Alpine to San Antonio

At Alpine Junction (MP 608.5), the Texas Pacifico Transportation Company (once Kansas City, Mexico, & Orient) line to San Angelo heads north and the Sunset Route continues straight ahead, with extra track on the north side and the town of Alpine largely in between the two lines. Immediately west of Paisano Pass, the line runs through flat (but not level) open country, still sparsely vegetated, but east of the Pass (and west of Alpine) are some quite spectacular desert mountains. The single-track, CTC, line is now in the Chihuahuan desert and out of the mountains, descending towards the Rio Grande (again) at Del Rio. There is a passenger station on the north side of the line at Alpine Depot (MP 607.2), with a bridge over an arroyo, a grade crossing, the depot on the north side, and a grade crossing (S. Fifth Street) east of the depot, a caboose stuffed-and-mounted in the parking lot on the north side, two more grade crossings, a holdout signal at Alpine (MP 606.3), a bridge over an arroyo, a bridge over a dirt road, and an embankment just west of the Intermediate Signals and detector at MP 603.9, where the speed limit has fallen from 50 mph to 40 mph, Intermediate Signals at MP 603.8, a curve southeast among the yuccas and chollas of the Chihuahuan desert, with Davis Mountain, 17 miles away, visible off to the north-northwest, to the 8,056 ft. siding on the north side at Strobel (MP 601.5-599.8), where the speed limit is 50 mph again, a bridge over an arroyo, Intermediate Signals atthe location of a former detector at MP 597.7, Intermediate Signals at MP 595.7, a detector at MP 595.6, where the speed limit is 75-70 and the line curves south, the 8,757 ft. siding on the south side at Altuda (MP 592.7-590.9), where the speed limit is 79-70, a road alongside to the north, a curve to the southeast past Intermediate Signals at the former location of a detector at MP 587.9, a bridge over an arroyo, and the 8,377 ft. siding on the south side at Lenox (MP 585.1, where the speed limit is 70-60, to MP 583.4, where it has fallen to 60 mph), with a curve further to the southeast within the siding.

The line turns south and then east, past a detector at MP 580.7, the 8,385 ft. siding on the south at Marathon (MP 578.6-576.9), where the speed limit is 70 mph, and there is extra track and an old freight depot on the north side, formerly rail-served silos on the north side, a bridge over an arroyo, a dirt road crossing, a bridge over an arroyo, Intermediate Signals and a detector at MP 571.1, where the speed limit is 79-70, a grade crossing, a grade crossing over US 385, a dirt road grade crossing, and the 8,209 ft. siding on the south side at Warwick (MP 568.3-566.7). The line turns south, past the former location of a detector at MP 564.2, and eight bridges over arroyos in an area that has many trees located along the course of a "river", and then southeast past the 8,268 ft. siding on the north side at Haymond (MP 561.7, where the speed limit is 75-70, to MP 559.9, where the speed limit is 40 mph), with a rampart-like mountain range off to the northeast, and a bridge over an arroyo, south-southeast past Intermediate Signals and a detector at MP 557.3, where the speed limit is back up to 79-70, east-northeast to the 8,322 ft. siding on the north side at Tesnus (MP 553.3-551.6), where the speed limit is 50 mph at the eastern end for the turn due south to go around the south end of a bluff on the east side, Intermediate Signals, a bridge over an arroyo, Intermediate Signals at the location of a former detector at MP 549.1, a bridge over an arroyo, a turn north of due east, with many curves back and forth, a bridge over a wide arroyo/river, around the south end of that bluff, a bridge over an arroyo, and the 8,535 ft. siding on the north side at Maxon (MP 547.0, where the speed limit is 40 mph, to MP 545.1, where the speed limit is 50 mph). The line is now in a valley between flat-topped hills.

