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The Termite Train – Santa Fe Style

March 5, 2010

Two Santa Fe Geeps work a "termite train" at PTRA's Manchester yard in Houston on Dec. 9, 1990

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…

One Comment leave one →
  1. April 25, 2010 6:58 pm

    Nice shot, we don’t run the “Termite Train” anymore as the only papermill on the PTRA shut down several years ago, Manchester Yard has been rebuilt and expanded to include 26 yard tracks as well as a runaround track since the Central Street overpass has finally become a reality, great site you have here Robert.

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