Todd's Railfan Guide to
The Downtown Area

In General
Light Rail


In General

The downtown area of Houston offers the railfan quite a few items of note......

The Amtrak Station, Union Station, Tower 26, the Light Rail system, and a number of bridges offering interesting photo ops.

Map 1 - Englewood Yard
Map 2 - Tower 85
Map 3 - Tower 87

Map 4 - Pierce Junction/Diamond

Map 5 - Downtown

Light Rail guide



   the Amtrak Station

Amtrak service to Houston is provided by the Sunset, and offers trains three times a week.  The schedule is below.  I had the opportunity to ride this train when it was still an SP train in 1971, coming home from LA to Baltimore.  Nice trip!

   SP's Hardy Shops

Nothing remains of the once sprawling Hardy shops, where they would tackle anything that came along.  With the mergers, all of this activity is now performed over at Union Pacific's Settegast Yard.  The more recent picture from Google Maps shows that all of the yard trackage has been removed.

   Tower 26

Arguably the best spot in Houston for taking pictures and the frequency of trains.  Because the three junctions are spread over a wide area, you will not be able to photograph everything coming through here from one vantage point, nor, because of trees, you will not be able to catch action at the other junctions from any one of them.......

Play it safe and railfan with a buddy here, as it is not the best area in the world

   Union Station

Union Station provides the entrance for the baseball stadium, similar what they did in Baltimore with Camden Yards, although Camden Station is not connected with the stadium.  They have a replica steamer which rides a track adjacent to the depot - not sure what moves it tho.


   Wooden Trestle

One of the few surviving pieces of the MKT's route into downtown from the west side and Eureka Yard.  The bridge has been given a new life as part of the hiking trail that winds it's way through the downtown area.  The bridge is not completely wood, as the main span is a girder bridge, but the approaches still use the old timbers.  The bridge is under the Crockett Street bridge (I know, gotta redo the map).

The MKT Depot was approximately where the University complex is now.

   UP Girder Bridge

   Ex MKT Girder Bridge

If I can't quite tell from the views on Google Maps, but it looks as if this bridge may have been replaced to complete the hikey-bikey trail.


  UP Girder Bridge

If you ride the light rail all the way to the UH/Downtown station, at the University of Houston, you can get pretty good shots of traffic coming through here from the Main Street overpass.

  UP Concrete Girder Bridge

  UP Concrete Girder Bridge

  UP Concrete Girder Bridge

Metro Light Rail

UH/Downtown Station

A good spot for pictures, of both trains and the light rail system.  If you walk down to the bottom of the overpass at Main and Commerce, it's a good spot to catch pix of the light rail with the well done median strip the city has put in.  WB trains are the easiest to shoot from the Main Street overpass, as EB's run underneath the parking garage for the university, although it does provide for an interesting shot.  For pictures taken at this station, check out my Metro Light Rail page up at the top of the page - altho the whole page needs to be updated.


Police Car   Found via Google's Streetview along the hikey-bikey train under Main St.

New: 1MAR2012
Mod: 25-Aug-2016