www.txrrhistory.com - Tower 198 - Henrietta
A Crossing of the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railway and the Fort Worth & Denver Railway
Henrietta was founded in 1857 as the county seat of Clay County, but was soon abandoned due to frequent Indian raids. In 1870, settlers permanently reclaimed the town and in 1882, the Ft. Worth and Denver City Railroad arrived building northwest from Ft. Worth toward Colorado. In 1887, the Gainesville, Henrietta and Western Railway reached town, forming a rail connection with Gainesville and the Santa Fe railroad. That same year, it was sold to the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad ("the Katy"), which was looking to expand to the west from Denison. In the early 1890s, Wichita Falls was on the verge of becoming a major rail junction and Joseph A. Kemp, a local businessman, was doing all he could to promote it. Kemp decided that a second major railroad was needed in Wichita Falls to compete with the FW&DC and he began courting the Katy to extend their line from Henrietta to Wichita Falls, a distance of 18 miles. Katy management had no interest in building a line that duplicated existing rail between the two towns, but told Kemp they'd consider an operating agreement if someone else built the line. Kemp and other investors promptly founded the Wichita Falls Railway and built a line parallel to the FW&D along the same right-of-way. The new line between Henrietta and Wichita Falls was completed in 1894 and the Katy took out a long term lease to operate it.
In 1907, the Southwestern Railroad was chartered to build from Henrietta to Archer City, a growing community 30 miles west of Henrietta. The first 20 miles to the town of Scotland were completed in 1908, and the remaining ten miles to Archer City opened in 1910. But the route was never profitable - Archer City's rail business went through Wichita Falls, a much larger commercial center served by a line that Kemp and his partner Frank Kell had built through Archer City. The Southwestern Railroad was abandoned in 1920.
For the first half century, the crossing at Henrietta
was not controlled by a numbered
interlocker, necessitating complete stops by all trains passing
through either crossing. Sometime around 1951, Tower 198 was established
at Henrietta to interlock the crossing there. By this time, rail
service on the Katy through Henrietta had declined significantly
and it made sense to interlock the crossing so that FW&D trains
would not have to stop. In 1970, declining business
caused the Katy to abandon the entire Henrietta Subdivision between
Whitesboro and Wichita Falls, and Tower 198 was rendered unnecessary.
Modern Photo - Tower 198
Facing southeast, the BNSF (ex-FW&D) line through Henrietta still sees plenty of trains through the former site of
Tower 198. The Katy right-of-way emerged from the woods at far left, crossed the FW&D at a slight angle, and then
paralleled the FW&D all the way to Wichita Falls. The Southwestern Railroad also connected at this location, but had
long been abandoned by the time Tower 198 was established. (Jim King photo)
Location Map - Tower 198