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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Seasons Greetings from Rails West

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Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Seasons Greetings and Happy New Years from Rails West.

When I was growing up, there was something special about seeing trains around Christmas.  On Christmas eve, we would always go to my uncle’s house near a busy line and I’d always run to the tracks with my camera when I heard a diesel horn.  I saw many a BN, ATSF, Rock trains run near his house.  The line was untypically silent on Christmas eve, but I always dreamed of seeing a Christmas eve train at night.  I never did, but I do recall seeing a few trains earlier in the day and that was just fine.

Below is a picture I snapped in 1980 on the line near my uncle’s house.

 

 

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ATSF in Houston, 1980 -–©photo by C. Hunt

 

 

The connection between Christmas and railroads has always been special for me, and those recollections of chasing trains during the day on Christmas eve are still special to me!

The connection is still there and I wanted to share a recent video from the Union Pacific to illustrate an ongoing connection between railroads and Christmas.

All the best to you and yours over the holidays and into 2017!

A trip to the freight yard in the late 1970s, part III

In the last post, I indicated I’d share a few more freight car shots and more locomotives at work in yards in part III.

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ATSF and SP boxcars, November 1977, photographer and location unknown. –©photo C. E. Hunt Collection

What an iconic ATSF car above.  Those catches made the trip to the freight worth it alone!

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GN and CB&Q boxcar, November 1977, photographer and location unknown. –©photo C. E. Hunt Collection

Catching a Great Northern and Burlington car together?   Didn’t get much better than that!

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SL-SF #00172, photographer and location unknown. –©photo C. E. Hunt Collection

Another of my personal favorites, the Frisco.

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Houston, Belt and Terminal working Mykawa Yard, Houston, Texas, November 1978–©photo by C. E. Hunt

However, the engines working the yards were very appealing as well.  There was something about watching a SW-1500 or even a SW-7 chugging back and forth showing their hard work with a reverberation and grey plume from time to time…

I loved these little work horses!

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HB&T #54 coming onto Griggs Road, Houston, Texas, November 1978–©photo by C. E. Hunt

Moving back and forth to assemble trains.  It really made freight yards a “living” thing.

SP at Sentagast Yard Nov 1978

SP #2300 at Settegast Yard, Houston, Texas November 1978–©photo by C. E. Hunt

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Rock Island GP #4543 at Settegast Yard, Houston, Texas, May 1980–©photo by C. E. Hunt

A bonus of growing up in Houston in the late 1970s.  I got to witness the closing days of the Rock!

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Rock Island GP #4458 at Settegast Yard, May 1980–©photo by C. E. Hunt

ATSF possibly at Sentagast Yard Nov 1978

ATSF locomotive possibly at Settegast Yard, November 1978.  (I have no clue what type of locomotive it was.  Rebuild? Help me solve this mystery) –©photo by C. E. Hunt

These were the days!  This concludes this series.  I hope you enjoyed this journey into the excitement of “old school” freights yards as much as I did.

Note:  If you enjoyed this series, please check out my sales efforts on eBay (click here).  I am continuing to sell my “non-1981” appropriate or excess items to pay for this site. (slides, scanner, etc.).  I way overbought for the size of my Rails West layout. Please share my Rails West site and my eBay site with a friend.  Thanks! 

By the way, I am working on another structure, Hernandez Distributing.  More to come on that.

Evolution on the rails, it’s often faster than we realize…

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2008 operations at Badger Mining in Rankin, TX–©photo by C.E. Hunt

I recently wrote on how quickly Fort Stockton, Texas has changed. (See post.)  Today’s post focuses on how quickly Rankin, Texas operations have changed since 2008.

In 2008, Rankin was the home of Badger Mining.

Badger

Badger supplied frac sand to the oil field before the boom took off.  It was a medium-sized facility that had a LOT of character.  The manager always wanted to talk high school football.

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2008 operations at Badger Mining in Rankin, TX–©photo by C.E. Hunt

It was served by the Texas Pacifico.  Below are a few photos I took in 2008.  It was an impressive medium-sized operation.

