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Railfan Sites in Texas

A self-guiding railfan tour

Railfan, railfan--where do you see trains in Texas? Check out the Cities And Sites listing below.

Mapwork: If you're going to be looking for railfan locations, you'll need an industrial strength map resource. It is definitely recommended you get a DeLorme Atlas & Gazetteer, study it before your trip, and copy pertinent pages for your field work. You can find information here about Railfan Maps that are available.

Cities And Sites

1. With many thanks to Dominic Mazoch for these Texas goodies.

2. With thanks to Joshua Chlapek of Temple for this good information.

3. Craig Ziegler has given us these excellent railfan locations.

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ALICE (January 30, 2000)

The railroad station in Alice looks like the Lionel Model 132/133. It even has green trim! Train frequency through here varies, but before the KCS and it's NAFTA Lines organization took over the Texas-Mexican Railway, there were only 2 trains a day. Now, there are up to 10, and that number will probably grow as the Mexican economy strengthens. The station itself is now used as an MOW facility.

Life support: TX-44 is known as "restaurant row" in Alice, and has many fast food joints. There is an HEB supermarket about 1 mile east of the station, where you can get fresh food to go.

Safety and security: In the summer, Texas acts like Texas -- it gets HOT. 105° is not uncommon. Have -- and drink -- plenty of water and watch for signs of being affected by the heat.

From San Antonio, take I-37 and then U.S. 281 south. Near Alice, the road splits into a U.S. 281 and a U.S. 281 Business. Take U.S. 281 proper. Continue to the intersection marked "Jct. TX-44." Turn right (east) and go to the next intersection. The road will branch into TX-44 West and East branches. Turn right to go the to East branch. Go to the intersection with a four-lane road with a railroad track along it. Turn right. You will be on TX-44 East. After crossing under the U.S. 281 bridge, the depot will be 1/2 mile on the left.

From Houston/Corpus Christi, take TX-44 West. After crossing the TM tracks, go about 1 mile. The station will be on your right.

With gracious thanks to Dominic Mazoch, who is a student of the railfan scene virtually everywhere.

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BIG SANDY (September 3, 2001)

On the busy Dallas - Longview UP (ex-MP) main line, Big Sandy sees the crossing of this line with the ex-SP Corsicana - Texarkana main. Here's a good place to see all the action: From U.S. 80 in the middle of town, go south 2 blocks on Tyler Street, to just before crossing the first set of tracks. There is a dirt road off to the left heading towards the tracks, and it'll get you to the crossing. Note that Big Sandy is a Union Pacific crew change point.

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BIG SPRING (September 10, 2001)

A community of about 25,000 persons located in west Texas. This is the Union Pacific's ex-MP, exx-Texas & Pacific, secondary main line between Dallas and El Paso. It sees 12-15 trains a day, and there are usually 5-8 locomotives in the yard area.

From I-20 north of town, go south on U.S. 87. This will take you downtown, and up and over the yard area. There are lots of places to explore around the yard itself, but be mindful of private property. When in doubt, stay out.

Kudos to John Walker, now a resident of North Carolina, for this entry.

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BRYAN -- WELLBORN ROAD

Don't really know if this is in Bryan or College Station, but here goes. From TX-6, exit at University Drive/FM-60, and head west. Just before the railroad underpass, you can take the ramp up to Wellborn Street and there is good viewing either north or south. The tracks are Union Pacific, ex-Southern Pacific, Dallas - Houston, and you can expect a little more than 1 train per hour on average.

Frograil thanks Amanda Mather for this information.

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CORPUS CHRISTI -- TEX-MEX YARDS

Getting there:

From I-37: Take the TX-358 South exit. Travel two miles. Exit Agnes Street. Turn right onto Agnes. [Go to Agnes instructions.]

From TX-358 North: Take Agnes Street exit. Go to traffic intersection. Turn left onto Agnes. [Go to Agnes instructions.]

From Robstown: Exit fro U.S. 77 to TX-44 East at Robstown. Take TX-44 East. Go to TX-44 instructions.

