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The Journey East As Far As Wichita 5/26-28/2023

by Chris Guenzler

Elizabeth and I use the Railroad Station Historical Society's website a great deal when planning trips and therefore decided to join the Society last year. Their annual convention was to be held in Toledo, Ohio this year and we signed up to attend. To get there, we would drive, following the Santa Fe Transcon mainline as far as Streator, Illinois then other depots along the way. While in Indiana, we planned a visit to the National New York Central Museum then more depots on the way to the Rockhill Trolley Museum, followed by Steamtown to ride the train and the adjacent Electric City Trolley Museum to ride their trolley.

Next would be a visit to the Lake Shore Railroad Museum then attend the convention followed by more depots and covered bridges on the way to Cass, West Virginia for a Cass to Durbin ride. Two days later we would ride Western Maryland Scenic Railroad behind a diesel then the next day, the J&L Railroad at the Youngstown Steel Heritage Museum. June 18th would find us riding behind Nickel Plate Railroad 765 on the Tri-State Excursion and three days later, a visit to our good friend David Cantlin and his wife in Sallisaw, Oklahoma before starting to return home.

5/26/2023 Elizabeth and I awoke and after a good breakfast, packed our cases then loaded the car and soon were off to the post office to stop the mail. Elizabeth drove us to California Highway 22 to California Highway 55 to California Highway 91 to Interstate 15. Here, both at the California Highway 60 and Interstate 10 junctions, we hit stop-and-go traffic but managed to get by this, only to find an accident in Cajon Pass that made for more slow running. Once we passed that, we started moving at freeway speeds and she drove Interstate 15 to Interstate 40, where we saw ten BNSF trains between Dagget and Ludlow. After stopped at the rest area east of Newberry Springs, we switched drivers with me now behind the wheel. Five more BNSF trains were seen before Kingman, where we had linner at Jersey Mike's before filling the car with petrol at Smith's. Climbing the grade east of the US 93 exit, we saw smoke rising and everyone rode in the left lane to get by.

The tractor that somehow caught fire. Interstate 40 was a rather rough road on which to drive as the trucks have done a number on it over the year. I continued to drive us east of Flagstaff to the Walnut Canyon National Park exit where we swiched drivers again and Elizabeth then drove us to the Quality Inn in Winslow. After putting our luggage in the room, we walked around this hotel four times get some well-deserved exercise after sitting in the car all day. I then wrote this part of the story while Elizabeth did her own things on her laptop then I played a bit of Solitaire before we called at a night.

5/27/2023 We arose in Winslow and following our Internet duties, I drove us east one exit to Denny's where we had an excellent breakfast and three BNSF freight trains passed by the restaurant's windows while we waited. I then drove us into New Mexico and after stopping at the Welcome Center, we made our way to Belen and the Harvey House. Elizabeth toured the museum while I photographed a few trains outside.

Santa Fe Belen station is east of the Harvey House and was built in 1909.

BNSF SD40-2 1634, ex. BNSF 6753, exx. BNSF 1634, nee Santa Fe 5094, built by Electro-Motive Division in 1979.

Belen Harvey House built in 1909. It had a first-class dining room and a lunchroom with a large horseshoe-shaped marble counter. The Harvey Girls lived upstairs, as did the dorm mother and the office manager and his wife. In the 1940's, it briefly reopened during World War II, with many Harvey Girls coming out of retirement to serve troop trains. In the 1950's, it became the Santa Fe Reading Room for railroad employees, serving as a breakroom and dormitory through the 1970s.

Boarded up and readied for demolition, a campaign by citizens of Belen saved the building from being torn down. In 1982, the Santa Fe Railroad donated the building to the City of Belen and hundreds of volunteers began restoring the building. The Harvey House reopened in 1985 as a civic center, a scattering of government and non-profit offices and small museum. Activities took a toll on the aging building, so to ensure its preservation, it was repurposed and became completely devoted to the Harvey House Museum, which features a strong collection of railroad and Belen historical artifacts and information. In 2013, the Valencia County Historical Society turned over management of the museum to the City of Belen. Today, the Harvey House Museum specializes in Harvey House, railroad and Southwest history as a branch of the Belen Public Library.

BNSF 8559 West with Norfolk Southern AC44C4M 4325 built by General Electric in 1997. We headed east to US Highway 60

The clouds were beautiful but causing severe thunderstorms to where our hotel was in Tucumcari.

BNSF 3776 West with a Military Train west of CP Lucy east of Willard, New Mexico. I drove us to Vaughn where we switched drivers and Elizabeth drove us towards Tucumcari on US Highway 54.

More of those beautiful clouds.

There is a rainbow in this picture.

A closer view of the rainbow. We soon arrived in Tucumcari and went to the Stone House Steakhouse, where I enjoyed a top sirloin and Elizabeth had chicken breast; both meals were excellent. We then checked into the Holiday Inn Express and I wrote today's story before we called it a night.

5/28/2023 After arising and doing the regular morning preparations, we went down to the lobby for a hotel breakfast then packed and checked out before I drove us into Texas on Interstate 40. We took exit 97 and went north on Texas 207 to US 60 East to Panhandle and our first station of the day.

