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Don's Rail Photos

Texas Transportation Company

As we movd into the 21st Century, a real anachronism existed in San Antonio. There was a real, live, trolley freight railroad operating regularly. Texas Transportation had one real customer, the Pearl Brewery. They only handled a few cars a week, and there was no economic advantage in "modernizing." And so they operated with two of the oldest regular locomotives in the country.  But then Pearl was sold to Pabst and later the beer was made at Miller in Fort Worth, Texas.  The brewery at San Antonio ended 2001 and the rail service was removed.  The major buildings are being used for a commercial business area.

TT  began as a private corporation in 1887 and was chartered on September 24, 1897. In 1932 the company was recognized as a 1.3-mile common carrier by the Railroad Commission.  

First 1 was apparently rebuilt from a box car.

Second 1 was built with no information but may have been drastically rebuilt from 1st 1..

  

Third 1 was built with no information and apparently was entirely different construction.

Fourth 1 was built by Baldwin and Westinghouse in December, 1917, #47450, as Monongahela-West Penn 2000. This road became the City Lines of West Virginia in 1943 when the power operation and the traction operation were separated. Abandonment came in 1947, and the 2000 was sold to the Kansas City Kaw Valley RR where it became their 504 in April, 1948. When the Kaw Valley was abandoned in 1953, the locomotive came to San Antonio and was renumbered 1.  It is stored at San Antonio.

First 2 was apparently rebuilt from a box car.

Second 2 was built at St. Louis Car Co. in 1907, Lot No. 758, as Texas Traction Co. 3. In 1913 it was renumbered 352. In 1917, Texas Traction was merged into Texas Electric where the car kept the same number. In 1929, 352 was completely rebuilt as Class C locomotive 952. After Texas Electric abandoned on the last day of 1948, 952 was sold to Texas Transportation as number 2 in 1949.  It is now on display near the barn.

 

Tom Balzen sent in the following addition to this page.

The questions about the Pearl Brewery Electric Line remind me of several items concerning that operation.

In 1960, as a college student, I found summer employment at the Pearl Brewery, in what was (and may still be) called the "bottle shop". It was in this area that freshly aged, cold Pearl Beer was put into "longneck bottles" and then Pasteurized before being put into the distribution system. Prior to Pasteurization, the beer was draught" (draft) beer. The freshly filled longnecks would come out of the filling machine with frost on their necks.

One of the jobs that we college students were regularly assigned to was stacking cases of longnecks into 40 foot boxcars for shipment to New Mexico or Louisiana. About six cars could be parked next to a warehouse, spaced out along six doors. A portable conveyor would feed each door and a crew of loaders would consist of 5 people, two to stack cases of long necks in the car, two to rest (it was hot hot) and a regular employee to operate the conveyor feeding the operation. Often, an interested fellow employee near the filling machine would pull 24 "cold" bottles of beer (prior to Pasteurizing) off of the line, put them in an empty case and put it on the conveyor with one side of the lid propped up (the signal). This case would be pulled off at the boxcar and the two resting employees and often the conveyor operator would enjoy cold draught beer while the other two employees would stack beer (all against the rules, but done regularly). Of course, when the stacking crews exchanged, then the tired and hot stackers could enjoy the cold beer.

The best part was when the switchman would come and inform us that they had to get a car behind us out and put another one in. The conveyor would be stopped and removed, a low wall of cases would be stacked in the car to provide a little cover and the five employees would retire to the boxcar with a case of cold beer to ride around the brewery yard during the switching operations. While I participated in this many times that summer, I never remember any problems with slack or rough handling. I am sure that all this has changed for the worse by now with today's strictly enforced rules and worries about liabilities.

Another time that I was there, several years later, I found and asked someone why they kept using electric locomotives when everyone else was using diesels. I was told that the original city charter for the railroad operation by the brewery specified the use of electric locomotives, supposedly to preclude the use of horses or mules and the attendant mess on the street. In later years, the city desired that the brewery remove its track from Jones Avenue. It was determined that if a switch was made to diesel locomotives, that would be in violation of the original charter and the city could then force the brewery to remove the tracks. The railroad operation is very vital to bringing in supplies and shipping beer and without it, the brewery would probably have to relocate. Thus the continued use of the electric locomotives. While I was there in 1960, or thereabouts, the City Public Service of San Antonio got out of the business of producing and selling 600 volt DC power, the brewery being it's only remaining customer. The brewery acquired and installed a rotary converter on the property to provide the necessary propulsion power.

I went to San Antonio numerous times in the early 1990s and photographed the operation. It is really amazing to be on Jones Avenue and see the tiny ex-Kaw Valley electric locomotive trundle down the street with 3 or 4 reefers literally towering over it. The simple noise of the wheels on the cars rolling on the rail made more noise that the locomotive itself except the occasional running of the air compressor.

Back when I went down there on week days, they usually made one or more trips to the SP in the morning, and depending on need, sometimes again in the afternoon. Usually they would first travel light to the interchange track to pick up cars left by the SP. They would then go back to the brewery, switch cars around, and they take cars for the SP back. In this operation, the locomotive always pushed the cars toward the SP and pulled the cars toward the brewery. The interchange was two tracks and sometimes, on the second trip, there would still be cars to take back to the brewery, so on that trip, they would be loaded both ways. In the afternoon, when I saw them, they usually only took cars to the interchange track. I presume that the SP worked the interchange during the night.

Enough of my ramblings.

 

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3/19/2010

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