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cockrell hill interurban trestle

cockrell hill interurban trestle
February 04, 2016 11:11AM
Some might be interested in this article: [tiny.cc]

The trestle and the interurban that used it have been discussed here before, and some participants have made some nice photos available. This article provides a map approximating the route of the railroad and trestle location. It includes (verbatim?) a historical article about the trestle, and discussion of its construction that appears to be accurate. I do recall the Romanesque appearance, and the heavy concrete construction.

The trestle, according to the article, was formally named the Mountain Creek Bridge, though I don't recall that it actually crossed Mountain Creek, which my memory tells me is on the other side of Loop 12 and beyond Arcadia Park, whereas the trestle I am familiar with is between Cockrell Hill and Loop 12. Perhaps those are two different structures? But the historical article refers also to Chalk Hill, a geological formation whose name has generated some controversy here. That location would fit my memory. That portion of the White Rock Escarpment was called, in at least one official document (republished in the article I linked), Chalk Hill.

The republished article, by a David Amonnette, former president of the Old Oak Cliff Conservation League, provides numerous references to and quotes from documents detailing the history of the trestle, from its beginning, to its abandonment, to contemplation of its destruction, a task deemed too formidable to actually be carried out.

According to the article, a public trail is to be constructed along the interurban route and perhaps will cross the trestle.

Dave McNeely

Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 02/04/2016 11:24AM by old man from dallas.
Re: cockrell hill interurban trestle
February 05, 2016 04:47AM
Your recollections are quite correct re the location of the trestle and "Mountain Creek Interurban Bridge" would seem an erroneous and inappropriate name but since the Texas Historical Marker has already been approved I guess there is no recourse at this point. I haven't checked the references in the 5 page narrative but from a quick reading it appears the name was an AKA (also known as) and never official.

The actual interurban bridge over Mountain Creek was a steel through truss, now long gone.

It would seem a Chalk Hill tie-in would have been preferable given its location on the proposed trail system by that name that has been in the works for quite some time.

The artist's enclave, La Reunion Texas formerly located beneath the trestle failed, like it's namesake, to achieve any permanence there.


Well it was easy enough the find the culprit, the 2nd footnote, "Bridge Built for Ages Menaced by Wreckers.” Dallas Morning News, August 1, 1951, 3" erroneously states, "The bridge is about 400 feet long and passes over the Cement City spur of the Santa Fe Railway and over Mountain Creek" and a photo of a portion of the concrete trestle is captioned in part, " . . . this old interurban bridge across Mountain Creek . . ."

As the crow flies, Mountain Creek is 1-3/4 miles west of the trestle.

I've not found any other reference to "Mountain Creek Interurban Bridge" or "Mountain Creek Bridge" + "Interurban" so I guess we are witnessing history being rewritten.

old Henry

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 02/05/2016 06:06AM by Henry C Long.
Re: cockrell hill interurban trestle
February 05, 2016 11:56AM
Henry, thanks for your great explanation. This will not be the first Texas Historical Marker to contain erroneous information, of course. But a creek crossing in the flood plain displaced to the hillside is passing strange.

I remember the property where the trestle is located well, as I lived nearby and drove West Jefferson often as I commuted to Arlington for college. During that time, now over fifty years ago, the property was neglected and contained discarded rubbish and trash as described in the La Reunion Texas article. I hope that the county has acquired the entirety in creating the trail and that it will be protected. Even in the 1960s the natural terrain and regrowth of the vegetation were quite nice. I spent more than a few entire days trespassing on this and other property in the area collecting fossils and watching wildlife when I was in high school.

Dave McNeely
Re: cockrell hill interurban trestle
February 10, 2016 10:20AM
My son and I hike this trail fairly often. If Mountain Creek is not the name of the creek that flows through here, what is the correct name? We were just there last week. The house on the property has been vandalized but is still repairable. Last I heard, the art folks gave up trying to buy the land because of a title dispute between previous landowners. It has quite a bit of trash but we love hiking here, just the same. The old interurban track looks as though it will stand for 1000 years but there is a giant Cottonwood tree that has grown up in, and around it. Quite magnificent. Also magnificent is the old trestle, immediately to the north of the interurban line, maybe a 1/4 mile+. I have some photos but am at a loss as to how to post them here.
Re: cockrell hill interurban trestle
February 10, 2016 12:16PM
Altozwei, Mountain Creek is to the west, the other side of Loop 12. It flows north to the Trinity floodplain. In all my ramblings through that area, I never saw a creek on the hillside where the trestle is, though dry channels that carry runoff from the hill are present in the area.

Do you know of a creek that passes under the interurban trestle? The hillside does drain to Mountain Creek, I just do not recall anything that most folks would call a creek up there, and Henry Long confirmed above that the interurban crossed Mountain Creek via a completely different bridge.

