31 December 2006 – Photos of Nuevo León And KCSdeMéxico

by Jim on 2011/12/31

[Jimbaux was – and still is – running blind on New Year’s Eve.]

Yep, that’s my song for being in Mexico.  It always will be.  I really could use that song for all of these posts.

Víspera de Año Nuevo

It’s New Year’s Eve, and I’m in Monterrey.  As you saw last time, the previous day ended with me taking night photos at the locomotive facility at the KCSM yard, and since I was there past midnight, that’s technically how this new day started.  So, we start the day quickly with a few shots taken shortly after midnight as I acted upon this wonderful opportunity to be in and photograph these facilities unbothered.

Here’s another C30-7 still in FNM two-tone blue:

I seem to recall that some of the hombres on the ground said that this thing (above) would soon lead a train to Matamoros.

Remember This High-Nosed Geep?

Yes, you saw this thing two days before leading the Alkali Local, and here it is parked in the shops.

Now, imagine if that high-nose had survived to be repainted into KCS’s “Heritage” colors; wouldn’t that be cool?

Lights On, Lights Off

I’ve had some fun times in slide shows when I showed the below picture and then the identical picture with the lights off and went back and forth between the two several times!  Yeah, I’m silly.

Even these things have since been renumbered.

Lights Off For Jimbaux, But Just For A Couple Of Hours

By the time I left the yard that night (morning), it was about 01:15, but I had little time for sleep since I planned to be up and trackside at the crack of dawn.  Not only that, but with it being New Year’s Eve – Víspera de Año Nuevo – and with mis amigos ferroaficionados y yo having a big foam day planned for New Year’s Day, sleep wasn’t something high on my list of things to do in the next few days.  I figured I’d sleep a week later when I got back home.

Dawn View Of Expansion Of The Metrorrey

So, here I am at daybreak (you can tell by the sharpness of the light angles) after a few hours of sleep along Av. Unversidad photographing the badly-needed expansion of the Metro Monterrey, a system that was (and, even with the recent expansion, still is, to a lesser degree) useless to many due to its limited reach.  I’ve ridden it once in 2004, but only for the views, and not to get anywhere.  The soon-to-be station seen here is either Niños Heros or Universidad.

Near here, there is both a McDoofis and a Murder King, both of which have different menus than their American brethren, and I’m nearly certain that I grabbed breakfast at one of those places before proceeding northward to find trains and photograph whatever I could find.


The photo record from that date indicates nothing between the above photo and arriving at Villaldama nearly two hours – and, if I recall, nearly 100 miles – later, suggesting that KCSM wasn’t running jack (or that I couldn’t find whatever it was running) between there and Monterrey that morning, but I was grateful to find a train in Villaldama.  First, let’s check out the old estación.

A decade before, when privatization of Mexico’s railroads took place, passenger service ended here.  The above view looks north.

Check out this elevation sign on the station’s outer wall facing the track!

I would love to know not only the stories behind these benches (below) but also the stories that the benches could tell!

Well, there’s nothing happening on the track here; so, let’s go head further north to see if we can intercept anything coming south, but let’s go drive around and explore town for a little while first.

Well, look, apparently there’s a gubernatorial election soon to take place here in Nuevo León!

That’s interesting.  I seem to remember that once when I was in Coahuila (the next state to the west) there was a gubernatorial race happening too.

The Northern Fog

This photo, in which I’ve turned and looked back south on NL Carratera 1, shows an interesting weather phenomenon that takes place in this area between Monterrey and the Rio Grande, that of this winter fog that often hangs over the semi-desert land.

Can any of you more meteorologically-inclined among you offer some information about this phenomenon?

Hey, A Train!

Well, just north of Villaldama, we get our first train of the day, a southbound intermodal that seems to be creeping along.  KCS purchased the below photo from me and published it in the 2008 company calendar.

He seemed to be making some reverse moves, but I have no idea why.


So, apparently, according to the photo record, I chased this thing south, and I caught it at PC Álamo Sur (which, in English, would Control Point Alamo South) right east of El Potrero.  However, I won’t show pictures of the train here, partly because this post will be long enough with 25 pictures, and partly because I’d like to save some pictures to publish later, but I’ll show you a few other pictures here now.

I recall that these grasses were well fertilized in more than one way during my brief time here.

Well, that’s enough of that.  Now, for whatever reason I don’t remember, it’s time to head back north.

El Castillo De Candela

Estación Candela is one of the most stunning railroad structures that I have ever seen, probably partly because I’ve only seen it in its unused state, like some millenia-old Greek ruin, and the below photo does not really do it justice.

We’re looking almost due north in this picture.  Imagine the scene in decades past with passenger trains stopping here and families boarding.  The highway is parallel to the track about 2,000′ to the right.  The shot that I really want to show you is the shot from the highway as this impressive turret-castle structure can be seen across the sage brush in the distance, leading me to turn off and find it.  The problem is that there are few places to pull off the highway along the highway, and this is especially true with the itty-bitty low-ground-clearance rental car that I had.  I stopped here again at Candela in my 2009-2010 trip, and I grew a set and went and looked around inside, which is something that could get one beheaded today, no telling who has taken over the place now that the cartels have moved to this part of the republic since shortly after my departure there in January 2010.

