Some Santa Fe Towers

Last revised: April 16, 2017
Maintained by Evan Werkema.

Over the years, quite a few towers have graced the Santa Fe right of way as manual block towers or as interlocking towers. Santa Fe replaced most manual block systems decades ago, but a few interlocking towers controlling busy or complex crossings and junctions managed to survive into the last decade of the twentieth century. Some of them are shown and described below. If you have pictures or information on other Santa Fe interlocking towers, or material to add for the towers shown, drop us a line.


Redondo Junction, Los Angeles, CA

Redondo Junction tower controlled the crossing of the Union Pacific and Santa Fe lines near downtown Los Angeles, as well as the junction of the Santa Fe lines to San Bernardino (via Fullerton) and Wilmington. The tower was built in 1906, and is similar to the standard interlocking tower plans shown on pages 211-217 of Santa Fe System Standards, Volume 2. The tower was built with horizontal siding as shown in the plan, but was later rebuilt with vertical siding.

Redondo Junction tower closed on July 6, 2001, as the Alameda Corridor project unifying the BNSF and UP lines to the Long Beach Harbor eliminated the junction it controlled. The building still stood in early 2017, but its future was uncertain.

The bottom photo shows the tower's model board and a portion of the interlocking machine. The double track line running across the board is the Santa Fe line to the Los Angeles Union Passenger Terminal, the vertical line is the UP, and the line running diagonally off to the right is Santa Fe's line to the harbor. Photo courtesy Jeanne Handley.

Stockton Tower, Stockton, CA

The concrete interlocking tower at Stockton, CA controlled the crossing of the Santa Fe main line to Richmond, CA with the parallel main lines of the Western Pacific to Oakland and the Southern Pacific from Sacramento to Bakersfield. The building itself was relatively young as towers go. It was completed in 1943, replacing an earlier frame tower which had in turn replaced the original San Francisco & San Joaquin Valley RR tower built in the late 1890's. The final tower was a three story concrete structure, similar in overall dimensions to the concrete interlocking tower standard plans shown on pages 218-221 of Santa Fe System Standards, Volume 2, but varying in door and window placement and in the stairway configuration. Riverside Jct. in Riverside, CA and East Tower in Amarillo, TX had a similar configuration (see below). For most of its existence, the exterior of Stockton Tower was just bare concrete, but in its final years, it was painted in the attractive white and brown scheme shown. The tower closed in January 1999 as both the BNSF (ex-ATSF) and Union Pacific (ex-SP) lines were converted to Centralized Traffic Control. The former Western Pacific line, also under UP control, was subsequently abandoned through Stockton in favor of the parallel ex-SP line. Stockton Tower was demolished May 26-28, 1999.

Riverside Junction, Riverside, CA

Union Pacific had trackage rights over the Santa Fe main line between Riverside and Daggett, CA. Riverside Jct. Tower controlled the junction in Riverside as well as the crossing of SP's Riverside branch. The three-story concrete tower seen at left, almost a mirror image of Stockton Tower but with round Santa Fe emblems cast into the sides, was constructed in 1930 to replace an earlier structure. Jay Roberts recorded this portrait of the tower on January 11, 1975. While UP continues to enjoy trackage rights over Cajon Pass on BNSF rails, the Riverside branch crossing was torn out in the 1970's. The tower closed in September 1979 and was torn down in 1982.

East Tower, Amarillo, TX

This three-story concrete interlocking tower once controlled Santa Fe's crossing of the Fort Worth and Denver (Burlington) and Rock Island main lines, and the junction with Santa Fe's Dumas District to Las Animas, CO. The 15x30 tower was built in 1927 to a plan similar to the concrete interlocking tower standard plans shown on pages 218-221 of Santa Fe System Standards, Volume 2. The stairway, door, and window placement and other details deviated from the plan. The Railroad Commission of Texas assigned a unique number to every interlocking plant in the state, and East Tower designated Tower 75. The number was displayed on the faded plaques below the East Tower signs, but the railroad always referred to the tower as East Tower. The tower's duties diminished with the demise of the Rock Island. It was closed in April 1986 and demolished in mid-1990.

Merrick Tower, Emporia, KS

Guarding the west end of the Emporia yard, Merrick Tower was once part of a manual block system between Merrick and Ellinor (see below). It had been closed for years by the time this picture was taken in 1990, but remained standing as a shelter for signal equipment located in the base. The attractive signal bridge was subsequently destroyed by a derailment. The tower itself was torn down on April 11, 2006. Additional photos by Hume Kading are available.

Ellinor Tower, Ellinor, KS

By 1990, this nondescript shelter was all that remained of what was once a two-story frame tower at Ellinor, KS. As an interlocking tower, Ellinor controlled the junction of the main lines to Newton and Wellington, KS. Photos and plans of the tower as it appeared before it was closed and the second story removed can be found in Frank Ellington's Santa Fe Depots of the Plains, pages 96-97. Built in 1910, the 14x18 tower was quite similar to the standard plan shown on pages 211-217 of Santa Fe System Standards, Volume 2, with a few additions and modifications presumably added over the years. Today even the simple one-story shelter is gone.

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