While driving AZ 80 from Douglas to Lordsburg NM, we paralleled miles of abandoned roadbed that did not appear in my old Rand McNally Handy Railroad Map for Arizona and New Mexico. I suspected it was the El Paso & Southwestern which became a Southern Pacific subsidiary in the 1920s.
1. This is not the east, so abandoned railroad right-of-way doesn’t grow up in trees after a few years. SP abandoned the old EP&SW from Douglas east to El Paso evidently in the mid-60s for a portion of this line still shows up in the Tucson-Rio Grande Div. emp. timetable for 04-29-1962. EP&SW road bed near Apache AZ.
2. SP Tucson-Rio Grande timetable. Click here for a larger image.
3. SP (EP&SW) roadbed in the foreground looking west near Apache AZ.
4. Monument at Apache AZ, commemorating the surrender of Apache chief Geronimo.
5. Nelson Miles was a veteran of the Civil War and went on to serve in the Spanish American War. Geronimo surrender monument plaque. Apache AZ.
6. We arrived in Lordsburg late in the day. We exited off I-10 onto Motel Drive and checked into a small mom-and-pop motel. Lordsburg was not near as large as I had expected. It is somewhat of a rest stop on I-10, but the population is 2,800 which is a drop from the 2000 census. Lordsburg card.
Lordsburg is also midway between Tucson and El Paso which made it a crew change point on the Southern Pacific’s “Sunset Route.” Soon after checking in, I heard a train. I walked out to Motel Street (old US 80). Over a couple of hours I observed a constant stream of freight and intermodal trains. One e/b freight set off and picked up. I could see signals in both directions, and the dispatcher was very busy. Lordsburg is also the interchange with the Arizona Eastern, a Genesee & Wyoming short line that operates the former SP branch northwest to Clifton AZ.
7. The next morning, Tuesday 04-30-2019, I left Sue asleep and headed out for a few hours of railfanning. UP SD70Ms 5079-4431 were the yard engines. Lordsburg NM.
8. There is a clear on westbound signal 11497 track 1. UP signal 11497 track 2 wb. Lordsburg NM.
9. Something is approaching from the east. UP signal 11498 track 2 eb. Lordsburg NM.
10. UP 2728-7254 sail through town with a w/b freight and intermodal. Lordsburg NM.
11. UP 2728-7254, View 2. Lordsburg NM.
12. DPUs like UP 7232-6515 are common on most trains. Lordsburg NM.
13. The yard job drags cars out of the yard which is also the Arizona Eastern interchange. Looks line another westbound train coming on track 2. UP 5079-4431. Lordsburg NM.
14. UP 5079-4431, SD70M. View 2. Lordsburg NM.
15. UP doesn’t worry about blocking this crossing, as there is an underpass nearby. That’s the yard office on the right. UP 4431-5079. View 3. Lordsburg NM.
16. The yard job backs west. UP 5079-4431. View 4. Lordsburg NM.
17. Amtrak’s tri-weekly Sunset Limited stops here during the day. UP 5079-4431. Lordsburg NM.
18. UP 8510-7235-NS 9860 slam through Lordsburg without slowing down. The NS engine should be no surprise considering all the UP power we see on NS. Lordsburg NM.
19. UP DPUs 7143-7295 are in the middle of the train. Some McClure met coal trains run that way here. Lordsburg NM.
20. UP signal 11483 track 2 wb. Lordsburg NM.
21. UP signal 11482 track 2 eb. Lordsburg NM.
There is a prospect of more trains, but we have to get going. Besides its getting’ hot. We have made the decision to not travel further east but to head north to Silver City.
Trains Magazine had a good Train-Watching “Hot Spot” article in the March issue on Lordsburg. This influenced our decision to stop there for a brief exposure to a high volume main line.
I didn’t forget the Arizona Eastern. More on that later.