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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Destination — Pecos, Texas, 1970 and 80s…(or to the set of “The Last Picture Show?”) (Part III)

Let’s venture south to finish our visit to Pecos.

PVS #7 south of Pecos, TX ©B. Smith photo

PVS #7 south of Pecos, TX ©B. Smith photo

There was during the 1970 and 80s a lot of commerce on the south end of the line.  These photos were taken between 1977 and 1980 south of the quarry towards Saragosa and a few at the end of the line in Balmorhea.

Bagged manure was loaded here.

Bagged manure was loaded here.  ©B. Smith photo

Fertilizer dealer south of Pecos.

Fertilizer dealer south of Pecos. ©B. Smith photo

Tank cars from the cotton oil plant. ©B. Smith photo

Tank cars from the cotton oil plant just a bit north of the quarry. ©B. Smith photo

Tank cars at cotton oil mill in Pecos.

Tank cars at cotton oil mill in Pecos. ©B. Smith photo

Loaded Missouri Pacific gondola by PVS station at Saragosa, TX ©B. Smith photo

Loaded Missouri Pacific gondola by PVS station at Saragosa, TX ©B. Smith photo

View from loaded MP gon by PVS station at Saragosa, TX

View from loaded MP gondola departing PVS station at Saragosa, TX.  Davis Mountains are in the distance. ©B. Smith photo

Feed distributor served by PVS, also end of the line ©B. Smith photo

Feed distributor served by PVS, also end of the line ©B. Smith photo

Now to the end of the line at Balmorhea, a small town created when an irrigation project allowed area dry lands to be irrigated.  The irrigation got too expensive when natural gas prices increased.  Now it is home to a nice State Park which features a huge, historic swimming pool.

PVS station in Balmorhea.  Photos taken in 1977.  No rail service then, but much of the track was still in place.

PVS station in Balmorhea. Photos taken in 1977. No rail service then, but much of the track was still in place. ©B. Smith photo

Wye switch behind State Park swimming pool, looking towards feed mill at end of track.  Davis Mts in distance. ©B. Smith photo

Wye switch behind State Park swimming pool, looking towards feed mill at end of track. Davis Mts in distance. ©B. Smith photo

The Pecos Valley Southern is still a going concern in 2014.  Much of the line to the south has been abandoned or sits dormant, but these photos remind us of what was once there. Oil, aggregates and cattle feed keep the PVS hopping today.  Check it out if you find yourself near Pecos, Texas.  Don’t forget Balmorhea as well.  It has an “ice” cold swimming pool and some pretty good Mexican food at the Cueva de Oso.

Destination — Pecos, Texas, 1970 and 80s…(or to the set of “The Last Picture Show?”) (Part II)

Now we are going to focus on the hometown railroad of Pecos, the Pecos Valley Southern.

Our ace photographer was there to capture it in the 1970 and 80s.

Below are images he captured in 1980 around the City of Pecos.  Pecos had been the site of an airbase in WWII.  Some of it was re-purposed to support industry after the war.

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Spurs at the old air base. ©B. Smith photo

 

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Drilling mud, anhydrous ammonia, and something augured unloaded on these tracks. ©B. Smith photo

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Team track in Pecos. The gondola is lettered for Conrail. Old airbase buildings that were leased out to various companies are in the back ground. ©B. Smith photo

Above represents West Texas railroading to a “t” in the 1970s–one boxcar here, a covered hopper or two there, a gondola here, etc.  It featured a lot of one or two car shipments.  We will see more of that as we venture further south in the next post.

South of Pecos sits a quarry which has been at various times a very important source of traffic for the railroad.  Below are images our photographer captured around the quarry in the late 1970s.  It remains today today but has changed sides of the highway since these photos.

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Lots of MP, TP, C&EI reporting marks on the hoppers in the 70’s in Pecos. ©B. Smith photo

Note the C&EI reporting marks.

C&IE #587783 and 522363 coming to the quarry. ©B. Smith photo

 

Shoving cars across the highway to the old gravel plant.

Shoving cars across the highway to the old gravel plant. ©B. Smith photo

 

Shoving empties into the old gravel plant.  Note the TP hopper two cars ahead.

Shoving empties into the old gravel plant. Note the Texas and Pacific hopper two cars ahead. ©B. Smith photo

Next post we will venture further south to a part of the PVS that for the most part no longer exists towards Saragosa and Balmorhea.

 

Destination — Pecos, Texas, 1970 and 80s…(or to the set of “The Last Picture Show?”) (Part I) re-post and enhanced

Readers have asked me to re-post this because some had difficulty seeing some of the photos.

This is an enhanced version with more background…even has a couple of book recommendations!

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I will finish the Delaware series soon, but I thought it is time to spend a little time out west again.

We will visit Pecos, Texas in the 1970 and 80s.  The first part will focus on the operations of the ATSF.  The ATSF ventured south of Carlsbad all the way down to Pecos in the 1970s.  By the way, Pecos is known for a lot of things, its sweet cantaloupes and being the site of the “world’s first rodeo” on July 4, 1883 among others.

The second part will feature the operations of Pecos Valley Southern (PVS) RR.  The Pecos Valley Southern is still operating 23 miles of track south of Pecos.

Thanks to some great photography from a friend, we will visit both as they operated in the 1970 and 80s.

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August 1982. ATSF station sign, Missouri Pacific RR (MP) mainline from El paso to Dallas on left, then PVS interchange track with MP. Switch stand just visible down track is to ATSF line to Carlsbad. ©B.Smith photo

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August 1982. ATSF track to Carlsbad from Pecos. Track to left is other leg of wye. ©B.Smith photo

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Switch where west leg of ATSF wye joins interchange track. Carlsbad would be down track that curves to the left here. ©B.Smith photo

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Switch where west leg of ATSF wye joins interchange track to MP whose main track is visible on left, with PVS interchange track to MP visible beyond MP main, where cars are spotted. String of hoppers loaded with gravel visible in the distance on right center. These hoppers were loaded at gravel quarry on PVS and await pick up by MP. More cars off PVS on left await pick up by MP. ©B.Smith photo

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Looking other way down ATSF/MP interchange track, ATSF Pecos station sign just visible beyond and to left of switch stand. Signaled MP main on right. Photographer is standing on east leg of ATSF wye. ©B.Smith photo

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Loaded hopper string on PVS/MP interchange track, MP main track to left. ATSF tracks in Pecos are on far side of MP main track but are not visible. ©B.Smith photo

Looks like images out of the The Last Picture Show, I’d say.   I almost found myself looking for Sonny’s black pick-up in the background.  Of course, any aficionado of that great movie knows it was mostly filmed in Larry McMurtry’s hometown of Archer City, Texas (which is a long ways from Pecos).  It is truly a work of art if you haven’t seen it.  It evokes the “quiet desperation” of humanity like few films do.  McMurtry was the author of the novel upon which the film, very ably directed by Peter Bogdanovich, was based.  I highly recommend a number of McMurtry novels including some of his lesser known works, such as Some Can Whistle and All my Friends Are Going to Be Strangers.

Back to trains…

Obviously, the ATSF traffic to Pecos had become pretty light by 1982 when the above photos were taken.

Our photographer did catch a little action on the ATSF in Pecos in 1978.  The ATSF interchanged with the Pecos Valley Southern and Missouri Pacific in Pecos.

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June 5, 1978. The only time the photographer caught cars being interchanged between MP and ATSF in Pecos. The car on the very left mostly out of the photo was a DRGW box. The string of cars on the right are on the other side of the MP main line and are the cars PVS left for MP to pick up after the days run. ©B.Smith photo

Just like the Last Picture Show, all good things come to an end.  The ATSF line to Pecos (everything south of Pecos Jct.) was abandoned in September, 1990. The line to Rustler Springs in Texas and all trackage south of Loving, NM was abandoned in 2002.

You can still see where the ATSF wye was in this modern aerial photograph.

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In part II, also due to the fine work of B. Smith, I will highlight the Pecos Valley Southern action during roughly the same period.

Until then.

Destination — Pecos, Texas, 1970 and 80s…(or to the set of “The Last Picture Show”) (Part I)

I will finish the Delaware series soon, but I thought it is time to spend a little time out west again.

We will visit Pecos, Texas in the 1970s.  The first part will focus on the operations of the ATSF.  The ATSF ventured south of Carlsbad all the way down to Pecos in the 1970s.

The second part will feature the operations of Pecos Valley Southern (PVS) RR.  The Pecos Valley Southern is still operating 23 miles of track south of Pecos.

Thanks to some great photography from a friend, we will visit both as they operated in the 1970 and 80s.

August 1982.  ATSF station sign, Missouri Pacific RR (MP) mainline from El paso to Dallas on left, then PVS interchange track with MP. Switch stand just visible down track is to ATSF line to Carlsbad. ©B.Smith photo

August 1982. ATSF track to Carlsbad from Pecos. Track to left is other leg of wye.  ©B.Smith photo

Switch where west leg of ATSF wye joins interchange track. Carlsbad would be down track that curves to the left here. ©B.Smith photo

Switch where west leg of ATSF wye joins interchange track to MP whose main track is visible on left, with PVS interchange track to MP visible beyond MP main, where cars are spotted. String of hoppers loaded with gravel visible in the distance on right center. These hoppers were loaded at gravel quarry on PVS and await pick up by MP. More cars off PVS on left await pick up by MP. ©B.Smith photo

Looking other way down ATSF/MP interchange track, ATSF Pecos station sign just visible beyond and to left of switch stand. Signaled MP main on right. All ATSF tracks in Pecos removed in late 80’s. Photographer is standing on east leg of ATSF wye.  ©B.Smith photo

Loaded hopper string on PVS/MP interchange track, MP main track to left. ATSF tracks in Pecos are on far side of MP main track but are not visible. ©B.Smith photo

Looks like images out of the The Last Picture Show, I’d say.

The traffic to Pecos had become pretty light by 1982 when these photos were taken.

Our photographer did catch some action on the ATSF, in 1978.  The ATSF interchanged with the Pecos Valley Southern and Missouri Pacific in Pecos.

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June 5, 1978. The only time the photographer caught cars being interchanged between MP and ATSF in Pecos. The car on the very left mostly out of the photo was a DRGW box. The string of cars on the right are on the other side of the MP main line and are the cars PVS left for MP to pick up after the days run. ©B.Smith photo

Just like the Last Picture Show, all good things come to an end.  The ATSF line to Pecos (everything south of Pecos Jct.) was abandoned in September, 1990. The line to Rustler Springs in Texas and all trackage south of Loving, NM was abandoned in 2002.

You can still see where the ATSF wye was in this modern aerial photograph.

 

The “ghost” of the old ATSF wye in Pecos, Texas.

In a future post, also due to the fine work of B. Smith, I will highlight the Pecos Valley Southern action during the same period.

A seventies slug in Carlsbad…(Photo of the week)

Here is a picture of an F7B in Carlsbad, New Mexico in 1978.

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F7B slug in Carlsbad, 1978 ©B Smith photo

On a “slug” unit, the prime movers have been removed and replaced with heavy weight, such as blocks of cement.   Just the traction motors remain and they get power from another locomotive.  They increase the tractive capacity of the accompanying locomotive.

These slugs would have passed thorough Roswell prior to the 1990s.  F units slugs were no longer used by the 1990s.