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Celebrating the Passenger Trains of Yesteryear

FALLEN FLAGS - Texas Railroads - Part 2


 Texas Mexican Railway Missouri Pacific  Southern Pacific Cotton Belt  Port of Corpus Christi  Corpus Christi Terminal Railroad Rail Link 
Corpus Christi Terminal

The Corpus Christi Terminal Railroad (reporting mark CCPN) was originally formed in 1924 as a terminal railroad for the purpose of moving heavy bulk freight cargo traffic at the deep water port channel of the Port of Corpus Christi, Texas, which had recently been constructed. In an effort to maximize freight handling and to keep rates low, the Port Authority allowed traffic access to all of its facilities and docks by the three local competing railroads, the Missouri Pacific Railroad, the Southern Pacific Railroad (and its affiliate StL-SW), and the Texas-Mexican Railway. The Port of Corpus Christi Authority constructed its own railway trackage to the docks and along the channel which allowed all three carriers access. At first, there were tensions between the three railroads, but they soon began to cooperate with each other and allowed a smooth flow of freight, which led to the success of the Port’s facilities. All three railroads (SP, MP, TM) previously rotated switch responsibility on an annual basis. In 1960, the SP lost access to its yard (formerly SA&AP) in Corpus Christi when the bascule bridge was removed and the new Harbor Bridge was opened. The old SP rail causeway from Portland to Corpus Christi was purchased by the Texas Department of Transportation. In August of 1997, a wholly owned subsidiary of Genesee and Wyoming Inc., called Rail Link, leased the lines and took over the daily switching operations of the railroad. The 26 miles of actual trackage are still owned by the Port of Corpus Christi Authority. As of 2013, railroad connections exist with the Union Pacific, BNSF and KCS railroads. The UP owns all the former MP (StLB&M & SAU&G) and SP (SA&AP) lines. The BNSF has trackage rights over UP from Houston to Robstown and Odem to Corpus Christi. The KCS owns all the former Texas Mexican Railway and has trackage rights over UP from Houston to Robstown and Odem to Corpus Christi. The Port Authority recently agreed to allow a new resins plant to be built on site that will generate 14,000 carloads of resins per year. The Port will be expanding the Nueces River Rail Yard and will construct eight 8,000-ft. sidings to service the new plant. The Port of Corpus Christi ranks as the sixth largest port in the United States.

