Texas Railroad History - Tower 191 - Marlin

A Crossing of the Texas & New Orleans Railroad and the Missouri Pacific Railroad

A few years after the Civil War ended, the Houston and Texas Central (H&TC) Railroad resumed its northward construction toward the Red River, remaining east of the Brazos River, but passing close to it in Navasota, Bryan and Hearne. The citizens of Waco saw railroad connections as a key to economic growth for the Brazos valley agricultural region, chartering the Waco Tap Railroad in 1866 to "tap" the H&TC line to the southeast. The name was changed to the Waco & Northwestern (W&NW) Railroad in 1870 as construction proceeded slowly. By 1871, the grade extended only 24 miles to the town of Marlin. To complete the line, an agreement was reached whereby the H&TC would finish the construction, building from their main line at Bremond to Marlin, and then completing the construction on the existing grade into Waco. The completed line entered Waco in September, 1872 and the branch was sold to H&TC five months later. Marlin grew rapidly as a result of the railroad, tripling in population to 1,500 within a decade. In 1899, a second railroad began building northward up the Brazos valley, passing through Marlin en route to Waco. The Calvert, Waco and Brazos Valley Railroad was originally chartered as an extension of the International & Great Northern (I-GN) Railroad, but was eventually acquired by the I-GN which completed the entire route from Spring to Ft. Worth in 1902. Because of population growth, obtaining a right-of-way for the I-GN through Marlin required running the tracks through downtown along Ward St. For the right-of-way between Marlin and Waco, H&TC already occupied the optimum route, so I-GN chose to take a circuitous path from Marlin north to Mart and then west to Waco, a substantially less direct route. This required crossing the H&TC line at grade in north Marlin, a site later automated as Tower 191 in 1946.

The Texas & New Orleans (T&NO) Railroad, successor to the H&TC, abandoned the Bremond to Waco route through Marlin in 1965. Missouri Pacific (MP), successor to I-GN, took this opportunity to eliminate the lengthy segment from Marlin to Waco via Mart by purchasing the T&NO's more direct route. Rather than connecting to the T&NO tracks at the Tower 191 crossing, MP chose to eliminate the tracks on Ward St. by using T&NO's entire route through town. This eliminated the need for Tower 191, which was decommissioned, but necessitated construction of a short connecting line in south Marlin. Today, this route through Marlin is a Union Pacific (UP) main line.

Modern Photo (c.1999) - Tower 191 Site

Above: Looking northeast at the site of Tower 191, rails for a connecting track at the former crossing are visible in the street. The UP (ex-T&NO) line at left continues north to Waco where it reconnects to the original I-GN right-of-way approximately two miles south of Tower 8. (Jim King photo)

Above: Looking southwest at Tower 191, the abandoned MP right-of-way is visible. (Jim King photo)

Satellite Image, Marlin

Above: The 1965 connecting track in south Marlin connects the former I-GN route south to Valley Jct. with the T&NO route north to Waco, allowing the I-GN tracks on Ward St. to be removed.

Last Revised: 5/28/2007 JGK - Contact the Texas Interlocking Towers Page.