In General
Tracks Gone


In General

If you have never been to Houston, you should go.  It is a great railfan town.  There is plenty to do and see while in Houston, and, because of the great highway system, nothing is too far from one another.

There was once an excellent railfan guide for railfanning Houston by Steve Sandifer, but it has been discontinued.  He has graciously allowed me to include his description of Houston rail lines on my site.

In the old days, before the big mergers, you had the Santa Fe, the Union Pacific, the Southern Pacific, the Rock Island, the MKT--Missouri-Kansas Texas, and the Missouri Pacific all coming into town.  Those railroads have now been replaced by BNSF and the UP who provide the majority of action in town.

You also have the PTRA, the Port Terminal Railway Association, which operates in and around the port of Houston, the 4th largest port in the U.S.  They use MK-1500's as their power, and have around 23 of them.  Their largest yard is the North Yard, however, the engine maintenance facilities are in the middle of the yard, and therefore out of reach from our cameras.

Within short rides of Houston, you have Galveston and Rosenberg, both of which have great museums.

Rosenberg thought enough of Tower 17 to have it relocated onto the museum grounds.  For signal fans, the museum in Rosenberg is a must see, as they have many on the grounds, and a lot of signal stuff inside.

The Galveston Museum is also pretty well "signaled", and has a lot of unique rolling stock.  Galveston also has a trolley system, which is different in the sense that they are diesel powered!

And speaking of signals, everything in Houston is color light signals, with maybe a few here and there, that are searchlight signals, which seemed to be the "old" style signal of choice around here.  When I last visited Houston in 2006, the Union Pacific was in the process of replacing most of the old signals.

At the bottom of the page are other mentioned railfan places NOT in Houston.

Steve Sandifer
Denver Todd

Websites and other additional information sources of interest for the area:
For more info on the towers of Texas, check out: (the motherload of information!)

Another great site with info on railroad structures in all of Texas (listed by county, ie: The city of Tyler is in Smith county, so don't click on Tyler county) is at :

My Rosenberg Museum page is here
My Galveston Museum page is here

So far, I have the following detailed areas of Houston:
    Map 1 - Englewood Yard
    Map 2 - Tower 85
    Map 3 - Tower 87
    Map 4 - Pierce Junction/Diamond
    Map 5 - Downtown Houston
    Map 6 - T&NO Junction
    Map 7 - Casey Yard
    Map 8 - Tower 13 and Eureka Yard
    Map 9 - Belt Junction
    Map 10 - GH&H Crossing
    Map 11 - Gulf Coast Junction & Pierce Yard
    Map 12 - Tower 26
    Light Rail guide

Houston Overview RR Map


Please note, all of the information below from a page/screen capture in 2011, so I do not know how much of this information is still relevant.  This is all the work of Steve Sandifer.  The numbers make reference to the numbers in the map above, which are also the same numbers Steve used.

Things have changed a lot in the wake of all of the UP and BNSF mergers, this includes trackage rights.  Also in wake of these changes is the renaming of key points from "Tower 85" or "T&NO Junction", to Control Points (common where I live "up here" in Conrail land. :-)

Here is a short list of places to watch activity from, outside the immediate Houston metro area:
     Temple/Somerville, northwest of Houston -- BNSF
     Rosenburg, Tower 17 -- BNSF
     Hearne, Valley Junction -- UP
     Conroe -- UP

So let's get into those line descriptions......

Tracks Gone

Two routes in and out of Houston have disappeared as a result of the "mega mergers".

One is the old MKT line that headed west to San Antonio from Tower 13.  Eureka Yard to the east of Tower 13 is an ex MKT yard.

The other line is the ex Southern Pacific line heading west from Bellaire Junction to Eagle Lake.  As can be seen from the photo below, evidence of the interchange tracks can still be seen, from "up here" and from ground level.


What is a SIT Yard?

