|Pecos River Bridge From South of River|
Fort Sumner was closed in 1868 and sold to Lucien Maxwell, whose son Pete befriended Billy the Kid in the late 1870's. Pat Garrett killed Billy the Kid in Pete's house, and both the Kid and Lucien Maxwell are buried in the old military cemetery. I don't know where Pete is buried.
|Eastbound Grainer as Seen From the Riverside|
The Pecos River Bridge is one of the few stretches of single track remaining on the BNSF Transcon. Abo Canyon is now double-tracked, and as of the date of this entry (November 11, 2015), BNSF is completing a second track on the Vaughn "Fly-over." (As of mid-December 2015, the second track is now complete.) To my knowledge, the only other remaining single track section is a short stretch northeast of Avard, Oklahoma. I don't count the portion of the Transcon through the Flint Hills in Kansas as single track, because BNSF uses a line through Wichita and a portion of the La Junta subdivision as a second track for this area.
|Eastbound Approaching Bridge With Clean UP Power|
|Eastbound Pushers on Bridge|
This single-track bridge can be a bottleneck. In the photograph immediately below, four trains are waiting in the far distance, on the north side of the river, to cross the bridge.
Most of the construction workers came from Kansas. They lived in tent camps, some with cafeterias, company stores, blacksmith shops and mule corrals. One major camp. Sunnyside, has survived to the present day as a portion of Fort Sumner.
|Westbound on Bridge|
|Same Westbound Approaching Bridge|
Fort Sumner's elevation is about 4,100 feet, and winter weather can turn harsh rapidly. I remember standing near the roadside east of the bridge on a clear day between Christmas and New Year's. The wind was light, and the sun felt warm on my back. With an hour, however, clouds had rolled in from the northwest, the wind had picked up and my hands began to tingle from the cold. By mid-afternoon, snow flurries had appeared. I went to bed that evening with Mighty Dog (aka Bear), expecting the sun to be out in the morning. Instead, I awoke to about ten inches of snow. The images from that day will appear in another post.
|Westbound Exiting Bridge|
|Westbound on Bridge|
|Eastbound Approaching Bridge on Embankment|
|Another Eastbound Approaching Bridge on Embankment|
I think the Pecos River Bridge is one of the loveliest in the country, though opinions vary like women's shoes. An added bonus of photographing this bridge is the heavy train traffic. When I have been on the bridge on Fridays and Saturdays, the Transcon has reliably run three to four trains per hour.
|Eastbound on Bridge|
|Same Eastbound on Full Bridge|
|Southbound Heavy Manifest (railroad west) Climbing Grade out of Pecos River Valley|
|Loaded Coal Train Straining into Grade|
|Stack Train Climbing Grade with Windmills on Ridge Above Fort Sumner|
|Eastbound Gliding Downgrade with High Plains Backdrop|
|Nothing Breaks the View but the Earth's Curvature|
Captain Randolph B. March in 1852, looking for a favorable route from Ft. Smith to Santa Fe, stated: "When we were upon the high table land, a view presented itself as boundless as the ocean." Robert Carter, pursuing Quanah Parker with the United States Cavalry, described these plains as "a vast, almost illimitable expanse of prairie. As far as the eye could reach, not a bush or tree, a twig or stone, not an object of any kind or a living thing, was in sight. It stretched out before us -- one uninterrupted plain, only to be compared to the ocean in its vastness." The images below, and above, give some indication of the size of this country.
|Stacks on the Grade Before Christmas|
|More Pre-Christmas Stacks|
|Westbound Stacks Turning West|
|Westbound in Curve Still Grinding Uphill|
|Eastbound Approaching Curve and Gliding Downgrade|
|Eastbound With Rear of Train at Top of Grade|
|Eastbound Beginning Curve to South|
|Eastbound with Canadian Accent|
|Pushers on Westbound at Dusk|
|Westbound on Pecos River Bridge|
|Pushers on Westbound Loaded Coal Train|
East of Fort Sumner, the line is not as scenic, though there are still some reasonable photographic opportunities.
|Eastbound Manifest Near US 60 Overpass|
|Westbound Manifest from US 60 Overpass|
|Eastbound Bare Table|