Agnes instructions: The first yard, City Yard, will be on your right. In order will be the yard throat, fuel and sand towers, yard office, yard, west throat, and wye tracks. At the wye tracks, Agnes becomes TX-44 Westbound. You will pass Hopkins Road, and will come to a two-track yard with main. This is Hopkins Yard, used as TM's holding yard.

TX-44 instructions: Take TX-44 to the Agnes Street exit. Take the flyover exit to Agnes. Go East on Agnes toward a freeway which crosses the TM and Agnes. Before you get to the freeway, make a u-turn in one of the crossovers on Agnes. Then follow the Agnes instructions.

Railroad information:

Nafta Lines: TM power predominates, but power from TFM, KCS, Gateway Western, and any run-through or leasers can and will show up. As for trains, you'll see here anything going to the Port of Corpus Christi. Traffic going to Mexico will mostly go via Robstown, using a relatively new connecting track. However, Meridian, MS - Mexico (MEMX and MXME) trains seem to be yarded here.

BNSF: Any modern power, and sometimes new Mexican-built SD70MAC's lay over here to have their computer tested. BNSF traffic is for Mexico, via interchange with TM.

Photo information:

As long as you stay on the highway's right-of-way, and off railroad property, photos are OK. Any time the sun is behind Agnes/TX-44, photos are good from here. With a late afternoon sun, and there is a waiting train at the west throats of City Yard or Hopkins Yard, some dramatic photos can be made.

With gracious thanks to Dominic Mazoch, who is a student of the railfan scene virtually everywhere.

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DALHART (May, 1995)

Dalhart is up in the Panhandle, north of Amarillo, and is the site of the at-grade crossing of UP (ex-SP, exx-CRIP) Kansas City-El Paso, and BNSF (ex-BN, ex-FWD) Denver-Fort Worth mainlines. The May, 1995, TRAINS* Magazine issue has a nice map and description of the action here. Essentially, the crossing is downtown, northwest of Denver Avenue/Rock Island Street. Expect anywhere from 1-3 trains per hour here, and bring a cooler in the summer!

*[Note: This material was adapted from info provided by TRAINS Magazine in May, 1995. If you don't subscribe to TRAINS, well, you should. It's an excellent publication. Get on its web site here. ]

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DENTON -- METRO JUNCTION (June 30, 2000)

Just northwest of Denton, Metro Junction is where the Kansas City Southern's Alliance Subdivision (a former ATSF line) meets the BNSF's Fort Worth Subdivision. KCS intermodal trains from the east use a connection here to enter the BNSF mainline for the final several miles into Alliance Yard.

From I-35 exit 472, Ganzer Road, head west. Just before you cross the tracks, there will be a gravel road on your right -- turn into it. This is Rector Road. Eventually, you will come to a crossing with two tracks -- these are the Metro crossovers. The lighting on the east side of the tracks is generally good for pix, especially in the fall through spring months when the sun is lower in the sky.

With thanks to Joshua Chlapek of Temple for this good information.

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EDGEWOOD (September 3, 2001)

On the busy UP Dallas - Shreveport main line, Edgewood is a quiet place to enjoy some trains. From U.S. 80, go north on FM-3505 to just before the tracks, and then take FM 3504 east through town. There's a passing siding, and you'll be south of the tracks all the way through town, so the photographic gods will smile on you.

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HEARNE (January 31, 2000)

Jason, a resident of neighboring Bryan, sends us this data about Hearne: From Bryan and the south, enter the town on TX-6. The Union Pacific yard and office are on your right in the southeast part of town. There is a parking lot, and you can get pictures from the lot, but do not leave it.

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HOUSTON -- BELLAIRE JUNCTION (October 14, 2001)

From the intersection of I-610 and U.S. 59 (Southwest Freeway), go east on U.S. 59 to the first exit, Edloe Street. Go north and then take the north frontage road past Wesleyan Road until you are forced to go under the U.S. 59 overpass of the tracks. Park under the overpass. Here, and across the street from a large storage facility called Bulls'eye Storage, is the Bellaire Junction -- or at least what's left of it. UP (ex-SP) trains coming up from West Junction on their way to Englewood Yard make for lots of traffic through here, but the tracks west of what was the junction have been sold to Houston Metro for use as the basis for a toll road. The rails and switches are all gone now. This was a very lightly traveled line.

