Above: This undated photo from the collection of Jim Williams shows the SLB&M depot with signs designating Tower 154.
The town of Velasco was founded in 1831 along the banks of the Brazos River, four miles from the Gulf of Mexico. It was an important town in Texas history -- the site where the Treaty of Velasco was signed in 1836, and a temporary capital of the Republic of Texas. The town declined substantially after the Civil War, but by the early 1890s, economic revival brought new construction in an attempt to create a deep water port facility at the mouth of the Brazos River. In 1891, the Velasco Terminal Railway was founded to serve the port with grand ideas to build a rail line from Velasco to Hempstead. Two land promoters founded the town of Angleton 16 miles northwest of Velasco and, to attract the new railroad, gave an interest in their land to the railroad in exchange for laying rails through the center of town. By the end of 1892, a 20-mile rail line had been completed from Velasco via Angleton to Chenango Junction (later renamed Anchor) where a connection was made with the International - Great Northern Railroad (former Columbia Tap Railroad). Construction never went any further, and the railroad went into receivership when the Velasco port did not develop adequate traffic. After a couple of restarts and receiverships, the railroad eventually became known as the Houston & Brazos Valley (H&BV) Railway. The H&BV was able to sustain a business shipping sulfur from the world's largest sulfur mine located at the new town of Freeport, founded in 1912 downriver from Velasco (and into which Velasco was absorbed in 1957).
Meanwhile, the town of Angleton had grown to become the county seat, and it further prospered when the St. Louis, Brownsville & Mexico (SLB&M) Railway built through the area in 1906. The SLB&M was completing their main line between the Rio Grande Valley and Houston (via a connection with the Santa Fe at Tower 65 in Algoa). This required crossing the H&BV at Angleton. The crossing was uncontrolled until 1929 when Tower 154 was established as a ten-function mechanical cabin interlocker. By this time, both railroads were owned by Missouri Pacific (MP) but continued to operate under their original names until 1956 when MP consolidated its railroad companies. From the "154" signs on the photo above, it appears that the mechanical cabin interlocker was retired and the controls were relocated into the SLB&M depot, most likely controlling some kind of electric or automatic interlocker.
MP abandoned the Columbia Tap south of Anchor in 1956, leaving the H&BV as the only route through Anchor. In 1962, MP abandoned the H&BV from Angleton to Rosharon, a location on the Columbia Tap ten miles north of Anchor. Freeport service was still provided by connecting between the H&BV and the SLB&M at Angleton, a situation that remains today operated by Union Pacific (UP).
Site Photo, Angleton Junction
Above: A Union Pacific train passes through Angleton heading toward Bay City. The track in the foreground connects to the ex-H&BV line to
Freeport to the south (left).
Below: Looking south from north of Angleton Junction, the sign sits on the former H&BV right-of-way to Anchor, abandoned in 1962. The building
in the background houses UP offices. It appears to be the former MP freight depot.
Historic Photos from the Brazos County
Historical Museum collection
St. Louis, Brownsville & Mexico Railway depot, Angleton, 1906 Houston & Brazos Valley Railroad depot, Angleton
Satellite Image, Angleton Junction
Location Map, Tower 154