Abandoned Rails of

Keller, Texas

Brief History

Keller, Texas, was first founded as the farming community of Athol in 1881, when the Texas & Pacific Railroad started rail service on its line between Fort Worth and Texarkana. The town quickly grew in population, and the name was changed to "Keller" in honor of a T&P foreman, John C. Keller. The railroad served Keller very well, allowing the town to prosper as a trading center for nearby farms. The town itself was incorporated on February 20, 1958, still being served by the railroad (now the Missouri Pacific, and also the Missouri-Kansas-Texas via joint trackage).

Today, Keller is a bustling community with over 30,000 residents, and is still growing. The original tracks still run through Keller, and see frequent rail traffic as Union Pacific's Choctaw Subdivision. While Keller is no longer served by the railroad, the community is dedicated to remembering its roots and its beginnings -- a true railroad town. A view up and down US Highway 377 in Keller's historic downtown reminds Keller citizens of their railroad heritage.

WikipediaMore information about Keller, including history and maps (both topographical and satellite imagery) can be found at Wikipedia.

Railroad Heritage

Keller's BNSF E9

The most visual and prominent reminder of Keller's railroad history is the E9 passenger locomotive on static display in Keller's historic downtown area, donated by BNSF. Originally a Chicago, Burlington & Quincy locomotive and number 9990, the E9 saw passenger service in both long-haul and commuter trips. It served as power for such trains as the Denver Zephyr; it its later years, it served for push/pull commuter service in Chicago. It was brought to the town in 1998 in BN paint, it sat for a year before it was finally painted in its original livery, the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy colors (sans the word "BURLINGTON" stenciled along the sides).

The E9 is situated next to and parallel to Union Pacific's Choctaw Subdivision. Curious that Burlington Northern Santa Fe donated the engine, despite the fact that it was the Texas & Pacific Railroad (now Union Pacific) that served Keller, and continues to send trains through Keller daily. Behind the engine are a BN flatcar, and an ATSF boxcar. The city intended to use the flatcar as a stage for community performances and events, but it has yet to be used as such.

Click here for various pictures of BNSF E9, including some historical, and some inside its cab.

Keller Building Supply

Keller did see railroad service up until a few years ago. Keller Building Supply owned and operated a small railroad spur that was served by Union Pacific; this property and spur have now been abandoned. The spur is located at milepost 740.3, which, incidentally, is located opposite the BNSF E9.

Here is a track chart showing the Keller Building Supply spur on UP's Choctaw Sub. It's indicated as Track 753.

Here is the "train" that Keller built. Up front is BNSF 9920, an...
Here is the "train" that Keller built. Up front is BNSF 9920, an EMD E9 passenger locomotive. Behind it is a BN flatcar, and an ATSF boxcar (all uncoupled).
The E9 itself. While fenced in, it looks like at one point, visi...
The E9 itself. While fenced in, it looks like at one point, visitors were allowed up and through the locomotive cab. The numberboards have been removed. The locomotive is still in pretty decent shape, though a canopy overhead wouldn't hurt.
A closeup of the nose and cab of BNSF E9.
A closeup of the nose and cab of BNSF E9.
A head-on shot of BNSF E9.
A head-on shot of BNSF E9.
BN bulkhead flatcar # 621542. On the side, written in chalk is "...
BN bulkhead flatcar # 621542. On the side, written in chalk is "B/O AIR HOSE".
ATSF 50' boxcar # 601063. A little paint and some care, and this...
ATSF 50' boxcar # 601063. A little paint and some care, and this would be a fine example of a non-descript boxcar.
The plaque in dedication of the "Whistle Stop Spur". It is good ...
The plaque in dedication of the "Whistle Stop Spur". It is good to see a town taking hold of its heritage.
Here is the Keller Building Supply spur at MP 740.3 on UP's Choc...
Here is the Keller Building Supply spur at MP 740.3 on UP's Choctaw Sub. The switch is of the manual-throw variety.
This shows more of the spur as it leads off to the Keller Buildi...
This shows more of the spur as it leads off to the Keller Building Supply property.
The tracks still have a "used" appearance. I do know that UP wil...
The tracks still have a "used" appearance. I do know that UP will sometimes store cars here from time to time. The tracks here are not as maintained as they are on the mainline, of course.
A derail has been put in place since Keller Building Supply clos...
A derail has been put in place since Keller Building Supply closed down. Its flag stands among the overgrowth.
Another view showing the derail apparatus and its flag. It's a w...
Another view showing the derail apparatus and its flag. It's a wonder how crews can see the flag.
The tracks continue onto the property. They curve off to the lef...
The tracks continue onto the property. They curve off to the left and into a warehouse which is just out of view.

—  User Comments  —

Why are we not allowed to go into the cab any more why ws the fence put up ? Will it ever reopen to the public for train buffs again ?

Jim
Keller, TX
1/5/2012

the train in keller has been subject to attack not only from vandalism but local bizz folks trying to get rid of the train. they have gone as far as hiring scrappers to come out and cut up parts of the train car and remove parts illegally. seems the land being used for commercial use to fuel the beer joints and food joints across the grass would make them a lot of money after they buy up all the spaces. except the train being in the way. if you wanna see the train preserved support the old town keller merchants, and dont support the folks trying to remove it.

mark
keller, TX
2/19/2014

Railways in Texas expanded the economy and brought numerous people to help settle the land. It is part of our history and we need to to educate our young people on the importance of the rails. Keller should be proud that it was part of the Texas and Pacific family. Our past is our heritage, cultivate it.

Rollin Phipps
Grand Prairie, TX
3/31/2016

The boxcar and bulkhead flat have been scrapped to make way for more parking. The passenger car is being moved and will be someone's house.

Mike Thidemann
Keller, TX
4/18/2016