Texas and Pacific Lancaster Railroad Yards – Vickery

Texas and Pacific Railroad entered Fort Worth on July 19, 1876 and thereafter played a major role in the growth of the city. The year 1928 saw the commencement of plans to reconstruct and improve the downtown rail system, promoted by John L. Lancaster, the firm’s president. Relocation of the roundhouse, train yards and shops from the Texas and Pacific depot south of downtown to a site three miles southwest of the central business district occurred the same year. Named to honor Lancaster, the new railroad yard contained sixty miles of tracks, a roundhouse and shops, and represented an investment of $5,000,000. The relocation of rail facilities gave birth to a community of railroad workers who lived nearby and industries lured by the proximity of rail transportation. Construction of the yards involved major excavation and earth moving to form a ridge or “hump” which took advantage of gravity to help switch train cars. Robert C. Farrington of the Austin Co. was named Chief Mechanical Engineer in construction of the buildings. Located at the east end of the yards, the most impressive original structure consists of a huge repair facility composed of three long rectangular sections joined on their long sides, which step down from west to east. Trains enter from the east for repairs; smokestacks over the gabled monitor roof expel exhaust. Framed in brick on a reinforced concrete base, the side and front elevations are now sheathed in metal siding, but originally contained multi-paned casement windows. A projecting cornice and parapet along the front elevations are cased in riveted sheet metal. Early descriptions of the yards indicate that this large structure housed the locomotive shop and a 250-ton crane used to lift the massive steam engines. The Pacific Ice Co. plant, which supplied ice to refrigerator and passenger dining cars, was once located at the west end of the yard with the tower and yard offices. To the north of the main structure are office and machine shops of one- and two-story reinforced concrete grid construction with brick infill. The demise of steam trains during the 1950s and the growth of the trucking industry have caused a reduction in the workforce employed at the yards. Renamed the Centennial Yards in 1971 to celebrate the centennial of the Texas and Pacific Railroad, the facility is now the property of Union Pacific. The yards qualify for listing in the proposed Railroad Structures National Register Thematic Group.

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