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2008 operations at Badger Mining in Rankin, TX–©photo by C.E. Hunt

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BNSF 407057 at Badger Mining in Rankin, TX, July 14, 2008–©photo by C.E. Hunt

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Lot’s of ATSF (BNSF) action operations at Badger Mining in Rankin, TX July 14, 2008–©photo by C.E. Hunt

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Private cars at Badger Mining in Rankin, TX, July 14, 2008–©photo by C.E. Hunt

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Texas’ Big Sky Country, Badger Mining in Rankin, TX–©photo by C.E. Hunt

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I prefer the ATSF cars! Badger Mining in Rankin, TX, July 14, 2008–©photo by C.E. Hunt

The rolling stock was normally BNSF (or predecessor) or private road.

 

There was an interesting cable operation to shuttle the cars.

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Today the operation is gone.  Across the tracks sits a chemical company that receives drilling fluids by rail.

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July 2016 scene at the site of former Badger Mining in Rankin, TX–©photo by B. Smith

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July 2016 scene at the site of former Badger Mining in Rankin, TX. Note newer chemical company across the tracks. –©photo by B. Smith

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Chemical dealer in Rankin, TX–©photo by B. Smith

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Close-up of chemical dealer in Rankin, TX, July 2016–©photo by B. Smith

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Today, if you see a rail scene you like, capture it!  It can look a lot different the next time you are through there!

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2008 scene at the site of former Badger Mining in Rankin, TX–©photo by B. Smith

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2016 scene at the site of former Badger Mining in Rankin, TX–©photo by B. Smith

 

 

 

 

Alpine, Texas in the late 1970s, Part I

The Trans-Pecos region of Texas just north of Big Bend National Park offered some great rail operations in the 1970s when the Southern Pacific and Santa Fe served the region. Scenic Alpine, TX where the SP and ATSF met was in particular an interesting locale.  B. Smith was there to record some great shots.
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©B. Smith photo

The SP (now UP and Amtrak) depot, seen here in June, 1976.  There’s a box car spotted down the track to the left at Big Bend Wool & Mohair.  It was a regular receiver of rail shipments in the 70’s and 80’s.
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©B. Smith photo

Big Bend Wool and Mohair.
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©B. Smith photo

Short run-around track allowed cars to be spotted by train traveling either direction on main line.  For a brief period in the late 70’s short line box cars were spotted at white building on left to be loaded with lignite that was mined down south.  I don’t think many cars were loaded before operation ceased.  But I do remember six or seven box cars sitting here, 50 footers.  I was lucky a couple of times and saw this siding being switched by a main line freight.  There was another spur to the right of the depot that ran to Foxworth lumber yard that saw occasional rail shipments in the 70’s.
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©B. Smith photo

Big Bend Wool and Mohair with two cars spotted in August, 1977.  Spur track to lumber yard in foreground with switch to another spur that ran west (behind photographer) to a couple of warehouse-like buildings that had long ceased receiving rail shipments.  All these spur tracks have been removed in Alpine.
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©B. Smith photo

Spotted Big Bend Wool and Mohair, Alpine, TX, December, 1978.  Bringing in cattle feed supplement in bags.
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©B. Smith photo

The ATSF depot in Alpine (now Texas Pacifico).   ATSF had an agent here until about 1978! June 1976 photo.
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©B. Smith photo

Dumping ballast near the ATSF depot, July 1977.
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©B. Smith photo

Where the ATSF met the SP to get over Paisano Pass.  The interchange track is on the left between the ATSF track the photographer is standing on and the SP Sunset Route behind the box car.  July 1977 photo.
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©B. Smith photo

ATSF train with box cars going to Mexico.  August, 1977.
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©B. Smith photo

A caboose brings up the rear of the train.
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©B. Smith photo

ATSF has trackage rights for almost 12 miles over the SP to Paisano Pass.
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©B. Smith photo

An SP freight approaches Alpine from Paisano Pass.  December 15, 1978.
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©B. Smith photo

Amtrak Train No. 1, the Sunset Limited west bound departs Alpine, December 15, 1978.
Part II, will focus on an obscure customer north of Alpine.

Rail Memories, Part IV

Adjacent cars.--©Photo by C.E. Hunt

Mykawa Yard team track, July 1978. —©photo by C. E. Hunt

The last few posts, I shared some vignettes or scenes that evoke special memories that I may seek to at least partially evoke through modelling in the future (somehow).  This post will conclude this series and touch on teams tracks and diversity of road names.

