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A Round Trip to El Paso on the Sunset Limited Part 3

by Chris Guenzler

I walked across the street to look at the old Santa Fe turntable in El Paso. At 10:45 AM I walked back over to the railroad museum to wait for it to open.

The sign for the museum.

The State of Texas Sign about the El Paso and Southwestern Railroad's Locomotive Number One.

El Paso and Southwestern Railroad's Locomotive Number One, was manufactured in 1857 by Breese, Kneeland, and Company of Jersey City, New Jersey which also operated under the name of the New York Locomotive Works. It bears builder's No. 73" and was constructed for the Milwaukee & Mississippi Railroad Company which later became the Milwaukee & Prairie du Chien Railway Company. The locomotive served the upper midwest for more than thirty years but by 1889 it had been acquired by the Arizona and Southeastern Railroad Company, which later became the El Paso and Southwestern Railroad. It was the El Paso and Southwestern Railroad's Locomotive Number One, the first locomotive engine to be used in the development of Bisbee, Arizona during its great mining boom of the late 19th century. After more than fifty years of service Old Number One was overhauled and placed in a quiet park at Stanton and Franklins streets in El Paso in June 1909. In 1924 the El Paso and Southwestern became part of the Southern Pacific Railroad who acquired the engine and the offices adjacent to the park. For fifty years, from 1909 to 1960, Old Locomotive Number One remained a prominent historic piece of Western American history and was moved only briefly by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios who featured it in the 1938 film Let Freedom Ring. It was then returned to the park and remained there until 1960 when it was transferred to the University of Texas at El Paso's Centennial Museum. By the early 1960s, Old Locomotive Number One was resting quietly at the museum but was in need of repair. The Smithsonian Institution expressed an interest in the engine believing that it was the last of its kind in the country. In 1968 Old Locomotive Number One was placed in a large glass-paned structure that was built to protect its exposed, rusting exterior. For the next forty years Old Locomotive Number One was on display at the UTEP campus and received only occasional cleaning and maintenance. By the 1990s, Old Locomotive Number One was in need of extensive repair and restoration. In October 1999, the engine was officially recognized as a National Trust for Historic Preservation Save America's Treasures project. In 2001 more than 1.1 million dollars of Texas State Transportation Commission and local matching funds were allocated for the removal and restoration of the locomotive. During 2002, steam engine restoration specialist J. David Conrad of the Valley Railroad of Essex, Connecticut oversaw the removal and full cosmetic restoration of the engine and tender box. The woodwork, metal, and exterior trim were stripped, treated and painted to most closely match the original 1909 color and condition. In fall 2003, Old Locomotive Number One, cosmetically restored to its once great splendor, was moved to its present site at the Union Plaza Transit Terminal in downtown El Paso.{Information taken from the web site of Old Locomotive Number 1 El Paso, Texas Research Packet and Narrative by: Joe Carlos Jerry Hernandez Dr. George D. Toro Honors Project Spring 2004 National Endowment for the Humanities Historical Markers Project Narrative History: Old Locomotive Number One Union Depot Transit Terminal}.

Two views of the El Paso and Southwestern Railroad Number One.

Views of the El Paso and Southwestern Railroad Number One.

Builders plates of the El Paso and Southwestern Railroad Number One.

Display boards of El Paso and Western Texas Transportation History.

Glass display case of trains.

Books for sale.

Pictures behind the work area of the museum.

Conductor hats are displayed in this view.

Timetables are displayed in this case.

Pictures above the giveaway items in this unique museum.

One more display in this museum. I watched two DVD Programs, the first of Western Texas Transportation through the years and then Streetcars of El Paso. I learned plenty of new information about El Paso History and then was given a map of downtown El Paso with all the railroad points marked.

A Historic Railroad Tour of El Paso.

Ron Dawson of the Paso del Norte Streetcar Preservation Society offered to drive me around to see historic railroad sites in El Paso.

I found where all the BNSF power is kept in El Paso.

The Santa Fe Freight Station in El Paso.

El Paso PCC 1510 an ex San Diego Electric Car.

Two views so you can see the whole PCC 1510.

Another rear view of the El Paso 1510.

Four views of the Texas & Pacific El Paso Freight House.

The old El Paso Streetcar Barn.

Across the street is the old Foreman House/Offices.

The El Paso Southwestern Office Building.

The El Paso Southwestern Station/SP Freight House. Ron took me back to the viewing area near the station and I thanked him for an excellent tour of the historic railroad sites of El Paso. Now I wanted to get a westbound coming out of the El Paso Trainway.

The Texas State Sign about the El Paso Trainway. With two trains waiting I needed a westbound to come down the empty track. About thirty minutes later I spotted a headlight and knew I got lucky.

This UP westbound was impressive coming through the El Paso Trainway.

A nice clean UP unit in its consist. I returned to the station and after calling Julie I knew my train was running late. I asked the agent if I could change the TV to a different station and she said yes. I changed it to the Disney Channel. I learned from her that the westbound Sunset Limited had been running 15 minutes late out of Sanderson then east of Alpine they encountered a broken rail that caused then an over two hour delay.

Later a train of military equipment passed westbound through El Paso. About 6:30 PM the assistant conductor took my ticket as we had an update of a 6:45 PM arrival of my westbound Sunset Limited. I walked out to the open gate and waited for the Sunset Limited to arrive.

UP 5540 West exited the El Paso Trainway when our train was due. At 7:12 PM I heard rumbling coming from the El Paso Trainway and soon the Amtrak train came into view.

Sunset Limited 1 8/29/2009

The Sunset Limited arrived into El Paso. The train had a consist of Engines 89 and 67, Baggage 1248, Transition 39031, Sleeper 32005, Diner 38064, Lounge 33037, Coaches 31007, 34065 and 34045 and Sleeper 32113 Vermont. I boarded the Vermont and had Room 2 having been given a 7:30 Dinner Reservation. I stored my luggage and waited for dinner up in the lounge car. The train left El Paso at 7:25 PM and I was seated for dinner with two nice ladies. I had the BBQ Beef and Oreo Cake for dessert. After dinner I watched my DVD of Van Halen Live before I made up the room and called it a night.


I got up at 5:40 AM and headed to the Dining Car for breakfast of French Toast and sausage patties.

After breakfast I walked back and took this picture as we approached Palm Springs, our fresh air break of the morning.

Palm Springs station stop. I returned to the room and watched my DVD of the Rolling Stones "Ladies and Gentlemen".

Later the smoke from the Southern California wildfire made this interesting cloud. After the Stones I watched a Kiss DVD.

Snow in September or ash from the fires created this scene on Mount Baldy. The train went through San Gabriel and then through the thick smoke as we ran the final miles into LAUPT. We arrived there at 8:38 AM {9:40 AM} ending another excellent trip on the Sunset Limited. I detrained and walked over to the waiting Metrolink Train through the smoky air at LAUPT.

Metrolink 654 8/30/2009

I boarded the Metrolink Train using my one way Amtrak Ticket which I'm allowed to use through Rail to Rail until the end of August when single Amtrak tickets will no longer be allowed to be used. After a few minutes of Metrolink Affairs the train left LAUPT at 8:49 AM and headed south to a world of fresh air back in Santa Ana. We arrived there on time ending another great rail trip to and from El Paso, Texas.