Texas and New Orleans - Southern Pacific Herald 

and New Orleans Railroad

The Texas and New Orleans Railroad (T&NO) was a former Class I railroad in Texas and Louisiana. It operated 3,713 miles of railroad in 1934, making it the largest railway in Texas as far as mileage was concerned; by 1961 3,385 miles remained when it merged with parent company Southern Pacific (SP). The T&NO Railroad began as the Sabine and Galveston Bay Railroad and Lumber Company in 1856, and was created to construct a line from Madison (now Orange, TX) in Orange County to tidewater at Galveston Bay. Construction work began in April of 1858 just outside of Houston. Soon after this, work started at Beaumont and construction commenced from the east and west. 30 miles of right-of-way was graded and 12 miles of track was laid by 1860. The name of the railroad was changed to the Texas and New Orleans Railroad Company in 1859. Track had been built 80 miles west of Beaumont and the line to Houston was finished. Abram M. Gentry, the line’s president, had said that the 110-mile route from Houston to Orange was open in 1862, but some of the track was being used temporarily by the military due to the Civil War. Scheduled service began on the Houston to Orange route from 1862 to mid-1863 and irregular service until 1864. Construction on the line to Louisiana continued until New Orleans was captured by Union forces. When the Trinity River Bridge washed out in 1867, the T&NO continued to provide service between Houston and Beaumont. In 1868, the company went into receivership and from 1870 to 1871, a limited service operated from Houston to West Liberty until the railroad was purchased by John F. Terry. Terry was with the New York banking firm J. S. Kennedy and Company. In 1874, the new Texas and New Orleans Railroad was chartered with Terry named as President. In 1876, the first train ran in over ten years from Houston to Orange. At this time, the railroad converted to standard gauge from broad gauge. In 1878 the T&NO reached an agreement with Charles Morgan's Louisiana and Texas Railroad and Steamship Company, and the Louisiana Western Railroad Company, and the line was completed from Orange to New Orleans. The Louisiana Western Extension Railroad Company was then chartered in Texas to construct a line from Orange to the border of Louisiana. The first train from Houston to New Orleans ran in August of 1880. In 1881 C. P. Huntington, on behalf of the Southern Pacific Railroad Company (SP), purchased the T&NO along with several other railroads in the southern U.S. The T&NO, as part of the SP, became part of a major transcontinental railroad. In 1882, the T&NO earned over $1,500,000, had a fleet of 36 locomotives, owned over 1,000 pieces of rolling stock, and also purchased the 103-mile Sabine and East Texas Railway Company. Several other railroads were merged into T&NO from 1880 to 1900. In the early 1900s, the T&NO built over 160 miles of track, mostly between Cedar and Rockland, and opened a route from Dallas to Beaumont. In 1921, the T&NO leased the Texas State Railroad. By the end of 1925 T&NO operated 545 miles of railroad. In 1927, the T&NO leased several other Texas and Louisiana SP lines in order to simplify the SP’s holdings. These included the Dayton-Goose Creek Railway Company; the Franklin and Abbeville Railway; the Galveston, Harrisburg and San Antonio Railway; the Houston and Shreveport Railroad; the Houston and Texas Central Railroad; the Houston East and West Texas Railway; the Iberia and Vermilion Railroad; the Lake Charles and Northern Railroad; the Louisiana Western Railroad; the Louisiana and Texas Railroad and Steamship Company; the San Antonio and Aransas Pass Railway (SA&AP); and the Texas Midland Railroad. All of these roads were merged into the T&NO in 1934, making it the largest Texas railroad with 3,713 route miles (not all in Texas). Baldwin Locomotive Works built the first fourteen 4-8-4 steam locomotives for the SP in 1930, and used the railroad's own design which had been modified from a 4-8-2. Called the GS-1 class, these locomotives had 73-inch drivers and were oil-burners. The first group of GS-1s-type locomotives were assigned to the T&NO and had road numbers 700-703. In the early 1940s, seven more SP GS-1s were transferred to the T&NO as Nos. 704-710. In November of 1961, the 3,385 miles that remained were merged into the SP, and sadly, the T&NO no longer existed. Prior to the 1961 merger with parent company SP, some of the more noteworthy classic streamliners on the T&NO included the following passenger trains: the Argonaut; the Border Limited; the Hustler; the Owl; the Sunbeam; and the Sunset Limited (New Orleans to Los Angeles – 1,996 miles!).

                                Texas and New Orleans railroad caboose, Kingsland, Texas. Photo by Richard Hockensmith, Courtesy

                                                                 Texas and New Orleans railroad caboose, Kingsland, Texas.
                                                                              Photo by Richard Hockensmith, Courtesy

Texas and Northern - Pig Iron Route  Texas and Northern 
Texas and Northern - The Pig Iron Route

