Texas Railroad History - Tower 188 - Farwell

A Junction of the Panhandle & Santa Fe Railway Along the New Mexico Border

Farwell is located on the New Mexico state line approximately 90 miles northwest of Lubbock. The town was founded in 1899 when the Pecos & Northern Texas (P&NT) Railroad built a line from Amarillo to New Mexico. In 1901, the P&NT was acquired by the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway. Santa Fe was planning a revision to its transcontinental main line that would send significant traffic via Amarillo instead of Raton Pass. The line between Farwell and Amarillo would become part of this "Belen Cutoff", which opened for business in 1908. In 1914, Santa Fe built a line between Lubbock and Farwell to reach the Belen Cutoff. This provided a connection between Santa Fe operations in southeast Texas and its routes into New Mexico and the western U.S.

The date of the establishment of Tower 188 in Farwell is not known, but it appears to have been between 1937 and 1946. Although Farwell was not a junction of two different railroads, the Texas Railroad Commission had begun requiring approved numbered interlockers for all major junctions in the late 1920s.

Both lines remain very active, owned by Santa Fe successor Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF).

Above: Looking east at Farwell, the two rail lines diverge. The near track is curving to the southeast toward Lubbock. The far track is the double track main line to Amarillo.  It's not likely that a manned tower ever existed at Farwell. Instead, judging by the late date of its installation and the high traffic volume on the Santa Fe main line, the interlocker was very likely automatic. Automatic interlockers had been authorized in Texas since an installation at Lubbock in 1931. (Jim King photo c.2002) Below: The triangular junction at Farwell is readily apparent in this Google Earth image. The lower left leg proceeds to Clovis, New Mexico (~ 10 miles) and beyond as part of the Belen Cutoff. The upper right leg is the double track main line to Amarillo. At lower right is the track to Lubbock. The purpose of the visible connecting track between the Amarillo and Lubbock lines is unknown. Historic aerial imagery shows that its grade existed in 1954 but the tracks did not. By 1996, the connecting tracks were in place. Historic aerial imagery that could further refine the installation timeframe within that 40 year span has not been located.

Above: The need for an interlocker in Farwell has been eliminated due to various track changes over the decades. Facing northeast at the border, the double track main to Amarillo - far busier due to its role in the Belen Cutoff - disappears into the horizon while the single track to Lubbock at far right curves to the east (and eventually, southeast.) Thus, the main tracks no longer intersect in Texas. At the time of installation, the interlocker (and the junction it controlled) would have been in the foreground of this image. Now, the tracks merge about 1.7 miles into New Mexico (Google Street View.) Below: The main U.S. highway from Clovis splits just before crossing into Texas. The northeast route (US 60) parallels the rail line to Amarillo while the due east highway (US 84/70) curves to the southeast and proceeds to parallel the rail line to Lubbock.

Last Revised: 7/8/2020 JGK - Contact the Texas Interlocking Towers Page.