This is a good summer spot, because of the shade provided by the overpass. It is, however, noisy, so be alert and stay back from the tracks. There are nearby gas stations and fast food joints.

Craig Ziegler has provided this information for us. A Texas-sized "Thanks", Craig.

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HOUSTON -- CHANEY JUNCTION (October 14, 2001)

From the intersection of I-610 and I-10 in the western part of the city, go east on I-10 to Durham Drive, and go south on Durham to Washington Street. Turn left to go east on Washington, and follow it about 10 blocks, pass Harvard Street, and then go another 5 blocks or so to Studemont. The junction itself is just east of Studemont at Center Street, one block north of Washington. There is viewing at Harvard (behind the steam laundry, and off of Studemont.

This junction is where all traffic coming east from Tower 13 either goes north and east via "the Freight Track" or south and east via "the Passenger Track".

Craig Ziegler has provided this information for us. A Texas-sized "Thanks", Craig.

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HOUSTON -- DOUBLE TRACK JUNCTION (August 29, 2001)

This is a site on what's now the BNSF main from Corsicana to Galveston. It's just north of the New South Yard.

From I-45 and I-610 in the north central part of the city, go south on I-45. Pass I-10 and U.S. 59 (freeways), and exit at Telephone Road. Go south on Telephone to a right on Cumberland Street, and then to another right on Carrolton Street, and finally (whew), to the corner of Carrolton and Collier Street. At this intersection is a dirt road which goes out on the Flood Control District property bordering Brays Bayou. Craig points out that the chain has been down "at least ten years." Follow the road to your right, and you'll see Double Track Junction just to the north of the bridge crossing Brays Bayou. The New South Yard is less than 1/2 mile to the south of Double Track Junction, on the south side of the bayou, on Produce Row Street, at the old Produce Terminal.

Double Track Junction sees ??????????? traffic.

Craig Ziegler has provided this information for us. A Texas-sized "Thanks", Craig.

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HOUSTON -- ENGLEWOOD YARD (WAYSIDE DRIVE) (August 29, 2001)

Englewood is the biggest yard in the city, and was Southern Pacific's main facility. Today, Union Pacific operates it, and major changes have taken place since the merger; however, it's still very large and very busy. This railfan location is completely off-railroad property, and affords some interesting views.

The yard itself is mildly northeast - southwest in orientation, and Liberty Road follows it on the north side through Houston. There are more direct routes, but here's a suggested way to get to this site. From I-610 and U.S. 90 in the northeast corner of the city, go northeast on U.S. 90, North McCarty. When you get to TX-427, Mesa Road, take a left and drive just a block or so to Liberty Road. Take a left on Liberty to follow the UP all the way from beyond the eastern yard throat to the western yard throat at Lockwood Drive. Note that within a short drive of where you joined Liberty, you'll go up and over from the south side of the tracks to the north. From that point on, you can put your camera away. Incidentally, U.S. 90 continues east on the south side of the tracks for some distance.

As you drive southwest along Liberty Road, you'll go under I-610, and the Wayside Drive overpass will be coming in from your right. Local fans park under the overpass, as Houston is often hot and often wet. Both conditions can be alleviated, thanks to the good road builders of Texas. Further, if you want photos, you can hoof it up the overpass (there is a pedestrian walkway, but no guard rail. Bring binoculars and a telephoto lens. You're well past the eastern yard throat here, and can see a great deal of the yard, including Tower 87 and the hump, from the overpass. This is an interesting railfan location.

Craig Ziegler has provided this information for us. A Texas-sized "Thanks", Craig.

