txrrhistory.com - Interlocking Tower 160 - Cisco, Texas

A Crossing of the Missouri Kansas Texas Railway and the Texas & Pacific Railway

The community of Red Gap was started when a few families settled near the future town of Cisco in 1878-79. By 1882, two railroads had entered the vicinity: the Texas & Pacific Railway building west from Ft. Worth to El Paso in 1880, and the Texas Central Railway building northwest from Waco to Albany in 1881-82. Red Gap citizens quickly relocated adjacent to the railroads' crossing and shortly thereafter, named their new town in honor of John Cisco, a New York investor in the Houston & Texas Central (H&TC) Railway. The Texas Central, chartered by a group of H&TC investors and directors, was envisioned as a lengthy branch line to feed traffic to the H&TC at Waco (through a connection there to its Waco & Northwestern Railway subsidiary). After a receivership and reorganization, the Texas Central was ultimately sold to the Missouri Kansas Texas Railway (MKT, "Katy") in 1910, but continued to be operated under the Texas Central name as an element of Katy's network.

In 1919, an oil boom in Eastland County motivated a young, recently discharged World War I veteran from New Mexico to come to Cisco and buy a bank. Being unable to strike a deal on the bank, he bought the Mobley Hotel instead, and thus, Conrad Hilton became famous for Hilton Hotels instead of Hilton Banks. As the oil boom filled Hilton's hotel, Cisco's population grew rapidly and led to the chartering of the Cisco & Northeastern (C&NE) Railway, which completed a 28-mile line northeast to Breckenridge in 1920. In Cisco, the C&NE tracks were parallel to (and north of) the T&P for a short distance where a siding provided an exchange track. The C&NE came under the financial control of the T&P in 1927, but it continued to be operated as a separate entity. The line was extended north from Breckenridge to Throckmorton in 1928, but with the Depression and the decline in oil shipments, it was abandoned in 1942.

According to Railroad Commission of Texas (RCT) records, the Katy/T&P crossing was uncontrolled until August 13, 1930, when a 19-function electric interlocker was commissioned as Tower 160. While the T&P line remains in active service under Union Pacific ownership, the Texas Central line through Cisco was abandoned in 1967 and the crossing dismantled.

Map of Tower 160 's Location in Cisco

Below: Katy Track Chart of Cisco from 1915 (courtesy Ed Chambers)


Above: This Google Earth satellite image of the crossing still shows tell-tale scars of the former Texas Central. The
yellow object below center is a caboose sitting in Cisco's Family Park. The caboose appears to be atop the foundation
of the former Union Passenger Station that served both railroads.
Below: This image from the 1920 Sanborn Map of Cisco shows the Tower 160 crossing. There was not a traditional
two-story tower structure for Tower 160; it is likely that the interlocker controls were housed in either the office in
the southeast quadrant of the crossing, or perhaps in the passenger station. The latest Sanborn map for Cisco is
dated 1929 which precedes the establishment of Tower 160. Thus, we do not have a definitive indication of whether
any additional structure (e.g. a cabin interlocker to house the controls) was built.


Above: the Union Passenger Depot in 1922 (West Texas Historical Association)
Below: a ground level view of the caboose adjacent to the former Katy ROW. [Google Street View]


Above: The Katy freight depot in Cisco still fronts E. 6th Street, but is not looking good in this image... [Doyle Davis, 2010]
Below: ...and it appears to be the same building that is shown on the 1920 Sanborn map.

Below: The Katy freight depot looks MUCH better in this March, 2017 photo by Richie Morgan!

Last Revised: 5/5/2017 JGK - Contact the Texas Interlocking Towers Website.