There was once a detector at MP 543.2, there are Intermediate Signals at MP 543.0, a bridge over an arroyo, the line turns east-northeast past the 8,366 ft. siding on the south side at Rosenfeld (MP 541.3-539.6), where the speed limit has risen to 60-50, northeast past Intermediate Signals and a detector at MP 538.7 and the location of a former detector at  Intermediate Signals at MP 536.9, southeast past the 8,361 ft. siding on the south side at Longfellow (MP 533.9-532.2), where the speed limit is 75-60, US 90 alongside to the north, a bridge over a dirt road, a bridge over an arroyo, and Intermediate Signals at the former location of a detector at MP 530.0, in a broader valley between lower hills, but still among scrub and coulees, east past Intermediate Signals at the former location of a detector at MP 527.9, northeast past the 8,470 ft. siding on the south side at Emerson (MP 525.8-524.0), where the speed limit has fallen to 55-50, a dirt road grade crossing and a bridge over an arroyo within the siding, extra track on the south side trailing in near the east end of the siding, a bridge over an arroyo, and a dirt road grade crossing, east past Intermediate Signals and a detector at MP 521.5, southeast past a bridge over an arroyo to Intermediate Signals at the former location of a detector at MP 519.5, south past a bridge over an arroyo, a dirt road grade crossing, and a bridge over an arroyo, east, and southeast past a bridge over an arroyo at the west end of the 9,061 ft. siding on the north side at Sanderson (MP 516.9-506.2, with a mileage equation at MP 515.9=507.0 in the middle), where there is extra track on the south side, a bridge over an arroyo, additional extra track on the south side (the yard used to reach to the mountain on that side), an old wooden depot at the "station" on the north side, and a bridge over an arroyo, all within the siding, and the speed limit falls to 40 mph at the eastern end.

The line turns due south, before the end of the siding, past a bridge over an arroyo, to the location of a former detector at MP 503.7, east-southeast, past a substantial road bridge overhead, a dirt road grade crossing, MP 504, a bridge over an arroyo, and MP 502, due south to a counter-clockwise horseshoe around the end of a bluff, and north-northeast to the 8,182 ft. siding on the east side at Feodora (MP 501.1-499.4), where the speed limit rises to 50 mph at the east end, past a bridge over a culvert, east, still within the siding, past a bridge over an arroyo east of the siding, a detector at MP 497.2, where the speed limit is  55 mph, and a deck bridge over an arroyo, east-southeast past two bridges over drainage, a deep cutting, and an embankment, to the former location of a detector at MP 494.8, MP 494, and a short embankment, southeast on the flat high plains (i.e., out of the hills to the west) and then east again at the 8,356 ft. south side siding at Mofeta (MP 492.8, where the speed limit is 70 mph, to MP 491.0, where the speed limit has risen to 79-70), past a dirt road grade crossing in the siding, near the west end, US 90 alongside to the south. The old roadbed on the south side was once the route of the main line.

There was once a detector at MP 488.3, there is a bridge over an arroyo and is currently a detector at MP 485.1, a bridge over a gulley, the 8,747 ft. south side siding at Dryden (MP 483.8, where the speed limit is 55 mph, to MP 482.1, where it drops to 40 mph), a bridge over an arroyo within the siding, a bridge over an arroyo, curves back and forth past the former location of a detector at the Intermediate Signals at MP 480.0, a turn south-southeast, a bridge over an arroyo, the 8,345 ft. west side siding at Shaw (MP 477.7-476.0), extra track on the west side near the south end, south past a deck bridge over an arroyo, bridge abutments on the south side (on the former alignment) and a through truss bridge over an arroyo, and then east at Intermediate Signals at MP 474.1 and the former location of a detector at MP 474.0, past a bridge over an arroyo, a high-wide detector at MP 471.9, and Intermediate Signals at MP 471.5.

After some curves back and forth, with many cuttings and embankments, the line turns due south, with more embankments and cuttings, past a through truss bridge over an arroyo, Intermediate Signals at MP 468.7, and then cuttings in Malvado Canyon, and the 9,345 ft.  west side siding at Malvado (MP 466.6-464.3), where the speed limit has risen to 55 mph, east, along the north side of the canyon, with a visible dry river at the bottom of the canyon, not very far below the line, and then the northwest side of the canyon as the line turns northeast past a bridge over an arroyo and four large pipes carrying drainage underneath, then two more pipes and a cutting at MP 453 as the line turns away from the canyon, a detector at MP 462.7, a cutting, and then a deep cutting, east, past a cutting, Intermediate Signals at MP 461.5 and a bridge over an arroyo, northeast, past an embankment, and east past a bridge over an arroyo, Intermediate Signals at MP 459.5, and a detector at MP 459.2.

