Texas Railroad History - Tower 141 - Lubbock

A Crossing of the Fort Worth & Denver South Plains Railway and the Panhandle & Northern Texas Railway

Tower 141 was a crossing of the Ft. Worth and Denver South Plains (FW&DSP) Railway and the Pecos and Northern Texas (P&NT) Railway on the south side of Lubbock. The P&NT had been founded in 1899 to build between Amarillo and Farwell, and was then acquired by Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway in 1901. Under the P&NT charter, numerous additional Santa Fe lines were built in the Panhandle region. Ultimately, the P&NT built a 203-mile main line connecting Santa Fe lines in the Panhandle with Santa Fe lines in the central and eastern parts of Texas. This line was completed in 1911 between Lubbock and Coleman, passing through Slayton and near Sweetwater. The P&NT was merged with Santa Fe's Panhandle and Santa Fe subsidiary in 1948.

In 1928, the Ft. Worth and Denver City (FW&DC) completed a branch line between Silverton and Lubbock under the charter of the FW&DSP which had embarked on a strategy of gaining access to agricultural business in the South Plains area. They had previously built a branch line under this same charter from the FW&DC main line at Estelline to Quitaque, and this line was extended to Dimmitt in 1928. The FW&DSP line into Lubbock crossed the P&NT at Tower 141, which was commissioned as a 7-function automatic interlocker and authorized for service on February 12, 1931. A letter in the archives of the Houston Metropolitan Research Center (HMRC) from Santa Fe to the Railroad Commission of Texas (RCT) dated February 13, 1931 states that the interlocker "...began service February 13, 1931 at 10:00 am, Train 93 being the first through the plant which was working entirely satisfactory."  (special thanks to Stephen Hesse for his research at HMRC)

Tower 141 was a significant interlocker in Texas railroad history because it was the first automatic interlocker installed in Texas. RCT jointly authorized automatic interlockers for two FW&DSP crossings of the P&NT, one in Lubbock and one in Plainview. The Lubbock interlocker was installed first, and got the lower tower number. The rationale for automatic interlockers and the process of gaining Commission approval is presented in more detail on the Plainview (Tower 142) webpage.

As shown in the Google Earth image below, an overpass on M. L. K. Jr. Boulevard now passes over the former crossing. The diamond has been removed, but connecting tracks are in use for various purposes in all directions from the former crossing. All of the lines are now owned by Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway.

Below: Joe McMillan took this photo of a southbound Santa Fe train crossing at Tower 141 on April 11, 1964.

Last Revised: 2/23/2018 JGK - Contact the Texas Interlocking Towers Page.