Texas Railroad History - Tower 152 - Wharton

A Crossing of the Gulf, Colorado & Santa Fe Railway and the Texas & New Orleans Railroad

Above: Tower 152 cabin, c.1996
(Jim King photo)

The first railroad to reach this location in Wharton was the New York, Texas and Mexican Railway in 1881. It was subsequently acquired by Southern Pacific (SP) and merged into SP's Galveston, Harrisburg & San Antonio (GH&SA) subsidiary in 1905. The GH&SA was in turn leased to SP's primary operating subsidiary, the Texas & New Orleans (T&NO) Railway in 1927, and fully merged into the T&NO in 1934. The second railroad was the Cane Belt Railroad, arriving in Wharton from the north in 1899. The Cane Belt was acquired by Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe in 1903 and leased to Santa Fe's operating subsidiary, the Gulf, Colorado & Santa Fe (GC&SF) Railway in 1905. Full merger of the Cane Belt into GC&SF occurred in 1948. Thus, at the time the Tower 152 cabin interlocker was authorized for operation by the Railroad Commission of Texas (RCT) in 1929, both of the affected railroads were operated under lease by their lessees and eventual successors.

Both lines were abandoned in the 1980s, but the former T&NO line was acquired by Kansas City Southern (KCS) and is being rebuilt to provide a shorter route for KCS between Rosenberg and Victoria. As part of this reconstruction, the Tower 152 cabin has been destroyed, as reported by William Loocke in an email to Ken Stavinoha:

"...Cane Belt and SP Tower 152 - bit the dust yesterday January 23, 2009.  KCS has been clearing ROW thru Wharton for the past two weeks."

As Ken reports (in an email dated 1/31/09), there's not much left of the Cane Belt these days...

"I think 1991 is when much of the section between Sealy and Wharton was abandoned and torn up, although the extreme southern leg near Matagorda may have been abandoned much earlier. The exception was from about one mile north of Tower 152 and Bay City, which as used for car storage and briefly operated by another carrier in the mid 1990s. This part was scrapped around 2000, I believe. The largest remaining section of the old Cane Belt is between Bay City and Wadsworth that serves an industry (Celanese?) - I haven't verified that it is still in service though, but I think BNSF still owns that. A mile or so exists from Eagle Lake to Lakeside that occasionally is used to store some cars, and I think that is owned by A&K Materials. There was a couple mile segment near Sealy that served the Stewart & Stevenson plant but it may no longer be used as such and I don't know the ownership. The tracks were still in place a couple years ago when I checked but the rails were quite rusty."

Location Map - Tower 152

Last Revised: 2/21/2009 JGK - Contact the Texas Interlocking Towers Page.