The line turns due south, with a bridge over an arroyo at the end of the curve, past a bridge over an arroyo to the 8,275 ft. west side siding at Pumpville (MP 457.4, where the speed limit is 65-55, to MP 455.7, where it is 75-70), where the line turns southeast, with a grade crossing just east of the east end of the siding, an embankment, a bridge over an arroyo, a cutting, and an embankment, south-southeast past the former location of a detector at MP 452.9 and a bridge over an arroyo, southeast, past MP 451, a bridge over an arroyo, and a bridge over an arroyo at MP 450, south-southeast again past an embankment, a deep cutting through a ridge, a detector at MP 448.4, where the speed limit is 70 mph, an embankment as the line curves further south, an embankment after the curve, and a cutting through a ridge as the line turns southeast along a ledge above a cliff with a river valley to the southwest, past MP 447, the former location of a detector at MP 446.1, a cutting as the line turns away from the valley, and then above a bend of the dry river, and east to the 9,410 ft. south side siding at Langtry (MP 443.4-441.5), with extra track on the south side.

The Rio Grande and the Mexican Border are just to the south again, down in the river canyon half a mile away, as the line runs through Eagle Nest Canyon, with the highway alongside to the south, and then bridges over the canyon with an old concrete highway bridge just to the south of the line (west of the current highway), past the former location of a detector at MP 439.3, an embankment, a cutting, a cutting through a ridge, a bridge over an arroyo, and MP 439, and southeast parallel to the west bank of the Pecos River, with the river not visible on the northeast side, past a bridge over an arroyo, a bridge over a dirt track, a private road dirt crossing, and  a detector and Intermediate Signals at MP 434.4, where the speed limit has fallen to 40 mph, east-southeast past a rocky cutting, a dirt track grade crossing, the 9,027 ft. south side siding at Shumla (MP 432.4-430.5), with extra track on the south side near the west end, southeast, and then east-southeast again, with US 90 alongside to the south, then curving away, and stretches of embankment covered in cactus.

The line crosses the Pecos River High Bridge (this is the third bridge, opened in 1944; the abutments of the second bridge, from 1892-1944, are still visible to the south; the first bridge, prior to 1892, was drowned by the reservoir) and passes Intermediate Signals on an embankment at the former location of a detector at MP 427.9, turns east-northeast past Intermediate Signals at MP 426.3, east past a dirt track grade crossing, south-southeast past the detector at MP 424.3, the 8,396 ft. north side siding at Lull (MP 424.3-422.5), a short rocky cutting as the line turns east, south past a road bridge overhead, south-southeast past a detector at MP 417.2, east and then southeast past a dirt road grade crossing, the 10,649 ft. north side siding at Comstock (MP 414.4-412.3), where the speed limit has risen to 60 mph, there is a street alongside to the south and a grade crossing in town, within the siding, southeast past Intermediate Signals and the former location of a detector at MP 410.4 and a dirt track grade crossing, south-southwest (MP 409.4) past a rocky cutting, south-southeast again, on an embankment, past Intermediate Signals at the former location of a detector at MP 408.0, south past a bridge over drainage, southeast, south past the 8,370 ft. north side siding at Feely (MP 405.6-403.8), where the speed limit has risen to 70 mph, there is a bridge over a culvert, a dirt track grade crossing, and a bridge over a culvert, and southeast to Devils River, past Intermediate Signals and a detector at MP 398.7, a rocky cutting, and embankment, a rocky cutting, an embankment, a rocky cutting, with ocotillo bushes flaming red, sage blooming purple, and greasewood. 

The line now turns due south and passes through the Amistad National Recreation Area, crossing over the reservoir called Lake Amistad. Lake Amistad is 1119 feet above sea level, 6000 feet down from Paisano Pass. There is a dirt road grade crossing at the south end of the bridge, a dirt track grade crossing, Intermediate Signals at the former location of a detector, at MP 395.9, the lake and its dam visible to the west, a road bridge overhead, and a 10,345 ft. north side siding at Amistad (MP 392.4-390.4).

