Alpine, Texas in the late 1970s, Part I(A), a Traffic Profile of a Shipper


Big Bend Wool and Mohair, Alpine, TX, 2007–©C. Hunt photo

I introduced this series January 26 in Part I.  Here  are some observations by B. Smith of the line’s operations with a particular focus on one shipper.  I found this record very informative of traffic patterns from 1982-1990 in Alpine and other car traffic operations of the era.–C. Hunt

By B. Smith

Back in the days before digital cameras, when cameras shot film that had to be sent off to be developed, and it seemed expensive to take pictures, I carried a pocket notebook with me when I went off to Alpine, or Marfa, or Pecos, or wherever to record information I observed connected with railroads.  I was looking through them (there are more than one) this morning looking for information on the bentonite plant in Alpine. (This plant will be covered in part II).  I didn’t find much on the plant other than my photos, but I see I recorded a note when ever I saw a car spotted at Big Bend Wool and Mohair (BBW&M) in Alpine, Texas.


Big Bend Wool and Mohair, Alpine, TX, 2007–©C. Hunt photo


Big Bend Wool and Mohair, Alpine, TX, 2007–©C. Hunt photo

I didn’t start recording info until 1981.  It’s pretty sketchy at first but I guess as I realized things were changing on the rail scene I began recording more and more.  So here’s the BBW&M notes of the cars spotted there.  It’s not every car spotted, just cars spotted that I happened to see when I went to Alpine.  Seems like BBW&M was a pretty active user of inbound rail shipments.  It also appears the cars for BBW&M came off the ATSF.

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Big Bend Wool and Mohair with two cars spotted in August, 1977–©B. Smith photo

BBW&M Traffic and other Alpine tidbits 1982-1994

March 13, 1982 – ATSF 55309 50’ XM smooth side plug door, BLT 9-56, roller bearing trucks.  By March 23 this car had been moved by SP to Alpine interchange track.

March 23, 1982 – ATSF 55458 XMI smooth side plug door.

April 22, 1982 – Siding to Foxworth lumber yard had been removed.

July 20, 1982 – ATSF 55348 XMI smooth side, plug door, high brake wheel, friction bearing trucks, no shock control.

October 20, 1982 – ATSF smooth side plug door (did not record car number).

November 5, 1982 – ATSF 55386 XMI smooth side, plug door, high brake wheel, BLT 1/58, roller bearing trucks with two springs, no shock control, straight bottom side skirt.

December 21, 1982 – ATSF 55768 XF, outside braced plug door, no shock control.

Feb. 15, 1983 – ATSF 55047 smooth side plug door

Feb. 16, 1983 – Eastbound SP train stopped at Alpine interchange, took one ATSF box into town, pulled ATSF 55047 at BBW&M and set both cars out at interchange before proceeding east.

Nov. 11, 1983 – ATSF 55346.

Aug. 13, 1984 – ATSF 15504 XL smooth side sliding single door, shock control, black ends, high ladders on B end of car, two spring roller bearing trucks.

Dec. 17, 1984 – ATSF 51659 XM former Railbox.

April 10, 1985 – ATSF 55378 XMI smooth side plug door, 2 spring roller bearing trucks.

June 30, 1985 – SP 12970 ex Railbox still in Railbox colors blt by ACF and ATSF 152426 XF flat roof, outside braced, plug door, Super Shock Control, Blt by FMC 9-79.

March 15, 1986 – SP GP-30/GP9E took ATSF 55364 smooth side plug door, high brake wheel, friction trucks from interchange track and spotted at BBW&M.

July 24, 1987 – ATSF 51327 XM ex-Railbox now at Alpine interchange had been unloaded at BBW&M last week.

July 31, 1987 – Two switches on west end of short run-around track by Big Bend Wool have been removed, only east bound trains can set out/pick up BBW&M now.

August 26, 1987 – SP 9248, an SD tunnel motor, arrived at Alpine interchange track from the east.  Pulled three bulkhead flats and ATSF box from interchange track.  Returned running east, spotted ATSF box at BBW&M, departed Alpine for Sanderson with the three flats.  So SP was running a local out of Sanderson at this time to serve Marathon, Alpine, and maybe Marfa.

October 21, 1987 – ATSF boxcar spotted at BBW&M.

Sept. 1987 thru Jan. 1989 – covered hoppers being loaded at bentonite plant (Alpine) on ATSF.

March 16, 1988 – SP 6614, east bound freight, arrives at Alpine interchange track with 10 ballast, 4 box, 1 reefer, 3 covered hoppers.  Picks up SOU box car off interchange track and moves it to BBW&M before proceeding east out of Alpine.

March 14, 1989 – SOU 50’ box at BBW&M.

June 1989 – SP running local out of Alpine since March, Hot Wells to Sanderson.  150 cars per month out of Hot Wells (talc).  Also switch Dupont fluorspar in Marathon.

August 29, 1989 – BN box car at BBW&M.

August 15, 1990 – SP moved ATSF box from interchange to BBW&M.  ATSF box from Big Bend Wool back to interchange track for ATSF on August 22, 1990.

November 30, 1990 – SOU 50’ box at BBW&M.

Feb. 1992 – South Orient begins operations, I don’t remember any cars going to Big Bend Wool from South Orient.

May 1994 – Mainline switch for track to BBW&M has been removed.


Big Bend Wool and Mohair, Alpine, TX, 2007–©C. Hunt photo


Part II will cover the short-lived Alpine bentonite operations and a few other items.

2 thoughts on “Alpine, Texas in the late 1970s, Part I(A), a Traffic Profile of a Shipper

  1. Pingback: Backdating or transforming a structure on your layout | Rails West

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