San Antonio to Flatonia

East of San Antonio, the landscape is quite different from the arid, empty, landscape to the west, as is the human impact on it. In this vicinity, the railroad crosses the invisible line between the arid areas further west and the non-irrigated (i.e. normal) farmland to the east. All the way from San Antonio to Houston, the line runs through grass and cropland, a distinct difference from the open arid grassland west of San Antonio. The further east (and lower in altitude) it gets, the lusher the crops and grassland are. Use of this land for crops is, of course, quite recent -- in the nineteenth century this was all open range cattle country.

From 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, and the speed limit is 45 mph, the Two Main Tracks, CTC, line continues north, past stuffed-and-mounted former SP (T&NO, ex-Houston & Texas Central)) Mk-5 2-8-2 794, built by Alco-Brooks in 1916 (55980), donated to San Antonio in February 1957, on the west side of the line, a grade crossing, Intermediate Signals at MP 209.1, a location where a Galveston, Harrisburg & San Antonio line once turned away eastward, four grade crossings, a bridge over a street, a grade crossing, a location where the Texas Transportation Company's 600V DC electric line heads northwest to the Pearl Brewery, a through truss road bridge overhead, two grade crossings, four tracks on the east side at the south end of the Trans Texas Rails Shops, and five more west-facing tracks in the shops are itself, and turns due east, past the Trans Texas Rails Shops, which have at least ten tracks and an east-facing corrugated shed on the south side of the line, east of the curve, a grade crossing, and extra track on the south side, to Tower 121 (MP 208.0), where the speed limit has fallen to 40 mph.

There is a spur trailing in from the south at the west end of the yard, 10-12 track yard facilities on the south side of the line, reducing to five or six track further east, and industrial spurs on the north side, at East Yard (MP 207.4), a road bridge overhead, over the yard, a road bridge overhead east of the yard, a connector northeast, and a connector in the southwest quadrant, at CP SA296 (MP 296,4) to the former MKT line (now "Track 2") which crosses below to the east of this location, a track edging away on the south side, extra track on the south side, a bridge over drainage, a bridge over a road, and a street alongside to the south, where the Sunset Route turns northeast, past a bridge over a street, Salada Junction, where the Two Main Tracks reduce to single track, CTC and a spur that once connected to the GH&SA turns away southeast, a grade crossing, dual road bridges overhead, dual road bridges overhead (I-35/I-410), and the 9,653 ft. south side siding at Kirby (MP 203.5-201.4), where the speed limit is 30 mph, there are three tracks of on-line fuel rack at the west end of the "siding" and there is a yard on the northwest side of the line, that has four tracks adjacent to the west-end fuel rack, and five to eight tracks further east, with a signal bridge over the main and siding(s), a street alongside to the south, and another set of on-line fuel racks at the east end of the siding(s).

The line continues northeast, with speed limit 70 mph, on embankment, past a bridge over the street that had been alongside to the south, former spurs that once trailed in from gated land on the south side, a former spur that once curved away on the south side, a grade crossing, a spur heading away to a UPS facility on the south side, a bridge over a stream, a grade crossing at Walzem Road, a detector at MP 198.9, where the speed limit rises to 75-70, a turn east-northeast past a bridge over a street, and then northeast again, past a bridge over a road, extra track on the south side trailing in, Converse (MP 196.7), a bridge over a divided street, and the 8,453 ft. north side siding at Randolph (MP 196.1-194.3), with dual road bridges overhead within the siding.

There is a street alongside to the south, a grade crossing with SR 718, a bridge over drainage, and three grade crossings, and the line turns east-northeast past Schertz, a grade crossing, a bridge over a river, a grade crossing, and the former location of a detector at MP 191.1, and then just north of due east, past a spur on the south side trailing in, a grade crossing, a bridge over a stream, SR 539 alongside to the south, joining into SR 75, a grade crossing, the 9,673 ft. south side siding at Cibolo (MP 189.1-187.1), a dirt road grade crossing, a bridge over a stream, a grade crossing, a grade crossing in town, extra track on the south side, trailing in, the former location of a detector at MP 185.0, a grade crossing in town, a bridge over a stream, a dirt track grade crossing, and Marion.