The line turns southwest past McKees, with the dam for Lake Amistad visible to the west, south past a detector and dirt track grade crossing at MP 388.2, and an embankment, southeast at a location where the Rio Grande and Mexico are close by to the south and west, past a detector at MP 386.0, east-southeast past Intermediate Signals at the former location of a detector at MP 381.6, and definitively turning away from the Rio Grande, with a road alongside to the south, a bridge over a road, fields and trees for the first time since the west side of Paisano Pass, and a grade crossing, east past a grade crossing, a dirt road grade crossing to a plant on the south side, and a wide road bridge overhead, to the 9,214 ft. south side siding at Del Rio (MP 379.4, where the speed limit is 55 mph, to MP 377.5, where the speed limit is 45 mph), with a park on the south side, a grade crossing at Miller Street, a spur to a freight yard on the south side, a passenger station, with platform and large brick depot on the south side of the line, a road bridge overhead, a street alongside to the south, and a road bridge overhead, within the siding,  followed by a through truss bridge over a river, a path, and a river, the line on an embankment with a road alongside to the south, in town, and a bridge over a road.

East of Del Rio, the countryside comprises scrub, and then stands of mesquite, as the aridity eases progressively. There are Intermediate Signals at MP 375.5, a dirt road grade crossing, a dirt road alongside to the south, a detector at MP 374.0, where the speed limit is 60-55 and the line angles just north of east, a dirt track grade crossing, Intermediate Signals at MP 373.3, a dirt road alongside to the south, a grade crossing, a gated dirt track grade crossing at Laughlin Air Force Base, the 8,239 ft. north side siding at Johnstone (MP 371.0-369.3), where the speed limit has risen to 75-70, with the Air Force Base on the south side, a dirt road curving in from the south and running alongside to the south, and a grade crossing at MP 369.75 (Escondido Road), within the siding, and a detector at MP 369.2.

The line curves just south of east past a grade crossing, with the same dirt road still alongside to the south, a dirt road grade crossing to the road on the south side, Intermediate Signals at MP 366.7 and the former location of a detector at MP 366.6, east past two through truss bridges over arroyos and a dirt track grade crossing, and then east-southeast past a bridge over a stream west of the 8,457 ft. south side siding at Amanda (MP 363.7-362.0), where the speed limit is 65 mph, and a detector at MP 362.0, south-southeast past a dirt track grade crossing, a bridge over a culvert, Intermediate Signals and a detector at Standard (MP 359.0), where the speed limit is 70 mph, south-southwest and then southeast in the 9,212 ft. south/west siding at Pinto (MP 355.5-353.6), where the speed limit is 79-70, with a through truss bridge over a gulley and a dirt track grade crossing within the siding, past a bridge over a culvert, Intermediate Signals at the former location of a detector at MP 351.1, a grade crossing, a bridge over a culvert, a dirt track grade crossing, a short embankment, a bridge over a culvert, a detector at MP 345.5, a dirt road alongside to the south, a grade crossing, and the 8,843 ft. south side siding at Spofford (MP 341.8-340.0), where the speed limit is 65 mph, with an extra track on the south side, then a pair of extra tracks on the south side, completely distinct from the first one, and there is a wye junction on the southwest side with a line south to Eagle Pass, on the river/border, all within the siding.

The main line turns northeast, past a through truss bridge over drainage, the former location of a detector at the Intermediate Signals at MP 337.0, a road alongside to the south, a dirt track grade crossing, a through truss bridge over drainage, the 8,365 ft. south side siding at Anacacho (MP 334.5, where the speed limit is 75-70, to MP 332.8, where it is 70 mph), with a short extra track on the south side within the siding, a through truss bridge over drainage and a road alongside to the south, east-northeast past a bridge over a road, three bridges over drainage, and a detector at MP 327.7, east at Welch past the 8,271 ft. north side siding at Odlaw (MP 325.6-323.9), just north of east past a road bridge overhead, the former location of a detector at the Intermediate Signals at MP 321.8, two bridges over drainage, Kinney, a road alongside to the south, Cline (MP 319.5), where the speed limit falls to 60 mph, there is extra track on the south side, and a spur south to Dabney goes off at a wye, a bridge over drainage, and the former location of a detector at the Intermediate Signals at MP 318.2.