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HOUSTON -- T&NO JUNCTION (August 29, 2001)

This is a good, active junction, and you'll see BNSF, UP, and maybe some HB&T, too. From I-610 in the south part of the area, take the frontage road at Martin Luther King Boulevard, and continue east to Mykawa Road. Take a left on Mykawa to go north. In a short period of time, you'll come to an odd intersection with Griggs Road. The junction of the BNSF (ex-FW&D/CRIP) main line and the old Southern Pacific (T&NO) line is just to the east of the street intersection. For those 'bout wiped out by the Texas heat and humidity, there's a store selling adult beverages at the intersection, where you can park your car and get some refreshments. Note that I do not recommend railfanning after drinking adult beverages, cuz if you get stopped by the railroad police, and you have alcohol on your breath, you might be in for a bad time.

BNSF-wise, this place is just south of the line's New South Yard, and is on the main to Galveston. There is excellent traffic through the junction.

Craig Ziegler has provided this information for us. A Texas-sized "Thanks", Craig.

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HOUSTON -- TOWER 13 (October 14, 2001)

From the intersection of I-610 and I-10 in the northwest part of the city, go east on I-10. You'll shortly go under the UP (ex-SP) main line heading towards the city and Englewood Yard, and should take your first exit, which will be Washington Street. Be aware that Washington, Katy Road and Hempstead Road all come together in kind of a mishmash, so just make sure that you get on Washington and go northwest under the tracks via a substantial underpass. Somewhere in here, Washington meets/becomes Hempstead Road. Take your first right just north of the underpass, and you'll go south on Kansas Street. You'll get to Eureka Road in about 100 yards.

This is at the extreme west end of Eureka Yards, where there was a wye that led south to Bellaire and West junctions, directly west [Webmaster's note: This was my favorite railroad, way back when -- the Katy line to San Antonio] to San Antonio, and north west to Dallas. The eastern leg went towards downtown and Englewood Yard. Today, the ex-Katy line is long gone, but the traffic between the junctions to the south and Englewood is heavy, and that going on to the northwest is moderate.

Craig Ziegler has provided this information for us. A Texas-sized "Thanks", Craig.

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HOUSTON -- WEST JUNCTION (August 29, 2001)

In the far southwest corner of the city (you have to be careful what you call the "far southwest" because Houston is growing so fast, this may now include parts of northeastern Mexico!), U.S. 90Alternate meets Holmes Road. In this area is what amounts to a very large wye, where the southwest leg coming from San Antonio and the Sunset Route splits to go north towards Englewood Yard and east through the city.

Interestingly, in years gone by, trains sped through here at all of 10 mph. Union Pacific has poured millions of dollars into the wye to make it more fluid, and trains now whiz through at a track speed of some 50 mph. This used to be a major hobo jungle, but with trains going at modern speeds, no self-respecting guy would try to hop them. The jungle is abandoned.

Craig Ziegler has provided this information for us. A Texas-sized "Thanks", Craig.

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LONGVIEW -- AMTRAK (September 3, 2001)

In the long-time junction city of Longview in the upper northeast part of the state, several rail lines come together. A good place to view the action is at the Amtrak station. There are several ways to get there, but here's one of the easiest. U.S. 80 goes right through town. Turn south onto North 4th Street, which will squiggle around at the tracks to cross them on North 5th. You'll cross 2 sets of tracks, and should turn left to go east on Pacific Street, which really goes nowhere except to the depot. You'll note the ex-MP, exx-I&GN line from Palestine just to the east of the station. There is a lot of action in this area. Study a map beforehand.

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MARSHALL

A bustling town of 24,000 folks 19 miles west of the Louisiana border via I-20, Marshall has a very nice place to watch trains. Go north on U.S. 59, and at the intersection of U.S. 80 and U.S. 59, go west on U.S. 80 until taking a right onto Washington Avenue. Washington will dead-end at the Ginnochio National Historic District, including the Marshall Texas & Pacific depot, and the Ginnochio Hotel. The depot has been restored, and now houses a museum. There is a second floor veranda that offers an excellent venue for photos and videotaping. The pedestrian underpass is usually open at the depot, and the Amtrak waiting room is also usually open.

