1990. The ex-GH&SA line today is owned by Union Pacific and forms a segment of the Sunset Route made famous by SP.

The abandonment of the Santa Fe line to Sealy eliminated the need for Tower 115 which was abandoned shortly thereafter. The building remained standing through 1996 and then was removed.

Location Map - Tower 115

Historic Maps, Tower 115 Location

A 1932 Sanborn Fire Insurance map of Eagle Lake shows Tower 115 sitting adjacent to the crossing at
lower left in the image (above), between the main line of the GH&SA and the parallel Cane Belt spur, with
the SA&AP crossing both at a 45 degree angle. The Cane Belt spur allowed the Santa Fe depot to be downtown.
Magnification of the map (below) shows Tower 115 documented as a 2-story "R R Signal Tower".

 

Photos of the Tower 115 Interlocking Panel and Model Board provided by Tom Kline


Tom Kline adds..."If you look closely on the lower left side of the model board, it looks as if there was some diagram editing done to reflect the
removal of tracks to the east (top) of the mainline and the siding on the west side (bottom).  I don't know the history or have the data to prove that,
I'm just going off similar changes I've seen to other boards over the years."

Eagle Lake, 1989 (photos by Tom Kline)

Tom Kline explains: "In both photos you are looking south-southwest [along the Cane Belt] with Sealy being behind the camera.
The photo above shows a stack train crossing the Cane Belt in the distance on the SP Glidden Sub as it heads to Houston. The
photo below shows a westbound crossing the Cane Belt on the SP Bellaire Branch headed towards Tower 115 right after the
eastbound stack cleared the interlocker. This train is arriving from Houston on the Bellaire Line back when it was used as the
high speed shortcut to Eagle Lake."

 

Eagle Lake, 1991 (photos by Tom Kline)

Tom Kline returned to Eagle Lake in September, 1991. What he found was the Santa Fe yard being
scrapped (above) and weeds overtaking the Cane Belt route at Rayner Junction (below) and elsewhere
south of Eagle Lake (second below). Tom explains..."This junction was located about 2 miles S/SW
of Eagle Lake on FM 102. Here the line branched off to the west to Matthews and Garwood. To the
left in the photo (below) you can see FM 102 and the crossing warning sign for the spur. If you are
familiar with the area and the historical roadside marker about the Lakeside Sugar Refinery just south
of Eagle Lake, this view is not far from it. Farmers have reclaimed the right of way south of town by
fencing over the rails. The view (second below) is north towards Eagle Lake and Egypt. Wharton
and Bay City are behind us; Rayner Jct. is ahead of us.


Tom Kline took this recent photo of the Cane Belt / UP crossing. The view is from the west side of the UP main looking east with the main
in the background and the former transfer track curving to the south.  Notice the block signal is still in place to the immediate left.

Satellite Image, Tower 115 Vicinity

 
Last Revised: 7/14/2013 JGK - Contact the Texas Interlocking Towers Page.