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Harlem, Texas – Before & After

December 10, 2010

Harlem, Texas is an unincorporated area between Sugar Land and Richmond. It’s main claim to fame is a short Union Pacific (ex-Southern Pacific) siding that originally extended between MP 29 and MP 30.3 of UP’s Glidden subdivision mainline.

Due to the Harlem Road grade crossing near the mid-point of the siding, it wasn’t used much unless the train going in was very short. As a result, the UP extended the siding one mile to the east about 3 years ago.

Over the years I’ve photographed a few trains at Harlem. Let’s look at one of my first shots there, and my most recent effort. (Click any image to enlarge it)

Southern Pacific LAAVT train at Harlem TX in 1981

SP hotshot LAAVT (LA - Avondale Trailers) enters the west end of Harlem on May 3, 1981

Union Pacific rock train at harlem, TX

A loaded Union Pacific rock train enters the west end of Harlem siding on Oct. 5, 2010

At first glance, other than the color of the diesels, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of change at this location over the past 30 years.

A closer look reveals many changes, some subtle, others quite dramatic.

  1. The tree at right has grown quite a bit over the past 30 years.
  2. The code line was removed years ago.
  3. The condition of the physical plant is dramatically improved. No weeds or jointed rail on today’s Glidden sub mainline.
  4. The concrete signal equipment cabin has been replaced with an aluminum one, but the searchlight signal remains.

PS – I can’t believe 30 years has gone by!

One Comment leave one →
  1. Christopher Zurek permalink
    December 17, 2010 7:14 am

    Oh yeah, the old days of the SP…at least for me. I was in high school back then, and I remember that the eastern end of the SP was really a dump. Heck, just get west of Flatonia and the SP was in much better shape due to the Blue Streak.

    In a little over a year from when that SP picture was taken the Bellaire Branch was about to reopen, and there would be less of a chance of catching meets around Harlem due to most westbounds being run on the Bellaire.

    I miss the SP.

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