By B. Smith
(See Part I here.)
The train continued on to the gravel quarry at Hoban. Hoppers there already were still being loaded and a load of river rock awaited at Saragosa so the GE 70 tonner by itself proceeded by the speeder ventured on south of the quarry to Saragosa. Only a few trips a year were now being made to Saragosa and just to pick up a single car of river rock each trip. Within a couple of years the river rock would be loaded at the quarry and the track south of the quarry only used to store 900 plus covered hoppers in 1982/83 ($1 per car per day plus a $100 switching charge both inbound and outbound. The cars were to be leased to Mexico but Mexico cancelled the lease). By 1987 the track south of the gravel quarry to Saragosa was out of service.
The picture below shows the entire Saragosa siding by the station and gives some idea as to what the other rail served industries were that were located along that siding. The station itself is hidden behind the metal building with the roof turbine vents. The station platform is just visible, as is the single gondola loaded with river rock we are about to pick up. Balmorhea and the Davis Mountains are in the distance. (All below photos are copyrighted, B. Smith)
That’s the PVS station for Saragosa to the right of the gondola below. The station was closed by the time of these pictures but in pretty good shape. It was one of three stations built on the PVS.
Below we are heading north having pulled the load of rocks. Those are the Davis Mountains in the distance.
Some businesses were still eeking out an existence in 1978 north of Saragosa. Most of the tracks here are still in place today (2017) but some rail has been removed at crossings and fences cross the tracks in a number of places.
We head north back to the gravel quarry with a lone gon behind the GE 70 tonner. We are looking south toward the Davis Mountains as a thunderstorm builds up over the flats. Today this country is dotted with oil wells and oil industry support facilities.
Here’s a little side story to give insight into 1970s “laid-back railroading” (See below picture)–
“We had just coupled onto the lone gon of river rock and were heading back north, still on the station siding at Saragosa, when the engineer spotted this metal tub along side the track and decided it would make a great water trough for his livestock. It traveled back to Pecos where it was off loaded at the engine shed. Some thirsty cow was glad I guess.”