Train Trip to Texas
April 16-25, 2015

by Dave Ingles

The AAPRCO — American Association of Private Railroad Car Owners – Spring meeting in San Antonio, Texas (SAS), drew me onto my first train ride in 11 months, and what a ride it was – almost 4,000 total rail miles, an astounding 537.5 new to me. For someone who’s been “collecting” new miles since the 1950s, getting that many new at once has become difficult. I traveled with Otto Dobnick, a “mileage collector” friend from here in Waukesha. Aside from riding in regular Amtrak trains from Milwaukee to Chicago and home from St. Louis thru Chicago to Milwaukee, we were among two dozen passengers on High Iron Travel’s business car Caritas and its leased ex-Frisco sleeper Cimarron River, which is based in St. Louis. High Iron Travel is an Iowa Pacific subsidiary. The two cars adorned the rear of Amtrak’s “Southwest Chief” from Chicago to Albuquerque (ABQ) on April 16-17 and the rear of its “Texas Eagle” from SAS to St. Louis (STL) on April 24-25. In between was AAPRCO’s special train, dubbed “The Texas Special” after an old Katy (and Frisco) train between STL (later Kansas City) and San Antonio (Katy’s depot there is long gone). This special was 10 cars as far as Houston, then 13 cars to SAS, behind two Amtrak units, “Heritage” P42 145 and P40 817. The train covered 1,095 miles from ABQ to HOU to SAS, on BNSF and Union Pacific (former Santa Fe, Burlington-Rock Island, Southern Pacific, Katy, and Missouri Pacific) with overnight stops in Lubbock, TX, and the HOU Amtrak station. The 481-mile Texico (Clovis)–Temple, TX, segment (minus 30 miles in the middle, near Brownwood, covered years ago on another special train) was my largest “new” segment, two others being the 48 miles on B-RI into HOU and 52 miles of Katy west of Smithville onto the Texas Eagle route. Herewith are “symbolic” photos of the train, to be followed by “chapters” covering various aspects of the odyssey.

Private car J. Pinckney Henderson, named after an 1850s Texas governor, was the 3rd car from the front on the special; it is lettered for the old Katy (and Frisco) train “The Texas Special.’ Based in North Carolina and owned by Bob Willetts, a railcar restorer, the bedroom-lounge car is pictured at Houston before the early-morning departure on Tues., July 21, 2015, as is the front of our lead engine, Amtrak 145.

The special began its run at 8 a.m. on Sun., July 19, out of ABQ, and the curve out of the yard at Belen, N.Mex., offered two good fore and aft views from the Caritas's platform. After a 45-minute delay in the yard “waiting for a slot,” it’s 9:55 a.m. as we begin a fast 250-mile ride east on BNSF’s busy “Transcon” main line to Texico, TX, just beyond Clovis, N.Mex. The train consist as far as Houston includes cars Birch Grove, Oliver Hazard Perry, J. Pinckney Henderson, Cimarron River, Caritas, Sierra Hotel, Berlin, Deering, Silver Iris, and Dagny Taggart.

Amtrak Heritage Units Chicago to La Plata, Mo.
April 16, 2015
Las Animas Jct., CO.
to Albuquerque, NM
April 17, 2015
Trackside on BNSF's Transcon around Belen
April 18, 2015
April 19, 2015
April 20, 2015
Houston–San Antonio
April 21, 2015
An off-day in
South Central Texas
April 22, 2015
San Antonio-Marshall, Texas
April 24, 2015
Depot Gallery "The Usual Suspects"
Friends on Board

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