Monday, December 15, 2008

heading home

Saturday, November 8...

Before we started back toward north Texas, I spent a few hours along the former Texas & Pacific main line (now the UP Toyah Subdivision) in far west Texas between Van Horn and Sierra Blanca. The temperature was in the low 20s, and the dispatcher was having lots of trouble with frozen switches and broken rails. Lots of trains were nearby, but the cold weather trouble was slowing them down. Still, I managed to catch a few... it's always an enjoyable experience to shoot a few photos along the tracks in one of my favorite parts of the state.

Westbound MFWEP rolls downgrade approaching Allamore, Texas. The train has just crested the summit of the hill at Crusher -- the highest elevation on the former T&P.

MFWEP west of Eagle Flat.

MFWEP holds the siding at Sierra Blanca to meet an eastbound.

Eastbound stacks at Sierra Blanca, TX.

A meet at Eagle Flat

Racing through Allamore.

After a late breakfast in Van Horn, we started for home. Miss C was in a hurry to get back to see her boy, so our stops were limited, and we made the most of the 80 mph speed limit on I-10 and I-20 west of Odessa...

We did make one stop in Toyah to document the dismantling of the town's landmark steam-era water tower. Wonder where that tank is headed?

The first time I've ever driven 80 mph (legally). I believe the speed limit was still 75 when I was out there a couple years ago...

Miss C was behind the wheel for the home stretch as we overtook an 18-wheeler on I-20...

And that concludes our adventure. Let's see, our trip lasted a week, but it has taken me THREE WEEKS to post enough blog reports and photos to do it justice. And it's been over 5 weeks since we got back. Amazingly, this was only the FIRST HALF of my two-week vacation! Stay tuned for a look at what I did during that second week.


np: KTCK 1310 "the Ticket" post-game analysis on last night's Cowboys win over the Giants

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Monday, December 08, 2008

Lake Valley ghost town

Friday, November 7. Before heading back to Texas, Miss C. and I visited the ghost town of Lake Valley, NM. I had been wanting to visit it for several years, but had never made it out there before. It was definitely worth the trip; I've visited ghost towns throughout Texas and New Mexico, and Lake Valley is one of the best-preserved sites I've seen.

Lake Valley, NM

Located west of Hatch, east of Silver City, north of Deming, and south of Hillsboro, Lake Valley got its start when silver was discovered in the area in 1878. The town's population swelled to around 4,000 residents before the mining boom began to die down in 1893. Over the next century, Lake Valley's population slowly dwindled until the town's last full-time residents moved away in 1994.

The site today is owned and managed by the BLM (Bureau of Land Management). If you visit, be sure to stop at the schoolhouse, where you'll find a small museum collection of photographs and artifacts. You can also pick up a map and guide for a self-guided walking tour for the townsite. Historical markers are located throughout the town near points of interest, and complement the information in the guide. At the time of this writing, the entire site is closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, so be sure to check before visiting:

Miss C checks out the ruins...

In 1895, two years after the mining boom subsided, a fire devastated a substantial portion of Lake Valley's downtown area. This old bank safe still stands near its original location.

Closed Conoco station at Lake Valley.

We found lots of broken china scattered amongst the Lake Valley ruins...

Of course there is a railroad angle, hence my interest in visiting the area. In 1884, the railroad constructed a 13-mile branch line from Nutt (on the main line between Hatch and Deming) to Lake Valley. Although the line was abandoned in 1934, even today, the right of way is visible in many locations between the two townsites. A number of structures remain standing at Lake Valley.

Railroad water towers

Unfortunately, some portions of the Lake Valley site are off limits to visitors. The Lake Valley railroad station stands just beyond this gate.

We spent some time visiting with the caretaker, who lives in a travel trailer behind the Lake Valley school house. He showed us a selection of students' drawings and pictures, believed to have been made in the 1940s.

Landscape east of Lake Valley, NM.

Coming next... heading back to Texas. Check back soon...


np: Hank Williams - "First year blues"

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Friday, December 05, 2008

back on the road

On Friday, November 7, we left Ruidoso and drove southwest to visit the ghost town of Lake Valley (west of Hatch, and northeast of Deming) before starting back to Texas.

Climbing out of the White Sands valley toward Organ and Las Cruces.

At Rincon, we caught a BNSF local departing for Belen.

A steam-era water tower at Florida, NM (between Hatch and Deming)

Another view of the Florida water tower.

Cattle pens at Florida, NM. This is the former BNSF Deming Subdivision, which -- when completed in 1881 -- helped form the second transcontinental rail route across North America. A shortline company, the Southwestern Railroad, now operates the line.

Santa Fe - style station sign at Hatch.

This poster in a Ruidoso restaurant beckoned us to the town of Hatch. Hatch is located in the Rio Grande valley north of Las Cruces, a productive agricultural region well-known for its chile peppers.

One of several chile shops in the small town of Hatch

"Chile Fanatic" gift shop -- Hatch, NM.

Next... a visit to the Lake Valley Ghost town.


np: Webb Pierce - "Yes, I know why"

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Wednesday, December 03, 2008

two days in Ruidoso

November 5 and 6 around Ruidoso, NM...

Lincoln National Forest, on the drive to the Monjeau forest fire lookout tower

Climbing the steps to Monjeau Tower, which M. and I visited back in March

Looking east from Monjeau Tower

Enjoying a moment with Miss C. It was cold & windy!

A young fawn in someone's front yard at Alto.

Package Liquors, downtown Ruidoso.

Coming soon... Lake Valley ghost town and Hatch chile peppers. Stay tuned!


np: Johnny Cash - "No earthly good"

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Monday, December 01, 2008

Fall colors and more

Tuesday, November 4 in the Albuquerque area...

Spectacular fall color near the Rio Grande in Los Lunas.

A close-up of the cottonwood leaves.

My morning got off to a rocky start when I discovered I had a flat tire. I've had that Toyota for 4 1/2 years and this is the first flat I've ever had to change! And on a set of new tires, yet! But in less than an hour, I was good to go.

Miss C. and I enjoyed lunch at Blake's Lotaburger in Los Lunas while Discount Tire patched up my flat...

Later, we explored Albuquerque's downtown area...

Kress 5-10-25 cent Store

Kress storefront, downtown Albuquerque.

Later, we set up near Isleta to photograph the late afternoon RailRunner to Belen (see previous entry). Then we headed to Belen for some dinner before we continued on to Ruidoso.

On tv when we arrived in Ruidoso... the election returns. (Yes, I voted -- a couple weeks early, since I knew I'd be out of town on Election Day.) Even though I wasn't an Obama supporter, it was hard to ignore -- and be less than a little awed by -- the historical significance of his election. I probably won't support ALL of the changes the Obama Administration will bring to America... but at least we didn't elect Hillary.

Up next... two days in Ruidoso. Stay tuned...


np: Hope Sandoval & the Warm Inventions - "Charlotte"

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