Cars! (How realistic cars can enhance the scene and evoke an era)

My friend, B. Smith, has some great cars on his layout.  His layout is set in 1990 and his cars evoke that era very nicely, even if a few of them look a tad old.  However, it was not uncommon to see a lot of older cars in rural areas in the US.  My slides from the late 70s and early 80s, feature a number of cars from the 1960s and a few from the 1950s.

I asked him to share a few everyday scenes on his LCN RR.  Note what a big difference his cars make in enhancing the realism and evoking his era. (All photos by B. Smith)

MP15 1531 pulls a PC insulated box car from the warehouse.

MP15 1531 pulls a PC insulated box car from the warehouse.

Two loads of newsprint being shoved to Republic Printing.

Two loads of newsprint being shoved to Republic Printing.

Employee vehicles at the beer distributor

Employee vehicles at the beer distributor.

Trying to beat the train at the crossing on her way to the beauty parlor.  Fortunately, the train is only doing 7 mph.  Hope she doesn't run over the railfan concentrating on getting his picture.  Somebody is keeping that '76 Caddy looking good!

Trying to beat the train at the crossing on her way to the beauty parlor. Fortunately, the train is only doing 7 mph. Hope she doesn’t run over the railfan concentrating on getting his picture. Somebody is keeping that ’76 Caddy looking new!

Looks like the boss has driven up to get the Bobcat out to move the ATSF covered hopper on the Lazy W Ranch spur.

Looks like the boss has driven up to get the Bobcat out to move the ATSF covered hopper on the Lazy W Ranch spur.

DSC_7143

This baby has seen better days!

These cars are made by NEO.  They are the best cars (1/87 scale) that we have found.  I have a number of them ready to hit the road on my layout.  We purchase them from American Excellence.

A trip to the Roundhouse…(Part III)

GPs hanging around the service area, January 1979.  –©photo by C.E. Hunt

GPs hanging around the service area, January 1979. –©photo by C.E. Hunt

Once I hung around the core area of the Hardy Street Shops in Houston, Texas for quite awhile that special day in January 1979, I went to explore the surroundings.  I found some additional treats.

SP SSW Caboose at Milby St Roundhouse Jan 1979 II

SSW Caboose #19 between assignments. -–©photo by C.E. Hunt

SSW Caboose #19 close up. -–©photo by C.E. Hunt

SSW Caboose #19 close up. -–©photo by C.E. Hunt

I then spied another crummy nearby.

SP Caboose #617 near Hardy Street Street Shops.-–©photo by C.E. Hunt

SP Caboose #617 near Hardy Street Street Shops.-–©photo by C.E. Hunt

SP Caboose at Milby Street Roundhouse Jan 1979

Other side of SP #617. -–©photo by C.E. Hunt

Then I saw a lonesome Alco S-6 almost ostracized off in the distance.

SP Alco #1257 sitting all by itself. -–©photo by C.E. Hunt

SP Alco #1257 sitting all by itself. -–©photo by C.E. Hunt

It and a partner were all alone, the door was open and I was a kid.  You know what came next.  In my haste, I forgot to take a picture of the locomotive!

From inside the S-6, January 1979. –©photo by C.E. Hunt

From inside the S-6, January 1979. –©photo by C.E. Hunt

My pulse was racing.  I had no business doing what I was doing!

Contrils inside the S-6, January 1979. –©photo by C.E. Hunt

Controls inside the S-6, January 1979. –©photo by C.E. Hunt

From inside the S-6, January 1979 looking over the top. –©photo by C.E. Hunt

From inside the S-6, January 1979 looking over the top. –©photo by C.E. Hunt

S-6 couplers, January 1979. Note running boards. –©photo by C.E. Hunt

S-6 couplers, January 1979. Note foot boards. –©photo by C.E. Hunt

Again in my excitement, I failed to snap a good picture of #1257.  The S-6s would soon disappear.  Locomotive #1257 would leave the SP rails in six months.

SP locomotives at Hardy Street Roundhouse Jan 1979.   -–©photo by C.E. Hunt

SP locomotives at Hardy Street Roundhouse Jan 1979. -–©photo by C.E. Hunt

This concludes my series on the Hardy Street Shops.  In the coming months, I will share more Rails West experiences from late 1970s on!

A trip to the Roundhouse…(Part II)

When I was finally able to pull myself away from the turntable, I set out to explore to rest of the Hardy Street Shops.  The diversity of locomotives and cabooses was pretty impressive.  Also impressive, looking back, was the access a 16-year old boy had–just me and my hand-me-down Minolta.

SP locomotives at Milby Street Roundhouse Jan 1979 V

NW2 1310 in between assignments. See roundhouse in the distance. –©photo by C.E. Hunt

Sanding tracks, Hardy Street Shops, January 1979.  --©photo by C. E. Hunt

Sanding tracks, Hardy Street Shops, January 1979. –©photo by C. E. Hunt

The diversity of equipment was staggering.

