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West Texas and Lubbock Railroad Whiteface Line The High Plains Drifter 11/20/2010

Trip sponsored by the Southern Appalachia Railway Museum

by Chris Guenzler

I jumped on Bart Jenning's rare mileage trips and got tickets to do the whole series of trips. Randy Jackson and I agreed to drive from Albuquerque and I got a room in Lubbock for the three nights needed there. I got tickets to fly to Albuquerque on Southwest Airlines so I just then waited for this trip to start.

Flying to Albuquerque 11/19/2010

I was up at 5:30 AM and following breakfast along with my morning chores, I was taken down to John Wayne Airport and breezed through security. I then got on-line and paid my speeding ticket from my Bloomfield, Iowa incident last week on the way to the QJ Chinese Rocket to Council Bluffs Trip. I boarded Southwest Flight 1601 to Las Vegas which was quick and yes there are slot machines in the Las Vegas Airport. I then boarded Southwest Airline Flight 254 which took me in just over an hour to Albuquerque. I followed Randy's excellent directions then ran into Marie who pointed me to Randy waiting in the car. We left Albuquerque by driving south to Belen on Interstate 25 then ran east to join up with US Highway 60 which we would take east. We drove through Abo Canyon and stopped at the Highway Bridge at the east end and had a red over green signal so we waited for the train.

The views looking both ways off the bridge. Just before the train arrived another one of our rare mileage passengers showed up and we heard the eastbound train coming through Abo Canyon.

BNSF 6605 East passing through our photo location. We returned to the car and drove east to our next stop.

The Santa Fe Station in Mountainair, New Mexico. We headed east on US 60.

We found another westbound BNSF train east of Mountainair.

BNSF 5194 was the lead unit on that westbound BNSF train.

The Willard Curve just west of Willard, New Mexico.

US 60 allows for excellent passing shots of the BNSF 6605 which we played cat and mouse with for many miles as we both headed east.

BNSF 5367 West just a few miles west of Vaughn.

Where the Union Pacific goes under the BNSF just west of Vaughn.

The Santa Fe Station in Vaughn, New Mexico.

Another BNSF stack train we just missed going by the Vaughn Station. From here we drove east to Clovis where we met Dave and Kathie at Sandra's Home Cookin where we had a slow dinner. After that we stopped to refuel in Muleshoe and then drove into Lubbock to the Super 8 Motel for the next two nights. I got on-line and bought my first Trainfestival 2011 ticket to Iowa City on July 23, 2011. After that I called it a night.


I got up at 5:30 AM and worked on the story this morning before meeting Randy and Marie and we drove over to the boarding site at the Lubbock Water Park. I checked in with Sarah Jennings then went to get pictures of our train this morning before our trip started.

Our train waiting for our passengers to board.

West Texas & Lubbock 3635.

SLRG Full Dome 509.

Two ex Long Island Demonstration Cars SLRG 3009.

SLRG Full Dome 512

ILSX 1386

One more view of our train before I boarded the first SLRG 509.

West Texas & Lubbock Railway History

The Crosbyton-Southplains Railroad Company was chartered on April 6, 1910 and then built 38 miles of track from Lubbock to Crosbyton. In 1915 the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway Company acquired the railroad and renamed it the South Plains and Santa Fe Railway Company on August 17, 1916. The South Plains and Santa Fe was then leased to the Panhandle and Santa Fe on July 1, 1917 and operated by the latter company until they merged in 1948. Just a year after the lease, on July 1, 1918, the South Plains and Santa Fe completed a 64 mile line from Lubbock to Seagraves.

The Panhandle and Santa Fe Railway Company was one of the two major operating subsidiaries of the AT&SF Railway in Texas. It owned or leased virtually all Santa Fe properties west of Sweetwater with lines covering the Panhandle and South Plains regions as well as a line across the Trans-Pecos to Presidio.

By the 1920's, railroad operated in all directions out of Lubbock except directly west. In an attempt to prevent another carrier from entering the area from that direction, the South Plains and Santa Fe Railway built westward from Doud completing a 65 mile extension through Whiteface to Bledsoe, Texas, in 1925.

The SPSF and PSF were eventually merged in into the AT&SF. The Santa Fe sold the two lines on April 2, 1990 {minus the Bledsoe to Whiteface trackage abandoned in 1948} to the Seagraves, Whiteface and Lubbock Railroad. The SW&L was purchased by shortline holding company RailAmerica on November 1, 1995. RailAmerica soon renamed the railroad the West Texas & Lubbock Railroad. On May 25, 2002, the railroad was again sold, this time to the Permian Basin Railways.

Today's West Texas & Lubbock Railway

The West Texas & Lubbock Railway operates 107 miles of railroad on two lines extending from Lubbock, TX to Seagraves and Whiteface. The railroad serves the agricultural area west and southwest of Lubbock and the oil fields of west Texas. The primary commodities hauled are fertilizer, construction aggregates, grain, cotton, chemicals, peanuts, plastic and ethanol. In 2007 the WT&L bought the BNSF line between Plainview and Dimmet, which the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad subsidiary Fort Worth and Denver South Plains Railway had completed in 1928.

The Permian Basin Railway is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Iowa Pacific Holding. PBR was formed in May, 2002 to purchase the Texas-New Mexico Railroad and the West Texas & Lubbock Railway {WTLC}, collectively the Permian Basin Railways. Subsequent railroad acquisitions by IPH have been under the umbrella of PBR. In addition to the TNMR and WTLC, PBR owns the Arizona Eastern Railway {AZER} and the San Luis & Rio Grande {SLRG} acquired in December 2005. Additional acquisitions have included the Chicago Terminal Railroad {opened in 2006} and the Mount Hood Railroad {acquired in 2007}.

Our Trip

After all of our passengers had boarded we left Lubbock Water Park and headed out to the Broadview Subdivision to start off our day. This is the new line built as part of the Texas Department of Transportation highway project in Lubbock County.

We left the Lubbock Water Park and headed north rounding the curve into Douds Yard.

Douds Yard with the Douds sign.

Cotton Fields as we headed to the BNSF Property Line.

Cotton Fields and oil wells.

The train ran to the BNSF property line.

We all unloaded for a static photo session.

The static photo at the BNSF property line.

Our group at the BNSF property line.

One more view of our train as we headed back to board the train.

One more view of the BNSF property line.

The Permian Basin Railroad Symbol as I reboarded the train.

We headed back to the wye with the line to Levelland where we would detrained for a photo runby.

Bart Jennings.

We detrained for the Photo Runby #1 at the Reese Wye.

Train getting ready to back up for the Photo Runby.

The back up move.

Photo Runby #1 at the Reese Wye.

The reverse move before we reboarded the train.

Our train took the northwest leg of the wye and we headed towards Levelland.

A unique green area in West Texas around this home.

Where the paved road turns to dirt.

Reese Air Force Base to our north.

Click here for Part 2 of this story