The Texas and Northern Railway, nicknamed “The Pig Iron Route,” (reporting mark TN) is 7.6 mile railroad connecting Lone Star, Texas, to the former Louisiana and Arkansas Railway (L&A), now a line of the Kansas City Southern Railway (KCS), between Daingerfield and Hughes Springs. It began operations in 1948 to serve the Lone Star Steel Company, of which it was a wholly owned subsidiary. During this era, the revenue cutoff for a Class I railroad was $1 million, and the Texas and Northern made slightly more than that in 1950, and it was considered the newest and the shortest of the Class I railroads. It remained so until 1956, when the cutoff for Class I railroads was raised to $3 million. Until then, the Texas and Northern was an eight-mile railroad in the same class as titans like the New York Central Railroad and Pennsylvania Railroad. T&N is now a Class III railway and, in addition to it’s 7.6 miles of main line, it has 32 miles of storage tracks. The T&N interchanges with the KCS at Veals Yard, a 9 track yard with each track being approximately 2,000 ft. in length. The T&N provides rail transportation service to U. S. Steel Tubular Products as well as four other customers on its route: A&A Coating, Texas Tubular, Friedman Pipe, and Lone Star Specialties. It is now part of Transtar, a group of rail and water carriers that developed through the years to provide transportation for the steel making facilities that were the predecessors of today's United States Steel Corporation. Historically, the Transtar companies were the wholly-owned transportation subsidiaries of United States Steel Corporation. In December of 1988, as part of a financial restructuring, these transportation companies were acquired by the new holding company, Transtar, Inc. Transtar, in turn, is owned by United States Steel Corporation.

Texas Mexican Railway Herald  Kansas City Southern Herald   
Texas Mexican
The Texas Mexican Railway (reporting mark TM) was a Class I railroad that operated 162 miles from the Mexican border at Laredo, Texas to Corpus Christi, Texas. It is often referred to as the Tex-Mex, or TexMex Railway.  Chartered in March 1875, the Corpus Christi, San Diego and Rio Grande Narrow Gauge Railroad built a 3 ft gauge line from Corpus Christi, Texas to Rancho Banquete, Texas between 1875 and 1877, and then on to San Diego, Texas by 1879. "On November 26, 1876, Lott ceremoniously drove in the first spike, gilded for the occasion, in the presence of the assembled citizenry of Corpus Christi. That night the spike was stolen." By the beginning of 1877, workers had succeeded in laying 25 miles of track, but then money problems set in again, besides a "share of bad luck and then some. Indians attacked the crew at Banquete, only two men escaped with their lives but without their clothing, and these made their way to the house of W. W. Wright, who took them in and gave them something to wear. A similar fate overtook the Dull brothers (investors) who, prevailed upon to take a second mortgage, came out to look at the works, were accosted by a band of robbers, relieved of their valuables, and left tied to mesquite trees in their underwear."

This 52-mile line's main purpose was to take livestock from Texas ranches to the shores of the Gulf of Mexico and was promoted by Uriah Lott, with financial support from both Richard King and Mifflin Kenedy. In 1881 Lott and Kenedy went to New York, where they arranged to sell the railroad to the syndicate headed by William J. Palmer and James Sullivan, who were at that time involved in the construction of the Mexican National Railway between Nuevo Laredo and Mexico City. The new owners changed the name to the Texas Mexican Railway Company, and the company, now adequately financed, completed the remaining 110 miles to Laredo in September of 1881. The charter also allowed for other lines which would have made a 1,400-mile network, including one line from San Diego to the Sabine River with branch lines to Tyler, Galveston, San Antonio, Texas, and Sabine Pass, however no expansions were ever constructed. The small Galveston, Brazos and Colorado Railroad was acquired in 1881 to connect to Galveston, but no line was ever built between the two railroads.  A bridge was built across the Rio Grande to Nuevo Laredo in 1883, making the Tex Mex the first Mexican-American rail connection. This granted rail access for all of Northern Mexico to the Port of Corpus Christi, which unfortunately hurt international commerce in Brownsville in the lower Rio Grande Valley, and its deep water port, Los Brazos de Santiago. The rail connection also adversely affected the commercial navigation of the Rio Grande, between Rio Grande City, Camargo, (Mexico), Brownsville, and Los Brazos de Santiago, located adjacent to the mouth of the Rio Grande. Ironically, the aforementioned relied heavily on trade generated by King and Kennedy, who both believed that shipping directly by rail took less time and was more cost effective. It was not until 1889 that the North American rail system connected Mexico with Canada. In 1910 an international rail bridge was completed in Brownsville, Texas and Matamoros, Tamaulipas, which is currently owned and operated by the Brownsville and Matamoros Bridge Company, a joint venture of the Union Pacific and the Mexican government. Between 1881 and December 31, 1888, the Texas Mexican was operated directly by the Mexican National (NdeM). With the completion of the San Antonio and Aransas Pass Railway into Alice in 1885, the Texas Mexican was able to participate in through traffic between the United States and Mexico. In July of 1902, the railroad was converted to standard gauge. The Texas Mexican absorbed the Texas Mexican Northern Railway Company in 1906 and in 1930 acquired the San Diego and Gulf Railway Company. The SD&G was a very small system established in 1929 by the Duval Texas Sulphur Company to construct a 2.85-mile line from the Tex-Mex at Byram to its sulfur mines at Palangana.