Team tracks

I really like team tracks.  Team tracks are typically small railroad sidings intended for the use of area customers to personally load and unload products and merchandise, usually in smaller quantities.  I love the way almost any kind of car can show up.  They are great for model railroads because they don’t need a lot of space and you can spot a wide variety of cars and road names there.  No building is necessary.  Just a flat spot where customers can load or unload freight cars.

There were a number of team tracks around where I grew up in Houston.  The two I kept the closest tabs on were near the corner of Griggs and Telephone Roads and at the Mykawa Yard not far away.

Griggs Road team track

Modern day remnants of the Griggs Road team track on the old SP in Houston. Green dots show the track I saw being used often as a kid.

Modern day remnants of the Griggs Road team track on the old SP in Houston. Green dots show the track I saw being used often as a kid.

I saw a wide variety of boxcars and gondolas (gravel) being unloaded over the years growing up.  Not once did it dawn on me to record it with my camera.  It’d be there forever, right?  Even though it was on the SP, I vividly recall a very old mineral red UP gondola (complete with a “Be Specific Ship, Union Pacific” logo in yellow.) being loaded there with old tires one afternoon.

Mykawa Yard team track

KCS boxcar on team at Mykawa Yard Nov 1978–©photo by C. E. Hunt

KCS boxcar on team at Mykawa Yard Nov 1978–©photo by C. E. Hunt

I loved this team track because it let me see cars from many railroads and a wide variety of loads.

Mykawa Yard team track, see green dots for approximate location. Modern day photo.

Mykawa Yard team track, see green dots for approximate location. Modern day photo.

I recall many boxcars, refrigerator cars, tank cars and some heavy equipment on flats.

 

 

The team track was behind the BN locomotives exiting the yard.

The team track was behind the BN locomotives exiting the yard. –©photo by C. E. Hunt

MP freight leaving Mykawa Yard Nov 1978 IV

MP freight leaving Mykawa Yard Nov 1978. Note engine and boom that had been unloaded at the team track. Note the debris in the foreground that one often finds at a team track.-–©photo by C. E. Hunt

MP freight leaving Mykawa Yard Nov 1978 III

Caboose of the MP freight leaving Mykawa Yard Nov 1978. Note crane, engine and boom that had been unloaded at the team track and the likely flat car that helped deliver them. -–©photo by C. E. Hunt

Mykawa Yard, Houston, TX 1978--©Photo by C.E. Hunt

Mykawa Yard, Houston, TX 1978–©Photo by C.E. Hunt

Above is possibly my favorite car that ever came in for some reason.  The other side was open.  The car had been emptied.

Team track are great opportunities for modellers.  They offered a lot of operation possibility with very modest modelling required.  One rule though is keep them messy!

Diversity of road names

Railroads used to put a lot of thought into how they decorated their rolling stock AND there used to be a lot of large to medium sized railroads.   This makes modelling the 1970s and 80s a bit more interesting.  A lot of the iconic railroads stayed independent until the early 1980s.  Just check out the diversity in the following pictures from that era.

Here is a sequence from a 1979 ATSF freight train.

ATSF Freight leaving Mykawa Yard Jan 1979 II

ATSF Freight leaving Mykawa Yard Jan 1979. –©Photo by C.E. Hunt

ATSF Freight leaving Mykawa Yard Jan 1979 III

ATSF Freight leaving Mykawa Yard Jan 1979. –©Photo by C.E. Hunt

ICG Shreveport LA Jan 1978 X

ICG Bossier City Yard, LA Jan 1978. Note plethora of road names and paint schemes. –©Photo by C.E. Hunt

MP freight leaving Mykawa Yard Jan 1979 III c

Lots of icons from the pre-Burlington Northern days! –©Photo by C.E. Hunt

 

CBQ Covered hopper near Milby St Roundouse Jan 1979

CB&Q Covered hopper near Hardy St Roundouse in Houston, TX Jan 1979 –©Photo by C.E. Hunt

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Rock gondola at a team track in Arkadelphia, AR, 1978. (My poor, patient cousin was waiting in the Cordoba as I thoroughly documented this team track and pulp yard.)  –©Photo by C.E. Hunt

I could go on and on, but I just wanted to give a glimpse into the diversity.

