Virtual Railfanning (or… A virtual roadtrip to Brownfield, Texas)

Though limited to the date that cameras gathered on the ground and aerial images, one can “railfan” throughout the world (especially the US) courtesy the various mapping websites such as Google and Bing maps.

One day, I decided to go back and visit Brownwood, Texas, which was the subject of one of my Photo of the week posts (March 2, 2014).  (Brownfield was once along the ATSF.   Today, Brownfield is serviced by the West Texas and Lubbock Railway.)


Brownfield Cotton Compress, 1992.

Here is the same place circa, 2014.


Brownfield Cotton Compress, circa 2014.

From my virtual visit, I can see a lot has changed.  I am not sure if the company is still rail served.  There is still a spur.  It is possible.  The West Texas and Lubbock Railway’s website lists the primary commodities hauled as fertilizer, construction aggregates, grain, cotton, chemicals, peanuts and plastics.


Brownfield Cotton Compress, circa 2014. Green dots shows the location of the box cars photographed in 1992 (March  2, 2014 post).

From our virtual roaming around town, there is a fair amount of other rail business.


West Texas Guar Processing

The aerial shows a number of covered hoppers spotted at West Texas Guar.  I had alluded in a past blog that I would do a post on this industry.  Unfortunately, the company is apparently in bankruptcy and the future of this traffic is uncertain.  Guar is an extremely drought resistant bean that has utility particularly in the oilfield for fracking purposes.


Spenko Solutions Oilfield Products

Spenko Solutions is another business utilizing rail service in 2014.  It offers a number of product useful in the oilfield including frac sand and fluids.

Agriliance Company in Brownfield was being serviced by the West Texas and Lubbock Railway during the day that the on-the-ground images were captured.



Agriliance Company in Brownfield, TX

Agriliance distributes and markets crop nutrients, crop protection products and seed.

There is more to see and other rail served business in Brownfield you can visit online.  Again, railfanning this way only gives you a snapshot of rail activity in a locale.  Businesses that look busy, may by out of business later.  Or, dormant business may spring to life with rail activity only various times of the year.  A great deal can be learned from virtual ralifanning in the placement of track and businesses even if you model an earlier era.  Many of the buildings and most the track arrangement is still similar in Roswell now as it was in the early 1990s  I am studying online modern resources such as these as I lay the track.

Hope you enjoyed the virtual trip to Brownfield, Texas.  With its reasonable size traffic of agricultural and oilfield related commodities, it would be an interesting site to model.  You could have a wide variety of covered hoppers, box cars and tank cars.  I also like the simplicity of the scenery.  You wouldn’t have to have a lot of complex tree and grass scenery features so that would allow you to more easily evoke the essence of the area.