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Talking Or Reminiscing?

Posted: Sat Jan 16, 2010 1:41 pm
by Clark
This is a test. I stumbled onto the site. I am interested in the T&P and the people who remember the railroad with the best logo in all the world and for all do I post a message or ask a question or anything???

I can read what other people have written but where do I go to write something myself? That is why I am calling this a test. Is this being recorded somewhere that will show up when I get back on line? If it is then I can go ahead and tell about Percy Jones and the possum riding the motor car down the Abilene Southern.

But enough. Either this is working or it isn't. My "test" is too long.


Re: Talking Or Reminiscing?

Posted: Sun Jan 17, 2010 8:59 pm
by Robin
Your test passed with flying colors.
Now, please, the story about the possum!

Robin Warren
Ivanhoe, Tx

Re: Talking Or Reminiscing?

Posted: Mon Jan 18, 2010 1:33 pm
by Clark
I remain in the dark with regards posting text here. Let me know, Robin Warren, if I am coming across. If no response, well, hmmmm I won't know if it is the electronics or my story telling.

In the late 20s and on into the 30s the Abilene & Southern...there...right of the bat I see it one way...Abilene & Southern but my dad who worked 44 years and over half a million miles on the A&S always said, "Abilene Southern" "and" my plastic plumber those depressed years the A&S (?) ran a motor car twice a day from Abilene to Ballinger (about 50 miles south). This particular day of the possum Dad was unlucky enough to have the nephew of the railroad owner on board. Unlucky because Percy Jones, Morgan's nephew, would as soon fire an A&S employee as look at him. This was before the unions. Whenever Percy made one of his "inspection" trips on the motorcar a straight backed cane bottom chair would be brought up and set next to the motor car operator. The stiff old man never spoke a word to crew or passengers. You never knew if you were doing good job. You would hear about a bad job, however.

Here, you, as a railroad buff, need to know the behavior of small animals on railroad tracks. Possums, armadillos, skunks (oh-oh) would tend to get atop of one of the rails and stay right there until the advancing train caught up with them. They just disappeared under the front cowling of the locomotives. Of course the engineer and certainly the crew further back would know if the skunk stayed his course!

This morning the 30 mile trip from Abilene to Winters had gone smoothly. Dad did not get fired, in other words. Percy sit there. Saying nothing. Seeing nothing as far as Dad could tell in occasional glances in the rear view mirror. But as Dad nudged the polished throttle toward neutral and as the motor car entered the first intersection...just before the Winters's depot...a opossum dashed out of the bar-ditch and making a sharp right angle turn at the crossing started doing a quick step possum trot atop the right side rail ahead of the slowing, but still moving considerably faster than a opposum, Abilene & Southern passenger conveyance.

What to do? There were people all over the place. Waiting at the cars at the crossing and beside the track. And there was Percy! Dad honked. Pulled twice on the cord. All that did was draw the crowd's attention to the drama arriving with the morning motor car. All eyes looked as one twoard the approaching train being led comically off center toward them by a galloping opossum.

Dad felt, more than saw, the passengers in the motor car rise in unison as they moved forward to peer down the track over his and Percy's shoulder. Only the possum did not notice the commotion as it loped a few yards ahead of the self-propelled coach. Dad had seen this ill matched race to its predictable conclusion way to many times before to not know how it would end. And best he could judge it would "end" directly in front of the Winter's platform filled with women and children. Dad hung on the horn! Percy was a stickler for company policy but what was company policy in this case? Run over an ignorant possum that would be doing more than playing dead in a few seconds or hit the emergency brake and risk throwing Percy out of his chair?

STOP! STOP! The people had a definite opinion as to what Dad should do. Everyone was shouting or screaming. Only Percy and the possum stayed the course.

Percy be damned! Dad was the engineer on A&S #900. Never taking his eyes off the flagging mother opossum...a baby possum was clearly visible hanging on for dear life under the marsupial mama...Dad groped blindly for the air brake with full intent of throwing his one car train into emergency. It took Dad a second more to realize he had opened the throttle by mistake!

Re: Talking Or Reminiscing?

Posted: Mon Jan 18, 2010 10:35 pm
by Robin
Thank you Clark!
Couple of things:
1. What type of motorcar did you Dad operate?
2. Where was the terminal in Ballinger?

I made a couple of weekend trips to Ballinger backtracking the AT&SF line. Of course this was after the roundhouse and other structures were gone.

Again, Thanks
Robin Warren
Ivanhoe, Tx

Re: Talking Or Reminiscing?

Posted: Tue Jan 19, 2010 11:53 am
by Clark
Second question, first. Primarily because I know the answer to Q. #2. off the top of my head. Details on the motor car, I will have to check out.