Ah, these are great memories!  Memories can be a big part of why we model.

Hope you found them great too!

 

 

Rail Memories, Part III

Last couple of posts, I shared some vignettes or scenes that evoke special memories that I may seek to at least partially evoke through modelling in the future (somehow).  This post will share a few more.

Lots of carload traffic and small scale shipping!

Warehouses along Griggs Road on SP August of 1978 –©photo by C. E. Hunt

BN #198570 and L&N #91891 Warehouses along Griggs Road in Houston, TX on SP August of 1978 –©photo by C. E. Hunt

I really miss seeing a car or two spotted next to warehouses and factories across the landscape.  You can still find some of this across the country, but Class I railroads have really tried to minimize this form of traffic.  Many short lines and regional railroads still embrace smaller shippers and offer an opportunity to see this type of traffic.

ICG flat with tires February 1980 –©photo by C. E. Hunt

ICG flat with tires February 1980 –©photo by C. E. Hunt

ICG #920251 holds a load of tires and other items.  A single car that will be spotted somewhere cruising through a freight yard in Houston.

Picture taken from Dallas Holiday Inn, August 1980.  Note double boxcar being unloaded to left.  DFW from hotel note double boxcar being unloaded to left–©photo by C. E. Hunt

Picture taken from Dallas Holiday Inn, August 1980. Note double boxcar being unloaded to left. –©photo by C. E. Hunt

At one time, tracks were almost everywhere in urban settings.  It was great seeing tracks weave around urban settings with numerous businesses receiving a box car or two.  If you study the 1980 scene of Dallas above, you can see tracks in the distance and a single Southern boxcar spotted for unloading.

Close-up --Note southern boxcar.

Close-up –Note Southern boxcar.

These scenes were so common, that I failed to note their significance and deliberately record them.

Frisco in Ashdown, AR August 1978 –©photo by C. E. Hunt

Frisco in Ashdown, AR August 1978 –©photo by C. E. Hunt

Here is a perfect example.  When I recorded this scene in Ashdown, AR in 1978, I failed to take a picture of a Detroit, Toledo and Ironton boxcar (of all things) spotted at the business to the right.

You can still find a little of this type of traffic on Class I railroads such as the post I wrote last year on one of my favorite spurs in Texas.  Not all my rail memories are from the late 1970s!

Centerbean flat I ran into in Weimer, TX in 2008 on the Union Pacific. –©photo by C. E. Hunt

Molasses operation at Fowlkes Cattle Company in Marfa, TX November 10, 2007  –©photo by C. E. Hunt

Flat in Weimar Oct2005

Centerbeam flat I ran into in Weimer, TX in December 2008 on the Union Pacific waiting to be unloaded. –©photo by C. E. Hunt

 Loads of lumber delivered to Dodson Lumber in Roswell, NM on July 24 2008–©photo by C. E. Hunt


Loads of lumber delivered to Dodson Lumber in Roswell, NM on July 24 2008 on the Southwestern Railway–©photo by C. E. Hunt

40-foot boxcars

L&N 40 foot boxcar and Northern Pacific boxcar on Missouri Pacific freight leaving Mykawa Yard in January 1979 –©photo by C. E. Hunt

L&N 40-foot boxcar on Missouri Pacific freight leaving Mykawa Yard in January 1979.  (Shadow of my 15 year-old self in foreground) –©photo by C. E. Hunt

I now look back and realize how special these scenes of 40-foot boxcars are.  This was the closing days of forty footers across the nation.  Within five years, catching a 40-foot boxcar would be very rare.  Wish I’d known that when I was out there taking pictures.  I did manage to catch a few of them.

