Crossing of the International - Great Northern (I-GN) Railroad and the Texas State Railroad (TSR)
The town of Palestine was established in 1846 at the center of the newly formed Anderson County, destined to become its county seat. The International Railroad was the first to arrive, in 1872, as they worked to complete a line between Hearne and Longview. In 1873, the Houston & Great Northern Railroad reached Palestine from the south with their main line from Houston and promptly merged with the International to form the International - Great Northern (I-GN) Railroad. That same year, the Hearne - Longview route was completed, giving Palestine excellent rail connections to the east, west and south.
In 1896, the State of Texas built a five mile railroad near Rusk to haul iron ore to a prison smelter that had been constructed a decade earlier. The smelter gradually expanded, and so did the railroad, building west to Maydelle in 1903 and extending the line to Palestine in 1909. Owned by the state, the railroad was never chartered but became officially known as the Texas State Railroad. A connection with the I-GN was established in Palestine, and sometime around 1931, the junction was formally interlocked as Tower 173. Most likely, this was a cabin interlocker since the line traffic would have been substantially disproportional in favor of the I-GN. From 1921 to 1962, the Texas State Railroad was leased to the Texas & New Orleans (T&NO) Railroad. Thus, at the time the interlocker was established, the line was actually operated by Southern Pacific, owner of the T&NO.
Location Photo, Tower 173
Union Pacific was "workin' on the railroad" when this photo was taken facing southeast at the site of Tower 173 in Palestine. The rail line in the foreground is the TSR line east to Rusk. The Union Pacific (ex-I-GN) line south to Houston is in the background. The two lines merge off-camera to the right as they curve north into downtown Palestine. The Sanborn Fire Insurance Map of Palestine from 1935 shows that the two lines crossed at this location, with the TSR paralleling the I-GN toward downtown Palestine.
Satellite Image, Tower 173 Location
Location Map, Tower 173