Texas Railroad History - Tower 205 - Austin

Junction of the Missouri Pacific (MP) and Missouri-Kansas-Texas (Katy) railroads, and the Colorado River railroad bridge

Historic Photos, Tower 205 (John W Barriger III National Railroad Library)

Above and Below: Tower 205 is photographed by John W Barriger III from the rear platform of his business car in the late 1930s or early 1940s.

Although a tower had controlled access to the Colorado River railroad bridge in Austin dating back to at least 1935 and probably earlier, the designation of this interlocker as Tower 205 did not occur until 1955. It appears that the Missouri Pacific (MP) Railroad, successor to the International - Great Northern (I-GN) Railroad that built the original bridge and tower, elected to apply for numbered tower designations and approvals in 1955 for two interlockers along its main line between Austin and San Marcos. Both of these interlockers (the other being Tower 206 in San Marcos) controlled junctions of the MP and the Missouri-Kansas-Texas (Katy) railroad. The belated assignment of the Tower 205 nomenclature gives this tower the distinction of being the highest numbered 2-story tower in Texas.

Historic Map of Tower 205 Site

Above: The 1935 Sanborn map shows the wye at the north end of the Colorado River bridge in Austin.
Below: Magnification reveals the structure in the middle of the wye as a two-story building.

Part of an Accident Report Involving Tower 205 from the Interstate Commerce Commission
"On January 5, 1937, there was a derailment of a passenger train on the International-Great Northern Railroad near Colorado Bridge, (Austin) Texas, which resulted in the death of 1 employee and injury to 2 passengers, 2 persons carried under contract and 1 trespasser. This accident occurred on the Austin District of the San Antonio Division, extending between San Antonio and Taylor, Texas, a distance of 114.3 miles; between San Marcos and Colorado Bridge, a distance of 30.1 miles, within which territory the accident occurred, this is a single track line over which trains are operated by time table, train orders and an automatic block-signal system. Time table directions are used throughout this report. Approaching the point of accident from the south, the track is tangent for more than a mile, extending to the north end of Colorado River bridge; there is then a 12 degree 30' curve to the left, 794 feet in length. At the south end of this curve a track leading to Austin passenger station diverges to the right on a similar curve; the normal position of the switch at this point is for a main track movement. These two curves form the west and east legs, respectively, of a wye and a track connecting the north ends of the curves forms the north log of the wye. The wye switches are operated from an interlocking tower located approximately in the center of the wye; wayside signals indicate the position of tile wye switches. Passenger trains entering Austin from the south, proceed over the west leg of the wye and back through the north leg to the station. The accident occurred on the curve forming the west leg of the wye, 265 feet from the receiving or south end. The grade is 1.25 per cent descending northward for approximately 3 1/2 miles, to a point 3,150 feet south of the point of accident, followed. by 755 feet of level track, 610 feet of 0.83 per cent ascending grade, 1,520 feet of level track across the bridge, and then 794 feet of 0.94 per cent descending grade to the end of the curve. The track is laid with 90-pound rail, 39 feet in length, with 24 treated and gumwood ties to the panel; it is fully tie plated and double spiked on the outside of the rails, and is ballasted with crushed rock to a depth of 10 or 12 inches below the ties. The elevation on the curve where the derailment occurred is 2 1/2 inches, and the gauge is 4 feet 9 inches; 5 gauge rods are used per panel. The track is well maintained and at the point of derailment is on a 25 foot fill which tapers to a depth of about 5 feet at the west switch of the wye, 529 feet distant. Trains are required to run at restricted speed between Austin and wye switches at Colorado River Bridge."

ICC Map of the Accident Site

Location Map, Tower 205

Satellite Image, Tower 205 Location

Last Revised: 3/27/2014 JGK - Contact the Texas Interlocking Towers Page.