When Trees Were the Shoulders of the World

These days most bridges—whether they are built for trains or automobiles—are made of concrete and steel. But you can still find bridges with a lot of wood in them. And they shoulder a lot of weight:

Burlington Northern Santa Fe skimming over Trinity Park. The track is elevated on wooden posts for a quarter-mile across the river and park.

Trinity Railway Express on the approach to the Chicago, Rock Island and Gulf bridge (1903) over the river east of downtown.

Grapevine Vintage Railroad crossing Marine Creek just south of the Stockyards.

Grapevine Vintage Railroad on the approach to the bridge (1902) built by the Red River, Texas and Southern railroad over the Trinity River south of Oakwood Cemetery.

No train here. But a lot of history. This is one-third of a triple overpass that carries the railroad track over Bessie, Vickery, and Stella streets on the near East Side. And this track leads to a Cowtown yoostabe—just beyond the overpass where the Lone Star Metals Company building is today.

The track once belonged to the International & Great Northern Railroad, which began service to Fort Worth on April 30, 1903. As this 1926 Sanborn map shows, the track led right into I&GN’s rail yard, which contained a repair shed, a turntable, a six-engine roundhouse. Notice that in 1926 the overpass was just a double: In the lower-right corner Vickery Boulevard ended at an intersection of Bessie and Luxton streets.

In this 1952 aerial photo the footprint of I&GN’s rail spurs, turntable, and roundhouse can still be seen north of Stella Street. Today Lone Star Metals Company occupies that site.

Look closely at this contemporary aerial photo. In the upper-right corner, see the arc (12 to 3 on a clock face) behind the Lone Star Metals building? That surely is a remnant of the turntable that guided steam engines into the roundhouse.

The I&GN had a lot of track in Texas. From Fort Worth you could ride to Galveston. Or San Antonio. Even Laredo. In Nuevo Laredo you could hop the Mexican national railroad to Mexico City. As the I&GN track entered Fort Worth from the south, it passed I&GN’s storage reservoir, which still exists as Echo Lake northeast of the site of the Missouri-Kansas-Texas railroad’s Katy Lake, which was drained in the early 1960s to make way for Seminary South mall. (Map detail from Pete Charlton’s “The Lost Antique Maps of Texas: Fort Worth & Tarrant County, Volume 2” CD.)

This entry was posted in Downtown, All Around, East Side, Life in the Past Lane, North Side, Rails 'n' Roundhouses, Rollin' on the River, South Side. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *