Texas Railfanning
May 3-10, 2008
(click on each image to see a larger version -- approx 1024X768)

Saturday, May 3, 2008:

After driving continuously from Virginia you would have thought we would be tired and just "crash" in the hotel. WRONG! We did check in, but then headed to the area where the KCS & UP cross in Texarkana.

This Northbound UP train is just South of the diamonds.

Texarkana, Texas

Back at the diamond, we caught this rather clean Southbound Kansas City Southern (KCS) grain train


The next thing due was a Westbound on the former Mopac tracks (now UP). Expecting the herald of the UP, we were a bit disappointed to see the familiar NS horse!


More "colorful" power Northbound on the UP.


The diamond area was a busy place but the photo angles were not so good. We moved back South a couple blocks and used this grain elevator as a prop for this Southbound coal train on the KCS line.


Slightly different angle, this time with TFM power on the point. Around 2005, KCS took ownership of Transportación Ferroviaria Mexicana (Mexican Rail Transportation) and renamed it Kansas City Southern de Mexico or KCSM.


Sunday, May 4, 2008:

Sunday our intention was to sleep in a bit then just travel West to my Niece's house, catching what action we could on the way. We first headed North to Ashdown, Arkansas then East along the route of the Kiamichi Railroad, hoping to catch something of that line. Our fears that they wouldn't operate on the weekend seemed justified so we gave up and headed straight for Durant, OK. Eating Lunch at the diamond we were surprised by this Westbound Kiamichi train with two Georgia Southwestern units.

Durant, Oklahoma

We followed the former Katy main South to Denison, TX to see what we could find there. Behind the station I shot the one-of-a-kind MKT #401, an F7 converted to a road slug.

The only action we caught was a UP yard transfer with a couple of leased units, including ex-SP SD45 #7486 (renumber as 9486).

Denison, Texas

Driving West we head chatter on the radio of a multiple-train meet, probably happening at Whitesboro. We got there just in time to miss the Northbound in the siding, but caught two Southbounds by the South Whitesboro signal. The first was this coal train with an ex-SP DPU.

Whitesboro, Texas

2:48pm - The second Southbound had NS & CN power.

We stopped by the station in Gainesville, Texas, where this Northbound "flat table" train greeted us. This ex-Santa Fe line (now BNSF's Gainesville sub) sees a lot of traffic so we made plans to return later in the week.


Monday, May 5, 2008:

Iowa Park, Texas, 8:24am - Today we hoped to hit both the local short lines, and the BNSF's Red River Valley sub (former Fort Worth & Denver Railroad between Wichita Falls and Amarillo). First thing we caught was this Eastbound unit coal train at the East Iowa Park Signal.

The Wichita Tillman and Jackson Railroad operates the former Northwestern District of the Missouri Kansas Texas Railroad (The Katy) from Wichita Falls, Texas to Altus, Oklahoma. We caught them working here on the North end of the old Katy North Yard.

Wichita Falls, Texas

Snyder, Oklahoma, 11:33am - I've never seen Farmrail actually operating, and this time was no different.

Altus, Oklahoma, 12:17pm - Driving West on US-62 toward Altus we saw what we thought was a BNSF train on the former Frisco trackage that parallels the road. On the edge of town we pulled closer and were pleasantly surprised by the varied paint schemes of the Kansas & Oklahoma Railroad. They stopped in town allowing for closer inspection of the units, especially the second one with obviously "foreign" ancestry.

We crossed the Red River back into Texas and were greeted by rain. Heading West to get away from the weather, we went all the way to our second crossing of the Red before photographing any action. This Westbound flat table train is crossing the sands above the Red River just west of Estelline.

Estelline, Texas

We beat the same train to a highway rest stop that affords an expansive view, just East of Hedley.

Hedley, Texas

I decided against telephoto in favor of a wide sky with a green mesquite foreground for the next shot, this time of an Eastbound container train.


Kirkland, Texas, 5:40pm - The light was bad for this Eastbound manifest freight; we'd stopped here to prepare for a long shot of a Westbound coming up the grade toward us.

While waiting for that Westbound, this roadrunner decided to pose for us.

Kirkland, Texas, 6:20pm - Finally our expected Westbound appeared, momentarily disappearing into the folds of the terrain to the East.
Across the highway was a scene that just begged for a photo!

We stopped West of Harrold to shoot the "search-light" signals there. Railroads have a tendency to hold on to old hardware as long as it still works, but you never can tell when something will be gone forever.

Harrold, Texas

This coal-fired power plant is South of Oklaunion, Texas. It's served by the BNSF via the branch at CP-1562; another destination for Powder River coal.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008:

The first catch of the day was this meet of an Eastbound loaded coal train and a "hot" Westbound container train at East Fowlkes.

Just East of Electra, Texas.

10:52am - I lived in oil country the first 25 years of my life and never gave a thought to the pumping jacks scattered across the landscape. Not until this trip when we decided one would make a perfect prop for a passing train. This Eastbound coal train and it's DPUs are just West of Electra, Texas.

Another meet between an Eastbound coal and Westbound inter-modal train at East Fowlkes. We kept pace with this coal train for many miles.


In Iowa Park this local took the siding for the coal train.

Iowa Park, Texas

West Iowa park signal, 12:01pm

We followed him farther East but my last photo of the coal train was at the West Wichita signal. In the background are the buildings that once housed Wilson Manufacturing, a local oil field giant that dates from the era when the Wichita Falls and Northwestern Railroad ran on the nearest track.

Wichita Falls, Texas

Bowie, Texas, 2:55pm - Southbound across the ex-Rock Island (now UP) diamond at Bowie, TX, this coal train is actually the first train I've ever caught at this location. Surprising, considering that I grew up just 45 miles West of here.

Weather caught us before reaching the Metroplex, so we headed to Gainesville hoping to getting away from it, and catch a few night shots. I shot Amtrak's Northbound Texas Eagle at the station, but unlike my similar shot here Sunday, framed WITHOUT the lamp masking the name!

Gainesville, Texas

After dark, I tried several different angles with passing trains, but was never really satisfied with the result. This was actually a test shot, and I like it best.


Wednesday, May 7, 2008:

We did return to Gainesville, early the next morning, but the weather was much less than cooperative. After this Southbound manifest freight, we decided to make our way South, following the BNSF Gainesville sub as far as time would allow.

Gainesville, Texas

Another angle of the station, not too bad considering the heavy skies.

Just North of Krum, Texas, 10:21am - This KSC train is heading South and East off the BNSF at Dallas Junction onto a former line through Denton and on to Dallas.

My next stop was a visit with my younger brother John and his family in Hillsboro, Texas. Hillsboro is the spot where the former Katy lines South of Dallas and Fort Worth converged and is now the busy UP Fort Worth sub. John hopped in the car with us and we went back over to the BNSF Fort Worth sub where we caught this Northbound crushed stone train behind the Cleburne station.

Cleburne, Texas

John had "warned" us that the UP line was busy -- he and his family attend the Baptist church in Abbot, Texas, and he said that during a typical service at least two trains would pass by outside. He had to take his daughters there that evening and we happily accompanied! Sure enough, we caught two Northbound trains.

Abbot, Texas


Thursday, May 8, 2008:

Thursday we awoke early and headed back to Fort Worth with two goals in mind. First, I wanted to see Tower 55, a place I hadn't visited since 1982. I knew a lot has changed but was unprepared for how much. New highway construction and other developments have made close access virtually impossible so after a lot of frustration we gave up. Next we wanted to catch what we could of the Fort Worth and Western Railroad. We were more fortunate in this regard, with easy views into the operations at Hodge Yard.

Fort Worth, Texas

We wanted to catch an FW&W train on the road so we followed the line to Cresson, then to Cleburne, then back to Cresson. We were about to give up when we heard a train call the dispatcher asking for instructions before entering Cresson yard. We found a spot ahead of the approaching headlight but were disappointed when it came closer into view -- it turned out to be a UP run-through from Fort Worth.

Cresson, Texas

We wanted to be at my older brother's house in Houston by early evening so we needed to be efficient with our time. Given that, we headed back to the small town of Abbot to see what we could do with morning and mid-day light there.

Again the UP was cooperative with an abundance of trains and we caught first a North and then Southbound manifest freight passing the small town hall.

Abbot, Texas


At the former Katy Eureka yard, we found an actual Katy relic! Currently Georgetown Railroad #1009, this unit was originally Katy #1003 (later #23) a Baldwin DS44-1000 built in 1956 then rebuilt by EMD in 1959 or 1960.

Houston, Texas

Friday, May 9, 2008:

Galveston Island, Texas - I have always wanted to explore the possibility of photographing a move across the draw-span bridge over Galveston's West Bay. With this in mind we headed over to the island and did the obligatory tourist walk on the beach.

We drove around both ends of the bridge, crossing the bay probably half a dozen times before this Northbound obliged us. The shot of the bridge did not work out as I'd hoped, but, you get what you can and be thankful for that. (?)

Virginia Point, Texas

We caught the same train again while nearing my nephew Tim's place a few miles farther inland. That's him (lower right) exploring an abandoned branch that runs by his property.

Hitchcock, Texas

After a short visit with Tim, we all decided to head to Rosenberg to check out the action there. Not far up the road we had to stop for a look at the station in Alvin. A single unit train was sitting behind the station so I decided to try to frame it through the windows. Not a "killer" shot, but not too bad either.

Alvin, Texas

In Rosenberg we were at first frustrated by the photo angles and wasted a lot of time looking for a place to just hang out. We eventually parked at a location East of the UP/BNSF diamond and were not disappointed by what we saw.

A Southbound BNSF freight waits as a UP container train heads West toward the diamond.

Rosenberg, Texas

Coming out of the evening Sun, this crushed stone train off the BNSF is headed East onto UP trackage.

Another Eastbound crushed stone train.

An Eastbound UP container train.

6:35pm - The same freight we saw parked in Alvin earlier in the day passes by the Rosenberg Railroad Museum and the retired Tower 17 before heading across the UP diamond Northward toward Temple.

6:46pm - Another Northbound BNSF train.

7:28pm - The light is going fast as this BNSF train off the UP takes the medium clear through the interlocking to head Northbound.

The last train of the evening was this Eastbound UP auto rack. It had waited for a crew just the other side of the diamond for several hours, and got its nose in a few of my shots.


Saturday, May 10, 2008:

11:32am - Our last day in Texas was to be a shortened one so we decided to head back to Rosenberg. Along the way we caught this meet just West of Sugar land. We were surprised to see UP using DPUs on stack trains.

Another Westbound was following the stack train and we tried to beat it to Rosenberg. The highway was jammed ahead so we pulled off at a roadside park just East of Richmond, Texas.


Heading on West into Richmond, Texas we were attracted to this bridge over the Brazos River for the next Westbound.

We visited the Rosenberg Museum and the restored Tower 17 was the show-stopper. This tower was in active use until 2004 so the model board is still pretty accurate. The electromechanical interlocking machine is a mechanical computer that ensured that only one route could be lined through the interlocking at a time. It was very advanced technology when installed in 1903.

Rosenberg, Texas.

The last train I photographed was this Southbound on the BNSF passing the museum. Everything is supposed to be bigger in Texas so true to style, this last train had 7 units!

Rosenberg, Texas

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Proud to be an American!
Mack Muir