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.


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.

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

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