                                  Texas Mexican Railway Boxcab Diesel No. 701a.
                                                              Tex Mex Boxcab No. 701 was built by St. Louis Car Company and Bessemer-Westinghouse in 1947.
                                                                       It was rated at 1600 HP and was retired in 1965.
  Photo Courtesy

Harsh desert conditions, bad water, no water, etc., made water for steam locomotives a problem. The Tex-Mex is considered to be the first Class I railway in the world to completely switch all road service locomotives to diesel, having done so by the end of 1939.
The early diesel equipment used by the Tex-Mex was quite unique. Ordered in 1938, seven Whitcomb Model 65DE4 660 hp boxcab diesel locomotives arrived from Baldwin Locomotive Works in 1939. Most of these were later converted from boxcab to endcab design by the 1950's, and were retired in 1964.  One of the more unusual locomotives used by the Tex-Mex was a former Boston & Maine powered rail car that the company had acquired in 1940. The 78’ locomotive/RPO/baggage unit had been built by St. Louis Car Company in 1935 and featured electrical works by Westinghouse. The Tex-Mex shortened the engine to 44’ 7” and installed a brand-new Cooper-Bessemer 750 hp FVL-8T motor, and then numbered her 508. Heeding the old axiom "Waste not, want not", the Tex-Mex shops mounted the remaining roof section on one of their old boxcars during a rebuild, Tex-Mex boxcar number 8942 to be exact. The old 508 locomotive wasn't retired until December of 1950, finally giving the old gal a much-needed rest. Other early diesels included two custom-made 1,600 hp diesels that were also built by St. Louis Car Company. Built in 1946-47, these two units were put out to pasture in 1965. A 1,000 hp Baldwin VO-1000 built in 1942 served the Tex-Mex for 30 years and was retired in 1972. Tex-Mex also acquired two Baldwin DS44-750 locomotives that were built in 1949. Also in 1949, the Tex-Mex received two shiny new EMD F7A diesel locomotives, each rated at 1,500 hp. It was common at this time for locals to say “It’s as slow as the Tex Mex.” When these F7s arrived, freight trains began to fly on the Tex-Mex at speeds of up to 70 miles per hour. Thus began the modern era of the Tex-Mex diesel fleet. The Tex Mex also began operating an important 19-mile government railroad from their Corpus Christi yard to Naval Air Station Corpus Christi in 1940. The line saw much use during World War II and the Korean War, and some Army helicopters were transported on flatcars for repair at the Army Depot (located at Naval Air Station Corpus Christi) on this branch during the Vietnam War era. The line, which ran parallel to Holly Road, has since been completely abandoned and most of the tracks have been removed. By 1950, the Tex Mex was operated primarily for freight service, and maintained a joint freight yard with the Southern Pacific at Corpus Christi. The railway’s locomotive shops were located in Laredo.