In the descriptions above, you will notice SIT Yard is used quite often, for those of you not familiar with the term, here is a discussion from way back in 2006 about them, and curiously enough, it was in relation to a "Houston" Yard:

Additionally, I came across this from Viper:

If you are managing a railcar fleet involving loaded product, you’ve probably thought about the idea of storing your product offsite; either close to your manufacturing facility, or strategically placed, close to a particular consignee/customer. Using a Railcar SIT Yard proves to be a cost effective resource, and accomplishes, next level, service objectives.

As an expert in managing this process, Viper Rail Car Storage has established SIT-Ready storage sites around the country; with service options for every major Class 1 Railroad. This SIT process has been described as “a warehouse on wheels.” Viper sees this strategy most commonly used, but not limited to the Plastic Resin Industry.

Various manufactures have their own niche market in this industry. Commonly, Plastic Pellets are made in larger batches to keep manufacturing cost effective. Once plastic pellets are made, they are loaded into a Hopper railcar. Once full, these Hoppers are transported to a storage-in-transit (SIT) yard. This storage relieves the plastic resin manufacturer or bagging facility from the costs of maintaining their onsite inventory.

Railcars in SIT Yards are more likely to go into a railcar storage yard closer to the shipper than the consignee/customer. Most SIT yards are viewed as the manufacturers offsite warehouse; not so much for the convenience of the consignee. Although there is a growing number of manufactures that are using SIT yards to strategically place their railcars into specific storage yards, close to their customer or usage point.

The Process of SIT: The shipper pays for movement, to send their railcars to the SIT yard (this includes a Switch-In charge – and a Switch-Out charge when the railcars leave). Railcars can be stored for as long as needed. Once product is sold, and billing for the railcars is applied, the manufacture or consignee will pay a revenue move from the SIT yard to the consignee/customer. At that point, Viper Railcar Storage will facilitate the movement of the customer SIT railcars; to be shipped to their destination.

SIT storage yards car play a vital role in service. In a thriving market railcars may be moving often enough, that storage may be short-lived. In a stagnate or depressed market SIT yards may allow for a more detailed plan of attack; in how you function as a manufacture. Throughout any given time of the year there are demand variations for specific products. If the market demand is up, or depressed, your own variables will ultimately determine if a SIT yard is right for you.

BNSF Teague Yard


I love trains, and I love signals.  I am not an expert.  My webpages reflect what I find on the topic of the page.  This is something I have fun with while trying to help others.

Please Note:  Since the main focus of my two websites is railroad signals, the railfan guides are oriented towards the signal fan being able to locate them.  For those of you into the modeling aspect of our hobby, my indexa page has a list of almost everything railroad oriented I can think of to provide you with at least a few pictures to help you detail your pike.

If this is a railfan page, every effort has been made to make sure that the information contained on this map and in this railfan guide is correct.  Once in a while, an error may creep in :-)

My philosophy: Pictures and maps are worth a thousand words, especially for railfanning.  Text descriptions only get you so far, especially if you get lost or disoriented.  Take along good maps.... a GPS is OK to get somewhere, but maps are still better if you get lost!  I belong to AAA, which allows you to get local maps for free when you visit the local branches.  ADC puts out a nice series of county maps for the Washington DC area, but their state maps do not have the railroads on them.  If you can find em, I like the National Geographic map book of the U.S..... good, clear, and concise graphics, and they do a really good job of showing you where tourist type attractions are, although they too lack the railroads.  Other notes about specific areas will show up on that page if known.

Aerial shots were taken from either Google or Bing Maps as noted.  Screen captures are made with Snagit, a Techsmith product... a great tool if you have never used it! 

By the way, floobydust is a term I picked up 30-40 years ago from a National Semiconductor data book, and means miscellaneous and/or other stuff.

Pictures and additional information is always needed if anyone feels inclined to take 'em, send 'em, and share 'em, or if you have something to add or correct.... credit is always given!  Please be NICE!!!  Contact info is here

Beware: If used as a source, ANYTHING from Wikipedia must be treated as being possibly inaccurate, wrong, or not true.


New: 12/02/2007, JUN05/2022
Last Modified: 06-Jun-2022