Ray Caldwell, Southern Pacific engineer, in the yards at Sanderson.  Standing L. to R., H.Q. Sharp, Caldwell, S.E. Petersen. On engine running board is Gus Collins, the two in cab unidentified.  Caldwell came to work at Sanderson in 1920 as a brakeman and worked his way up to engineer, retiring in 1958.
A group of Sanderson citizens, businessmen and railroadmen pose by engine No, 62, just arrived in the yards about 1908; L. to R., on engine: Frank Harrell, unknown, S.E. Petersen, next four unknown, John Clark, W.D. Hunter, S.C. Bodkin, agent J. C. Stansell, Charlie Craig, Presciliano Escamilla, Sr., Will Locke, and two unknown.
Being situated on the railroad enabled Sanderson residents to witness many unusal events not availabe to other citizens of this country.  Among the sights seen by early residents was the Liberty Bell, which was exhibited across the nation on a special rail car.  Political whistlestop tours were an opportunity to see famous politicians of the day.  Above is President William H. Taft who stopped for a short speech in 1911.  President Truman also stopped in 1948 to shake hands and kiss babies.
The Terminal
Railroading in Sanderson, Texas, through the years
Galveston, Harrisburg & San Antonio RR - Texas & New Orleans RR
Southern Pacific RR - Union Pacific RR 
This is the newer 100-foot turntable that replaced the old 80-foot turntable when the roundhouse extension took place.  It was self-propelled and was removed in later years when the roundhouse was reduced to just four stalls, and was used elsewhere on the railroad.  At that time direct leads were built to each stall using switches.
The engine in this picture is a "Mallet"-type locomotive (pronounced maa-lee).  With two sets of driving wheels and pistons, it could exert tremendous tractive force, like having two engines in one.  Mallets were used farther west at Paisano and Altuda Passes as helpers to get the longer trains "over the hump."  They were also used as stand-alone freight engines.  This photo was made in the Sanderson yards from the porch of a railroad section house which stood two blocks east of the depot, between Downie St.  and the tracks.
Sometimes an engine would end up in the turntable pit.  It was not an easy thing to get it back on the rails.  A huge steam-operated wrecker crane, known locally as "The Bull" was used to lift the engine, and with much wood cribbing, metal jacks and jockeying movements it was returned to the rails.  Any derailment is serious and it costs time and money to correct the situation.
This mishap occurred Dec. 14, 1902 in the Sanderson yards.  Engineer Plowman received a broken collarbone in the incident.  More spectacular than the average derailing of engines and boxcars, this overturned and damaged engine and its attendant rail cars caused quite a stir and, as today, drew many onlookers.
"The Bull" was used to rerail cars and engines around the yard and to work train wrecks to clear away the damaged equipment.  The wrecker traveled with flatcars to carry tools and haul away debris, and had its own tender for fuel and water.  This is actually a smaller model and was steam powered.  Larger models were huge and were self-propelled.  "The Bull" was stationed permanently at Sanderson.
In this photo from before 1917 we see a "car knocker," employed to check the cars and rail equipment in the yard to make sure it is travel-worthy and safe.  Wheel bearings could wear to the point that friction might set the car on fire, so "hot boxes" were to be avoided.  From the large oil can in his hand it is apparent that oiling  the equipment was also a priority.
On the left is the Terrell Hotel, which was dismantled in 1917, and on the right is the depot.  The Sanderson State Bank and Charlie Willson's Cottage Bar Saloon can be seen to the right of the hotel.
Identified as Octaviano Lopez, Cruz Lopez, Honorato Garcia, Manuel Salas, Alonzo Villarreal, Agapito Lopez,  and, in front, crew foreman Ray Clifford, this track crew was pictured at Fedora, east of Sanderson.  Constant maintenance and vigilence was necessary to prevent derailments.  Clifford lived in a section house next to the tracks at Fedora, and one day his wife came home to find a derailment in their front yard, with debris thrown right up on the front porch, but not much damage to the house!
This is how we get to work on the railroad track crew.  Small "speeders" were used to transport men and materials where roads did not go.  Although traffic was usually stopped in the section being repaired, the cars were light enough to be lifted off the tracks at the approach of a train. This picture is titled, "Rufus and Howard Flagg's motor car - tie in air."
This was a yard switcher stationed for a time at Sanderson.  With an 0-6-0 wheel arrangement, (no smaller leading or trailing wheels, only six drive wheels), it was used to shunt cars around the yard and make up trains which were headed by larger engines.  Ten Class S-7 switchers were built by Alco in Schenectady, NY, in the early '30s and were scattered throughout the SP system.
An earlier 0-6-0 switch engine around 1906, during the GH&SA period, is posed at the depot with railroaders and townspeople.  The large lamp on the tender is kerosene-fired, indicating a very old engine, even for that time.  At a later date this engine was probably converted to a "shop switcher" with the addition of saddle tanks over the boiler for water and fuel, eliminating the need for a tender.  Thus it spent its remaining years working the locomotive repair shops.
Engineers Jesse Lochausen and Oscar T. Ward standing by a massive Mallet engine in the Sanderson yards about 1930.  Roundhouse is to the right.
Not all the action took place in the engine.  The train was run by the conductor and everyone, including engineers, took orders from him.  He conducted business from the caboose and kept track of all railcars and their merchandise.  He made sure cars were delivered where they were supposed to go.  Pictured is Conductor Charlie Morris (l) and his crew in front of his caboose #54.  In later years the cupola was eliminated and baywindow cabooses were used.  Cabooses were eliminated entirely in the 1980s and all business is now conducted from the engine.
The depot at Sanderson, Texas, pictured about 1910.  Built in 1882 shortly after the railroad pushed through in its construction phase, the depot was the center of life in Sanderson for many years.  With as many as four passenger trains per day, the townsfolk would come to greet the new arrivals, and there was always a crowd at the depot.  The "Beanerie" cafe, located in the depot, was a popular eating spot, though most of the railroadmen took their meals at Lee Quong's restaurant behind the Terrell Hotel.  Quong served American dishes exclusively.
Early GH&SA passenger train headed west.
The Sanderson depot, as pictured in the 1972.  The depot is now abandoned by the railroad and is scheduled to be demolished.  To date no public group has been successful in saving the oldest building in Sanderson.  Despite its listing as one of the ten most endangered depots in the United States, it seems it will meet the same fate as so many other historic Sanderson buildings.
All text and photos on this site copyright Terrell County Memorial Museum, 2010-2013, except where attribution is given.