Texas Railroad History - Tower 199 - Houston (Settegast Yard)

A letter in the files of DeGolyer Library from the Houston Belt & Terminal (HB&T) Railway to the Railroad Commission of Texas (RCT) dated March 13, 1952 discusses the "new tower at Settegast Yard" in Houston and requests a number assignment from RCT. Tower 199 was subsequently assigned, becoming another of the many yard towers that ended up in the RCT numbering system. Thanks to Neil Mackay, we have a copy of an article published that very same month in Railway Signaling and Communications magazine titled "Three NX Interlockings on Houston Belt & Terminal" that describes new interlockers installed at Tower 80, Tower 85 and "BJ Tower" in early 1952. It is apparent from the article that "BJ Tower" is the interlocker that was subsequently numbered Tower 199. The article includes a photo of a tower operator standing at the Settegast Yard control panel with the tower location visible on the west side of the tracks at the south end of the yard. This matches the location of Tower 199 shown on the track drawing contained in the DeGolyer file. The article mentions that "BJ Tower" was built by Missouri Pacific personnel, and that its interlocker controls were located in a "yard office", implying that Tower 199 was not a traditional two-story structure.

Left: Excerpt from Railway Signaling and Communications magazine, March, 1952

 Below: Photograph included in the same article showing the tower symbol below (west of) the double main tracks, at the left center edge of the photo. (article provided by Neil Mackay)

A 1974 HB&T drawing (see below) provided by Neil Mackay shows Tower 199 on the opposite side (east) of the main tracks. Presumably the interlocker controls were moved across the tracks sometime between 1952 and 1974, but it is unclear what kind of structure this may have been. It might have been a manned, multi-story structure as there would have been little benefit to building another single story "yard office" directly across the tracks from the first one. Also, the presence of an adjacent "bung." (bungalow) on the chart implies that the tower itself was more than just a hut. Satellite imagery shows no evidence of a tower remaining at this location, but the imagery also shows that yard tracks have been added east of the original two main tracks; this may have led to the demise of Tower 199 sometime after 1974. The current multi-story tower at Settegast Yard is approximately 1900 ft. further north; it is unknown whether this tower continues the "199" nomenclature.

Above: Tower 199 and its adjacent bungalow are depicted in the upper left corner of this 1974 HB&T track chart. The chart is oriented with east at the top. The tower is on the opposite side of the tracks from the 1952 references. (chart provided by Neil Mackay) Below: Map from Railway Signaling and Communications magazine, March, 1952 showing various Houston area towers including the new BJ Tower that became Tower 199. (article provided by Neil Mackay)

Settegast Yard, Satellite Images

Above: A yard office appears to be standing in the location of the original Tower 199 controls, but it is unknown whether this is the same structure. Below: The current multi-story tower at Settegast Yard is several blocks north
of the historic location of Tower 199.

Last Revised: 6/8/2007 JGK - Contact the Texas Interlocking Towers Page.