The Tex Mex ran passenger trains beginning in 1880 between Corpus Christi and Laredo. In 1906, Train No.1 left Laredo at 7:00 AM and Train No. 2 left Corpus Christi at 7:00 AM. Passenger service was eventually discontinued, but from 1985 until 1990, the Tex Mex brought back a limited round-trip passenger train from Corpus Christi to Laredo and back called the “Texas Mexican Express.” The train featured vintage equipment that included two former PRR heavyweight coaches that were built in 1926, a former PRR heavyweight coach built in 1909, a former ACL streamlined coach built in 1946, and a former UP streamlined lounge-dormitory car that was built in 1949. In 1989, the fourth year of operation for the Tex Mex Express, a caboose was used to carry passenger’s luggage, as the railroad did not buy a traditional baggage car as part of the original equipment for the train. It was then discovered that more capacity was needed to carry baggage, and in order to save buying a baggage car, a spare caboose from the railroad’s freight roster was used. The vintage cars were all painted in a green, white and red livery that was similar to the flag of Mexico.

                                  Tex-Mex Caboose Number 19
                                                         Texas Mexican Bay Window Caboose Number 19 in passenger color at Laredo, Texas.

In 1995 the Kansas City Southern  (KCS) was in expansion mode and bought 49 percent of Tex Mex, and in 1997, the Surface Transportation Board granted trackage rights to the Tex Mex to connect to the KCS at Beaumont, Texas. Responding to increased international trade between the US and Mexico, the railroad built a large railroad yard and intermodal freight transport facility at Laredo in 1998. In 2002, however, both companies sold their shares to Grupo Transportación Ferroviaria Mexicana. In August 2004, KCS again purchased a controlling interest in Tex Mex, although they were held by a trust company until the Surface Transportation Board approved the move for January 1, 2005. On January 1, 2005, KCS took control of the Texas Mexican Railway and the U.S. portion of the Texas-Mexican Railway International Bridge in Laredo, Texas. The railroad is a vital link in KCS's rail network, connecting The KCS and TFM, S.A. de C.V. Technically, the railroad operates 560 miles of trackage across Texas; its 160.1-mile original main line between Laredo and Corpus Christi as well as 400 miles of trackage rights between Corpus Christi, Houston and Beaumont. While Tex-Mex remains a separate legal entity, KCS and Tex-Mex are operated as one railroad. Sadly, locomotives painted in the original green Tex-Mex livery no longer operate on the KCS system.

Texas and Pacific Railway Herald  Texas and Pacific Buzzsaw Logo  
Texas and Pacific

The Texas and Pacific Railway Company (T&P) was a former Class I railroad that operated 2, 259 miles of road at it’s peak. 1,167 of those miles were made up of its long main line that ran from New Orleans, Louisiana, all the way across the big state of Texas to El Paso across from the Mexican border at Jaurez. The T&P was created by a federal charter in 1871 with the purpose of building a southern transcontinental railroad between Marshall, Texas, and San Diego, California. In 1872 the company purchased the Southern Trans-Continental Railway Company and then bought the Southern Pacific Railroad Company (not the same Southern Pacific that eventually merged into UP). In June of 1873, the Memphis, El Paso and Pacific Railroad Company was also purchased. By the mid-1880s, the T&P had a strong foothold in Texas. Difficulties in construction efforts delayed westward progress until financier Jay Gould acquired an interest in the railroad in 1879. The T&P never reached San Diego, instead reaching Sierra Blanca, Texas (near El Paso), in 1881, were it connected with the Southern Pacific (SP). While the Texas and Pacific could not finance building a line all the way to San Diego, the Southern Pacific had been able to build from California to Sierra Blanca, TX. In doing so, Southern Pacific used land designated for, and surveyed by Texas and Pacific, in its rail route from Yuma, Arizona, to El Paso, Texas. The resulting lawsuits were settled with agreements to share the tracks, and also to cooperate in building new tracks. Gould’s Missouri Pacific Railroad (MP) leased the T&P from 1881 to 1885 and continued to work hand-in-hand with the T&P even after the lease ended. MP acquired majority ownership of the Texas and Pacific Railway's stock in 1928, and continued to operate it as a separate entity. In 1925 the Lima Locomotive Works delivered the first of over 70 new 2-10-4 locomotives to the T&P and as a result, the big ten wheelers were nicknamed "Texas"-type. Most of the Texas locomotives were taken out of service in the early fifties in favor of diesels. The T&P had many subsidiary roads (A&S, D&PS, T-NM etc.) and its operated route-miles totaled 2,259 at the end of 1929 (after C&NE, PVS and TSL had become subsidiaries), 1,856 miles in 1950, and 2,033 miles at the end of 1960. Later subsidiaries included the KO&G, the KO&G of Texas, the Midland Valley, Cisco & Northeastern, Pecos Valley Southern, and the Texas Short Line. 

