Houston is the site of a large quarry. Houston is also the spot on the layout visitors first see as they enter the train room. The first photo below shows that view. Until early 2004, there was but one track that loaded 7 open company service rock hoppers. The acquisition from a friend of several more cars caused a revision in the entire way Houston operates. The thought of some sort of unit train operation entered my mind. Over the course of a week, Houston went through several changes, none of which were completely satisfactory. Finally, Stuart Thayer came up with a very workable plan that was implemented. From Stuart came the name of the industry: Thayer Sand & Gravel.
The end result is a very busy industry. Several covered hoppers are loaded with sand each session. Several more open hoppers are loaded with rock. Finally, there is a unit rock train operation inspired by something Stuart sees in Colorado Springs. This train consists of 24 hoppers. Twelve are Pennsylvania Southern cars. The other twelve are Stewart 70 ton hoppers all lettered for the Western Maryland. In our minds, Thayer Sand & Gravel bought these cars for the unit train service. They were not repainted, only the reporting marks and numbers were changed to TSGX series cars. This train leaves State Line Yard with a caboose at both ends of the string of hopper cars. At Washington, the locomotives run around the train then push it up the grade to the quarry. Since engines are not permitted under the tipple (itís not yet built, please be patient) the train is pushed through the short double ended siding. It is then manually loaded with two coffee scoops of gray sand as it passes under the virtual tipple. It then continues back south to State Line Yard.
The next two pictures show the view from opposite ends of the facility:
Pennsylvania Southern Railroad
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