Andy McCracken Time Book

TP 810 Joe Collias Book
Andy left Fort Worth on a Mingus turn pulled by brand new oil burning Mikado 810 on October 7, 1919.  The conversion to oil power would soon contribute to a rapid decline in the coal mines in the Thurber area and the Mingus turns would become a thing of the past.  Photo from Joe G. Collias’ The Texas & Pacific Railway Super-Power to Streamliners 1925 – 1975.

T&P Andy McCracken Timebook 3-1-1919 to 5-30-1920

Andy McCracken worked the T&P west out of Fort Worth during 1919 and 1920.  This was a transition time for the Texas and Pacific in this area, as they were converting from coal to oil fired locomotives.  At the same time, the coal mines and brick plant at Thurber were beginning to decline as the economy of the area began to pivot to being oil based. 

Thurber Town Square

Thurber Town Square, from the Cross Timbers Historical Images Project.

Mingus Turns

Many of Andy’s trips were trips from Fort Worth to Mingus, where he would tie up, and then return to Fort Worth the next day, almost always with the same engine.  Thus I’m calling them “Mingus Turns” but they could’ve been nicknamed something different.  At this time, there would have been coal and brick moving from Thurber at the end of a short branch from Mingus.  These trips often required over 12 hours each way so I would guess they also performed other local work enroute.

Nova Numismatics has a good historical sketch of Thurber written by Jerry Adams and the Austin American-Statesman has another good article if you are interested in learning more.

Thurber area map
Thurber area mines, from the Perry Castaneda map collection at the University of Texas Libraries.

Through Trains

When not on a Mingus turn, most of Andy’s trips were on through freight trains to the crew change at Baird.  I do not have access to timetables or dispatcher sheets from this era, so I do not know the schedules of these trains, and the train numbers changed sometime before 1938.

Westbound trains:

  • 55
  • 57
  • 59 – only observed beginning in February 1920, but this could be chance

Eastbound trains:

  • 54
  • 56
  • 76

Multiple sections of these trains were common, with sometimes six sections being operated.  Sometimes multiple sections were carried in schedule books with different purposes for each section (in effect entirely different trains), sometimes multiple sections merely represented additional volume of the same traffic, and anything in between.  In addition, multiple sections could be used for dispatching convenience and have nothing to do with the actual train being operated.  Without additional information, it is impossible to know which applies here.  But regardless, it does give an idea of overall train volume.

This is entirely a guess, but train 76 might be traffic bound for the Missouri Pacific.  In later years, train numbers in the 50’s were the Fort Worth / New Orleans to El Paso trains, while 60’s were trains to/from the MP.  Perhaps this pattern continued earlier practices of this era.

In 1940, trains 54 and 55 were trains to/from New Orleans, so it can be speculated that maybe these are New Orleans – El Paso trains.

The 1939 Rio Grande Division timetable available from describes train 56 as “RS&P (Roscoe Snyder & Pacific) Santa Fe California Freight”.  In 1942, train 56 operated to Texarkana.  Perhaps this was also true 20 years earlier.  Hopefully someone has timetables or other information from Andy’s era to share.

T&P 540 Fort Worth

Andy took several trips with #540 in April and May 1920, some between Fort Worth and Baird, and other days that began and ended in Fort Worth performing unknown service.  Otto Perry, Denver Library Special Collections.

Operational Challenges?

Most of Andy’s trips, including the through trains, took longer than 12 hours to complete.  There are also examples of Andy deadheading on passenger trains to tie up or get to a train online. 

While train speeds were slower during that era, it appears that the freights were averaging slightly over 10mph for their trips.  With about five passenger trains in each direction and the apparent volume of freights, this might have been a congested piece of railroad.