Abandoned Rails of Fort Worth

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Map submitted by Greg Harrison, Lee M.

(Forwarded from the Arlington Heights Street Railway)

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FWWR Spurs: First, we'll start off with the northern spur, which begins just west of the FWWR's crossing with Beach Street. Here we see the switch on the main line, and the governing signal. Photo by Greg Harrison.

Fort Worth has a vast railroad history, evidence of which can be found all over the city. This page and map highlights just the abandoned rights-of-way around town.

Today, Fort Worth is still a railroad town, and is home to the nation's busiest railroad crossing, Tower 55.

Meacham Industrial Spur: A short railroad spur once existed that served a small industrial district east of Meacham Airport in Fort Worth, Texas.

7th Street Spur: The 7th Street Spur was comprised of a grouping of several tracks along 7th street in Fort Worth in the 1950s. The Spur branched from Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific's main line at their Fort Worth yard, and served a hardware store, a furniture store and a storage facility. Today, only a single track is buried yet still visible in 7th Street.

Fort Worth Federal Records Center: The Fort Worth Federal Records Center, in south Fort Worth, is home to a small abandoned railroad yard with multiple stub-ended spurs accessing the various warehouses and buildings, most of which themselves are now abandoned. An eerie silence consumes the area, and one can't help but wait for that silence to be shattered by a GE 44-tonner going about its daily business of switching cars. But it is not to be.

But it once was. The Federal Records Center was originally built in 1941 as the Fort Worth Quartermaster Depot, a distribution point and supply center for the United States Army during World War II. Its location was chosen for many reasons, not the least of which was its proximity to two different railroads: The Missouri-Kansas-Texas (to the east) and the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe (to the west). Both railroads built short spurs to access the depot, with a small yard connecting them. Extending south from the yard were many short spurs and branches that served the various warehouses of the depot.

Activity at the depot declined after World War II, and the entire facility is now under the ownership of General Services Administration. Since there has been no need for the rail infrastructure anymore, access to both the MKT (now UP) and AT&SF (now BNSF) lines have been severed, and the yard remains as an isolated reminder of what once was.

Fort Worth Stockyards: In the last part of the 1800s through the mid-1950s, Fort Worth was one of the largest livestock centers in the United States. As such, Fort Worth was home to a large meat-packing industry, and hosted two of the largest packing houses: Swift and Armour. The Fort Worth stockyards thrived off livestock commerce well into the 1950s, and provided a considerable railroad presence in the area. However, as the livestock industry died down, so too did the local railroads.

Today, the Fort Worth Stockyards, listed in the National Register of Historic Places, is a famed tourist attraction providing shopping, dining and entertainment with a western flair. The Fort Worth Grapevine Vintage Railroad, a tourist railroad hosted by the local class III Fort Worth and Western Railroad, calls at the "Stockyards Station" on its trip between Grapevine and the 8th Avenue yards south of Fort Worth. The stop includes a turntable that turns the locomotive (a GP7, and on some occasions, a former Southern Pacific 4-6-0 steamer from 1896) that can be easily witnessed in action. The former Swift and Armour meat-packing houses, now abandoned and likely home to vagrants, loom over the area to the east on the other side of the abandoned railroad yard that once herded cattle to their slaughter; some rails of this former yard can still be seen today in Exchange Avenue.

FWWR Spurs: In Haltom City, Texas, just northeast of the Fort Worth & Western's Hodge Yard, along the ex-Cotton Belt trackage, lies two abandoned spurs, each on one side of the single track main line.

Long Avenue Crossings: Just west of Tower 18, a connecting track was in place between the Texas & Pacific Railroad and the St. Louis & Southwestern (Cotton Belt). The track crossed Long Avenue at one location (which isn't visible); however, there are two other tracks crossing Long Avenue on either side of the main track which do not show up on topographical maps, which were part of an industrial development that never came. Now both crossings are paved over, and shortly after I was able to get these pictures, the tracks across the medians were paved over as well.

Arlington Heights Street Railway: In the late 1880s, residential developers from Colorado created the "Arlington Heights" area, west of Fort Worth. In order to increase business in the area, the Arlington Heights Street Railway was built along an alignment west from downtown Fort Worth to nearby Lake Como. This alignment included four vehicular lanes, two in each direction, called Arlington Heights Street. During World War I, the US Army built Camp Bowie in the area adjacent to Arlington Heights, and Arlington Heights Street became known as Camp Bowie Boulevard. The trolley tracks along the street are long gone today.

See also Keller, Texas and the Bomber Spur.

It was really good to see these old lines again. I see them from time to time when I take my son train watching.

Joe Rymer
Burleson, TX
1/16/2011

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Re: Meacham Industrial Spur

Great article with lots of good information. Just one minor correction: one of the photo captions refers to a connection with the BNSF Fort Worth Subdivision (former Fort Worth & Denver). The former FW&D is the BNSF Wichita Falls Subdivision; the former Santa Fe is the BNSF Fort Worth Subdivision. Just to the west of the first photo location shown on this spur is the industry QBN. The existing portion of this spur is known as QBN Lead and is used to switch out cars at QBN.

Ryan Harris
Fort Worth, TX
11/9/2014

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If you go to http://www.historicaerials.com/ you can go to the 1950s setting and see a tank farm just west of Beach St where long Avenue is today.

Tim Mincy
Haltom City, TX
3/16/2015

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The federal records center has been repurposed by the city as the Fort Worth Police and Fire administration and training center (Bob Bolan Public Safety Complex). The yard has been removed and replaced with parking and driving track.

Clay Wilson
Fort Worth, TX
6/22/2016

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