Modelling aided by aerial photography (Part II)

Let’s look how aerial images aided the track plan design “down at the station.” Here is the track plan segment (See February 16 post)–

Station track plan

Here is the aerial image of the same area–Aerial station and team

As you can see there is a little deviation from the actual configuration, but it is close.  The one green dot is the site where the flour tanks sat, and the flour was unloaded.  The twin green dots indicate the station.  (See February 15 post).  The three green dots mark E. 5th St.

Here is the view from E. 5th St–

station and team from 5th street

The green dot shows where the plastic pellets are unloaded on the team track.  Even though this photo is from 2013, covered hoppers filled with plastic were unloaded there in the 1990s as well.

Here is a view from the front of the station and closer to the team track–

Station and team from front

Note how the track plan roughly comports with the actual area.  (Also note the three covered hoppers on the team track.)

Again, it is not an exact replica, but it is close enough to be evocative of the Roswell I knew in the early 1990s (and largely modern-day Roswell for that matter).

Draft Track Plan — A Work in Progress

This track plan seeks to capture the feel of Roswell. The track configuration is inspired by the actual configuration in town running from the Budweiser distributor to the dairy feed unloading operation. Selective compression and some omissions were made given space limitations.  The dimensions are roughly 22 by 18 feet.Image

Doodlebug to the Cavern?

The ATSF ran regular service through Roswell up until 1967.  The service ran from Carlsbad to Clovis by way of Roswell.  The service was sometimes nick-named “The Cavern City” though I do not believe the service had an official name.  The consist was normally a passenger car and the engine.  The engine was typically a “doodlebug” which was built by the Brill Motorcar Company as a gas-electric 535 HP.  The usual unit was M.160 (or M.190) which had major rebuilds in 1948 and 1952, when it was fitted with a diesel engine and components from Santa Fe’s first E-1 passenger locomotive.  The passenger car was often the “Cavern” (coach #3197) towards the end.

When one of the motorcars was unavailable (not unusual in their final years), an E8 or a PA was the substitute motive power, and a baggage car was carried along with the coach-observation.

By the way, the M.160 and 3197 now live at the Museum of the American Railroad in Frisco, Texas and have been restored and are operational.


ATSF M160 (without the “Cavern”) in Clovis, NM on November 18, 1967

ATSF M160 Dallas TX Apr 1 2006

Restored M-160 in Dallas, TX 2006.

Down at the Station

The ATSF Depot still stands.  I am not sure if it is currently used by Southwestern Railway, but it appears to be in decent shape.  The current depot at Roswell reflects an extensive 1949 rebuild and enlargement of a brick depot built in 1905. Few traces of the original, hip roofed, dormered depot remained.  Enjoy these 1992 and 1993 photos.  Unfortunately, a portion of the station no longer stands, but at least the freight portion still survives.


Trackside. Note attractive red brick walkways.


The attractive Santa Fe sign remains towards the front facing the parking lot. It looks as though it had red neon at one time. That would have been an attractive sight.


Note turquoise trim and Santa Fe logo in the center.


A very attractive station reflecting the southwestern roots of the ATSF.

Roswell enjoyed regular passenger service up until 1967.  More on that soon.

How About a Cold One?

In the early 1990s, the ATSF served three beer distributors in Roswell–Miller, Budweiser and Coors.  Trains would arrive with new box cars full of beer two or three times a week.  Here are pictures of a few such cars I caught on film in Roswell in the early 1990s.

beer cars cropped

Three loads of beer headed to the Budweiser distributor. The reporting marks include–Missouri Pacific, Union Pacific and Western Pacific.

Frisco cropped II

A Frisco box car spotted at the Miller distributor in 1993.

A very busy team track down at the station

ATSF 60 foot box car spotted at Roswell team track, 1993.  Note flour car to the left spotted at bakery.

ATSF 60 foot box car spotted at Roswell team track, 1993. Note flour car to the left spotted at bakery.

The Roswell team track near the station was a hub of activity (still is).  Generally, there was a car or two spotted at the bakery and almost always a couple of hopper cars bringing plastic pellets into a local manufacture.  Often there was a box car or a few box cars. I think the box cars were normally bringing in building materials.  Now days, center beam flat cars filled with building materials are frequent visitors.

photo 3 (1)

Covered hoppers on the Roswell team track 1994. Note box cars spotted to the left.

The ATSF and wilderness near Roswell

Salt CreekThe Salt Creek Wilderness is a little north of Roswell.  The ATSF mainline (now BNSF but leased to Southwestern Railway) runs just east of the wilderness area and may barely touch it for a brief distance.  The wilderness unit contains a total of 9,621 acres and is managed by the United States Fish & Wildlife Service.  It was established in 1970 and is a part of the Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge.   It has many beautiful areas and is a treat to visit.  Visitor accommodations are very minimal.  For a smoother more rewarding visit, check in at the Refuge headquarters just out of Roswell.  Though the main refuge area to the south draws a lot of birders seasonally. you won’t find a crowd at the wilderness unit.  You will likely be the only visitor.  That is what wilderness is about!


The Salt Creek Wilderness area is the first place I saw estivation in action. Toads such as this New Mexico spadefoot toad endure the log dry spells by employing estivation which is an inactive state resembling deep sleep, in which some animals living in hot climates, pass the summer. Estivation underground protects these animals against heat and dryness.

Busy week at the Bakery in 1993!

Bakery hoppers

Big shipment at the bakery. If you look to the right, you can see the overhead pipe that delivered the flour to the bakery.

Normally there was only a hopper or two spotted at the bakery, but this week was either busy or the shipments got doubled up.  A 2013 photo below shows an aerial view of where the tanks sat and where the hoppers were unloaded (green dots).  A corner of the Santa Fe depot is visible in the upper right hand corner of this photo.  This will be featured in a future blog.  I took many photos of this attractive structure in the 1990s.  It still stands today.

Bakery aerial II

Top green dot shows the unloading area. Bottom green dot shows where the tanks sat.


I smell baking bread!

Up until the mid-1990s at least, there was a Rainbo Bakery in Roswell.  It filled the area around it with the aroma of freshly baked bread.  The bakery received shipments of flour by covered hopper about once or twice a week.  Normally one or two cars were spotted there–sometimes more.   I remember Pillsbury, ATSF and plain GATX hoppers spotted there.  The flour was produced to two tall tanks and then transported by an overhead pipe as needed to the bakery which was about 200 feet away.  It was a pleasant part of the “ATSF in Roswell in the 90s” and I am planning it to be an industry on the layout.Image

Hopper spotted in front of the white tanks which held the flour.  More photos concerning the bakery to come.