Destination — Pecos, Texas, 1970 and 80s…(or to the set of “The Last Picture Show?”) (Part II)

Now we are going to focus on the hometown railroad of Pecos, the Pecos Valley Southern.

Our ace photographer was there to capture it in the 1970 and 80s.

Below are images he captured in 1980 around the City of Pecos.  Pecos had been the site of an airbase in WWII.  Some of it was re-purposed to support industry after the war.

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Spurs at the old air base. ©B. Smith photo

 

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Drilling mud, anhydrous ammonia, and something augured unloaded on these tracks. ©B. Smith photo

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Team track in Pecos. The gondola is lettered for Conrail. Old airbase buildings that were leased out to various companies are in the back ground. ©B. Smith photo

Above represents West Texas railroading to a “t” in the 1970s–one boxcar here, a covered hopper or two there, a gondola here, etc.  It featured a lot of one or two car shipments.  We will see more of that as we venture further south in the next post.

South of Pecos sits a quarry which has been at various times a very important source of traffic for the railroad.  Below are images our photographer captured around the quarry in the late 1970s.  It remains today today but has changed sides of the highway since these photos.

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Lots of MP, TP, C&EI reporting marks on the hoppers in the 70’s in Pecos. ©B. Smith photo

Note the C&EI reporting marks.

C&IE #587783 and 522363 coming to the quarry. ©B. Smith photo

 

Shoving cars across the highway to the old gravel plant.

Shoving cars across the highway to the old gravel plant. ©B. Smith photo

 

Shoving empties into the old gravel plant.  Note the TP hopper two cars ahead.

Shoving empties into the old gravel plant. Note the Texas and Pacific hopper two cars ahead. ©B. Smith photo

Next post we will venture further south to a part of the PVS that for the most part no longer exists towards Saragosa and Balmorhea.

 

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Destination — Pecos, Texas, 1970 and 80s…(or to the set of “The Last Picture Show?”) (Part I) re-post and enhanced

Readers have asked me to re-post this because some had difficulty seeing some of the photos.

This is an enhanced version with more background…even has a couple of book recommendations!

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I will finish the Delaware series soon, but I thought it is time to spend a little time out west again.

We will visit Pecos, Texas in the 1970 and 80s.  The first part will focus on the operations of the ATSF.  The ATSF ventured south of Carlsbad all the way down to Pecos in the 1970s.  By the way, Pecos is known for a lot of things, its sweet cantaloupes and being the site of the “world’s first rodeo” on July 4, 1883 among others.

The second part will feature the operations of Pecos Valley Southern (PVS) RR.  The Pecos Valley Southern is still operating 23 miles of track south of Pecos.

Thanks to some great photography from a friend, we will visit both as they operated in the 1970 and 80s.

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August 1982. ATSF station sign, Missouri Pacific RR (MP) mainline from El paso to Dallas on left, then PVS interchange track with MP. Switch stand just visible down track is to ATSF line to Carlsbad. ©B.Smith photo

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August 1982. ATSF track to Carlsbad from Pecos. Track to left is other leg of wye. ©B.Smith photo

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Switch where west leg of ATSF wye joins interchange track. Carlsbad would be down track that curves to the left here. ©B.Smith photo

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Switch where west leg of ATSF wye joins interchange track to MP whose main track is visible on left, with PVS interchange track to MP visible beyond MP main, where cars are spotted. String of hoppers loaded with gravel visible in the distance on right center. These hoppers were loaded at gravel quarry on PVS and await pick up by MP. More cars off PVS on left await pick up by MP. ©B.Smith photo

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Looking other way down ATSF/MP interchange track, ATSF Pecos station sign just visible beyond and to left of switch stand. Signaled MP main on right. Photographer is standing on east leg of ATSF wye. ©B.Smith photo

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Loaded hopper string on PVS/MP interchange track, MP main track to left. ATSF tracks in Pecos are on far side of MP main track but are not visible. ©B.Smith photo

Looks like images out of the The Last Picture Show, I’d say.   I almost found myself looking for Sonny’s black pick-up in the background.  Of course, any aficionado of that great movie knows it was mostly filmed in Larry McMurtry’s hometown of Archer City, Texas (which is a long ways from Pecos).  It is truly a work of art if you haven’t seen it.  It evokes the “quiet desperation” of humanity like few films do.  McMurtry was the author of the novel upon which the film, very ably directed by Peter Bogdanovich, was based.  I highly recommend a number of McMurtry novels including some of his lesser known works, such as Some Can Whistle and All my Friends Are Going to Be Strangers.

