Eastbound in the Middle of Nowhere…
The drive from El Paso to San Antonio on U.S. Highway 90 is about 620 miles through some of the most desolate terrain in the U.S. The biggest town on this drive is Del Rio, yet its population is only 46,000.
Why Highway 90? Wouldn’t Interstate 10 be quicker?
Of course I-10 is quicker, but Hwy 90 follows the ex-SP Sunset Route mainline!
It’s early on June 16, 1985. A fresh crew has just departed Sanderson, Texas with a seemingly endless LAAVT (Los Angeles, CA to Avondale, LA Trailers). The train is about to pass under the Hwy 90 overpass.
Not only is this the middle of nowhere, but it just happens to be very near the mid-point of the run between El Paso to San Antonio.
El Paso is MP 827 of the Sunset Route. Sanderson is 297 miles to the east at MP 506. Travel another 321 miles east and you’ll be in San Antonio.
Sanderson was a crew change point on the SP before ID (inter-division) runs were implemented. The crew districts in 1985 were El Paso-Valentine, Valentine-Sanderson,Sanderson-Del Rio, and Del Rio to San Antonio.
Inter-division runs typically combined two districts into one, but the distances were too great to do that on the El Paso-San Antonio run.
Currently, the UP crew districts are El Paso-Alpine, Alpine-Del Rio, and Del Rio-San Antonio.