The A&S passenger depot is a couple of blocks south of the courthouse square on the east side (left side as you are leaving town) of now Highway 83. The house track and mainline were located on the south side of the unique (have you seen photos?) structure...unique for a railroad depot of the time. White rock in a castle style with turrets street side. There is an official Texas Historical Marker at the place. It is, or was last time I was by there, owned by a construction company as an office.

The freight depot was directly across the highway83.

How much of the A&S track lay out did you see when in Ballinger? Taking the old right of way (tracks, all long gone) from north and east of Elm Creek on the north side of Ballinger as the train came in from Hatchel and Winters, the big rock piers are still standing in the middle of the creek water.

Realize this information is at least 2 years old. They keep ripping things out, of course.

But immediately upon crossing the creek the A&S curved almost due south under a Ballinger street. This was a popular lover's parking place back when parking was popular and you did not risk your neck doing so. The way the A&S locomotives approached this underpass made it appear that the train came out of no where...suddenly the couple in the parked car...who probably did not even know there was a train track along there ...would look like spot-lighted deer! This amused the A&S crew to no end, of course.

From the underpass the A&S was now running due south to cross the Santa Fe for the first time...the east crossing/interlock. This crossing of the Santa Fe was never as busy as the A&S crossing of the old GC&SF at Tuscola. Just an aside there thrown in for later discussion.

The A&S now curved gently to the right (to the south and to the west) through industrial section of Ballinger. The "Y" was located off this first big curve. They did NOT turn the SW-1200 and GP-9s that were later used in A&S service. They did usually turn the "20" which was the pride and joy (Am. Loco) of the A&S mainline. Do you know that the "20" was shipped from (where? Lima?) in pieces, so to speak? The shop crew in Abilene put the 20 together. It was a low, lean powerful locomotive. Have you seen photos of the 20?

But now we are straightened out and going due west by the 2 depots. The track soon begine still another wide angle curve as it approaches the Colorado River to the west side of Ballinger. Continues back due north ...made a 180 degree turn, in other words...before crossing highway 67 toward San Angelo. Many (well a dozen or so over the years) died at this bare crossing. The A&S track was located right below the highway river bridge and in those days Lowake was the closest wet watering joint for nearly a hundred miles. Maybe, maybe not, but lots of the crashes were due to drinking and over the Colorado River bridge and OMG! There set a train! More on this if you are not familiar?

From the highway crossing at the west side of Ballinger the A&S once again has access to the SF. It did not cross the ATSF tracks here but it could hand off merchandise cars etc.

Too long winded again. Back later with the motor car specs. Tell me what you know...if this was redundant etc.


Re: Talking Or Reminiscing?

Posted: Wed Jan 20, 2010 10:40 pm
by Robin
Clark that is fantastic! I tooled around the town but had my eyes glued looking for the old AT&SF roundhouse site. Found that and followed it out of town for a bit. I never knew that it was a dual track town.
I spent a bunch of years doing "Blitzkriegs" on weekends. I would research an area, including topo maps, and drive fast as possible to get there. Spend a few hours in the area and then head home. Trying to track down old abandoned tracks. Did a lot of short line and logging lines in East Texas. I was living in Athens Texas at the time. My back is shot since then so road trips are out. On one trip to Ballinger I drove through Early, Tx. A suburb outside of Brownswood. Found a guy that had all types of AT&SF stuff in his yard. A depot, caboose, track MOW stuff and bunch of other. When he died several years ago it is now in a museum in Brownwood.


Re: Talking Or Reminiscing?

Posted: Thu Jan 21, 2010 9:23 am
by Clark
Like most of us, I respond to positive feedback. I am glad you found the A&S in Ballinger helpful and news worthy. I have done the same thing on trips...miss whole sides of the barn. Research and research where you are going and still not pick up on something. Too bad your back keeps you close nowadays.

Yes, I know the railroad guy near Brownwood. With the yard full of cabooses and other RR things. The Brownwood RR museum is a top location. Hope it does well. More on this later. I want to answer your question about the A&S motor car first.

Got to note, however, so as to not forget it. A coincidence... love'em ...I had grandparents from Athens, Henderson County. My father was born just over the line in Van Zandt County in 1900.

But to the Brill Motor Car. That is what it was. A Brill. Model #55 from my best bet. By now you have already learned to hedge when my "bets" are coming up. I extrapolate freely.

I know only part of the story. The whole answer does exist. There is a booklet detailing from a factual business viewpoint the establishment and later operation of the Abilene & Southern Railway. But...always a big but...I don't have a copy. And...after a big but there is often an "and"...I have not been able to locate the booklet on the internet and further more...I have read/heard all I want to about the Colonel Morgan Joneses and General Grenville Dodges. They are NOT the railroad! I will (after this unsolicited commercial) email my rail crazed nephew (he learned from me) in Houston. I know he has what I am looking for. What you might enjoy.