Santa Fe Panhandle station built in 1926. The town was enjoying an oil boom and had a population pushing 2,000 souls when this impressive brick depot was built in 1928. Santa Fe had plans for county seat depots that it "reused" at many locations over the first two decades of the 20th century, but by the 1920's, construction of new brick depots was infrequent enough that most new structures were system uniques. The only depot known to share common traits with Panhandle is the 1925-built depot 44 miles to the west at Canyon, Texas. After retirement, Panhandle's depot was covered into the city hall.

Two historical plaques, one of the depot and a Texas historical sign. We continued on to Pampa.

Santa Fe Pampa station built in 1888. In the 1950's, the tracks in front of this station were elevated as part of a grade-separation project for a nearby street. The freight room of the depot was raised to the new track level, but the passenger and office portions remained at their original elevation, resulting in an odd split-level appearance.

We then proceeded to Miami, Texas.

There is a semaphore signal here.

Southern Kansas Railway Company of Texas, later Santa Fe, station built in 1888. It served this community until 1978, then moved a short distance and now serves as the Roberts County Museum.

The plaque on the station's wall. The next station on our list was Canadian, Texas.

Santa Fe Canadian station built in 1907, burnt and was rebuilt in 1910. This modest brick structure replaced a classic brick county seat depot at Canadian in 1976. Although passenger service was gone by that date, a 1979 book of Officers, Agents, Stations, Departments and Traffic Offices does list an open freight agency at Canadian staffed by O.G. Rile. Today, it is moved off the railroad and is the River Valley Pioner Museum.

I drove us to Glazier for our last station in Texas.

Santa Fe Exell station built in 1931.

Santa Fe St. Francis station built in 1912, to a standard for branchlines built to the "obsolete" pre-1910 plans. Both this and the Excell depots found their way to Glazier, where they were converted into a residence. Glazier's own depots both met with tragedy - the first one burned and the second was blown apart by a tornado.

From here I drove us into Oklahoma to the community of Shattuck.

Santa Fe station from Quinlan, Texas, built in 1902. Quinlan was an example of a simple, unadorned depot style built at many smaller towns on the main line west of Wellington around the turn of the 20th century. The structures had plain board and batten siding with low roofs, and did not even merit the trademark Santa Fe dormer bay window. Quinlan was retired in 1965 and found its way to Shattuck, being used as a residence, with new siding.

Santa Fe Quinlan section house built in 1902. We then crossed the railroad tracks in search of the other station, but had two surprises in store first.


BNSF 5307 West came through Shattuck.

Bolton's Wheat Express GP10 1005, ex. National Railway Equipment 1005, exx. Kiamachi Railroad 1005, exxxx. Conrail 7590, wxxxxx. Penn Central 7253, nee Pennsylvania GP9 7253, built by Electro-Motive Division in 1959.

Santa Fe Shattuck station built in 1918. The waiting room and freight room portions were moved a short distance from the railroad and incorporated into a lumber yard, and the office portion was presumably dismantled.

We proceeded on to Gage.

Santa Fe Gage station built in 1904 which started life as a fairly standard pre-1910 Santa Fe frame depot. In 1956 is was rebuilt with asbestos siding, shortened and shorn of its bay window. In the 1970's, it was sold to a local feed company and moved back from the tracks a short distance.

Mooreland was our last stop of the day.

BNSF 7307 East with Norfolk Southern AC44C6M 4216 in the motive power set.

Santa Fe Mooreland station, year unknown. We switched drivers and were making our way to Wichita as we drove through Freedom, Oklahoma, where a stop was necessary.

Santa Fe Freedom station built by one of its predecessors, the Buffalo and Northwestern Railroad. This line extended from Waynoka to Buffalo, Oklahoma, passing through Freedom. When citizens of Harper County decided to link their county seat of Buffalo with the railroads, Waynoka was an appealing destination: that locale had been founded in 1888 on the rail line of a subsidiary of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway and by 1908, it had the largest railyards in Oklahoma. Accordingly, the Buffalo and Northwestern Railway Company was incorporated in Oklahoma on April 10, 1916. However, that company was subsequently reorganized and in its place, the Buffalo and Northwestern Railroad Company was incorporated in Oklahoma on July 18, 1919.

Work was pursued on a line from Waynoka, passing through Woods and Woodward countries and into Harper, with the task completed in May 1920 when the trackage reached Buffalo. The line was about 52 miles in length. The town of Freedom was bypassed by the tracks. However, so important was the railroad that the town relocated to be on the line. The railroad's independent existence was short-lived as the line was purchased by the AT&SF on July 1, 1920. Much later, the AT&SF filed for abandonment of 51 miles of the line, doing so on November 15, 1982. This has left Buffalo with no rail service.

Santa Fe wide version caboose 999701 built by International Car in 1978.

Elizabeth drove us to near Wichita and I resumed the driver's seat for the rest of the way to Cracker Barrel, where I had roast beef and Elizabeth had trout, before we checked into to the Best Western Plus Airport Hotel for the night.