There is a charge of $3.00 for the museum, and that includes access to the veranda. However, when the pedestrian tunnel is closed because the museum is closed, there is no access to the veranda. The Amtrak Texas Eagle stops at the building, which is still an active depot in addition to being a museum. Therefore, the museum's hours of 10-4 Tuesday through Saturday, will be supplemented occasionally, depending on the Eagle's schedule and anticipated arrival time.

This is UP's major northeast - southwest main line coming down from Little Rock. Expect automobile trains, Amtrak's Texas Eagle, grain, etc.

Thanks to Amanda Mather and Jason Poole for this good stuff about Marshall.

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MINEOLA (September 3, 2001)

There are combat railfan locations, and there are easy railfan locations. Here's a really easy one. From U.S. 80 east of Dallas, go south on U.S. 69, cross the tracks, and turn right on Front Street. The Texas and Pacific depot is now the Amtrak depot, and the train watching from the depot is excellent. It is also free, off-railroad property, and busy enough to keep you out of mischief.

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MONAHANS (December 19, 2001)

This is a small oilfield town on I-20 west of Odessa where the Texas & New Mexico splits off of the Union Pacific (ex-MP/TP). I-20Business runs northeast to southwest through town, and the UP tracks are just north of this street all the way through. The TNMR wye is in the southwest part of town. Generally, there's a UP road switcher around, and the TNMR also usually has a unit in the wye area. The TNMR runs north to Hobbs and Lovington, NM, and has an engine facility at the "shop" in Eunice.

Kudos to John Walker, now a resident of North Carolina, for this entry.

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PECOS (December 19, 2001)

Man, but you are way out west now! Pecos is a major crossroads, where I-20 and U.S. 285 meet. Main line action is provided courtesy of Union Pacific on it's ex-Missouri Pacific (Texas Pacific) line. There is a shortline, the Pecos Valley Southern, which runs about 30 miles south of town next to TX-17. The junction in Pecos is in the west edge of town. You'll probably see a couple of locos in the area. The shortline's shop is kind of an antique-lovers delight.

Kudos to John Walker, now a resident of North Carolina, for this entry.

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ROBSTOWN -- SPEAR SIDING (January 30, 2000)

From the split of I-37 and U.S. 77 northwest of Corpus Christi, take U.S. 77 south towards Robstown. From U.S. 77 in the northeast corner of the town, go south on Upshaw Boulevard (U.S. 77Business ?). This road parallels the UP almost all the way to the crossing with the Tex-Mex Railway. Upshaw will end at Avenue A, and you want to take a right. You'll parallel the tracks all the way through town on an east-west bias. As you begin to get into the western part of town, the main road arcs off to the north. Here, there will be a building with a drug store and maybe some ambulances parked in front of it. Branch off to the left, while will keep you on Avenue A.

About 1/2 mile from the split will be the east switch of Spear siding. At the city limit, Avenue A becomes County Road 40. Continue on to the west end of the siding. At this siding, pretty much anything can happen. Power can be swapped, trains parked, and crews can change out. BNSF trains to Laredo stop here so the BNSF crew can come off, and a TM crew boards.

You can take public transportation from Robstown (routes 27 and 33), to the RTA stop at the drug store mentioned above. You'll have to walk aways along Avenue A to get to the siding. A couple of WARNINGS: Robstown is not safe at night, so don't be hanging around. Also, south Texas is HOT. Have water, plenty of it, and use it frequently. Try to get into some shade, so you won't become a crispy critter.

If you continue westward on County Road 40, you'll parallel the tracks all the way through Rabb, and on to FM-666. There, turn right (north) go a very short distance to TX-44. Turn left (west), and you can go to Alice and follow the TM westward.

With many thanks to Dominic Mazoch for these Texas goodies.

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ROBSTOWN -- TM SIDING (January 29, 2000)

From the split of I-37 and U.S. 77 northwest of Corpus Christi, take U.S. 77 south. Take the TX-44 East Corpus Christi exit, and continue on the service road until you come to the first traffic signal after crossing the Texas-Mexican Railway main line. Turn left under U.S. 77. The siding will be on you left about 1/4 mile from U.S. 77.

