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 in the discussion of the Plainview interlocker (Tower 142.)

Below: An overpass on M. L. K. Jr. Boulevard now passes over the former Tower 141 crossing. The Santa Fe main line remains intact and runs diagonally across the image from the top edge at upper left (toward the New Mexico border at Farwell) to the bottom edge at lower right (toward Slaton and Sweetwater.) The former FW&DSP runs diagonally from the upper left edge to the lower right edge. Originally, the terminus of the FW&DSP in Lubbock was just over a mile northwest of the crossing - those tracks remain in place today serving industries. Southeast of the crossing, the FW&DSP immediately curved back to the northeast and proceeded to Silverton. Today, the curve remains in place but the tracks only serve industries in the vicinity and do not extend out of Lubbock. Instead of a diamond, the crossing was removed and the former FW&DSP tracks on either side feed into the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway (BNSF) main line and/or yard tracks. BNSF is the successor to both railroads.

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.