SP Alco at Milby Street Roundhouse Jan 1979 II

Alco C628 resting, Hardy Street Shops, January 1979. –©photo by C.E. Hunt

SD-45  #9126 in for service.  --©photo by C. E. Hunt

SD-45 #9126 and SW1200 #2268 in for service. –©photo by C. E. Hunt

I had to go peek at the turntable one more time before I left this magical place…

SW1500 #2674 sneaks onto the turntable.  Will her twin fit?  --©photo by C. E. Hunt

SW1500 #2674 sneaks onto the turntable. Will her twin fit? –©photo by C. E. Hunt

In part III, I will share some of the cabooses I shot there as well as my sneaking up into an Alco S-6 (#1257) just a few months before it would leave the SP in July of 1979.

A trip to the Roundhouse…(Part I)

When I was 16 years old, I begged my dad to take me to the Hardy Street shops to take some pictures of the SP.  I am glad he agreed.  It is all gone now.  The Union Pacific moved locomotive servicing to other locations in and around Houston.  The day I visited, the place was covered with locomotives, including many Alcos.  In this day and age, It is amazing to think what access I had to the site–just a 16-year old boy and his all manual Minolta.

SP locomotives at Hardy Street Shops in January of 1979. --©photo by C. Hunt

SP locomotives at Hardy Street Shops in January of 1979. –©photo by C. Hunt

I was fascinated watching the turntable work.  Below are a few of the photos I took to capture it in operation.

Almost back inside.  Jan 1979. --©photo by C. Hunt

SP GP leaves roundhouse and enters turntable at Hardy Street Shops in January of 1979. –©photo by C. Hunt

Almost there!  Jan 1979. --©photo by C. Hunt

It begins to turn. Jan 1979. –©photo by C. Hunt

With the locomotive in place, the operator starts to turn the table.

Almost complete. Jan 1979. –©photo by C. Hunt

SP GP eases onto the turntable, Jan 1979.  --©photo by C. Hunt

SP GP eases off the turntable, Jan 1979. –©photo by C. Hunt

SP GP-9 leaves roundhouse and enters turntable at Hardy Street Shops in January of 1979

SP GP waits partially back inside Roundhouse January of 1979. –©photo by C. Hunt

The GP then eased back into the roundhouse.  Jan 1979. --©photo by C. Hunt

Here comes another one. Jan 1979. –©photo by C. Hunt

In part II, I will share what I encountered exploring around the facility.

Somewhere in Eastern New Mexico sits this intriguing structure…

Somewhere in Eastern NM along a road such as this…

Road to this mysterious place.  --©photo C. Hunt

Road to this mysterious place. –©photo C. Hunt

…not too far off the ATSF (now BNSF) tracks between Roswell and Fort Sumner, I spied a building sitting off the road all by itself.

This had to by investigated.  After all, I was all alone--just me and a few cool breezes coming off the approaching thunderstorm. --©photo by C. Hunt

This had to by investigated. After all, I was all alone–just me and a few cool breezes coming off the approaching thunderstorm. –©photo by C. Hunt

I spent about an hour with this lonely building one beautiful day in the August of 1996 and many pictures.  The building was serving as, at least in part, a place of worship.  Hymnals were stacked about the place.  Outside, I had the perfect conditions for taking some pictures and exploring a bit–mild, sunny, breezy with a thunderstorm on the horizon to give the sky an interesting texture.

Note thunderstorm in the distance.-- ©photo by C. Hunt

Note thunderstorm in the distance.– ©photo by C. Hunt

To be honest, I am not exactly sure where I took these photos, but I think I was close to Fort Sumner.  Oddly enough, I’m not sure I’d share if I did.  I want the mystery of this place to remain.

View from inside.  The door was open. --©photo by C. Hunt

View from inside. The door was open. –©photo by C. Hunt

Interior. --©photo by C. Hunt

Interior. –©photo by C. Hunt

But I did not feel alone.  Now this may end up sounding a little like an excerpt from John Mulhouse’s excellent work entitled, A Loss for Words & Other Stories, but I didn’t feel quite alone–not watched per say, but just not totally alone.

It was then that I began to read the strange inscription on the blackboard.  As I recall, the message had substance but wondered a bit.  It was a stream of conscienceness.  I wish you could read it, but the photo is not quite clear enough.

Blackboard in interior. --©photo by C. Hunt

Blackboard in interior. –©photo by C. Hunt

Sunshine, the sound of wind, a distant rumbling of thunder and not a soul on the planet except just me and the spiritual residual of the person who wrote this–not even any cars on the nearby highway.

It was a bit haunting, but I didn’t feel a rush to leave.  I took dozens of photos of this remarkable place and worked very hard to leave no trace of my being there.  I didn’t want to have any part in changing this mysterious place, this mysterious moment.

 --©photo by C. Hunt

–©photo by C. Hunt

I drove away out into the lonesomeness of the New Mexico highway, carrying just a little of this place inside of me somehow.

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If you know where this is, don’t comment but send me an e-mail at railswestonline@gmail.com.

Note:  I recommend John Mulhouse’s excellent work entitled, A Loss for Words & Other Stories.  To me, it is best described as an eclectic art museum where the paintings are painted with words–some on large canvases, some are tiny.  But many of them will somehow affect you like a provocative painting.  I also strongly recommend his wonderful website — City of Dust.