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  Those railroads have now been replaced by BNSF and the UP who provide the majority of action in town.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!

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, this comes from a page 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.

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......

Track #1 is the Joint Texas Division which was formerly operated by the CRI&P and the FW&D, and is now solely operated by BNSF.  Chartered as the Trinity & Brazos Valley in 1902, it fell into receivership during the WWI period.  This was the longest receivership of a Texas railroad, lasting until 1930, when the Burlington (FW&D) and Rock Island railroads got joint custody.  It proceeds north through Tomball, Teague, Corsicana to a connection with the UP at Waxahachie and on to Fort Worth.  With the BNSF merger, this line has seen increased traffic since it is a shorter route to Fort Worth than the ATSF through Temple.  Trian chasing is difficult, as no highway closely parallels this line, but TX 249 will keep you in close proximty north of Tomball for about 15 miles.  Detailed maps will keep you close by for most of the trip to Teague.

BNSF has a large SIT yard at Teague capable of holding 600 cars, which compensates for the lack of capacity in Houston.

BNSF's Casey Yard is located inside Beltway 8 near 249.  The yard is parallel to the main between Fallbrook and West Rd with an 18 track SIT yard running east and west between Houston-Rosslyn Rd and the main line, just north of West Rd.  Casey Yard has a capacity of 800 cars.  The only railfan vantage is at the Fallbrook grade crossing.  Casey serves primarily as a gathering yard for traffic for north side industries and as a SIT yard to serve those industries.  If you like grey covered hoppers, you'll love Casey.  Daily, a turn will operate from Casey to New South Yard with traffic destined for Memphis, New Orleans, and elsewhere and return with traffic for the North Harris County and Southern Montgomery County area.  This track sees about 10 to 12 trains a day.

Track #2 is former Missouri Pacific.


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.



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.  My webpages are an attempt at putting everything I can find of the subject in one convenient place.  There are plenty of other good websites to help me in this effort, and they are listed in the links section on my indexa page, or as needed on individual pages.  Please do not write to me about something that may be incorrect, and then hound the heck out of me if I do not respond to you in the manner you would like.  I operate on the "Golden Rule Principle", and if you are not familiar with it, please acquaint yourself with how to treat people by reading Mathew 7:12 (among others, the principle exists in almost every religion).  If you contact me (like some do, hi Paul) and try to make it a "non-fun" thing and start with the name calling, your name will go into my spambox list! :-)

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, especially if restaurants or gas stations open, close, or change names.  Most of my maps are a result of personal observation after visiting these locations.  I have always felt that a picture is worth a thousand words", and I feel annotated maps such as the ones I work up do the same justice for the railfan over a simple text description of the area.  Since the main focus of my website is railroad signals, the railfan guides are oriented towards the signal fan being able to locate them.  Since most of us railheads don't have just trains as a hobby, I have also tried to point out where other interesting sites of the area are.... things like fire stations, neat bridges, or other significant historical or geographical feature.  While some may feel they shouldn't be included, these other things tend to make MY trips a lot more interesting.... stuff like where the C&O Canal has a bridge going over a river (the Monocacy Aqueduct) between Point of Rocks and Gaithersburg MD, it's way cool to realize this bridge to support a water "road" over a river was built in the 1830's!!!  

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.

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! BE NICE!!! Contact info is here

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


New: 12-2-2007
Mod: 24-Oct-2017