Rio Grande, Micolithic and Northern Railway (A Guest Post)

By Chris Adams (Guest contributor)

Let me introduce myself.  I’m Chris Adams, a 54 year-old retired history teacher living in the Dallas/Fort Worth region of Texas.  I’ve always tried to live with some variety in life-in addition to teaching, I’ve served in the Air Force, dispatched trains for the BNSF, and currently have a “retirement” job as a chainsaw and small engine mechanic.  My personal “toy” is a 1962 Mercury Comet. 

But I’ve always loved trains!  When I found the Rails West site, I felt there might be some kindred spirits out there that pursue the hobby similarly to me. 

I love the deserts, mountains, and railroads of West Texas.  Reading about the Presidio and Northern really caught my interest.  My own modeling concept involves the tiny Rio Grande, Micolithic and Northern Railway.  It existed just to the west of the P&N. 

A map of the real Micolithic—-in my history, it will curve around to the East, connecting at Lobo, and become an alternate SP route.

It was built in the mid-1920’s, connecting the SP’s Sunset Route to some mica mines about six miles to the south (see map).  Before the Twenties ended, the line was defunct, and by 1939, the rails were removed.  The line employed a 25-ton gas switcher. 

In my world, however, the line still exists, and actually built eastward from Micolithic to Lobo, thus creating an alternate route for the SP.  A purpose-built layout is still in the planning stages, as I am currently operating on a somewhat generic layout.  However, I’m creating a theme and experimenting with a roster (see pics).  I’ve recreated the 25-tonner using an old Gilbert/American Flyer industrial loco.  Amazingly, I found a photo of the real loco, and this looks fairly close. 

Courtesy of http://northeast.railfan.net/

I’ve also practiced lettering some rolling stock, like the boxcar shown here.  I’ve also experimented with a more modern theme, with an MP-inspired livery.  In fact, the real Micolithic Line once intended to extend to Van Horn and the T&P, but never made it. 

So these are the beginnings of my new project.  Hopefully I can continue to report on its progress. 

Finally, my last photo here shows about all that’s left of the Micolithic Line.  It’s actually a loading ramp of sorts which trucks drove over, dropping their loads into waiting ore cars below.  This was probably built after rail service ended to the mines, with the mica being trucked up to the SP siding.  But talk about mood and feeling!  This pic shows a hint of just how lonely and barren this corner of Texas actually is!

Hopefully, I’ll make a lot of progress in the near future on re-creating this special corner of West Texas railroad history.

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