There are two grade crossings, a bridge over a stream, a grade crossing, a road alongside to the south, a detector at MP 181.6, a bridge over a stream, Intermediate Signals at Hilda, a spur to the southeast at Blumberg (MP 179.3), a grade crossing, a bridge over a stream, a spur to the south at SMI Lead (MP 178.4), a through truss bridge over a river and road, a turn east-southeast past the 8,342 ft. north side siding at Nolte (MP 177.3-175.6), with a bridge over a dirt road, a spur from industry to the south trailing in, a road alongside to the south, and a grade crossing within the siding, a bridge over a stream, a divided highway alongside to the south, a wide road bridge overhead, dual road bridges overhead, a grade crossing, a detector at MP 174.4, a dirt road grade crossing, and a grade crossing.

The line turns east-northeast at Seguin (MP 174.0), where a spur heads away to industry on the south side and the speed limit is 50 mph before rising again to 75-70, past a grade crossing, dual road bridges overhead, a detector at MP 170.3, a bridge over a stream, a grade crossing, dual road bridges overhead (I-10?), a road alongside to the south, turning across a grade crossing, a short embankment in scrub, a grade crossing, a dirt track grade crossing, and the former location of a detector at MP 166.9, and turns to just north of east past a grade crossing, the 8,442 ft. south side siding at Kingsbury (MP 164.7-163.0), with extra track on the south side, a grade crossing, and a dirt track grade crossing, within the siding.

There is a curve south-southeast and then just north of east again, a dirt track grade crossing, a bridge over a dirt road, a detector at MP 159.9, a turn east-northeast past a dirt track grade crossing and extra track alongside to the south, and then east past a bridge over a road, the 10,282 ft.  south side siding at Luling (MP 165.6, where the speed limit is 65-50, to MP 153.5, where it has fallen to 50 mph), where lines north to Lockhart and south to Gonzales and Shiner once left the main line, with a highway alongside to the south, a bridge over a stream, and a grade crossing within the siding, two grade crossings in town (Luling), a detector at MP 152.9, four grade crossings and a street alongside in the same town, a dirt track grade crossing, two bridges over streams in the scrub, the former locations of detectors at MP 150.9 and MP 146.4, a short embankment in the scrub, a dirt road grade crossing, a curve east-northeast past a bridge over a road in a short embankment in the scrub, and then east again, and extra track on the south side, where the Texas, Gonzales & Northern line to Gonzales turns away southeast and then south, west of the 8,685 ft. south side siding at Harwood (MP 143.9-142.2) where the speed limit rises to 75-70 again.

There is a dirt track grade crossing, a detector at MP 141.9, the line angles just north of east, Sandy Fork (MP 138.3), a through truss bridge over a dirt road, the location of a former detector at MP 136.0, a dirt road grade crossing, a grade crossing, a short embankment in the scrub,  the location of a former detector at MP 133.6, where the line turns just south of east, a dirt road grade crossing, a bridge over a dirt track, a bridge over drainage, the 8,938 ft. south side siding at Waelder (MP 131.2-129.4), with a grade crossing, two dirt road grade crossings, a short spur trailing in on the south side, and extra track to silos on the south side trailing in, all within the siding, US 90 (divided road) alongside to the south, a turn due east, two grade crossings, a bridge over a stream, a detector at MP 126.0, a bridge over a dirt track, a grade crossing, a dirt road grade crossing, a grade crossing, and three extra tracks on the north side of the 9,597 ft. south side siding on the Sunset Route at Flatonia (MP 122.0-120.0, where the speed limit is 50 mph). 

Flatonia is the location of a major intersection both on the former SP and today's UP, where a major freight flow turns away north at the single track flat crossing at MP 120.0, with single track connectors in the northwest and southeast quadrants. The line to the north is the former San Antonio and Aransas Pass line to Hearne and the Cotton Belt connection at Corsicana, whose importance can be judged from the fact that the Flatonia subdivision turns away from the Sunset Route to head northwards to Hearne on the northwest quadrant connector.