Back to trains…

Obviously, the ATSF traffic to Pecos had become pretty light by 1982 when the above photos were taken.

Our photographer did catch a little action on the ATSF in Pecos in 1978.  The ATSF interchanged with the Pecos Valley Southern and Missouri Pacific in Pecos.

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June 5, 1978. The only time the photographer caught cars being interchanged between MP and ATSF in Pecos. The car on the very left mostly out of the photo was a DRGW box. The string of cars on the right are on the other side of the MP main line and are the cars PVS left for MP to pick up after the days run. ©B.Smith photo

Just like the Last Picture Show, all good things come to an end.  The ATSF line to Pecos (everything south of Pecos Jct.) was abandoned in September, 1990. The line to Rustler Springs in Texas and all trackage south of Loving, NM was abandoned in 2002.

You can still see where the ATSF wye was in this modern aerial photograph.

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In part II, also due to the fine work of B. Smith, I will highlight the Pecos Valley Southern action during roughly the same period.

Until then.

Destination — Pecos, Texas, 1970 and 80s…(or to the set of “The Last Picture Show”) (Part I)

With photo!

Rails West

I will finish the Delaware series soon, but I thought it is time to spend a little time out west again.

We will visit Pecos, Texas in the 1970s.  The first part will focus on the operations of the ATSF.  The ATSF ventured south of Carlsbad all the way down to Pecos in the 1970s.

The second part will feature the operations of Pecos Valley Southern (PVS) RR.  The Pecos Valley Southern is still operating 23 miles of track south of Pecos.

Thanks to some great photography from a friend, we will visit both as they operated in the 1970 and 80s.

August 1982.  ATSF station sign, Missouri Pacific RR (MP) mainline from El paso to Dallas on left, then PVS interchange track with MP. Switch stand just visible down track is to ATSF line to Carlsbad. ©B.Smith photo

August 1982. ATSF track to Carlsbad from Pecos. Track to left is…

View original post 391 more words

Destination — Pecos, Texas, 1970 and 80s…(or to the set of “The Last Picture Show”) (Part I)

I will finish the Delaware series soon, but I thought it is time to spend a little time out west again.

We will visit Pecos, Texas in the 1970s.  The first part will focus on the operations of the ATSF.  The ATSF ventured south of Carlsbad all the way down to Pecos in the 1970s.

The second part will feature the operations of Pecos Valley Southern (PVS) RR.  The Pecos Valley Southern is still operating 23 miles of track south of Pecos.

Thanks to some great photography from a friend, we will visit both as they operated in the 1970 and 80s.

August 1982.  ATSF station sign, Missouri Pacific RR (MP) mainline from El paso to Dallas on left, then PVS interchange track with MP. Switch stand just visible down track is to ATSF line to Carlsbad. ©B.Smith photo

August 1982. ATSF track to Carlsbad from Pecos. Track to left is other leg of wye.  ©B.Smith photo

Switch where west leg of ATSF wye joins interchange track. Carlsbad would be down track that curves to the left here. ©B.Smith photo

Switch where west leg of ATSF wye joins interchange track to MP whose main track is visible on left, with PVS interchange track to MP visible beyond MP main, where cars are spotted. String of hoppers loaded with gravel visible in the distance on right center. These hoppers were loaded at gravel quarry on PVS and await pick up by MP. More cars off PVS on left await pick up by MP. ©B.Smith photo

Looking other way down ATSF/MP interchange track, ATSF Pecos station sign just visible beyond and to left of switch stand. Signaled MP main on right. All ATSF tracks in Pecos removed in late 80’s. Photographer is standing on east leg of ATSF wye.  ©B.Smith photo

Loaded hopper string on PVS/MP interchange track, MP main track to left. ATSF tracks in Pecos are on far side of MP main track but are not visible. ©B.Smith photo

Looks like images out of the The Last Picture Show, I’d say.

