Riding the Rails of Val Verde County

In October 2013, the Union Pacific Railroad sent a train to Del Rio. Actually, the Union Pacific sends many trains to and through Del Rio. But this one was special. The train of October 16, 2013 was a passenger train, and Doug Braudaway of the Val Verde County Historical Commision got to take a ride on it. Thanks go to the Union Pacific's Ivan Jaime for arranging the ride.

This page has twenty images from one of my cameras. There were a bunch of us with cameras.

 

Picture #1: Trains are cool. Don't bother to argue. Just accept the facts. Trains are cool.
Below is a pic of one of the locomotives that drove a bunch of Del Rio VIPs and one VVCHC website editor across Val Verde County. Notice the locomotive is a UP engine that has the SP logo on the end. The original track through Val Verde County were laid by the Southern Pacific (SP) during 1881-1883. The SP network of rails and rolling stock is now owned by the Union Pacific Railroad Company (UP).

2013 train ride picture

 

Picture #2: The passengers for this excursion rode in several cars including two of these observation cars, cars with an elevated deck and windows allowing better visibility for the passengers.

2013 train ride picture

 

Picture #3: This is a view from the inside of the observation car. It is a very nice ride.

2013 train ride picture

 

Picture #4: This is the Del Rio depot from the observation car. This brick construction depot was built about 1929 replacing the old wood construction depot built in the 1880s.

2013 train ride picture

 

Picture #5: The rail line that trains travel on now is not the exact rail line laid in the 1880s. The original line was relocated and rebuilt to carry trains over Lake Amistad and to cut a more direct path across Val Verde County. This appears to be a bridge from the old line, unused but still in place much closer to the Rio Grande than the current tracks.

2013 train ride picture

 

Picture #6: This is Amistad Dam as seen from the train. The old line used to lie though the exact site of the Dam.

2013 train ride picture

 

Picture #7: When Amistad Dam and Lake Amistad were created, both the railroad line and U.S. Highway 90 had to be moved. New, much higher bridges were constructed to carry trains and automobiles over the man-made lake. Normally, I am on the highway bridge looking at the railroad bridge. This is my first time on the railroad bridge looking back.

2013 train ride picture

 

Picture #8: This image of the north end of the U.S. 90 bridge over Lake Amistad shows evidence of the drought conditions in Val Verde County for the last few years. The dark marks on the bridge support columns show the normal water level of the lake.

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Picture #9: The train ride took us over the Pecos River Canyon. The railroad crosses the canyon north/upriver from the highway bridge.

2013 train ride picture

 

Picture #10: After taking us past the Pecos, the train reversed course and took us back toward Del Rio. Ahead is the Pecos River Bridge, or Viaduct. This was built in 1944, bigger and stronger than the original Viaduct. This World War II construction was important for the war effort, carrying munitions and manpower across the country.

2013 train ride picture

 

Picture #11: The concrete once supported a water tank. During the First and Second World Wars, the U.S. Army stationed soldiers at the High Bridge to protect it from destruction.

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Picture #12: This linear pile of rock and soil used to support the tracks leading to the original Pecos River Viaduct, built in 1891. Because trains had grown in size and weight during the half-century following, by World War II, trains had to stop and then cross the old Viaduct slowly. This slowage prompted the construction of the new Viaduct in Photo #10.

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Picture #13: I thought I saw this on our first ride over the Canyon, but I was not certain until the train stopped on the Viaduct on the return trip.

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Picture #14: The rooftop on the left is the old watchman's house. Even during non-wartime years, the SP kept someone onsite to keep an eye on the Viaduct. The four concrete blocks are bridge supports from the original Viaduct.

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Picture #15: This is the kind of view we had on the way back to Del Rio. Val Verde is covered with dry streambeds, and all of them have to be crossed by bridges large and small.

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Picture #16: The newer railroad line cuts through landscape features; whereas, the old line tend to go around these kinds of hills.

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Picture #17: This is an image of the train approaching the railroad bridge over Lake Amistad.

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Picture #18: This image shows part of Del Rio's very important canal system in the southwest part of town.

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Picture #19: Sadly, the ride came to an end. Here, the train is approaching the Del Rio station.

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Picture #20: The Southern Pacific operated this rail line from Louisiana to Texas to New Mexico to Arizona to California. When passengers rode trains in the 1800s and early 1900s, the rail line was called the Sunset Route which was symbolized in the SP logo.

2013 train ride picture