If any of the drainages on the hill are named, the names would appear on the USGS topo sheet for the location.

Is the house you mentioned the one that used to be an Italian restaurant? That was in the sixties.

Is the "old trestle" that you mentioned different from the interurban trestle, perhaps one that the railroad spur traversed, or are you speaking of the interurban trestle itself? I don't recall a second one, but I've slept since being there, and you were there last week.

Dave McNeely

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 02/10/2016 03:24PM by old man from dallas.
Re: cockrell hill interurban trestle
February 10, 2016 03:27PM
I took some pictures of the trestle on Jefferson a couple of years ago. You can't see it from these pictures, but it looked like there was grass growing on top.

That Italian restaurant just west of the trestle was Mama DiSalvos (at least that's what it was during the '70s).

Re: cockrell hill interurban trestle
February 11, 2016 09:35AM
There is most definitely a couple of creeks flowing through the area. There is a small RR bridge that is just about 15 yards or so north from the interurban line. If you travel maybe 1/4 to 1/2 mile further north on the trail, you come to a high trestle over another creek. There has always been water flowing in both of these every time we have been there. Would be happy to take anyone interested out there to see it. Quite impressive. The google satellite view of the area makes it appear there are a couple of small ponds back in there as well, but I haven't seen them yet. Will need to make another hike out to look for it. An interesting development since last spring is that, due to the extraordinary rains we have had this year, the old rail bed has been breached in a couple of places due to water flow but not at places along the creeks. Right now is an excellent time to visit the area as the poison ivy gets VERY intense come spring.

The house is a former residence. It sits on the hillside, right next to the west end of the interurban.
DiSalvos was a little farther down the road to the west, closer to Arcadia Park.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 02/11/2016 09:55AM by altozwei.
Re: cockrell hill interurban trestle
February 11, 2016 11:20AM
Thanks Altozwei. If you use Google Earth, look to the west, and south of Grand Prairie, below what used to be Dallas Naval Air Station and the LTV plant. There is a reservoir, Mountain Creek Lake. Mountain Creek is the large stream that emerges from the dam, and flows north. NW of the intersection of Loop 12 and Singleton Blvd. it enters the Trinity River Floodway. All the property we have been talking about is well to the east of Loop 12 and Arcadia Park.

I did find, looking on Google Earth, what appear to be stream channels on the property. Two of them appear to be well defined, and could carry water perhaps most of the time, but I do not remember them doing so during the time I used to explore there 50+ years ago. One of them follows in general the course of the power transmission line that shows up on the overhead view. Of course, there was less vegetative cover then, though it was not barren. The stream channels that I remember were of the typical limestone bedrock bottoms eroded into the Austin Chalk. My companions and I found many fossils of crinoids, shark teeth and ray teeth along these dry stream beds. The shark and ray teeth would probably have come from the shale, so may have eroded from elsewhere. We also found ammonites, large coiled nautiloid-like shells. I do not remember any of the streams being cut down into the Eagle Ford Shale. But given their structure, they could have small springs along their course, of the type that I remember from other creeks on the White Rock Escarpment. Such springs would probably not flow during dry periods or during the time that the vegetative cover was reduced.

I do remember ponds, of the "cattle tank" sort typical of North Texas, and as you said, some show up on Google Earth.

Dave McNeely
Re: cockrell hill interurban trestle
February 11, 2016 07:28PM
Oh I definitely agree that this cannot be Mountain Creek. I've spent enough time at Mountain Creek Lake to know that this info has to be incorrect. I'm just curious as to what the correct name should be, because I cannot imagine it not having been named by someone at some time. confused smiley

Here is a link to some photos I shot. The first four were shot last spring and the others last week.

Re: cockrell hill interurban trestle
February 11, 2016 07:29PM
Nice photos!

WStewart Wrote:
> I took some pictures of the trestle on Jefferson a
> couple of years ago. You can't see it from these
> pictures, but it looked like there was grass
> growing on top.
> [URL=http://s116.photobucket.com/user/jedclampett6
> 9/media/2013-03-20%20001%202013-03-20%20028_tonema
> pped.jpg.html][IMG]http://i116.photobucket.com/alb
> ums/o11/jedclampett69/2013-03-20%20001%202013-03-2
> 0%20028_tonemapped.jpg[/IMG][/URL][URL=http://s116
> .photobucket.com/user/jedclampett69/media/trestle%
> 204.jpg.html][IMG]http://i116.photobucket.com/albu
> ms/o11/jedclampett69/trestle%204.jpg[/IMG][/URL][U
> RL=http://s116.photobucket.com/user/jedclampett69/
> media/2013-03-20%20001%202013-03-20%20022_tonemapp
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> s/o11/jedclampett69/2013-03-20%20001%202013-03-20%
> 20022_tonemapped.jpg[/IMG][/URL]
> That Italian restaurant just west of the trestle
> was Mama DiSalvos (at least that's what it was
> during the '70s).
Re: cockrell hill interurban trestle
February 11, 2016 08:56PM
Nice photos Altozwei. The "old trestle" has to be along the spur railroad that the interurban trestle was built to accommodate. Again, if the streams ever bore any official names, they would appear on USGS topo sheets for the area. You can look them up at the USGS site online.