Till I get the official, deeper word all that I can say is the motor car Dad ran up and down the A&S rails back in the 20s was a Brill made in 1923. It was gasoline powered with a transmission, I think. I swear that it was NOT a gasoline-electric but I have sworn in vain before. I do recall that the 4 cylinder engine had piston displacement of a hundred cubic inches per piston. I am winging it now, man!

What else? The A&S motor car was a light weight. Light weight looking. Great turning radius with the trucks tucked way back under the car frame. I was in school in Portales, NM, when the Santa Fe was still running their "heavy" Brill car all decked out in war-bonnet silver and red. I believe the Santa Fe version was totally baggage and pulled a passenger coach (may have been a Budd RDC?) from Clovis to Carlsbad and return. The A&S version was NOTHING like this operation. Nothing!

More conjecture on my part: I think this particular A&S car was sold to the Orient (ATSF) and used for some time on runs west out of San Angelo...maybe to Big Lake...maybe all the way to Fort Stockton. Need to research that? I say this because I recall Dad told me that...more than likely it was Mom telling me...somebody told me...that the KCM&O (read Santa Fe) wanted Dad to relocate and run the motor car for them. He checked it out for a whole week or something then came home to Colony Hill. Mom would have relocated around the world. Dad? Not so much.

Another short railroad career of Dad's was his...maybe a month in length this time...running on the T-NM out of Monahans to Lovington with his brother, Smokey. No motor car on the T-NM. They by this time were using the big 600s to pull that butane. Dad's RR moniker, by the way, was "Little Brother".

The early days of the A&S could have been titled "Band of Brother-In-Laws". And, brothers. All the men were kin in one way or another. Close kin.


Re: Talking Or Reminiscing?

Posted: Fri Jan 22, 2010 8:43 pm
by Robin
That Orient line to Mexico is now being run by some Mexican company. Forget the name. What happened is the AT&SF filed to abandon the line. A few of the counties involved got together and asked the TxDot to buy the line. They did and leased it back to the counties under the name "Centex." "Centex" turned around and leased the operations to the Mexican line. When I was in the Ballinger area I noticed a bunch of early 30's date nails (this was the main reason for my trips). I have been told the line to Mexico has been re-habed. Really had plans to go back and get some of them old nails. Also had plans to go to the Pecos area for really old single digit date nails.
So much for the plans of mice and men!


Re: Talking Or Reminiscing?

Posted: Sun Jan 24, 2010 5:32 pm
by Clark
Robin, I am still in the wrong place. You and I are chatting which is what I want to do but here I am stuck in the "forum" thing. Follow what I mean? The web master will toss this stuff out if he ever reads it. Start trying to direct me to some less restrictive site or plain email if that is allowed? I go "chatting" on a "forum" site.

My long time modeling project...nothing operative for years now...has been the KCM&O. Specifically the Orient track as it comes into Alpine and then runs up Paisano on the old Southern Pacific tracks before cutting off on its own steel and running down Alamito Creek toward Presidio.

Pecos, you say, for old date nails? Don't you imagine the UP has long since replaced all the old ties out and around Pecos? I am lost? Even the Pecos Valley Southern to Balmorhea is mostly gone and would not be that old anyway.

Interesting aside here: Back to the A&S. When the PVS was hot and handing off cars of veggies to the T&P it just so happened that it more than once...3 times I believe...that the east bound TP train which was named "the PVC" because it picked up most of its consist from the Pecos Valley Southern which apparently did not maintain their rolling stock very carefully would get hot and melt the axle within a quarter of mile of the same locations right smack down in Abilene...dumped the PVS off the overpasses, crash, bang.

PVS brings up the RS&P...It too had maintainance problems but it was only...what...near 50 miles west of Abilene. There is still a car repair shop in Roscoe...the "R" part of the Roscoe, Snyder, and Pacific. Did you know the RS&P had agents in L.A. just to route cars off the Santa Fe at Snyder and go the 30 or so miles south to Roscoe to hit the TP? When the SF crosses the TP 10 miles east of Roscoe at Sweetwater? Was good while it lasted but such waste probably contributed to the downfall of such short lines over the longer time.

Again, I do not think this sort of chatter goes on this site.


Re: Talking Or Reminiscing?

Posted: Fri Feb 05, 2010 6:37 pm
by kmathis
Hi there. I just discovered this site, and will be sharing it with everyone down at our local depot (Marshall) where we're working on trying to get a "Station Host" program started to get folks into the museum as it is also still an actual Amtrak station too. Just wanted to let you know that I enjoyed your story, and that forums are usually a slow form of "chatting," in this case focused on the T&P but they are out there for many different things ranging from parenting styles to nursing specializations. ;) It just depends how professional you need to be in the particular forum what you can get away with saying.