The line turns east-southeast in the 8,207 ft. north side siding at Obi (MP 316.0-314.3), south past a dirt track grade crossing, and then east past Intermediate Signals at MP 311.9, a detector at MP 311.0, a dirt track grade crossing, a through truss bridge over a river, a dirt track grade crossing, Intermediate Signals at MP 308.5, Hacienda, a dirt track grade crossing, a dirt road alongside to the south, a detector at MP 304.7, where the speed limit is 79-60, a road alongside to the south moving in, a grade crossing (SR 146), the 8,305 ft. south side siding at Uvalde (MP 303.1-301.4), where the speed limit is 70-60, a spur curves in from industry across the road to the south (SR 146), and lines once left to the northwest and south, a concrete slab where the depot used to be on the south side, two grade crossings in town, a through girder bridge over a "river", a bridge over drainage, a highway alongside to the south, and a dirt road grade crossing.

The line turns east-northeast, past a highway alongside to the south, a detector at MP 296.3, where the speed limit has risen to 75-70, a bridge over drainage, Ange, a gated dirt track grade crossing, a dirt track grade crossing, a bridge over drainage, a detector at MP 292.8, a dirt track grade crossing, a through truss bridge over a river, a spur trailing in from a coal storage facility across the highway to the south, a through truss bridge over a 'river" and a dirt road, the 8,358 ft. north side siding at Knippa (MP 290.6, where the speed limit is 70 mph, to MP 288.9, where it is 79-70), a grade crossing at SR 1249, a highway alongside to the south, and a bridge over drainage within the siding, a bridge over drainage, a dirt track grade crossing, a detector at MP 287.9, a bridge over drainage,  the speed limit drops to 55 mph, a grade crossing, a bridge over drainage, a through truss bridge over a "river", a dirt road grade crossing, a bridge over drainage, and a grade crossing.

There are Intermediate Signals at the former location of a detector at MP 284.5, and the line turns south, past a dirt track grade crossing and a highway alongside to the south, and then just north of east again, past a through truss bridge over a river, a dirt road grade crossing, a minor road alongside to the south, three grade crossings, the 8,428 ft. north side siding at Sabinal (MP 279.4, where the speed limit is still 55 mph, to MP 277.7, where it rises to 75-70), with a bridge over drainage and a bridge over a dirt track within the siding, a bridge over a "river", four bridges over drainage, a detector and Intermediate Signals at MP 274.5,  and a bridge over drainage, turning southeast past a gated dirt road grade crossing, the 8,341 ft. south side siding at Seco (MP 271.6-269.0), where the speed limit is 60 mph, and south past a bridge over a dirt track and a bridge over a road.

The line turns just north of east past Intermediate Signals at D'Hanis (MP 267.0), where the speed limit is 70 mph, a bridge over drainage and a through truss bridge over a "river", and east past a dirt road grade crossing, a bridge over drainage, a grade crossing (SR 1796), two bridges over drainage, the former location of a detector at the Intermediate Signals at MP 264.1, a dirt road grade crossing, a bridge over drainage, a grade crossing, US 90 alongside to the south, a bridge over drainage, a grade crossing, the 8,810 ft. north side siding at Hondo (MP 261.4-259.6), where the speed limit is 75-70, with US 90 alongside in the town of Hondo, moving away at the east end of the siding, a grade crossing, a bridge over drainage, and seven grade crossings in town..

There is a detector at the Intermediate Signals at MP 257.4, a road bridge overhead (SR 173), a bridge over drainage, a dirt road grade crossing, and a grade crossing, and the line curves southeast, past the US 90 divided highway alongside to the southwest, Intermediate Signals at MP 254.3, and two dirt road grade crossings, north-northeast past the former location of a detector at the Intermediate Signals at MP 251.2, a through truss bridge over a river and a dirt road, and a dirt road grade crossing, and south-southeast past dual road bridge overhead, the 8,344 ft. north side siding at Dunlay (MP 249.1-247.4), where the speed limit is 55 mph, with extra track on the south side, a grade crossing, and a dirt road grade crossing within the siding, an embankment, a dirt road grade crossing, a bridge over a stream, and the former location of a detector at the Intermediate Signals at MP 245.3.