Life support notes: 1. TX-44 west of the divided highway is four lanes, but has no shoulders. This is a virtual racetrack between Robstown and Corpus Christi. That said, you might want to watch your speed, as the Department of Public Safety is out and about in this area. 2. There are fast food joints around the U.S. 77/TX-44 intersection, and the big HEB grocery store has a deli which will stuff you for the next several weeks -- you will not go hungry here.

Railroad-wise: You can see virtually any power here. There is new power coming up from GMLG in Mexico, TM stuff, and leasers are not rare. Grain and automobile traffic are staples here.

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ROBSTOWN -- UP/TM JUNCTION (January 29, 2000)

From I-37/U.S. 77 South across the River Bridge: Where the two split, take U.S. 77 south. Exit at TX-44 East to Corpus Christi, but stay on the service road. After crossing the Texas-Mexican Railway main line, take a right at the first traffic signal. This will be TX-44Business. Go one block, and turn right. Cross the TM main and turn left. Go to the Union Pacific crossing. At the intersection just past the crossing, take a left. You will notice a park to your left; this is the Robstown Memorial Park. The UP forms the boundary to the east, while the TM forms the boundary to the south. There is plenty of safe parking along TX-44Business during the day

Some other things you should know: The reason this is called "Memorial Park" is because that's what it is -- a memorial to those who have sacrificed far more than train-watching time for those of us who've come later. Let us pause for a moment to reflect. There are, after all, more important things in life that trains.

Also, sadly, it must be pointed out that you do NOT want to be here after dark.

NOTES: The HEB grocery store has a deli and everything else you could want, so if you starve to death here, it's because of your own stupidity. There are also some fast food places in the area, so even if you can't find HEB, you'll still not starve. Also, you can also ride the bus from Corpus up here: #27 Northwest Express and #33 Robstown Shuttle. both are within a reasonable walking distance of the junction.

With many thanks to Dominic Mazoch for these Texas goodies.

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ROSCOE(September 10, 2001)

This is a small town just to the west of Sweetwater, out in west Texas. It's on the UP's ex-MP, exx-T&P secondary main line between Dallas and El Paso, but that's not the main attraction. This was the southern terminus of the mighty Roscoe, Snyder and Pacific, which performed as a sort of bridge between the T&P and the ATSF up in Snyder. It was a successful short line for many years, and even though it has exited the railroad business, it now has a railcar refurbishing shop north of Roscoe. It's worth a visit.

You'll still find 4-6 RSP yard switchers, painted brown and orange, and lettered RS&P and for the company's subsidiary rail shops firm.

Kudos to John Walker, now a resident of North Carolina, for this entry.

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ROSENBERG (October 2004)

Rosenberg is about 30 miles southwest of Houston. Here, the joint BNSF (ex-ATSF) line from Galveston and the UP (ex-SP) line from Houston split to go on to Temple and San Antonio, respectively. As you can imagine, there is beaucoup traffic here. Reach Rosenberg via U.S. 90ALT from Houston. The split itself was governed by Tower 17, which has been closed by UP and donated to the Rosenberg Railroad Museum. The tower was moved in 2004, and is now located at the museum, which is at the corner of Avenue F and 3rd Street. The museum has regular hours, and much info can be found by searching for "Rosenberg Railroad Museum" via any general search engine, such as Google.

Going southwest on Main Street in town, you'll come to a corner with a Sonic drive-in on one corner, and a lumber company kitty corner to the Sonic. Turn right to get to the tracks and look left -- that is the split of the rails, and the prior location of Tower 17.

Thanks to Harvey Lawrence for this info. The executive director of the museum is Jana Smith, and she has also contributed info.

