Surprise Espee Catch
Our oldest son, Andy, took several weeks of leave to visit us in early July. When it was time for him to return to Dyess AFB in Abilene, he drove via his normal route, Texas Hwy 36. It’s a straight shot from Rosenberg all the way to Abilene. It also has some nice scenery, as it parallels the BNSF Galveston sub mainline from Rosenberg to Temple.
He returned to Abilene two Mondays ago, July 16th, about 11:30 A.M. Shortly after noon, he called me to tell me that he had just seen a northbound rock train on the BNSF, several miles south of Sealy. Power was one unit, an un-patched Southern Pacific locomotive! Did I mention he’s a hard-core SP fan that’s quite bothered by the fact that he was born in 1990, way too late to properly experience the SP?
But he hadn’t been able to get a shot of it since he encountered it. I told him that it was a Union Pacific train and that it would probably make a left at Sealy onto the old MKT mainline, now UP’s Smithville Sub. His one chance at a decent shot (at noon in July!) would be somewhere off of FM 1094. I gave him some directions and wished him luck.
Ten minutes later, he calls back to tell me that the train did in fact take the route I mentioned, and that he was stoked to get his first shot of an SP unit leading a train since ever.
Other than the red nose being faded, the unit looks pretty good considering its age, almost 17 1/2 years at this writing. When I say “looks pretty good”, that is, of course, a relative term.
Let’s look at an image of SP 177 from 1999, when it looked absolutely, not relatively, pretty good.
Can you believe that it’s been 16 years since the UP took over the SP? Neither can I…