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Abandoned railroad near I-10 (Missouri-Kansas-Texas)


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So while looking through Historic Aerials, I stumbled upon an oddity just past I-10...an abandoned railroad ROW paralleling the interstate. The railroad was recently stripped, and there were even railroad crossing markings were visible on Gessner.

("http://www.historicaerials.com/?poi=3770")

An atlas I have identifies it as the Missouri Kansas Texas. Unfortunately, Google Maps, while often displaying abandoned railroad lines, it doesn't show up with this one. Now here's where things get funky. Google stops identifying it as a railroad here but the line ends at Katy Fort Bend Road.

Following the line, it reappears near Hempstead Rd. and I-610, but turns into a yard and vanishes. Note the abandoned bridge.

After passing through a few parks, it dips below 10 and becomes "Spring Street".

After that, it's a bit confusing..I can't follow it, because other railroads come in and screw my sense of direction up (and the map is kind of hard to read). Can anyone describe/know more information?

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I'm not sure exactly what information you want, but the MKT Railroad - also known as the "Katy Railroad" - was incorporated in 1870 and shows up on many old maps of Houston. You might check the 1922NW and 1922NE topo maps, if you're trying to find its route through a particular part of town. Or some of the links on the wiki page.

Hope that's helpful.

I've always found it interesting that Katy got its name from the railroad, and not vice-versa. Given the early founding of the railroad, though, it makes sense. The Heights Bike Trail traces portions of the MKT right-of-way, and was supposed to use the MKT bridge over White Oak Bayou. I don't know if that's still the plan, but it's an impressive trellis, and I hope it's preserved.

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So while looking through Historic Aerials, I stumbled upon an oddity just past I-10...an abandoned railroad ROW paralleling the interstate. The railroad was recently stripped, and there were even railroad crossing markings were visible on Gessner.

("http://www.historicaerials.com/?poi=3770")

An atlas I have identifies it as the Missouri Kansas Texas. Unfortunately, Google Maps, while often displaying abandoned railroad lines, it doesn't show up with this one. Now here's where things get funky. Google stops identifying it as a railroad here but the line ends at Katy Fort Bend Road.

Following the line, it reappears near Hempstead Rd. and I-610, but turns into a yard and vanishes. Note the abandoned bridge.

After passing through a few parks, it dips below 10 and becomes "Spring Street".

After that, it's a bit confusing..I can't follow it, because other railroads come in and screw my sense of direction up (and the map is kind of hard to read). Can anyone describe/know more information?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Missouri-Kansas-Texas_Railroad

The former MKT rail line (20 miles/32 kilometres) which linked Katy to Downtown Houston has been converted; a section between Interstate 610 and Katy, Texas, is part of the Interstate 10 expansion of the Katy Freeway since TxDOT purchased the MKT right-of-way in 1998, and the MKT line east of Loop 610 into Downtown Houston is currently owned by the City of Houston's Parks and Recreation Department (plans are underway to convert the right-of-way into a bicycle trail).

those tracks were sold off by the Union Pacific for the freeway expansion.....UP had duplicate tracks going west to San Antonio that were acquired when UP and the Rio Grande merged I believe the Southern Pacific was the original owners of those duplicate tracks and SP and the Rio Grande merged then later in 1996 Rio Grande merged with UP and UP sold off those Katy tracks since they had the new route

you can find enough info to make your head spin at http://www.railroadforums.com/ or at www.trainorders.com but trainorders requires payment to join and post and it had died off considerably since they started that, but there is probably someone on one or both of those sites that has operated a train on those tracks and could answer every question you could imagine

Edited by TexasVines
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I'm not sure exactly what information you want, but the MKT Railroad - also known as the "Katy Railroad" - was incorporated in 1870 and shows up on many old maps of Houston. You might check the 1922NW and 1922NE topo maps, if you're trying to find its route through a particular part of town. Or some of the links on the wiki page.

Hope that's helpful.

I've always found it interesting that Katy got its name from the railroad, and not vice-versa. Given the early founding of the railroad, though, it makes sense. The Heights Bike Trail traces portions of the MKT right-of-way, and was supposed to use the MKT bridge over White Oak Bayou. I don't know if that's still the plan, but it's an impressive trellis, and I hope it's preserved.

We named our community, Santa Fe, after the railroad that runs through it. We even got the Postal Service to merge the two existing post office's, Alta Loma and Arcadia, to reflect the change.

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i used to work off of I-10 and the beltway and watched them pull up those tracks to expand I-10. they should have converted the tracks to be used for commuter light rail instead. wider freeways just mean more cars get stuck in traffic. i am impressed how dallas was able to build a light rail system that goes out to the suburbs and through the city to downtown. we could have done the same using the old katy line and the old railroad lines off of westpark. instead we just have more crowded wider freeways/tollroads.

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i used to work off of I-10 and the beltway and watched them pull up those tracks to expand I-10. they should have converted the tracks to be used for commuter light rail instead. wider freeways just mean more cars get stuck in traffic. i am impressed how dallas was able to build a light rail system that goes out to the suburbs and through the city to downtown. we could have done the same using the old katy line and the old railroad lines off of westpark. instead we just have more crowded wider freeways/tollroads.

dallas did not use the same actual tracks they used the ROW and tore up and rebuilt everything else....dallas is a bit different than Houston in that most of their tracks were not next to an existing freeway as well....Houston has decided to try and run theirs through existing population areas VS existing roadway areas.....dallas with a different track layout was able to do this with existing tracks....Houston not so much.....vastly different city layouts and situations between the two

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Does anybody else remember the traffic problems this train caused, especialy at Gessner and I-10. I used to work in this area, and it never seemed to fail that everyday around 5:30 some slow moving freight train would roll by and just screw everything up!