The traffic to Pecos had become pretty light by 1982 when these photos were taken.

Our photographer did catch some action on the ATSF, in 1978.  The ATSF interchanged with the Pecos Valley Southern and Missouri Pacific in Pecos.

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June 5, 1978. The only time the photographer caught cars being interchanged between MP and ATSF in Pecos. The car on the very left mostly out of the photo was a DRGW box. The string of cars on the right are on the other side of the MP main line and are the cars PVS left for MP to pick up after the days run. ©B.Smith photo

Just like the Last Picture Show, all good things come to an end.  The ATSF line to Pecos (everything south of Pecos Jct.) was abandoned in September, 1990. The line to Rustler Springs in Texas and all trackage south of Loving, NM was abandoned in 2002.

You can still see where the ATSF wye was in this modern aerial photograph.

 

The “ghost” of the old ATSF wye in Pecos, Texas.

In a future post, also due to the fine work of B. Smith, I will highlight the Pecos Valley Southern action during the same period.

Revisiting one of my favorite spurs in Texas

 

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View of spur from road looking west.

Along the Union Pacific in San Marcos, Texas, there’s an interesting short spur.  The spur was busy June 16, 2014 .  Two cars filled with what appears to be oats were spotted.  I discussed this same spur during the series on derails March 29, 2014.

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CNW 490119 spotted in San Marcos, TX on June 16, 2014

The unloading operation is simple and great for a model railroad–lots of operations, little space required.  All you need is an auger.

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There are no kits of an unloader of this nature.  It is a nice scratch-building opportunity.  Here is a post of one modeller’s efforts.

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The oats unload into this bin.

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Bin into which the oats are unloaded.

Then brought up the auger and put into a truck.

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CGEX 1781 spotted at San Marcos, Texas, June 16, 2014

This time, there was a second car waiting to be unloaded.  It had an aging, but attractive Cargill logo.

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The derail I discussed March 29 is still on the job!

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Here is an aerial of the spur.

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Aerial of spur

Here is a close-up.  Truck to which the oats are unloaded can be seen in this photo.

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Note truck with red cab standing by to receive unloaded oats.

Short spurs like this can add a lot of operational interest to layouts.

 

 

The power of buildings and organic commerce…

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More on Delaware in coming posts.  

See that light gray building to the left?  I was recently in Alexandria, VA.  I knew this area on the Potomac waterfront was slated for substantial “tourist and quality of life” changes.  I figured that building’s days were numbered so I had to check it out.

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Alexandria Marine Service and Sales has been in business for 64 years. The locally-owned store sells new and used boat engine parts and also fixes outboard engines. The shop is located right on the Old Town waterfront. The Potomac river flows right behind the building.   A beautiful and rustic setting.

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Check out the width of those walls.  I hope they continue to use this building with the waterfront development.  It would be tragic to see this solid structure come down.

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I wish we could learn to re-develop neat areas like this without losing places like this.  It is so organic.

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Service yard where motors are (or perhaps sadly were) brought in.  It will likely be a great project that Alexandria has planned with cool restaurants and a boutique hotel, but can’t we leave a little room for authentic businesses that have nothing to do with tourism?

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I know, I know, the real estate is too valuable.  OK.  Just saying.  However, a business like this gives the area a sense of authenticity that is missing with many re-developments.

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Enjoy this “organic” business structure while you can and try to capture them when you see a little jewel like this.  Sadly, I think a warehouse a couple of blocks away that still receives boxcars off the CSX is also slated to be “re-developed.”

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The three green dots show boxcars in 2014 in downtown Alexandria just a couple of blocks from Alexandria Marine.

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Street view.  Green dot shows box car spotted at Robinson Terminal #1.  Again, the waterfront redevelopment will likely be a very popular project with many benefits.  I just wish we could save a little of the organic quality of our living spaces.  Buildings that help people make a living unrelated to tourism can be special in their own way.  We need to get development professionals to be more sensitive to this.