The very south end of the Pecos Valley Southern in the 1970s

With contributions from B. Smith

Since the 1930s, Balmorhea has been the home of awesome Balmorhea State Park.

Balmorhea_HDR_0881

Photo courtesy of Texas Parks and Wildlife

Millions of gallons of cool, fresh water from San Salomon Spring flow into the pool every day.  The area is seeing an uptick in oil and gas activity, which is for now good for the economy but could threaten this incredible recreational opportunity.  It is critical that the spring be well protected.

Water as always been part of the story in Balmorhea and the Bureau of Reclamation did work in the area to try to leverage water to increase farming opportunities.  Here is a fascinating history of Reclamation’s Balmorhea project.

Agricultural opportunities led to the PVS heading south to Balmorhea, and it was the end of the line.  Farming played out quickly as one headed south of Balmorhea into the foothills of the Davis Mountains.  The line arrived in Balmorhea in 1912.  It was great news to ranchers in the area for getting supplies and shipping cattle became a bit easier.  By 1920, warehouses had been built to store cotton, hay and alfalfa.

Pecos-Valley-Southern_1937_Rand-McNally

This map preceded the construction of I-10 in the early 1970s. Courtesy of the Texas Transportation Institute: Rand-McNally and Company. Rand-McNally’s Commercial Atlas of America. Chicago: Rand-McNally, 1937.

Here is the Balmorhea PVS station February 15, 1977.  It was one of three stations built on the PVS. –©photo by B. Smith.

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The PVS ventured south to near the site of the state park.

My beautiful picture

Above is how the feed mill appeared in 1976 five years after the line was severed.–©photo by B. Smith.

You can see the remains of the feed mill in the picture below. The track ended at a feed mill close to the Balmorhea State Park pool.  The wye is still visible.  The feed mill was center bottom, gray rectangle.

Bal wye

Below is the south wye switch looking towards the feed mill in 1976. –©photo by B. Smith.

My beautiful picture
According to the history, Madera Valley 1870-1970, the “Pea Vine Special” as local kids referred to the line, ceased to operate to Balmorhea in 1964. It would have been really nice to see railroading in this remote, picturesque setting.
That concludes this series on PVS operations.
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