Southern Pacific train symbol ABSM at east switch Shumla, Texas

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Southern Pacific train symbol ABSM at east switch Shumla, Texas

The cloud cover is the outer bands of hurricane Ellen. A light rain is falling as 8665 West comes by the east end of Shumla siding on September 16, 1973. This was the only picture that I kept from a full day of shooting. After seeing all of the semaphore signals along this line I asked the Lord to give me another chance to visit the line before the signals disappeared. I prayed that my next trip would have lots of trains and sunshine.

Southern Pacific train symbol ABSM at east switch Shumla, Texas

Four months later I was back and caught Extra 8622 West train symbol ABSM coming by the same signals on January 31, 1974. The GH&SA began installed semaphore signals between Del Rio, TX and Langtry (64 miles) in 1909. The work was completed in 1910. Disk 101

Southern Pacific Shumla, Texas to Comstock map

The Southern Pacific building east from El Paso met the Galveston, Harrisburg and San Antonio Railway just west of the Pecos River in January 1883. Just like the location of the connection of the first transcontinental railroad at Promontory, Utah this location was also bypassed shortly after the lines were connected. The sixty-three miles between Del Rio and Shumla were the most difficult part of the railroad to build and operate. The original line turned south at the east end of Shumla and dropped down about 200 feet in elevation going through two tunnels and many deep cuts following the Rio Grande to the low bridge over the Pecos River. From there the line climbed back up the hills to a point just about two miles west of Comstock. In the map above, I've shaded the current line in black and the original line in red. The first bridge over the Pecos River was replaced by the Pecos High Bridge constructed five miles up river in February 1892. The new 1892 route shortened the distance from Shumla to Comstock by 11 miles. The Pecos High Bridge was the highest railroad bridge in North America. The bridge was 2,180 feet long and carried the track 321 feet above the river. To carry heavier trains, the high bridge was replaced by the current bridge on December 21, 1944. The picture below of the current bridge is from the National Park Service. If you look near the base of the piers, you can see the footings for the 1892 bridge that was located about 400 feet further up stream. The current bridge is 1,390 feet long. Although the 1944 bridge was one foot higher than the 1892 bridge the height above the river is around 265 feet due to the water dammed up behind the Amistad Dam. The tallest concrete piers are 275 feet in height and the steel work weighs 2,650 tons. The 1892 bridge was disassembled and removed in 1949.

Southern Pacific Pecos River Bridge