YourToyTrains, leading Model Trains online store, is of course fascinated with history. We love these ironic historical ironies! In the 1870s the Texas & Pacific Railway was building west from Fort Worth to its ultimate goal of San Diego, CA, but financing issues delayed contsruction. Jay Gould, arguably the "most hated man in America" and known as the ultimate robber of the robber barons. took over the Texas & Pacific with the intention of building the railroad through to California (as its name implies: Texas & Pacific Railway).
At the same time, Collis Huntington was pushing his own Southern Pacific Railroad across the Arizona and New Mexico deserts, intent on building through to New Orleans. In one of the most famous agreements between two giant business tycoons, Gould and Huntington agreed to meet and share the traffic in the Southwestern United States. In 1881 the Texas & Pacific Railway met the Southern Pacific Railroad in Sierra Blanca, Texas (Now on Interstate 10 about 90 miles east of El Paso). The agreement called for the T&P not to continue to build to California, and the SP not build to New Orleans. Traffic between the Midwest, Texas, and California would be shared. The agreement lasted some years, but eventually Huntington bought a Texas railroad and linked that line to the Southern Pacific, and he reached New Orleans. The Texas & Pacific Railway, with no money to build its own route to California, found itself with a 500 mile line across West Texas with virtually no traffic and no through route either. T&P was part of Gould's Missouri Pacific system, which became a very strong railroad on its own in the Southwest. In 1982 Missouri Pacific merged with Union Pacific Railroad, combining two major Western railroads. The route from Fort Worth to Sierra Blanca was still little-used even up to the 1990s.
The Southern Pacific, having its own struggles, was purchased by the Union Pacific Railroad in 1997. A quick glance at a map told the UP an obvious fact: The former Missouri Pacific route from Fort Worth to Abilene, Midland/Odessa, and El Paso (via Sierra Blanca) was the logical route for rail traffic from the Midwest and North Texas to California.
Union Pacific Railroad has invested a few hundred million dollars to make the route Jay Gould dreamed of reaching California into, well, a main rail line that reaches California. 140 years later....and right on time!
(Picture: Union Pacific Railroad westbound intermodal train heading for California at about 80 miles per hour on the route from Fort Worth to El Paso (and on to California). Jay Gould wanted this route to reach California in the 1880s. It finally made it in the late 1990s!)