The line turns east past a dirt track grade crossing, a dirt track alongside to the south, a detector and Intermediate Signals at MP 243.0, a grade crossing, a dirt road alongside to the south, a dirt road grade crossing, and a bridge over a stream, southeast past Noonan, east, north, past a crumbling road alongside to the east, to the former location of a detector at the Intermediate Signals at MP 238.1, east-northeast past a dirt road grade crossing, a road alongside to the south, a dirt track grade crossing, a grade crossing, a dirt track grade crossing, the 8,288 ft. north side siding at LaCoste (MP 235.9-234.2), where the speed limit is 70-60, with a dirt track grade crossing within the siding, extra track to grain silos on the south side, a grade crossing, two dirt track grade crossings, a bridge over drainage, and two grade crossings, and east at the former location of a detector at the Intermediate Signals at MP 231.9.

There are four dirt track grade crossings, Intermediate Signals at MP 229.9, a grade crossing, a bridge over a river, two dirt track grade crossings, a grade crossing, a detector at MP 227.7, a grade crossing, a road alongside to the south, a road bridge overhead, a bridge over a dirt road, and embankment, the 8,459 ft. south side siding at Macdona (MP 225.3-223.6), where the speed limit falls to 55-50, with a grade crossing, west-facing extra track on the south side, and a road bridge overhead within the siding, a bridge over a small river, a spur north to Lackland AFB, and the location of a former detector at the Intermediate Signals at MP 221.9, where the line turns northeast, with the former International Great Northern (MP) line coming north from Laredo alongside to the southeast and dual road bridge overhead.

The two single track lines come together at Alamo Junction (MP 220.1), where there are crossovers between them, followed by a dirt track grade crossing over both lines, a road bridge over both lines, and a grade crossing over both lines, and again at the crossovers at Withers (MP 218.8), where Two Main Tracks, CTC, start, there is a footpath crossing all tracks, and the speed limit rises to 60 mph.

There are spurs into Kelly AFB on the northwest side, with the former International Great Northern (MP) yard along the southeast side of its track to the southeast, two tracks at first, then a fan of six tracks with another fan of six beyond that, then at least eight yard tracks, then just two tracks, with a third track beyond them, which then angles away to the east, followed by a wide road bridge overhead, a bridge over a highway, a road bridge overhead, a street alongside to the southeast, a wide road bridge overhead, two grade crossings with east-west streets, and a grade crossing with a north-south street.

 The Sunset Route turns just south of east, with a produce terminal to its north and a dirt road alongside to the south, past two grade crossings, crosses the former International Great Northern (MP) on the flat at Tower 105 (MP 212.7), where there is a connector in the southeast quadrant, passes a grade crossing, a road bridge overhead, dual road bridges overhead, a bridge over a street, a grade crossing, East Transfer (track 2 only, MP 212.6), where the speed limit is 50 mph, two grade crossings, additional track on the south side, and a signal bridge west of Tower 112.

The former San Antonio and Aransas Pass (MP) lines from the north and south trail in from the northwest and southwest at Tower 112 (MP 211.0), where the speed limit is 45 mph, the former MKT line continues due east, and the Sunset Route passes a grade crossing over both lines, a wide road bridge overhead, over both lines, and signals at CPSA 210, and turns due north, past two grade crossings on the curve, five grade crossings, and a road bridge overhead, the Alamo Dome and the basketball arena on the west side of the line, a bridge over a pedestrian path to the sports event parking lots east of the line, and a bridge over a street, to the San Antonio passenger station (MP 209.3), where the facilities are on the west side of the tracks, with two station tracks, an operational platform west of the station tracks, with the depot west of that, and a semi-derelict platform between the two station tracks.

Just west of San Antonio, there are corn fields which are very dry, in marked contrast with those up the line towards San Marcos or east towards Flatonia, just a few tens of miles to the east. Arizona and New Mexico, and western Texas, are all arid desert, although full of desert wildlife and the interest of the mountains along much of the way.