Lonesome Casa Piedra – Last Run of the Texas Pacifico South of Alpine, TX (for now)

By B. Smith
My last trip, and as far as I know, the last trip of a Texas Pacifico train south of Alpine, Texas was June 7, 2012, to dump some ballast on a washout just south of the siding at Casa Piedra.  (Editor’s note — Due to the lack of traffic and the burning of the bridge over the Rio Grande there has not been a need.  Efforts are underway to rebuild the bridge.)
The route south of Paisano Pass is more than 1% downgrade from the more than 5000 ft elevation of the Pass.  --©photo by B. Smith

The route south of Paisano Pass is more than 1% downgrade from the more than 5000 ft elevation of the Pass. –©photo by B. Smith

The day before I had taken the train over the 11.9 miles of UP track the Texas Pacifico has trackage rights across and tied down under the Hwy 90 overpass just south of UP’s Paisano Pass, highest point on the old SP Sunset Limited line between Los Angeles and New Orleans.
Holed up waiting for a UP Freight to pass on the

Before hoping back onto the Texas Pacifico west of Alpine, holed up waiting for a UP Freight to pass on the Sunset Limited line in an earlier time, June 2, 2006.

Even though the Texas Pacifico line south of Paisano Pass to Presidio Texas had not seen a train in a number of years, the agreement between the Texas Dept. of Transportation, owners of the railroad, and Groupo Mexico, operators who leased the operating rights over the railroad, required the line all the way to Presidio be maintained in serviceable condition.
In addition to myself, the crew today consisted of a student engineer who had considerable experience as a conductor with another railroad but had just hired on with Texas Pacifico, and a new hire conductor who had no previous railroad experience.  Before leaving Alpine I briefed them to get food and drinks in Alpine as there would be no convenience stores or places to eat the rest of the day as we were going way beyond the beyond.  I had to provide a map to the conductor as he would be driving his car, the Red Dragon, and the roads do not follow the track.  The Red Dragon was a low slung red Camero that dragged its bottom on driveway ramps off paved streets, not the sort of vehicle suited for the unpaved roads that existed beyond Plata, where he was to meet us and join us on the train.
Nothing out here but wide open spaces with horses, cows, and Pronghorn antelope among the cactus and yucca.

Nothing out here but wide open spaces with horses, cows, and Pronghorn antelope among the cactus and yucca. –©photo by B. Smith

Casa Piedra siding, the engine has cut off from the train and is running around the train through the siding.

Casa Piedra siding, the engine has cut off from the train and is running around the train through the siding. –©photo by B. Smith

Completing the run around. --©photo by B. Smith

Completing the run around. –©photo by B. Smith

    It is scenic country not far from Big Bend Ranch State Park.
Big Bend Ranch State Park is on the mesa tops in the distance.  A few miles past Casa Piedra the tracks run through a portion of the state park along Alamito Creek. --©photo by B. Smith

Big Bend Ranch State Park is on the mesa tops in the distance. A few miles past Casa Piedra the tracks run through a portion of the state park along Alamito Creek. –©photo by B. Smith

After dumping the ballast a job briefing is held just south of the Casa Piedra siding about the return trip to Paisano Jct.

After dumping the ballast a job briefing is held just south of the Casa Piedra siding about the return trip to Paisano Jct. –©photo by B. Smith

Casa Piedras is now a ghost town in lonesome country.  Probably pretty much always has been.

Presidio County TX 1940 Census Map showing Casa Piedra (below "D" in "P-R-E-S-I-D-I-O"), Plata, Shafter, Marfa Courtesy Texas General Land Office

Presidio County TX 1940 Census Map showing Casa Piedra, Plata, Shafter, Marfa — Courtesy Texas General Land Office

Hopefully, traffic will once again be restored to this lonesome, beautiful corner of Texas.

Type of country one passes through on way down to Presidio,

Type of country one passes through on way down to Presidio south of Casa Piedras.  Beautiful!

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One thought on “Lonesome Casa Piedra – Last Run of the Texas Pacifico South of Alpine, TX (for now)

  1. Pingback: Site seeing – July 28 | Andrew's Trains – Formerly andrews-trains.fotopic.net

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