www.txrrhistory.com - Tower 187 - Waxahachie

A Crossing of the Burlington - Rock Island Railroad and the Texas & New Orleans Railroad

In the early 1900s, B. F. Yoakum controlled both the St. Louis - San Francisco Railway ("Frisco") and the Rock Island Lines, two large railroad companies. He also controlled a collection of other railroad companies in south Texas known as the Gulf Coast Lines. As the Frisco and Rock Island railroads built south into Texas from Indian territory (Oklahoma), Yoakum sought a connection with his Gulf Coast Lines by building a main line between Dallas and Houston. He accomplished this by acquiring the charter of the Trinity and Brazos Valley (T&BV) Railway, a small shortline operating between Mexia and Cleburne. In 1907, he built north and south from the town of Teague, reaching Waxahachie to the north and Houston to the south. Waxahachie was already served by two major railroads, the Missouri-Kansas-Texas (MKT) and the Houston & Texas Central, a Southern Pacific property that was eventually merged into its Texas & New Orleans (T&NO) subsidiary. (The MKT and H&TC crossed in northwest Waxahachie at Tower 67.) Yoakum stopped in Waxahachie rather than continuing into Dallas because he was able to make a favorable trackage rights arrangement into Dallas on the MKT line. For seven years, the T&BV enjoyed great business carrying overhead traffic between Dallas and Houston via Waxahachie. In 1914, Yoakum lost control of the Frisco and Rock Island companies, and the T&BV went into a long receivership lasting 16 years. When it ended in 1930, a new company, the Burlington - Rock Island (B-RI) Railroad, was created to own and operate the ex-T&BV rail lines. B-RI was owned jointly by Burlington Northern, operating under subsidiary Ft. Worth & Denver (FW&D) Railway, and Rock Island. B-RI continued the MKT trackage rights arrangement into Dallas that T&BV had used, and their connection to the Katy became known as "BRI Junction".  Until the demise of Rock Island in 1980, both Rock Island and FW&D shared operations over the line, and the route was commonly known as the "Joint Texas Division" (JTD).  B-RI was always a paper railroad -- it never owned any rolling stock -- and it became absorbed into the Burlington System when Rock Island went bankrupt. Burlington System successor Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) still operates the route to Houston. It acquired the Katy tracks north of Waxahachie from Katy successor Union Pacific, providing a complete route to Dallas which see frequent traffic.

Sometime in the 1890s, National Compress Co. built a cotton compress in downtown Waxahachie near the Katy depot. The compress is visible on the 1898 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map of Waxahachie, served by spur tracks from both the Katy and the H&TC. The Katy spur was relatively short since the main line was close by, but the H&TC spur needed nearly a mile of track to reach the compress. When the T&BV built into Waxahachie in 1907, it crossed the H&TC spur at grade. Presumably, as an uncontrolled crossing, all trains would have been required to come to a complete stop. However, since virtually all B-RI trains would stop at the depot less than a half mile from the crossing, this may not have created much additional delay. It is also possible that if the crossing was within the "yard limits" of the B-RI, other operational procedures might have taken precedent.

The H&TC was formally merged into the T&NO in 1934, and sometime between 1937 and 1942, Tower 187 was established to control the B-RI crossing of the T&NO spur to National Compress. It was most likely a remote-controlled interlocker, with controls probably located at the B-RI passenger depot. The impetus for establishing an interlocker at the crossing during this time frame is not known. However, it is worth noting that beginning with Tower 182 at Prosser in 1936, several interlockers involving the T&NO were established at "minor" crossings, including Tower 186, a similar situation in Sherman where a T&NO spur crossed a Frisco main line. Perhaps T&NO had embarked on a project to improve operations and safety throughout their system.

Historic Map, Waxahachie

Above: This Sanborn Fire Insurance Index Map of Waxahachie has been annotated to show the railroads, towers and junctions
in Waxahachie as of the 1940s.
Below: This 1925 Sanborn Map shows National Compress Co. served by two rail spurs. To the left (south) of the
complex along Matthews St., the H&TC spur is visible ending short of S. Flat St. To the right (north) of the complex,
the Katy spur crosses S. Flat St. heading toward the Katy main line. The T&BV main line is located to the right of
the Katy spur, passing along side the City Water Works and the J. T. Andrews & Sons Gin Co.


Satellite Image, Tower 187 Site


Recent Photos, Waxahachie (Jim King, January, 2008)    Click to Enlarge

Rails are visible where the T&NO spur to National Compress crossed Jefferson at the Getzendaner St. intersection.

With the abandonment of the Katy, there's no longer a junction at BRI Jct. The Katy depot is visible in the distance.

The Katy passenger depot sits abandoned.

The B-RI passenger depot is used as an office by a local business.

A BNSF freight idles next to the abandoned Katy spur on the north side of the former National Compress site.

Along Mathews St., the T&NO spur ran along the south side of National Compress, now a warehouse site.

Last Revised: 1/3/2008 JGK - Contact the Texas Interlocking Towers Page.