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ROSENBERG -- SPUR 10 (December 22, 1999)

On Spur-10, which connects U.S. 59, U.S. 90A, and TX-36, about 5 miles west of Rosenberg, Spur-10 crosses US90A and the UP (ex-SP) Sunset Route via a bridge. This bridge has a wide shoulder and no fence on top of it. Dominic suggests parking a little away from the bridge, and walking up the bridge's shoulders. WARNING: This route provides a by-pass for U.S. 90A and TX-36, via U.S. 59. Big trucks use the route. Watch traffic as you walk from one side of the bridge to the other.

With gracious thanks to Dominic Mazoch, who is a student of the railfan scene virtually everywhere.

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SAN ANTONIO -- AMTRAK STATION (January 8, 2000)

From the southeast, come into the city on I-37 to the Commerce Street Exit downtown. This is the exit after the Alamo Dome. Continue on the service road until you see a sign pointing to the Amtrak station on your right. Take this right, and the station, parking lot, and the SP's San Antonio station will be facing you. The Amtrak station is the building to the right. There is plenty of parking here, except when there is a big event at the nearby Alamo Dome, or when passenger trains are in the station. This is a new building, with the old SP-Mission Style depot now an upscale entertainment center called "Sunset Depot."

From the northwest, take the Commerce Street exit and turn left. Go under I-37, and go 2 blocks through St. Paul Square. At Hoefgen, just before the steam engine, turn right.

There are places to eat in the St. Paul Square area, and the station has vending machines.

The tracks run through here on a north-south orientation. For photos, AM shots are best from the sidewalk on Commerce Street just after crossing the tracks, on the other side of the station. PM photos can be taken off the platform. However, if Amtrak is in the way, the sidewalk on Commerce Street on the station side is OK.

The UP (ex-SP) Sunset Route mainline is here on the by-pass tracks.

With gracious thanks to Dominic Mazoch, who is a student of the railfan scene virtually everywhere.

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SAN ANTONIO -- KIRBY YARD

[WEBMASTER'S NOTE: Back before the 1980's, the yard in San Antonio was cramped and featured a major mainline curve behind the engine house, as well as a big turning loop in the yard itself, east of the engine house. The only place that I can remember being fit for pix was on a very narrow dirt road between rather non-high class homes and the refueling racks at the tracks themselves.

When Powder River Basin coal started flowing, San Antonio-area utilities signed contracts with SP/BN to move the coal to the area. However, once there, the railroads had to perform a sort of "Storage in Transit" or SIT function for the utilities. That is, they had to hold the trains until the utility told them to deliver it. Simply put, there was no such place available in the San Antonio area, as the yard was as cramped as ever. The solution was to build a few long, lateral SIT tracks out in the flat area at Kirby, and thus the "Kirby Yard" was born. This was not meant to be a classification yard, per se. In fact, it was not uncommon to see anywhere from 0-3 trains, including power, just sitting there waiting for the word to "go."

Apparently, after I was long gone, the Kirby holding tracks became more of a run-through fueling facility, but I don't have up-to-date on info on what else the facility might provide.] [End of Webmaster's note]

To get to the Kirby Yard, take I-35 or I-410 to the Fm-78 Kirby exit. Take FM-78 east. The yard will be on your left. [Warning: "FM" means that this is a "Farm to Market" road. However, don't get the idea that this is some bucolic tractor-laden country lane. Actually, this is a heavy urban road around the yard area.] There are no shoulders, and road rage is reportedly common. The Diamond Shamrock station about 1/4 mile east of I-410 is a safe place to park, and is across the street from the west side fueling racks. This is not high desert, but the heat index can cascade here, so bring plenty of water and an umbrella. Be wise.

As a modest update of this site, Dan Potempa notes that FM-78 was re-built during the 1997 time frame. It is now a 4-lane road with a center turn lane, and decent shoulders. Avoid the normal morning and evening rush hour times. The yard is not as busy as it was before the UP/SP merger, but it is still a treat. Dan says the best place to see the action is just east of the yard, on Gibbs-Sprawl Road, where there is less highway traffic, and you can see more of what is coming and going out of the yard.

With many thanks to Dominic Mazoch for these Texas goodies. Brother Dominic was helped by Dan Potempa and ye olde Webmaster.

