On March 19, I visited the copper mining region (what's left of it) near Hurley in southwestern New Mexico. I hadn't been to Hurley in five or six years, so it was interesting to go back. With the downscaling of the region's copper mining operations, the town and its railroad (the Southwestern) have really fallen on hard times. The town's landmark smokestacks no longer loom over the copper smelter... they were demolished in 2007.
empty tracks and idle locomotives at Hurley, NM Southwestern 2164 - Hurley NM. March 19, 2008 long hood of Santa Fe GP-7 # 2211 at Hurley.
The main attraction at Hurley, since the Southwestern started up in the early 1990s, is the SW's fleet of former Phelps-Dodge GP30s, which still occasionally operate. These were the only GP30s built for an industrial customer rather than a line-haul railroad.
GP30 #30 appears to have been out of service for a while...
... but the 28 still operates. GP30 # 25 still wears its Phelps-Dodge paint scheme. Symbolic of the line's hard luck: station sign at Whitewater.
In 2001, Southwestern acquired the BNSF Deming Subdivision (Rincon to Deming) which allowed SWRR to diversify its traffic base and gain some overhead traffic between BNSF at Rincon and the UP at Deming. Now their fortunes are no longer subject exclusively to the production fluctuations of the copper industry. If the Southwestern's operations in this part of New Mexico have any sort of future, this is where it will be...
The only train I saw moving on the SWRR on March 19: a westbound, powered by a pair of GP40s with 18 cars in tow, passes the siding of Mirage a few miles northeast of Deming.
We're not through yet... I've got plenty more from New Mexico and El Paso to share in the days ahead. Stay tuned...
np: the Greencards - "Far side of the hill"
Labels: Deming New Mexico, GP30, Hurley New Mexico, New Mexico, Phelps-Dodge, Southwestern Railroad, train photos