ATSF 40-foot boxcar and possible Maine Central 40 footer as well on Missouri Pacific freight leaving Mykawa Yard Nov 1978–©photo by C. E. Hunt

ATSF 40-foot boxcar and possible Maine Central 40 footer as well on Missouri Pacific freight leaving Mykawa Yard Nov 1978–©photo by C. E. Hunt

ATSF 40 footer on MP freight  near Texarkana, TX in August 1978. –©photo by C. E. Hunt

ATSF 40 footer on MP freight near Texarkana, TX in August 1978. –©photo by C. E. Hunt

40 foot Rock Island boxcar on Burlington Northern freight Houston May 1980. –©photo by C. E. Hunt

40-foot Rock Island boxcar on Burlington Northern freight Houston May 1980. –©photo by C. E. Hunt

Southern 40 foot boxcar on ATSF freight on Claremont St in Houston Tx in May 1980.–©photo by C. E. Hunt

Southern 40-foot boxcar on Claremont St in Houston Tx in May 1980.–©photo by C. E. Hunt

The initial picture in the post above (BN and L&N forty footers) also illustrates the beloved 40 footer.

Next post will focus on team tracks and diversity of road names.

Remembering Belding — Old School Railroading in the 1990s

A friend of mine, shared this story from the old South Orient Railroad.  I love it because it harkens back to old school railroading that is very appealing to me–less unit trains, cabooses, 40-foot boxcars, no graffiti and railroads actually advertised on their rolling stock.  I thought you might like it too.  It came up as we discussed today’s rail operations on the South Orient’s successor, the Texas Pacifico.

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June 5, 2015 on the Texas Pacifico, Belding, TX. –©photo by B. Smith

Pipe train on main just west of west Belding switch.  Belding is first siding 10 miles west of Ft Stockton.  In the 90’s, the South Orient Railroad used to spot one or two cars of fertilizer per year for the pecan orchard there.   (Pipe is for a controversial 42″ natural gas pipeline to run from near Coyanosa through Alpine to Presidio, to connect with a Mexican pipeline.)

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Above, the siding is where the word Belding is located.  The track runs parallel to the Old Alpine Hwy in far West Texas. The rectangular green areas are pecan groves.

Remnants of Belding siding June 5, 2012.

Remnants of Belding siding June 2012. Pecan groves across the highway.

Above, Belding siding (to the left) in June 2012.  The unloading lane to the siding track is still visible just this side of the mile post marker.

Here is my friend’s re-collections back when the siding was active–

I had just started out as a conductor and I remember the siding being over-grown with weeds, not all cleared off next to the tracks like now.  There was just one lane to the track from the road where the pecan orchard vehicle could get up to the car.  Not sure how the car was unloaded, never saw an auger. It was always in the spring when the cars were spotted and the dried weeds from winter balled up under the car as we shoved it to a spot.  

I set out there another time in the wee hours of the night.  No lights around to help me through the weeds.  ATSF had placed a couple of 40 ft refrigerator cars off the siding track here, for storage I guess.  I always meant to get a photo.  Never did before one trip they were gone.  Not sure who took them away.
In later years the weeds would get so bad on the siding track we couldn’t get the engine by itself through the siding.  The wheels would spin from the crushed weeds on the track acting like grease and the weeds being six to eight feet tall was just too much for the old GP -7 to plow through, even after a number of running starts.
Unfortunately, my friend never got a picture of the siding in operation, but he recalls cars similar to this one being there there in the early 1990s.  ATSF 212426 Montpelier ID July 24 2005

Unfortunately, my friend never got a picture of the siding in operation, but he recalls cars similar to this one being there there in the early 1990s.  The country around Belding, TX looks somewhat like this photo.  ATSF 212426 Montpelier ID July 24 2005.  Photo courtesy RJ Sorenson and Railroad Picture Archives.

Railroading in West Texas has it challenges.  The region has very dark skies and its share of rattlesnakes. When I asked him if that concerned him, he said, “Railroad lantern for light.  One hopes the snakes are scared off, not just awakened.”

Last service to Belding my friend recalls is four loads of fertilizer being spotted there in the spring of 1998.

By the way, this corner of Texas is very isolated and the night skies are among the darkest in the nation.

Old school railroading!  (Some modern railroaders would be quick to add, only the lantern has changed.)

Today

The South Orient is a very different railroad now.  The Texas Pacifico is a very busy railroad that hauls a great deal of traffic to support oil and gas operations in the region.  Rather than a lone GP-7, see below what they run today.

