Houck South Siding

 

Houck siding, north or south, will have the distinction of hosting the last run-around in Santa Fe D-251 territory. In over 531 miles worth of railroading, from Belen to Berdoo, if one train wanted to overtake another it was done on one of countless outside sidings -- Devore, Cajon, Hesperia, Newberry, Ash Hill, Amboy, Cadiz, Goffs, Topock, Franconia, Harris, Yampai, Pan, Gleed, Daze, McClellan, Chalender, Darling, Hibbard, Adamana, Thoreau, Grants, Gonzales, Laguna, and Suwanee, just to name a few. Spaced about every 6 miles, and almost always paired except when grades separated, it was the outside siding that kept the railroad fluid and enabled 100 M.P.H. streamliners to co-exist with 30 M.P.H. freights. Some sidings were long, others short. Most had dwarf signal protection and spring switches, others had track car indicators to warn of following movements, and even fewer had nothing at all, in which the five-minute rule applied. But as CTC marched both east and west over the last 40 years, the final holdout was the little-known Houck. After 23 October 2001 there will be no more outside run-arounds; the end of an operational era is over.