(Scroll down to see photos.)
Not to be confused with the granger railroad of the same name that operates in the Texas
panhandle and northwestern Oklahoma, New Mexico's Southwestern Railroad is a copper
hauling line based in Hurley, NM. Southwestern falls under the Western Group umbrella, which
also includes the Cimarron Valley (in Kansas, Oklahoma and Colorado), the Arizona Central /
Verde River Canyon Excursion train (in Arizona), and the Shattuck branch of the Southwestern,
based in Perryton TX.
Southwestern began operations in 1990 when it acquired a collection of branch lines from the Santa Fe. The original line sale included all of Santa Fe's trackage north and west of Whitewater, NM. In 1994, Santa Fe sold 27 additional miles of trackage from Whitewater to Peruhill, northwest of Deming, to Southwestern. In 2001, BNSF sold the former Santa Fe Deming Subdivision (60 miles from Rincon NM to Deming and Peruhill) to the Southwestern.
Southwestern's primary customer is Phelps-Dodge, the copper-producing giant. SW presently serves the open pit copper mines at Chino (north of Hurley) and Tyrone (west of Whitewater), as well as a smelter at Hurley. All Hurley-area traffic is copper-related: inbound loads of copper ore, additional loads of copper ore moving from the mining areas to the smelter, outbound loads of copper anodes and cathodes, and outbound loads of sulfuric acid - a byproduct of the smelting process.
Southwestern also serves customers on the former BNSF Deming Subdivision in Deming, Hockett, Hatch, and Rincon. Recent operating patterns have seen the Southwestern operating between Deming and Rincon on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. The train normally heads east out of Deming in the mid- to late morning, works Rincon in the early afternoon, and returns to Deming in the mid- to late afternoon.
Southwestern also occasionally operates unit coal trains between Rincon and Deming. BNSF delivers the trains -- loaded with New Mexico coal -- to the Southwestern at Rincon; SW, in turn, hands them over to the Union Pacific at Deming for movement to a power plant near Cochise, Arizona. Empties return via the same route. The trains are normally powered by BNSF locomotives, but UP locomotives occasionally appear.
Perhaps the most intriguing part of Southwestern's operations is its motive power roster, which includes a number of ex-Phelps Dodge GP30s. If you're lucky, you might even catch one leading a train! Southwestern's roster also includes GP40-2s, GP28s, and GP7s.
Enjoy these shots - if you're passing through southwestern New Mexico, the Southwestern Railroad is well worth a look.
Please click on any picture below to see a larger image.
|If you see this sign from the highway, keep driving!!! You're almost there! Southwestern's operations are based at the depot in Hurley. It's not hard to find (Hurley is a small town). Date of photo: November 1998.|
|A northbound Southwestern train passes through Whitewater, NM in March 1999.|
|SW RR GP30 # 28 leads a southbound train out of the yard at Hurley in November 1998.|
|A southbound Southwestern train snakes through an s-curve south of Hurley, NM in November 1998. This shot was taken from the shoulder of U.S. Highway 180.|
|;||A GP30 and an ex-C&NW GP7 lead a southbound train toward Hurley from the Chino open pit copper mine in March 1999.|
|Southwestern GP30 # 29 leads a southbound train near Bayard, NM in March 1999. Phelps Dodge's open pit copper mine at Chino is in the background.|
|Southwestern 2182, an ex-Santa Fe GP7, awaits assignment at Hurley on November 5, 1998|
|Southwestern 4292, an ex-C&NW GP7, was at Hurley on March 1, 1999.|
|During my visits to Hurley in 1998 and 1999, former Phelps-Dodge GP30 # 25 was Southwestern's only locomotive not painted in the blue-and-white scheme.|
|An interesting "Where are they now?"...the hulk of former ATSF GP7 2211 is on Southwestern property at Hurley, having been cannibalized for parts. Photographed November 1998.|
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