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Riding Texas Eagle To El Paso: 1960s

Posted: Sun Sep 02, 2012 12:30 pm
by jerrylx
I am very pleased to find this site since the T&P has been my favorite railroad since the 1960s when my mother and I took some summer trips from Waco, TX to Tucson, AZ to visit relatives. We would catch the Eagle in Dallas/Fort Worth and ride to El Paso where we would catch the Southern Pacific 'Sunset Limited' to Tucson.
On our first trip, we rode a Missouri-Kansas-Texas (Katy) train from Waco to Dallas. I recall that the Katy train would back into the station. The Texas Eagle in Dallas was at full capacity and no additional coach seats would be available until Fort Worth, so we rode from Dallas to Fort Worth in a diner/lounge car. The car was very luxurious and had 'Missouri Pacific' lettering rather than 'Texas and Pacific'. In addition to the standard rectangular windows, it had some round windows at the end of the car. I was very impressed that the windows had blinds rather than cloth curtains.
I always enjoyed viewing the wide open landscape of west Texas and riding through the various towns and the cities of Abilene, Midland, and Odessa. I recall how impressive the Midland skyline appeared -- it always reminded me of a scaled down version of the the big Dallas skyline.
The Eagle would arrive in El Paso at night, 10:30 to 11:00 if I recall correctly after 50 years. The Sunset Limited would be sitting on the next track as the Eagle arrived at the El Paso station. It was an easy transfer of just a few feet to board the Sunset after departing the Eagle. The El Paso station was full of activity with people boarding the Sunset Limited and transferring to it from the Eagle. I also recall that there would be a Santa Fe train sitting on another track with the beautiful Santa Fe silver and red engine. I believe that it was probably a train from Albuquerque to El Paso.
We would ride the Sunset Limited through the night on our journey to Tucson. The Sunset was a very long train at that time, with 4 or 5 engines and over 20 passenger cars. I would always count the cars and tell my aunt in Tucson how many there were.
In the morning we would view sunrise from our train window -- seeing the 20 stainless steel cars and those big engines snaking its way though the gulleys and cactus of the desert outside Tucson. It is an experience that I will always cherish.
On our last trip out west, my father drove us from Waco to Fort Worth. We arrived at the station pretty early and walked out to the platform. I was thrilled when I saw a beautiful blue Texas and Pacific dome car sitting on the track. I was even more thrilled when a railroad worker came over and said that we could board the dome car now if we wished. I had never ridden on a train with a dome car so I thought that I had just arrived in heaven to have such a great opportunity.
I must also mention how beautiful the T&P station in Fort Worth appeared. It was a very impressive station with its beautiful waiting rooms. I am very pleased that it has been restored and still serves a purpose.
Train travel in the 1960s was fun with all of the railroads having their own unique trains with different consists, equipment and color schemes.
I still take the short drive from Waco to McGreggor occassionally just to watch the Amtrak 'Texas Eagle' arrive. I'm glad that the 'Texas Eagle' name is still alive although it is a very different train than the one that I rode years ago.