|1889 W. B. King Fort Worth Map-Cotton Belt Yards <click to enlarge image>|
|1922 Cotton Belt Yard House-Left Center-<click image to enlarge>|
|USGS Flood Plain Map-1915 <click to enlarge image>|
After World War II and with the expansion of the TESCO power plant, these original 1889 yards began to sink unnoticed into obscurity. The main freight handling had been taken over in 1915 by the large facility on East 6th street in downtown Fort Worth. The yards still served the warehouses and scrap metal dealers along the old main line and stored freight cars. The switching lead still existed to service the rails in Houston Street laid down by the Cotton Belt in the early 1930's as part of a business development program. The 1915 USGS flood plain map above still shows a large number of tracks, a turntable and other facilities including the yard house.
|1932 T&P Switching Map <click image to enlarge>|
Railroad Archeology & Preservation!
|Cotton Belt Turntable Pit Artifact - 2014- <click image to enlarge>|
In August, 2014 I received a call from the site manager of a company that was decontaminating and cleaning a 100 foot wide pit just off of SW 5th street close to the levee. It was in reference to something they found during their excavation. After some discussion, we both felt that this was probably part of the old Cotton Belt turntable pit that shows on the maps. My guess is that it was a simple brick guard wall around the turntable and did not have any part in supporting the turntable itself. The excavation was about 4' deep and about 50' across. The brick wall showed about 2' above the excavation. A few days later, in a similar discussion with the Environmental Manager for the Union Pacific he reached pretty much the same conclusions. The UP acquired the Cotton Belt many years ago and still owns the land.
|Cotton Belt Backfilled Excavation-2014 <click image to enlarge>|
When asked whether it would be possible to save this historic pit wall, the UP Environmental Manager suggested that they could just as easily backfill the excavation with the pit wall intact instead of demolishing it. Which when I checked, they seem to have done. After hearing many horror stories, the professionalism and interest everyone showed in this historic artifact was very impressive. And much appreciated, since now there will be a chance for display and possible use at some future time. Thanks to the Union Pacific and TRV management for their consideration.
Not everyone will think that this old pit wall is worth conserving or even recognizing. After all, there are bigger TRV things in play. A simple descriptive marker to be placed at n appropriate spot as the development continues would be nice. Here is another suggestion that would be even better:
As the TRV develops, the 800+ acre Panther Island mass is too large to describe to visitors. Obviously it will have to be subdivided into districts of one name or another. What if.. the three blocks north of NW 5th to about 8th or 9th street were to be called the "Cotton Belt Yard" District? Historically appropriate, catchy, easy to say and remember. Just get on the Trolley and say "let me off at the Cotton Belt Yards".
|Aerial TXU-Cotton Belt Turntable-Trinity River-Cotton Belt Yards-2014|
|Cotton Belt Yards - Looking North 2014|
|Cotton Belt Industrial Tracks - Looking West|
|2014 Aerial of Cotton Belt Yards-FWWR On The Northwest|