The Limpia Canyon Northern RR, part II (Pecos!)

The Pecos section of the layout is along a 12 ft long wall.  The height of the layout is 46” above the floor, determined by the height of the window sill.  Rail is code 70.  Time period is 1990.  (Click here to see Part I with a map of the entire layout.)

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It is the home of multiple businesses.

LCN Trackplan with color and shippers total Pecos

M-G Fuels

First coming from Sanderson into Pecos is M-G Fuels on the left.  It is a modest feature on the layout.  The LPG dealer is really only suggested by an unloading rack.  Below we see it in the middle of the photo.  Fat Cow’s tank car unloading facility is the small shack and blue tanks. blue tanks.

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It serves to illustrate how one can create a traffic producing industry with minimal space.

Fat Cow Animal Supplements

Next on the line is Fat Cow.  Fat Cow produces livestock supplements to “bulk up” your herd.  This business receives tank cars of molasses, covered hoppers of various ingredients, and occasional boxcar loads of bagged material.  In addition, outbound shipments of its finished product are shipped in covered hoppers and boxcars.

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Above we see a boxcar spotted at the loading dock and a covered hopper being unloaded above the under-track pit.  The blue overhead structure is for loading covered hoppers with Fat Cow’s product.

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The above photo gives a better overall view of the Fat Cow operation, from the tank car unloading area on the left, the building that receives inbound boxcar shipments, a loading dock for outbound boxcar shipments, the overhead covered hopper loading structure, an under-rail conveyor leading into the blue building for unloading covered hoppers, and a pressure differential covered hopper unloading building and four tall tanks on the very right for fine powdered ingredients.  Covered hoppers to be unloaded and ones to be loaded compete for the same track space so the train crew has to coordinate with the plant manager the order in which the cars are placed.  Fat Cow has an electric car puller to move the cars being loaded or unloaded without a locomotive.  The LCN can’t let cars sit around and keeps a locomotive here for the Pecos train.  The crew deadheads to work in the white suburban.  Outbound cars are gathered up and the train leaves Pecos for the interchange.  If the return trip to Pecos has more than five cars, which is often the case, the crew has their hands full because the short run-around track will only fit five cars, maybe six short ones.  The engine often has cars ahead and behind it as things are sorted out and the cars spotted.

Drill-Tex and Gerstle Chemical 

At the end of track in Pecos, we find Drill-Tex,  the red structure below, and the unloading structures for Gerstle Chemical against the wall.  Gerstle Chemical receives tank cars of acid that are used in the oil fields around Pecos.  When chemical tank cars are spotted here it reduces the length of the tail track, further complicating the work of the train crew.  Drill-Tex is a busy operation which receives bagged material (drilling mud) in boxcars and bulk material (frac sand) in 2-bay covered hoppers.  Hydraulic fracturing is just starting in 1990 so unit trains of frac sand are still in the future.

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Boxcars are unloaded at the concrete docks, covered hoppers into the yellow structure that loads the trucks.  Occasionally, sand cars are unloaded on the tail track with the white wheeled conveyor.

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These businesses result in Pecos being a very active end of the line for the LCN.  In the last photo below, you can pretty much see all of Pecos along the LCN.

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In our next post, we’ll venture back in time and visit Sanderson.

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The Limpia Canyon Northern RR, part I

DSC_8113 (1)This is an introduction to a great layout that I have had the pleasure of operating numerous times.  It is the product of B. Smith’s experience as a 1:1 scale railroader and his love of West Texas, Colorado and many other western locales including his native California.

The Limpia Canyon Northern, the LCN, is a proto-freelanced layout set in dual eras.  B. Smith cut his teeth as a professional railroader in the 1990s but he fell in love with railroads in the 1970s.  As a result, his layout has the novel approach of having one town on the layout set in the late-1960s/early 1970s and the rest are set in 1990.

The layout is point-to-point and all shelf.  I learned from him the lack of any need for being able to run trains in a loop.  Since meeting the LCN, ALL my layouts have been point-to-point.  I’ve never looked back for a second.

 

LCN Map with Logo

The scale is not accurate but this gives a good overview of the layout.  The towns of San Angelo and Sanderson are compressed and actually separated by the long stretch of mainline.

 

Only Sanderson is set in the 1970s.  This is a great added bonus.  This allows B. Smith to break out his Alcos and boxcars with roof walks and cabooses and have a great time serving a small town with a lot of carload traffic.  When operating in the 1990s, one just eases through Sanderson without skipping a beat.  It’s just a small western town that time passed by.

The next post will feature a town-by-town description. For now, enjoy a few random scenes along the LCN.

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LCN

In the next post, we will start with Pecos and start working our way to Magdalena.

‘Til next time!

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Escondido, California 1974 (with larger photos!)

(Note:  This is similar to an earlier post, but the text has been enhanced a bit and I have inserted photos that permit you to “blow-up” the images a great deal.  You’ll be surprised how much more details pop from these photos!)

By B. Smith

September 24, 1974 when I chased the ATSF local from Oceanside to Escondido.

Below is a photo I took around San Marcos.

My beautiful picture

–©photo by B. Smith

A bit further along a covered hopper was set out below.

My beautiful picture

Editor’s note:  This scene inspired Ponderosa Feeds on the Rails West layout.  Click here to see it.–©photo by B. Smith

Escondido was, and still is, the end of the line.

