Todd's Railfan Guide to
Houston TX

In General
How to get Here
the Yards
the Towers
Other Pictures



In General

If you have limited time to railfan in Houston, I would spend it here and at adjoining Settegast Yard.  Englewood was a former Southern Pacific yard before being absorbed by the Union Pacific.  Between the two yards, there is almost constant activity, at least when I visited the area.  Towards the end of the week, freights coming in from Beaumont can get stacked up coming in from the east.

Parking is pretty easy along Liberty: by Tower 68, by the Mesa Crossover, and under Wayside.

Below is my map of the two yards.  Time was short the last time I was there, so I missed getting good pictures at all of the locations, if you can help out, it would be appreciated.

Getting Here

If you look at a map of Houston, you will notice two loop highways (Beltways if you are from the northeast or DC area), and one of them, the inner loop, is interstate 610, the Loop Freeway.  The outer loop is the Sam Houston Tollway.   Highways in Texas are generally superior to those elsewhere in the country.  Houston is no exception.  If you've never been to Texas before, the majority of their highways have service roads that run parallel to the highway, on both sides.  This makes getting on and off easier, as the service roads are one-way.  At most of the intersections that go over or under a freeway, there are usually U-Turn lanes where you do not have to wait for the light to change or go thru the intersection to make the U-Turn.  Wish other places had em both!!!

From the downtown area, I would come out of town on US59, heading north, and then take 610 east to exit 22, Homestead Rd.  Take a right, and it will run into Liberty at the yard... take a left.  When you come to a highway overpass, you're at the location.  There's a grade crossing with the original UP line, and you should be able to pull off the road along Liberty.

Coming from the east on I10, take I610 at exit 775, and head north on the loop to exit 23a.  Take the service road to Homestead, where you'll take a left,.  Then follow the above directions.

From the west on I10, take US59 north from the downtown area, and follow the instructions above.

If you're coming up I45 from Galveston, I would probably take I610 around to exit 22.

From the north on US59 or I45 for example, I would take I610 east to the above mentioned exit.


The Yards

    1       Englewood Yard




  Northbound BNSF freight crossing the Tower 87 diamond.

      Westbound KCS freight (with TFM engine) waiting near location 3.

  The KCS freight finally gets the go ahead and gets to cross the diamond.

   Hump engines.

  A train leaving Englewood for Settegast.

 Engines in Englewood are buried in the yard, often blocked by thru trains.

  A WB freight waiting at Tower 68.

  Sign found at the east end of the yard.

      Pictures from the west end of the yard adjacent to Tower 68.

    2       Settegast Yard

The photo below is two pictures stitched together from www.bing.com/maps.
Below that, we are lucky that the engines are conveniently located off of Kirkpatrick.

  A freight coming from Settegast and heading east. 

  Freight coming out of Settegast and heading south (from Liberty Road).

The Towers

For more info on the towers of Texas, see the Houston Homepage.

Tower 87

The tower is long gone, but the diamond it controlled is still very much here, more info here


Tower 68

Tower 68, one of the few remaining Texas towers still intact (altho not in service). 

Dwarf searchlights dominate the yard for yard movements. 

When I last visited Houston in 2006, Union Pacific was leasing quite a few of these CEFX engines with Caterpillar prime movers.  Haven't seen any EMD lease engines since being in Minneapolis back in 2001! 



  The Union Pacific is leasing quite a few of these CEFX engines with Caterpillar prime movers.

  Haven't seen any EMD lease engines since being in Minneapolis!


For pictures of the signals in the Tower 87 area, and the southern part of Settegast yard, Click Here.

Signals not covered on that page are shown below.

    1       Mesa Crossover WB


    2       Mesa Crossover EB



    3       Signals adjacent to the hump approach


Westbound KCS freight (with TFM engine) waiting a little east of location 3.  On the right, the KCS freight finally gets the go ahead to cross the diamond.

    4       Dwarf signals across from Tower 68

    5       A lone GRS searchlight at the wye.


Other Shots

  Metro Transit route #77 stop on Liberty under Wayside.

  Base of the crossing gate on Liberty Rd., you don't see Harmon very often.

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NEW 10/19/2009
Last modified: 10 Jan 2014