A crossing of the Fort Worth & Denver Railway and the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railway
In 1955, a major expansion began at Amarillo Air Force Base (now Amarillo International Airport) when it was chosen to host B-52 bombers for Strategic Air Command. In those days, the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific (CRI&P) Choctaw Route ran near the base, and this expansion required CRI&P to reroute their line to avoid the expanded airfield. The new route brought the CRI&P parallel to the Fort Worth & Denver (FW&D) main line for 2.4 miles along the south edge of the air base, and required the CRI&P to cross an existing FW&D industry track. To protect this crossing, an "Electric Locked Crossing Gate" was placed in service on the FW&D spur track on September 10, 1958. The next day, the CRI&P wrote a letter to the Railroad Commission of Texas requesting a numbered interlocker assignment, which was granted as Tower 209. An interlocker of this type would cause distant signals on the CRI&P to illuminate red whenever the gate was unlocked.
The Tower 209 file at DeGolyer Library contains a track drawing that shows the placement of the gate. Although this drawing does not include any non-railroad landmarks that would help identify its location, it does show the arrangement of the industry tracks and main lines. From this information, it is easy to locate the site of Tower 209 using satellite imagery. There is only one industry track along the 2.4 miles where the CRI&P and FW&D lines are parallel, and the track arrangement matches the drawing in the DeGolyer file.
In 1980, as a result of bankruptcy, all of the CRI&P's assets were liquidated. Most of the Choctaw Route was abandoned, and portions of it were sold to other railroads. In Amarillo, the CRI&P tracks that had been constructed for the expansion of Amarillo AFB were acquired by Burlington Northern, parent company of the FW&D, and remain in service today as sidings, storage and other secondary uses for Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF).
Tower 209 Site, Satellite Image
Originally, the industry track connected to the FW&D main, but it appears FW&D modified the track layout to connect the spur to the former CRI&P main, which became a secondary line when acquired by FW&D. The track chart in the DeGolyer file shows the gate located on the spur, north of the CRI&P line.
Site Map, Tower 209