The town of Eastland was founded in 1875 when Eastland County voters opted to move the county seat to a newly platted town site near the center of the county. The new town was named for the county, which had been named for William Mosby Eastland, a Texas Army officer in the Battle of San Jacinto and later a Texas Ranger. In 1880, the Texas & Pacific (T&P) Railway, building from Ft. Worth to El Paso, passed along the north side of Eastland in exchange for land offered by the town. In late 1918, an oil boom in Eastland County motivated a group of Eastland citizens to charter a north/south railroad through the town with plans to extend it south to May and north to Newcastle. Construction funding was arranged through Richard T. Ringling, the son of Alfred T. Ringling of Ringling Bros. circus fame and a part-time railroad investor. Construction of the Eastland, Wichita Falls and Gulf (EWF&G) Railroad began in 1919 six miles south of Eastland at the community of Mangum. Construction supplies could be shipped to Mangum by rail because the Texas Central Railway was also being built through Mangum at the same time (heading northwest toward Cisco and eventually crossing the T&P there at Tower 160). By 1920, the EWF&G ran 28 miles north from Mangum through Eastland to Breckwalker, a new town founded several miles south of Breckenridge that was named for Breckenridge Stevens Walker. Walker was a member of the EWF&G Board of Directors who had become wealthy from the oil boom in the Breckenridge area. At Breckwalker, the EWF&G terminated with a connection to the Wichita Falls, Ranger and Fort Worth (WFR&FW) Railroad. Shortly thereafter, the EWF&G was leased to the WFR&FW, but after a year, the lease lapsed and the EWF&G returned to independent operation. On May 13, 1929, a cabin interlocker, Tower 150, was established at the EWF&G's crossing of the T&P on the north side of Eastland. A cabin interlocker was used because it allowed the T&P line to have clear signals at all times except during the brief periods when an EWF&G employee would line the signals for a north/south movement, have the train move across the T&P, and then reset the signals for the T&P. With reduced oil shipments resulting from pipelines and diminished production, the EWF&G gradually became unprofitable and was finally abandoned in 1944. The T&P line remains in active service through Eastland, now owned by Union Pacific.
Map of Tower 150 Location
Above: The USGS topo map of Eastland shows the former EWF&G grade crossing the T&P on a diagonal on the north side of town. A satellite image of the Tower 150 site
reveals only a few tell-tale signs of the former EWF&G grade in the trees at lower right and upper left.
Below: The grade is barely visible beneath a billboard where it crossed Main St. (the horizontal thoroughfare on the topo map), but is easier to see on the south side of the road (Google Street View).