Texas Pacifico locomotives at Fort Stockton, TX June 5 2015.  --©photo by B.Smith

Texas Pacifico locomotives at Fort Stockton, TX June 5 2015. –©photo by B.Smith

Frac sand cars being unloading in Fort Stockton, TX, June 5, 2015. --©photo by B. Smith

Frac sand cars being unloading in Fort Stockton, TX, June 5, 2015. –©photo by B. Smith

Hope you enjoyed this vignette of old school railroading in West Texas in the early 1990s.

Selecting an era to model…

It is funny how fundamental this decision is, yet not a great deal is written about it.  For some of us, it tortures us to select just the right locale, era or railroad to model.  For others, it seems to come easy (I kind of envy or perhaps even almost hate those people, just kidding).  Why should it be so easy for them and so hard for others (including me)?

CB&Q 902 in Denver, CO, October 1970.  Photo by Hol Wagner.

CB&Q 902 in Denver, CO, October 1970. Photo by Hol Wagner.

I have had many scenarios during my modelling career.  Here is a highly simplified summary of my torturous history–

Mid-1970s — CB&Q in the 1970s (Midwest)

Late-1970s to early 1980s — BN in the 1980s (Pacific Northwest)

BN 2087 Mar 20 1977 Stockton CA.  Photo by Jim Gavin.

BN 2087 Mar 20 1977 Stockton CA. Photo by Jim Gavin.

Took a break — College, women and career

Mid-1990 to early 2000s — SAL, L&N and ACL in the early 1960s (Southeast)

Early-2000s to mid-2000s — MILW, Rock and CNW in Midwest in the 1980s

Mid-2000s to late 2000s — BN, SP and WP in 1978

Late-2000s to early 2010s — CSX in Florida (modern, Lance Mindheim almost hooked me, click here to see how.)

CSX 1143 Defuniak Springs FL front Dec 27 2011

CSX 1143 Defuniak Springs FL front Dec 27 2011. Photo by Glenn Laux.

2011-2012 — CSX, NS in Midwest (modern)

2013-2014 — ATSF in New Mexico in early 1990s, UP modern

ATSF GP30 near Roswell 1993.  Photo by C. Hunt

ATSF GP30 near Roswell 1993. Photo by C. Hunt

2014-present — DRGW-SP in Southwest (right after UP merger, late 1990s), UP modern

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DRGW-SP era in southwestern Colorado, 1999. Photo by Roland Levin. See his great website –http://hem.bredband.net/drgw/antonito_pictures.htm

That is really kind of a “train wreck” because I collected equipment for all of these periods.  There is really a financial impact and almost emotional impact for jumping around so much, particularly in this era of hyper-limited runs.  Thank goodness for ebay!   Through ebay, I estimate that I have been able to cut my losses by about 70%.

Here’s a point of sharing my lack of focus, you are better off settling into a period and primary set of railroads as soon as you can.  It is a lot easier on the wallet and saves you some of the anguish of collecting then selling so much!  We often assume that once something is run, It will never be run again.  That is often not true.

As late as September 2014, I was focused on the ATSF in New Mexico around 1990.  I designed and built a track plan around the concept.  It quickly became apparent that the layout was going to be limited and difficult to operate.  I started to redesign it, but then I anguished over letting go of Roswell as I did.  As I began to gently let go of Roswell, Athearn Genesis came out with DRGW GP-40-2s.

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Here is the troublemaker. Athearn’s release of this locomotive, partially caused me to re-evaluate my ATSF in Roswell concept.

As soon as I saw them, I had an epiphany–I always wanted to model the DRGW, why wasn’t I doing it?!  As I started considering it, I also started to think how neat it would be to model the DRGW-SP era.  I grew up with the SP kind of in my backyard in Texas and felt an emotional attachment to the SP.  I thought if I model right after the UP merger, I could feature UP, MP, DRGW, SP, SSW, WP and CNW (all railroads of interest to me) all as “home road” reporting marks.  This concept really caught hold with me, and I am committed to it (for now).  I have re-designed the layout in a much more free-lance manner that offers less complicated, but richer operating scenarios including a shortline inspired by the Union Railroad of Oregon.  (Click here for a nice link on the Union Railroad of Oregon.)

