By B. Smith and C. Hunt
In this post we will look at some of the locomotives serving the South Orient line after ATSF pulled out.
The South Orient Railroad was established in 1992, when Santa Fe sold 375 miles of its trackage in central and west Texas. The sale included about 70 miles of line between San Angelo Jct (the San Angelo Subdivision’s connection with the Santa Fe Lampasas Sub east of Coleman) and San Angelo, and 305 miles of line from San Angelo to Presidio.
During the late 1990s and 2000, South Orient suffered declining traffic volumes leading South Orient to sell the line to the Texas Department of Transportation. The line has since then been operated by Texas Pacifico Transportation, which is owned by Ferromex.
South Orient started with some ex DRGW GP-9’s. These had D-24 brake valves.
South Orient also leased a GP-9 from BN. It had the old D-6 brake valve. Before BN and ATSF merged, BN thought of using the South Orient as their gateway into Mexico. To help out the South Orient, BN leased the BN 1711 to them, then forgot about the unit. South Orient ran the unit for a number of years, then used it for parts. The shell now sits in San Angelo, Texas at the railroad museum located at the old passenger station, painted in a not quite correct SO blue http://railwaymuseumsanangelo.homestead.com/GP9.html
When the lease on the ex DRGW GP-9’s ran out, SO leased some ex-CNW GP-7’s. These units were lettered for CenTex RR (CTEX) which was the old ATSF line from Ft Worth to Brownwood, Texas and was part of SO until the SO ceased operating. CTEX then became the Fort Worth and Western Railroad, a very successful line operating today.
In addition to the ex CNW GP-7’s, South Orient also leased some other GP-7’s that were painted in a Missouri Pacific-like scheme. They were also ex-CNW units. SO and CTEX units operated over the entire line from Ft Worth to Presidio. For a short period, the units even operated into Mexico.
Last run of the SO GP-7s, July 1, 2004.
The new power arrives at San Angelo Jct., July 1, 2004.
GP-38 in CNW colors for the Texas Pacifico. All units were GP-38’s in CNW colors except for one in UP colors.
To help out after the CTEX units were let go, the South Orient, now known as the Texas Pacifico, received three units from Ferromex.
Better view of #9298
Here’s the one unit in former UP colors. CEFX #400 at Rankin, Texas, July 14, 2008.
That was the locomotive situation until summer of 2012 when the frac sand and oil boom hit the Texas Pacifico big time. The oil boom brought new CITX locomotives.
Here’s one of the new units in 2015.
Here’s more of the newer units from this scene captured February 29, 2016 near Alpine, Texas.
A lot of variety from 1992 to present.