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Railroads of Henry County, Missouri
Clinton's Interlocking Towers

North Clinton Tower:

This tower was located in the southeast corner of the crossing of the MKT and the Frisco's Blair Line tracks near the north end of 7th Street. It remained in service until after the end of all rail passenger service in Clinton. The derails and interlocking connections were abandoned in June of 1954 and the tower was officially retired in August of 1957 and was demolished not long afterwards, although some traces of its foundations still remain. A movable crossing gate replaced the tower, normally kept locked across the Frisco track and only opened when a Frisco train needed to cross. Electric light signals provided indication of the gate's position on the MKT line. The "home" signals were located 160 feet on either side of the crossing; the southbound "distant" signal was located near the east city limits and the northbound "distant" signal was located just south of Oak Street. On the Frisco side there was only a fixed stop signal on either side of the crossing. The crossing, gate and all associated signals were removed in early 1979 after the Frisco line was abandoned.

The Frisco Depots in Henry County page at the Springfield-Greene County Library's The Frisco Digital Collection contains a picture, dated as taken in 1958, of the North Clinton Tower. A small portion of the movable crossing gate is visible at the extreme left side of the picture.

South Clinton Tower:

This tower was located in the southwest corner of the crossing of the MKT and the Kansas City Clinton & Springfield ("Leaky Roof") tracks, south of Rogers Street. It was built of concrete, whereas most such towers were of wooden construction. It may have been built in 1917; it is certain at least that a contract was made by the KCCC&S and the MK&T governing operation of the tower in June of 1917. In January of 1926, after the Frisco had acquired the Leaky Roof, most trains were rerouted via the Blair Line tracks. South Clinton Tower was closed on April 30, 1927. The former Leaky Roof trackage across the junction and on to Deepwater was abandoned in 1929. The tower was officially abandoned in March of 1935. Sometime after this it was moved from its original location about 600 feet west to a point south of the Ortner Hatchery Building. It is still there.

South Tower has the unusual distinction of having once been the scene of a wedding. On Friday night, November 30, 1917, MK&T towerman C. C. Rogers married school teacher Goldie Gieson in the tower. The ceremony was slightly delayed when Rogers had to stop and clear a northbound Katy freight through the plant!

Henry County Democrat, December 6, 1917
Married at Switch

The marriage of Miss Goldie Gieson to C. C. Rogers on Friday night was at the tower of the interlockiing switch at the junction of the M., K. & T. and Clinton line railways, where the groom is night towerman.
As the couple took their places before Rev. Ramsey, an M., K. & T. train approached from the south, and after setting his signsls the groom turned to the minister who proceeded to turn both their lives to a double track, side by side. The congratulations were accompanied by the thundering of a long freight train up the line.
The bride, who is a school teacher, resumed her duties Monday morning. Among the relatives present were Mr. and Mrs. J. J. McManus, of Versailes, the latter being sister of the bridge.

A fairly recent view of the old South Tower.

Both of the two interlocking towers in the city of Clinton were manned by the Missouri Kansas & Texas, which handled the most traffic. This was somewhat unusual as normally such towers were owned and operated by the "junior" road at the crossing, which in these cases would have been the Frisco and the Leaky Roof. To the MK&T employees they were known simply as North Tower and South Tower. At the peak of activity, around 1917, the MK&T was operating 5 passenger and at least 5 freight trains daily in each direction, while the Frisco and Leaky Roof each operated 2 passenger trains and 1 or 2 freight trains daily in each direction.

The two towers at Clinton were the only ones in this area. The Rock Island line crossed the MK&T at Windsor by means of an underpass, so no tower was required there. The Frisco and Leaky Roof lines originally crossed each other two different locations in St. Clair County on their way south towards Springfield, at Lowry City Junction (north of Lowry City) and at a point north of Vista where the Frisco crossed over the Leaky Roof via a wooden trestle. Around 1904 connections were built between the Frisco and Leaky Roof lines at Harlan Junction (north of Vista, where the two lines briefly paralleled each other) and Tracy Junction (just south of Vista) and the Frisco stopped using its own line, which bypassed the town of Vista, in favor of the Leaky Roof tracks which ran through Vista. In 1927 a connection was built from the Frisco (Blair Line) just north of Brownington to the Leaky Roof line just south of Deepwater at a point called Deepwater Junction (later plain Dejun). None of these crossings or junctions ever had an interlocking tower.

Harlan Junction ceased to be a junction in 1927 when the Leaky Roof tracks between Lowry City Junction and Harlan Junction were removed. Brownington and Lowry City Junction lost their junction status in 1934 when the former Blair line tracks between Brownington and Lowry City Junction were taken up. Tracy Junction ceased to exist after the Leaky Roof line south of Vista to Ash Grove was abandoned in May of 1935.

Dejun or Deepwater Junction remained in existence until 1978 when the remnants of the Frisco were abandoned due to the approaching completion of Truman Dam. After the former Leaky Roof trackage north of Deepwater to South Clinton was abandoned in 1929 it served only the short spur up to the Deepwater station.

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