Defiance West End


Until the CTC project of year 2001 West Defiance was the end, or beginning, of CTC. From here to East Winslow was ABS D-251 left-handed running. Were looking west at West Defiance. On this 29 September night the dispatcher is holding a westward Z train on the South track (red signal, far left) to let Amtrak number 3 get around on the North track and then cross him over to the South track, which explains the red-over-green signal. The two-headed signal on the mast to the far right governs movement off Defiance siding and onto the main. Because this is the beginning of D-251, only the South track is signaled for westward movements; thus, the top unit for the North track, and the top unit for the siding would never display anything but red or lunar. In the current CTC project West Defiance will be completely re-signaled, with East Defiance being the interface between the "new" and the "old" system. We use the term "old" lightly here -- don't let the oversized cantilever bridge fool you into believing that this installation is anything but old, for West Defiance came into being in 1984.

Defiance the siding has been around for many years (information points to at least 1916). It was the interchange point for the Pittsburg and Midway Mining Company, a coal producing concern. Though the Navajo land around Gallup is studded with magnificent sandstone formations of incomprehensible beauty, it is also endowed with thick (5 foot) seams of sub-bituminous coal (black lignite). Gallup coal was shipped throughout the west and was used for both domestic heating and for manufacturing. The Santa Fe was also an early consumer of Gallup coal. Steam locomotives assigned between Winslow and Belen burned Gallup coal as well as the company shops and electrical generating plants at Winslow, Gallup, Belen and Albuquerque. Coal production declined after World War II when the Santa Fe replaced steam with Diesel, domestic consumers switched to natural gas, and manufacturing either disappeared or switched to electricity. But by the mid-1970's steam coal encountered a renaissance as America's appetite for energy continued unabated, especially electrical energy. To satisfy demand, a number of large coal-fired generating plants came on-line, two of which are in eastern Arizona -- the Salt River Project's Coronado generating plant at St John's and Tucson Electric Power's Springerville generating plant near Springerville, both served by the BNSF's Coronado branch from Coronado Jct. Some of the coal for these plants originate on the Defiance spur, now in the hands of the BNSF, and during this period the Santa Fe upgraded Defiance to include power crossovers at West Defiance and East Defiance, a controlled siding, and a controlled wye off the Defiance Subdivision. During the upgrade this oversized cantilever was installed to support both North and South track's westwards signals. Whether the cantilever was extracted from a previous location or a standard cantilever was modified to accommodate the extra signals is unknown.