                                              Ticket Book Cover from the Texas and Pacific Railway
                                                                                                           A Texas and Pacific Railway Ticket Book

                                              Texas and Pacific Railway Service Map
                                                                                                               Texas and Pacific Railway Service Map

The T&P participated with the MP in the operation of the “Texas Eagles” from St. Louis, with one going to and from Dallas-Fort Worth and El Paso, the other going to Houston and San Antonio. In 1950 Planetarium dome cars were ordered for the Eagles, and at that time, the T&P owned 45 passenger locomotives (10 of which were diesels), and 209 passenger cars. Sadly, by the mid-sixties, passenger service on the T&P had taken a real beating. In September of 1966, charges that T&P passenger coaches were "filthy and rat-infested, and that service in and out of El Paso had been deliberately down-graded and deplorable", were heard by the Texas Railroad Commission. The T&P had recently applied to cease operating passenger trains No. 26 and 27 between El Paso and Fort Worth. At the time, the T&P had not made a profit on its passengers operations in 20 years. The railroad’s deficit on all passenger operations in 1965 was $4 million, and the two trains between El Paso and Fort Worth contributed to that deficit by $250,000. Losses were even greater in 1966. The T&P was eventually merged by the MP in October of 1976. In January of 1980, the MP was purchased by the Union Pacific Railroad, but lawsuits filed by competing railroads kept the merger from being approved until September of 1982. The MP’s outstanding bonds delayed the actual merger with the Union Pacific Railroad until January of 1997. 

There are reminders of the
Texas and Pacific that can still be seen today, primarily two landmark buildings which help make up the southern Fort Worth skyline. They are the original T&P station and office tower, and the T&P warehouse located just to the west. The passenger platforms at the T&P station were utilized in 2001 for the first time in many years as the western terminal of the Trinity Railway Express, the commuter rail line that connects Fort Worth to Dallas. The warehouse still exists to this day and there are plans to renovate it. The corporate offices and passenger terminal have been renovated and are now luxury condos.

                                               Texas and Pacific Passenger Station, Fort Worth, Texas. Circa 1909

and Pacific Passenger Station, Fort Worth, Texas. Circa 1909.


The Kansas, Oklahoma and Gulf Railway Company of Texas
The Kansas, Oklahoma and Gulf Railway Company of Texas was chartered on March 28, 1910, as the Missouri, Oklahoma and Gulf Railway Company of Texas. The name was changed on April 2, 1921. The company operated nearly nine miles of line from the Red River near Carpenter's Bluff to Denison as well as terminal trackage at Denison. At the Red River the KO&GT connected with the Kansas, Oklahoma and Gulf Railway Company, thus forming a through route from Denison to Baxter Springs, Kansas. In 1926 the KO&GT was classified as a Class II line by the Railroad Commission and owned one locomotive. That year the line received $4,054 in passenger revenue, $192,962 in freight revenue, and $249 in other revenue. In 1952 the KO&GT earned $259,392, almost all from freight. In 1964 the Kansas, Oklahoma and Gulf system was merged into the Texas and Pacific Railway Company, and the Texas trackage abandoned.


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