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Evolution of a Switcher – HB&T SW9 31

April 6, 2010

The Houston Belt and Terminal Railway Company was chartered on August 31, 1905, to provide passenger and freight terminals in Houston for four railroads that eventually became the MP, ATSF, BN and Rock Island.

The company no longer exists, its assets and operations divided among the UP and the BNSF in the mid 1990’s.

HB&T diesels wore two colors over its history: black until the late 1970’s, and an attractive yellow until the end.

The only exception was SW9 31. As HB&T’s bi-centennial unit, it sported red, white and blue for a few years during the bi-centennial era, 1975-1979.

HB&T 31 in as-delivered black with yellow frame stripe at Milby St. roundhouse on August 1974

Looking slightly less austere, HB&T 31 works Old South Yard in Houston, April 25, 1976

HB&T 31 in its final colors at HB&T's Milby Street Roundhouse on Oct. 2, 1982

HB&T was retired in 1986. It was acquired by then start-up railroad Wisconsin Central. It became WC 1231.

WC operated the unit in HB&T colors for several years before painting it in WC colors

WC 1231 shown here at Spooner WI in June 1994

The unit that began its career in 1951 as Houston Belt & Terminal was finally retired for good in 2002. 51 years after leaving the EMD erecting floor, it became a casualty of the Canadian National acquisition of the WC.

Retired WC SW9 1231 at Memphis, TN in 2002, being stripped of reusable components

One Comment leave one →
  1. Rick Malo permalink
    January 14, 2011 6:43 pm

    I used to watch those HB&T switchers when I could talk Mom into making the drive from Meyerland to the old Fedmart store (T&NO JCT) for grocery shopping (train watching).

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