I remember having to detour all the way back through the neighborhoods to beltway 8, just to get on I-10 west. I would be after 7:00 most days geting home.

As far as the city converting this to some type of light rail - I don't think there was room for that. I-10 had to be expanded, there was no way around it! That....and the MKT right of way wasn't realy wide enough for commuter stations. There would have also been a problem with access to those stations, because people would have needed to cross what was an often very busy Old Katy Rd. just to get to them.

Now out near Fry and Mason, this would have been a bit of a different story. They could have set up some type of Park and ride operation, but then again they already had the HOV lanes. So.....ehhh. It's gone now.

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i used to work off of I-10 and the beltway and watched them pull up those tracks to expand I-10. they should have converted the tracks to be used for commuter light rail instead. wider freeways just mean more cars get stuck in traffic. i am impressed how dallas was able to build a light rail system that goes out to the suburbs and through the city to downtown. we could have done the same using the old katy line and the old railroad lines off of westpark. instead we just have more crowded wider freeways/tollroads.

Please get your facts straight.

METRO had the opportunity. Commuter rail was specifically included in the initial plans. They did not act on it, however, and the project had to proceed without it. METRO owns the railroad right of way along Westpark; it is vacant land and can still be utilized for light rail or commuter rail at a future date.

The Katy Freeway is vastly improved from what it had been in terms of traffic capacity and average speeds. I know this from experience. It also has removed traffic from grade-level arterials paralleling the freeway. Nothing wrong with that!

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actually that is my point. metro had the option and passed it up on the katy row. it also has the option on westpark, but has done nothing. all we have is the toy light rail from 610 to pass downtown - what 10 miles of light rail? all that did was make traffic congestion around the medical center worse than it was. though i am sure it is a benefit to people who work and go to the medical center. i do try to ride it when i have dr. appt in the medical center from downtown.

dallas did build their first line right next to 75/45 (central) from downtown to plano.

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dallas did build their first line right next to 75/45 (central) from downtown to plano.

I guess that would depend on your definition of "right next to". Most of the line parallels but is actually pretty removed (up to a mile) from the freeway. The exceptions, memorable though they may be, are sections near Lovers Lane and Campbell Rd.

No other rail route in Dallas' system has a segment which is right next to a freeway.

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Does anybody else remember the traffic problems this train caused, especialy at Gessner and I-10. I used to work in this area, and it never seemed to fail that everyday around 5:30 some slow moving freight train would roll by and just screw everything up!

I remember having to detour all the way back through the neighborhoods to beltway 8, just to get on I-10 west. I would be after 7:00 most days geting home.

As far as the city converting this to some type of light rail - I don't think there was room for that. I-10 had to be expanded, there was no way around it! That....and the MKT right of way wasn't realy wide enough for commuter stations. There would have also been a problem with access to those stations, because people would have needed to cross what was an often very busy Old Katy Rd. just to get to them.

Now out near Fry and Mason, this would have been a bit of a different story. They could have set up some type of Park and ride operation, but then again they already had the HOV lanes. So.....ehhh. It's gone now.

I grew up on the west side, and I absolutely remember that. The train moved super-slow through town and you'd wait forever for it to go by.

I also remember hearing the train at night from my home off of Dairy Ashford, as a kid.

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I grew up on the west side, and I absolutely remember that. The train moved super-slow through town and you'd wait forever for it to go by.

I also remember hearing the train at night from my home off of Dairy Ashford, as a kid.

I remember the same thing on the southwest side, hearing the trains that ran along Alief Rd. (Westpark) at night. These were mostly aggregate trains in later years serving the cement mixing plants located near S. Rice and Chimney Rock. Sometimes the trains would back up along the tracks during rush hour blocking Renwick, Alder, Chimney Rock and S. Rice, basically isolating traffic from turning south anywhere along Westpark.

Having freeways parallel rail lines is not and was not a wise idea from a traffic stand point.

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I've always found it interesting that Katy got its name from the railroad, and not vice-versa. Given the early founding of the railroad, though, it makes sense. The Heights Bike Trail traces portions of the MKT right-of-way, and was supposed to use the MKT bridge over White Oak Bayou. I don't know if that's still the plan, but it's an impressive trellis, and I hope it's preserved.

That trestle also does a bang up job of restricting the flow of White oak Bayou during flood events, and those of us upstream of it would love to see it go away. Teh Flood Control District is looking into doing just that, but has to do a study on the downstream impact of removing the restriction. The trestle isn't that old, having been installed when the bayou was widened and straightened, sometime in the middle of the 20th Century.

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Having freeways parallel rail lines is not and was not a wise idea from a traffic stand point.

Most projects that have freeways parallel to rail lines were the result of upgrading old two lane and four lane highways to freeways. It was probably cheaper for TxDOT to build along ROW that was already there and simply acquire the new land along the old ROW needed rather than to acquire all new, large parcels of land to build a new freeway away from the rail line.

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That trestle also does a bang up job of restricting the flow of White oak Bayou during flood events, and those of us upstream of it would love to see it go away. Teh Flood Control District is looking into doing just that, but has to do a study on the downstream impact of removing the restriction. The trestle isn't that old, having been installed when the bayou was widened and straightened, sometime in the middle of the 20th Century.

Interesting - I figured the bridge wasn't as old as the railroad, but it hadn't occurred to me that it would be no older than the widening of the bayou. Makes sense. Also didn't know it could be contributing to upstream flooding. I bookmarked this FCD page a while back, but haven't ever gone back to read through everything. I'm more familiar with the downstream flooding, but I know there's upstream White Oak flooding as well. Flood control is an important issue all along that stretch of bayou.

Thanks for supplying the word I was looking for - trestle, not trellis.

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