My beautiful picture

–©photo by B. Smith

I don’t believe the line ever extended beyond Escondido.  I’m standing at the end of track in this photo (below).  A lumber yard is off to the right and was still served by rail shipments.

My beautiful picture

–©photo by B. Smith

Below (next two pictures), a short spur ran to a ramp, probably to unload farm machinery.  I don’t know why the tank cars are over on that spur.   The tank cars are spotted next to an irrigation supply company, not sure what product was in them.   I do remember learning that irrigation in the S. California area tended to build up salt in the soil.  I wonder if the tank cars brought in something to neutralize the salt.

My beautiful picture

–©photo by B. Smith

My beautiful picture

–©photo by B. Smith

The local arrived having already run around a car of lumber and put it ahead of the engine.  One of the crew rode the point by sitting on the flat car.  The two covered hoppers on the right are loads awaiting room on the unloading tracks next to the silos. They will be spotted for unloading by today’s train.

My beautiful picture

–©photo by B. Smith

Two GP-35s were the power today.

My beautiful picture

–©photo by B. Smith

Of course, trains still had cabooses in 1974.

My beautiful picture

–©photo by B. Smith

The load of lumber was spotted first, the covered hoppers were then spotted by the colorful silos and empties pulled, the SP box was left on the stub end track by the station which served as a team track.

My beautiful picture

–©photo by B. Smith

The train ready to return to Oceanside.  Six empty covered hoppers and a caboose barely fit in the run around track so the engines could get to the head end.

My beautiful picture

–©photo by B. Smith

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Escondido, California 1974

By B. Smith

September 24, 1974 when I chased the ATSF local from Oceanside to Escondido.

Below is a photo I took around San Marcos.

 

 

A bit further along a covered hopper was set out below.

My beautiful picture

Editor’s note:  This scene inspired Ponderosa Feeds on the Rails West layout.  Click here to see it.– ©B. Smith photo

Escondido was, and still is, the end of the line.
My beautiful picture

— ©B. Smith photo

I don’t believe the line ever extended beyond Escondido.  I’m standing at the end of track in this photo (below) .  A lumber yard is off to the right and was still served by rail shipments.
My beautiful picture

— ©B. Smith photo

Below, a short spur ran to a ramp, probably to unload farm machinery.  I don’t know why the tank cars are over on that spur.  Today a pool supply company is located next to that spur.  Could these be chlorine cars? They don’t look like chlorine tank cars.

 

My beautiful picture

– ©B. Smith photo

My beautiful picture

– ©B. Smith photo

The local arrived having already run around a car of lumber and put it ahead of the engine.  One of the crew rode the point by sitting on the flat car.

My beautiful picture

– ©B. Smith photo

Two GP-35s were the power today.

My beautiful picture

– ©B. Smith photo

Of course, trains still had cabooses in 1974.

My beautiful picture

– ©B. Smith photo

The load of lumber was spotted first, the covered hoppers were then spotted by the colorful silos and empties pulled, the SP box was left on the stub end track by the station which served as a team track.

My beautiful picture

– ©B. Smith photo

The train to return to Oceanside barely fit in the run around track so the engines could get to the head end.
My beautiful picture

– ©B. Smith photo

Today this line still exists.  The area along the entire line has been turned into housing and the line hosts the Sprinter Light Rail system, but amazingly, the business with all the colorful silos is still there, and rail served.  The station is gone as is the ramp spur track.  Many photos over the years by Steve Vincent on railcarphotos.com are taken at this industry. One can enter “Escondido” and “CA” here to see them.

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Please share the site with friends who love western railroading.

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Some classic projects from earlier Rails West posts…

Over the years, I have shared a number of my boxcar projects on Rails West.  Here’s a recap of some of my favorites.

The Wabash and Rock car below were discussed in this post.

Both are Moloco cars,  One of the best model producers going now.

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The below cars are a heavily reworked Accurail and Athearn RTR.  Here’s the original post.

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The two below cars, one Atlas and one Moloco were featured in this post

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Lastly, an all-door post.  I am pretty partial to all-door boxcars.

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Hope you enjoyed these in case you missed them the first time.

Please make sure you subscribe to Rails West to continue getting notifications since the Rails West and ATSF Roswell Facebook pages will soon be dormant.

 

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Special announcement for an upcoming series concerning the Limpia Canyon Northern layout

For the first time, the Limpia Canyon Northern layout in its entirety will be shared with subscribers of Rails West.

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You have seen bits and pieces of it but this series will show the entire layout from Magdalena to Pecos, including a comprehensive track plan.   I am collaborating with B. Smith to prepare this series which will be shared in the coming weeks.  It may take awhile to share the entire series.

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I think you will like it.

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Special note to my American followers:  Soon the related Rails West and ATSF Roswell Facebook pages will go (for now) dormant.  I have strong concerns about some of FB’s business practices concerning foreign entities and efforts to divide us. I am probably overreacting, but I (for now) wish to limit my interacting with or placing content on FB.  Perhaps that might change in the future.  Besides, social media takes a lot of time out of our lives that we will never get back.

One other thing, I will share with you one of my favorite websites  –  American Battle Monuments Commission — http://abmc.gov/  

Go check out some beautiful sites around the world that can help us reflect on how much sacrifice has been made to give us our freedoms.  We must resist efforts to divide us. It’s time we focus on what brings us together.

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OK.  Enough said.  No more “politics.”  Back to railroading!

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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.

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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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