Union Railroad of Oregon in Oregon.  Note tiny locomotive on train.  This was the inspiration for there being a shortline on the new layout design.  Photo by Dan Schwanz

Union Railroad of Oregon in Oregon. Note tiny locomotive on train. This was the inspiration for there being a shortline on the new layout design. Photo by Dan Schwanz

I hope it sticks.  Here’s why–

1 — It is rich with having both DRGW and SP motive power and an occasional caboose.

2 — Home road cars of UP, MP, WP, SP, SSW, CNW and CNW.  All favorites–just need some ATSF thrown in.

3 — The track plan holds great promise and having a shortline could offer a variety of operations as well as mini-operating sessions when desired.

4 — I am very tired of re-configuring my rosters!!!

5 — It operates in the part of the country that I love and is beautiful.

Time will tell.

I also seriously considered backdating to the WP (early-1980s) but decided against going that far back.  I love the WP, but it is a bit limited compared to the versatility of the above scenario, plus I can run some WP rolling stock as a home road reporting mark.

I hope my sharing my difficulties in settling on an era, may help you navigate this tricky issue that we often may not fully appreciate.  We may let ourselves just drift along being knocked off course whenever a bright and shiny new product is offered.  (Take me for instance.)  Try not to go there if you can avoid it!  It is ultimately exhausting and can derail your dreams of having an operational layout.

Perhaps the finest locomotive paint scheme ever devised?

The first use of railroads in the United States, may have preceded the United States.  Some contend the first railroad in what would become the United States was in 1762 when British military engineers constructed a gravity railroad at the Niagara Portage in Lewiston, NY.  Beginning in the early 1800s, rail became an important part of the transportation scene in America.  Over the years, many methods have been used to create corporate identities.  Since the mid-1950s, railroads have commonly deployed colorful paint schemes on locomotives and rolling stock to foster a brand.

ATSF 2349 in San Bernardino CA on February 14, 1987.  ©photo by Greg Sommers. http://www.locophotos.com/PhotoDetails.php?PhotoID=132150

ATSF 2349 in San Bernardino CA on February 14, 1987. ©photo by Greg Sommers. http://www.locophotos.com/PhotoDetails.php?PhotoID=132150

There have been many classic, attractive schemes employed, such as Santa Fe’s warbonnets (both red and silver and blue and yellow) and Union Pacific’s.

UPY 719 in Rochelle IL July 11 2006. ©photo by Collin Reinhart. Courtesy of RR picture Archives --http://www.rrpicturearchives.net/showPicture.aspx?id=441139

UPY 719 in Rochelle IL July 11 2006. ©photo by Collin Reinhart. Courtesy of RR picture Archives –http://www.rrpicturearchives.net/showPicture.aspx?id=441139

The competition is tight, but perhaps my favorite all-time locomotive paint scheme was the one used by the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad beginning about 1969.  The DRGW must have liked it too–it was the principal scheme from 1969 to the date it merged into the Union Pacific in 1996, by way of its merger with the Southern Pacific in 1988.  As a result, it was the principal paint scheme for almost 30 years.

Rio Grande 3096 Backman's Crossing,Provo,UT Early Spring 1994. --photo by Quinn Clegg.

Rio Grande 3096 at Backman’s Crossing near Provo,UT in Early Spring 1994. –photo by Quinn Clegg.

Back in the early to mid 1990’s well into the SP era, it was still possible to catch pure sets of Rio Grande power on Southern Pacific trains.  The DRGW continued to use this scheme pretty much throughout the SP era.

DRGW 3095 at Desert, UT on Apr 1 1988. ©photo by Mike Woodruff courtesy of RR Picture Archives.

DRGW 3095 at Desert, UT on Apr 1 1988. ©photo by Mike Woodruff courtesy of RR Picture Archives.

What a great scheme.  Of course, it didn’t hurt that the DRGW operated in some of the most beautiful parts of the United States.

Here the scheme was applied to a GP-30.  Rio Grande train north of Provo,UT in 1994.  --photo by Quinn Clegg

Here the scheme was applied to a GP-30. Rio Grande train north of Provo, UT in 1994. –photo by Quinn Clegg

I really like the above picture.  In a sense, Quinn Clegg has captured the essence of the DRGW–attractive trains passing through often lonely but beautiful scenery.

The DRGW also had great schemes applied to their rolling stock, but that may be the subject of a future post.