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Plastic Pellets Passing Through Pasadena

April 27, 2010

I got out a bit this past Sunday. There were some errands to run on the east side of town. As it was sunny, I felt it prudent to grab the camera case just in case I saw something. Nothing like mixing work and play, right?

I didn’t see much of anything until I went by the UP’s Strang sub in Pasadena, a suburb on Houston’s east side.  In the distance, I saw a westbound train. I knew I could get some nice light on it, so off I went to get ahead of it.

BN 4774 approaches the Vince Bayou Bridge in Pasadena, TX on April 25, 2010

We’re at MP 10.5 of the UP Strang sub, a seemingly unremarkable stretch of trackage in an industrial setting. Yet within a mile of this location is the spot where in 1836, General Santa Anna was captured after the Battle of San Jacinto, the battle that established Texan independence from Mexico.

BN 4774 on the approach to Manchester Jct. in southeast Houston on April 25, 2010

I moved up to Manchester Junction, MP 5.9, where the PTRA converges with the UP. The train is coming out of a little wooded area that’s at the edge of a small park that’s adjacent to the track.

A classic wedge view of the BNSF 4774 at Manchester Junction

The train was short, only 20 cars of MLLX hoppers loaded with plastic pellets. MLLX is the reporting mark for Montell USA, a plastic manufacturer since acquired by Basell USA which then merged with Lyondell Petrochemical to form LyondellBasell. And you thought that banks changed their names a lot!

Note the PTRA trackage converging with the UP just beyond the signal

As the signal for the 4774 was a hard yellow, I went ahead to see if it would stop at the Katy Neck. It didn’t, but as luck would have it, the 4774 was moving slow enough that I was able to get ahead of it and set up at the north end of  Booth siding. After a few minutes, the 4774 appeared in the distance, but seemingly on the wrong track. As it got closer, it became apparent that the 4774 was going into Booth Yard.

No problem. Plenty of time to re-position for the different route.

BN 4774 entering Booth Yard in southeast Houston, April 25, 2010

As the head-end slowly went by me, the conductor was already on the ground with paperwork in hand. They apparently had some work to do here at Booth, so the chase will end here.

P.S. I could not resist the allure of alliteration for the title of this post. Sorry…

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