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STRATFORD (October 7, 2000)

Way, way up at the very northern tip of the panhandle, two historic routes cross in this small town. These historic southeast/northwest and northeast/southwest routes were traveled long before there were Europeans in America, and are still traveled busily by two railroads and two important US highways. These routes cross in the small town of Stratford.

From the junction of U.S. 54 and U.S. 287 in the southwest quadrant of the town, the railroad crossing is about one football field west. It is accessible from several streets in the area, so lighting should not be a problem at most times of the day. The southwest/northeast route is the Tucumcari - Kansas City route of the old Rock Island, which was majorly upgraded by the Southern Pacific. Union Pacific runs a heck of a lot of trains over it today. The southeast/northwest route is an ex-ATSF route from the Gulf of Mexico to Denver, via Temple, Amarillo and Walsenburg. Neither of the lines are seeing traffic like the BNSF transcon to the south, but the two combined give plenty of interest and action to the fan.

The town of Stratford uses the old ATSF depot as a museum. It is a wood frame building several hundred yards east of the actual crossing.

Richard C. Hitchcock provided much of this info through an e-mail posting.

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SWEETWATER -- ATSF SHOPS

The BNSF (ex-ATSF) Clovis - Temple main line and UP (ex-MP, exx-T&P) main cross to the east of the city. North of the city is the site of the former ATSF shops, and there are generally several locos in the area. To get there from I-20, go north on TX-70 all the way through the city. Once you're back in the country, TX-70 will veer from a northeast to a straight north bias. It is on this curve that it crosses the BNSF main line. There is a sign for the railroad on TX-70.

Kudos to John Walker, now a resident of North Carolina, for this entry.

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TEMPLE -- ATSF DEPOT

Temple, in north central Texas, is a railroad town. Those of you who don't think any town in Texas can be a railroad town haven't been to Temple. This has been the site of ATSF might northeast of Houston for many, many years. Today, the BNSF Fort Worth, Lampasas, and Galveston subdivisions come together here. Traffic ranges from hot dog Z's to unit grain and coal to sputtering locals.

From I-35, exit at Central Avenue, and head east, towards downtown. You'll cross over part of the large BNSF yard in town, and at the first traffic light past the overpass, make a right turn (following the Amtrak station sign). Directly in front of you will be the parking lot of the Santa Fe Depot, now being restored as the local railroad and heritage museum. There is a BNSF locomotive facility here, and pictures can be had from the parking lot, but generally are best taken fairly early in the morning (with the best photo lighting on summer mornings). Bring a cooler, buddy!

With thanks to Joshua Chlapek of Temple for this good information.

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TEMPLE -- BNSF FUEL FACILITY (June 30, 2000)

From I-35, exit at Central Avenue, and head east, towards downtown. Take a right (south) onto 8th Street/Martin Luther King Boulevard. Follow 8th as it crosses Avenue H, and several blocks south of there, makes a turn to the left. This is the last left you can make before 8th Street dead-ends. As you turn left, you are entering Taylor Road. After you cross the Union Pacific tracks at Cobel Siding, you will see a bend in the road ahead, and an intersection with an overpass. The road on the overpass is 24th Street, and the overpass crosses over the north end of BNSF's six-track fuel facility. There are roads that access the facility; however, they are all clearly posted as no trespassing, and are often patrolled. This spot is best used for "eye-balling" what trains are waiting to depart.

With thanks to Joshua Chlapek of Temple for this good information.

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TEMPLE -- MKT DEPOT

From I-35, exit at Central Avenue, and head east, towards downtown. Indeed, continue past the BNSF tracks and Amtrak depot's parking lot (the depot itself is difficult to see), until you eventually come to the ex-Katy depot by Union Pacific's ex-MKT ("Katy") tracks. The depot has a mission-style architecture, featuring a tall tower with a concrete "Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railway Co. of Texas" emblem on it. A few good pix can be had here and from the Adams Avenue overpass immediately next to it, but in this area of town, alas, having a least one male railfanning companion along is highly recommended.

With thanks to Joshua Chlapek of Temple for this good information.

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