The Termite Train – Santa Fe Style
ATSF 2120 and 2195, GP7 graduates of Santa Fe’s Cleburne rebuilding program, are switching a cut of MP wood chip cars. The train is at the PTRA’s (Port Terminal Railway Association) Manchester Yard in southeast Houston.
“Termite train” was the nickname train crews gave to trains whose cargo was wood chips. The chips would travel in high-sided open hoppers for delivery to the various paper mills on the east side of Houston.
The MP and the SP both operated this type of train to the Houston area until the mid 1990′s, when the last paper mill closed down.
These cars are en route to the Champion Mill that was in Pasadena, Texas. The cars were transferred to the PTRA, the Houston area terminal railroad, that actually served the Champion plant.
Historically, the PTRA used engines from the railroads that jointly owned it, the MP, ATSF, SP, BN, and until 1980, the Rock Island.
The PTRA did acquire its own power in 1996, but that’s another topic…