Choose "buy or download maps"

Type "Duncanville, TX" (without the quotation marks) in the search box in the upper left. Or, you can search for the map by a more circuitous route by finding the index map for Texas, and looking through the vast listing for Duncanville. You want the 7.5' map, or 1:24,000 scale. I looked at the 1959 map. Getting there is tedious. The files are very large, very dense, zip files. You can open them with Google Chrome. Be patient. It took me about 20 minutes to locate the files, and finally get to look at the maps.

Or, since you are in Dallas, you could just go down to the USGS office in the Federal Building and buy a paper copy. Mapsco stores used to have them, also, but might or might not have what you are looking for on a given day. Are there still Mapsco stores?

The topo sheet shows one permanent stream on the property, flowing from SE to NW. It originates up in the area just north of Cockrell Hill Road and Illinois. It flows just behind the Jefferson Drive In Theater (there is a school on the property now, I think). I was actually surprised that the stream was shown as permanent (a continuous rather than broken blue line) since I never saw it flowing. The spur railroad is shown, but the interurban is not. There are several ponds shown on the property, including two that would be very near to the interurban trestle. They are not on, but are very close to the permanent stream.

I also looked at the Irving, TX topo for 1959. The stream is shown as continuing northwesterly and entering the floodway. There is also another permanent stream shown, also flowing in a northwesterly direction, NE of the first one, not appearing on the Duncanville, TX sheet, but on the Irving, TX sheet. There are small reservoirs along both of the streams, one labeled Vilbig Lake. Several intermittent streams appear on the Irving, TX sheet in the area just north of the interurban property. The topo sheets name the escarpment in this area "Chalk Hill," as has been pointed out here before, and disputed vehemently by one poster.

None of the streams shown on the two maps in the area we are concerned with have any names on them, which is a pretty good indicator that they bear no official names. Of course, people may have, at one time or another, had names for them without the USGS ever officially naming them.

Enjoy. I know I am strange, but I have always been fascinated by studying topo sheets, even of locations I have never visited. They just fascinate me.

Dave McNeely

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 02/11/2016 10:23PM by old man from dallas.
Re: cockrell hill interurban trestle
February 12, 2016 07:14AM
Thanks for the info, Dave. I haven't had a chance to get down to the Fed to get the topos. I, too, love maps. I DID finally find a reference to the stream on Google Maps. By following it's path to the northwest, I found where they have it labeled Chalk Hill Branch, a name that makes perfect sense.

One of my previous jobs was working for the Census Bureau creating maps for census agents. This was done by taking a USGS quad and manually updating it by transferring info from other source maps onto it, via a transparent overlay. Later, we took the overlay sheets and digitally added the information to the quads, which were then printed out as paper maps for use in the field. Some of the source maps were so far off the scale from the quads that it was almost impossible to do anything with any accuracy. One of the source maps I got stuck with was a Navajo Reservation map that extended from Arizona to New Mexico. I had to lay out 6-8 quads at a time to get any kind of idea where things matched up, then try to add road segments to each. It took weeks and after I moved to digitizing, another person in the officer took over that section. She didn't understand about the different scales and went back to working one quad at a time, redrawing all of mine in the process. Nothing ended up even close to correct. Thank goodness the census folks all can use gps these days.

Yes, there is a Mapsco Store but it is way up in Addison and, being a true Cliff Dweller, I hate having to go up to the north side of town for anything unless it is absolutely necessary. winking smiley

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 02/12/2016 09:38AM by altozwei.
Re: cockrell hill interurban trestle
July 19, 2020 05:37PM
Resurrecting this old thread about the interurban trestle between Cockrell Hill and Arcadia Park and related matters, because I ran across this:


It includes photos and comments from M.C. Toyer, and it shows the stream that Google Maps identifies as Chalk Hill Branch flowing under the trestle. It also relates the error concerning naming of the trestle as Mountain Creek Bridge, but then in some comments (not by M.C.) again confuses the matter, as it provides historical information relating to both the trestle and the actual interurban Mountain Creek bridge.

Interesting, nevertheless.

Dave McNeely
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