Two Junctions of the San Antonio & Aransas Pass and St. Louis, Brownsville & Mexico railroads
In 1904, the San Antonio & Aransas Pass (SA&AP) railroad sought to extend its rails to the Rio Grande Valley of Texas. The impetus to serve the Valley may have come from previous owner Southern Pacific (SP) wishing to compete with a new rail line to the Valley being built by the St. Louis, Brownsville & Mexico (SLB&M) Railway. The SA&AP was divested from SP ownership by court order in 1903, but the SA&AP proceeded with SP's plans to build to the Valley from the nearest service point, the town of Alice. In 1904, construction began and the first 36 miles was completed from Alice south to Falfurrias. The Valley was less than 80 miles away, but construction stopped and was not restarted until the SA&AP was re-acquired by SP in 1925.
By 1925, the Valley had been served for many years by the SLB&M, with routes consisting of their main line from the north into Brownsville via Harlingen, and a lengthy branch line from Harlingen to Rio Grande City. Another railroad, the San Benito & Rio Grande Valley (SB&RGV) Railway, operated 65 miles of track in the Valley, functioning as additional branch lines for the SLB&M. Both railroads had been funded and developed by B. F. Yoakum's Gulf Coast Lines syndicate and both were owned by the New Orleans, Texas & Mexico (NOT&M) Railroad, a Louisiana-based company. When Missouri Pacific (MP) acquired the NOT&M on January 1, 1925, the SLB&M and SB&RGV became part of MP's growing presence in Texas. Faced with the threat of competition from SP arriving in the northwestern part of the Valley, MP constructed SLB&M branch lines into the area north of Edinburg in 1926. The primary branch departed west from the SLB&M main line at Raymondville and reached Monte Christo via Lasara, Hargill and Faysville. Secondary branches ran from Hargill to Edcouch and from Faysville to Edinburg. The line from Faysville to Edinburg connected to an existing SLB&M branch line that ran north from San Juan on SLB&M's east/west line between Harlingen and McAllen. This created an alternate route for McAllen and western Valley traffic to access the main line via Raymondville instead of Harlingen, although it is not known whether this routing was used for through traffic.
In 1927, the SP line from Falfurrias arrived in the western Valley, crossing the new SLB&M branch line at a location 1.8 miles south of a new stop called Alsonia. A cabin interlocker known as Tower 149 was established at this crossing on December 5, 1928. To compete with MP in the eastern Valley, SP continued their 1927 construction activities by building a 63-mile branch line mile from Edinburg to Brownsville. The branch departed the main line at Edinburg Junction and proceeded east, crossing SLB&M's Edinburg branch within the first mile. A cabin interlocker, known as Tower 145, was established at this crossing on January 3, 1929. A second crossing of the SLB&M occurred 12 miles further east at Edcouch, and this became Tower 146.
Valley competition between MP and SP continued essentially unchanged for the next thirty years. In 1957, MP abandoned the 9 miles from Faysville to Monte Christo, eliminating the need for Tower 149. The 8 miles from Faysville to Edinburg was abandoned in 1964, but MP continued to serve Edinburg via the short connection from San Juan. This line was abandoned in 1971, eliminating the need for Tower 145. In 1979, SP abandoned their main line into Edinburg from the north, retaining their branch lines in the Valley to be served via MP's main line. Much of this trackage was later abandoned, but the 12-mile SP line from McAllen north to Edinburg remains in service by Rio Valley Switching Co.
Overview Map, Edinburg Area Interlockers
Above: The Tower 145 crossing is located in Edinburg southwest of the intersection of East Chapin St. and the US 281 service road. The Rio Valley Switching
Co. (RVSC) still passes through this location to serve an industrial spur northeast of the junction. Rail cars are visible on the spur in the Google Earth image.
Below: A bird's eye close up view of the Tower 145 location
Above: The exact location of the Tower 149 crossing is not known because the precise route of the
SLB&M (MP) line from Faysville to Monte Christo has not been determined. However, we know that
MP had a junction at Faysville, and examination of aerial imagery provides this likely location.
Topo maps show this to be the curved right-of-way of the Raymondville-Edinburg grade. The lack of
trees along Lincoln Ave. and the presence of a curved line of trees nearby gives this location the telltale
look of a wye junction. If so, then the MP line to Monte Christo proceeded along the unnamed road
Below: If the above speculation is correct, then "Alsonia", the location of Tower 149, would be at the crossing
shown below. It's certainly plausible as a location for a cabin interlocker.
Below: Carl Codney's
SA&AP website lists Tower 149 at milepost 136.0 and Edinburg Junction at
142.7. Based on this information and measuring the difference north from Edinburg Junction, the Tower
149 crossing would have been close to the location shown above. Using the map below, if you are able to
field check this area for us, please contact us and let us know what you find.