By B. Smith
(Part II on the South Orient, click here for Part I)
The Presidio depot. Our train will be inspected by a car inspector from Mexico, any bad order cars will have to be set out. If our train is shorter than eleven cars we can use the run around track at the bridge. A longer train requires coordinating with the Mexican railroad who will bring their cars to the bridge first.
The gate on the International Railroad Bridge at Presidio. The cars coming to the South Orient in interchange are on the Mexican side, ready for us to couple into and bring into the United States, as soon as I unlock the gate. After 9/11, we had to wait for Border Patrol to come and unlock the gate. Sometimes they could find the key, more than once bolt cutters had to be used when the key couldn’t be located.
The gate is open, I’m on the Mexican side, the International Boundary Marker is on the very left of the photo, time to couple into our interchange. We take the cars back to the Presidio depot where everything is inspected by Border Patrol, US Customs, and Dept. of Agriculture (for bugs). I call the SP dispatcher from the depot to let him know we are coming and will be at Paisano Jct. in about three hours.
A few miles north of Presidio we cross the longest bridge on the South Orient. It spans Antonito Creek. A couple of times I saw water from bank to bank when summer thunderstorms upstream dumped a few inches of rain.
A short train heading north to Paisano Jct. The track inspector was riding the train this day, I was driving his hi-rail following behind.
At Paisano Jct. we often had to wait on SP traffic even though we were getting short on time. It takes less than 30 minutes to get to Alpine from here. A SP westbound passes with NS power.
(Editor’s note: This concludes the reflections series, but I anticipate a post on typical South Orient traffic in the near future.)