Here are a few crossties seen from the depot.

Now, it’s time to head farther north, for what reason I do not remember, other than maybe sheer curiosity, especially based on a memory of driving over these parts in 2004.

Lampazos De Naranjo

This is a neat little town.  I stopped here to take some pictures (again, this post is already too long to show them, and, again, I want to save some for later), and I spent even more time in the town in January 2010.  Here’s the sign welcoming northbound visitors.

This is where both the highway and the railroad make a curve of what seems like 45 degrees to the northeast toward Nuevo Laredo and the US border.  I seem to recall that on this day, as I was rounding that very curve, a southbound manifest train came into view, and I turned around to chase it south.  Lampazos de Naranjo would be as far north as I would go on this trip.

Back To Candela

So, here we are back at Estación Candela, and here comes the train.

The openness of the terrain here is striking to me.

My First “Primer Belle”

Followers of the KCS and the KCSM four and five years ago will remember that the ES44ACs were delivered to the railroad in primer only and spent a few months working – apparently because the railroad was desperate for the power – before being painted into the Heritage paint scheme.  Or did it have to do with some dispute or problem about where the painting would be done?  Someone refresh my memory!

Anyway, I raced back south to Estación Bustamante (just north of Villaldama) where I arrived just in time to shoot the pusher on this thing, which was probably the first “Primer Belle” – therefore, the first KCS or KCSM ES44AC – that I ever saw.

It would be the first of several of these things that I would see on this trip.

I Love This Place

If some of the pictures that you’ve already seen haven’t shown you why I love Mexico, maybe the picture below, different than many I have posted, will.

I found a broadside shot to shoot the train south of Villaldama, and I found a very elusive place to park and walked across the highway and set up for a shot.  Before I shot the train, I looked north in another view that will show you why it’s so difficult to pull off on the side of the road here.

Do you see the track on the hill at the far right in the above picture?  I frequently am accused of doing too many train pictures with a telephoto lens, too many almost head-on views, and not enough wedge or broadside shots.  That’s a fair accusation, but it’s even harder to do non-telephoto shots along this line where places to pull off on the side of the highway are very rare.

Anyway, here comes the train.

That’s really the best that I could do as far as non-head-on shots in this area.

Only by understanding that I grew up along the Southern Pacific Railway’s branchlines hauling refined sugar in the bayous of southern Louisiana can one appreciate how much of a joy it is for me to see Airslide hoppers.

It’s hard to see it in the below picture, but there really is a falloff on either side of the road, enough to damage the underframe of a small car that attempts to pull off.

In order to truly get good shots on this line, it seems that one needs a bucket truck (with high ground clearance) or maybe a helicopter.

New Track!

We’re almost back to Monterrey now, and the sun will be setting soon.  I have a New Year’s Eve party to attend, but not before getting a few more shots!  We’re back at Salinas-Victoria, just north of Leal, which itself is just north of Conexión Norte in Escobedo.  You might recall from two days before from the shots of the local in the morning that Conexión Norte is where the bypass track going around Monterrey begins (and you’ll see Conexión Sur tomorrow, my first time there), and you might also recall that Leal is the aptly located crew change point north of that junction.

The below view is looking south (toward Monterrey, the junction, and Leal) from the road to the intermodal facility at Salinas-Victoria.  You can see some trains at Leal in the distance.

The track on the left is new (meaning that the switch you see on the original mainline is also new), and it did not exist when I was here in the summer of 2004, but the grading and ballasting for it was already taking place.

Here’s Leal

Here’s one more train shot, this one of the crew-change spot at Leal with plenty of parking for KCSM crews, and, hey, look, it’s the southbound train that we’ve been chasing!

That’s enough!  It’s time to hit the shower and head out to la fiesta!

Tonight We’re Going To Party Like It’s 2006

. . . because it is.  Anyway, as I predicted, I was tired from a lack of sleep, but I still was full of energy and had a good time greeting 2007 with some friends.

You’ll see what we did on El Día de Año Nuevo (in the daylight once we slept a little bit) next time, my friends.

¡Próspero Año Nuevo!


{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Danny Sisk December 31, 2011 at 12:40

Great pix James,
I loved the old castle stacion ! Its a shame Mexico has let the cartel take over wherever they go and the govt dont lift a hand to stop them…


2 Howard Bunte January 1, 2012 at 23:59

Great shots, including the ”Castillo Candela”…
looks more “Moorish” in architectural style… faux-Moorish as they did not use concrete… but that little station out in midst of ‘nowhere’… will last forever… so sorry to hear that the “narcos” have taken it over…


3 Oscar Alanis January 2, 2012 at 12:11

Happy New 2012
Oscar Alanis


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