Dock to Poston Station

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  • States: Arizona   
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End of the active line at Dock. Photo by Mike Palmer, February 2009.

This abandoned line was the original mid-1920s routing of the Southern Pacific (via susbidiary Arizona Eastern) mainline east of Phoenix until the line was relocated to its current routing through Magma in 1964. While it shows up on maps as early as 1895, it is absent on a 1948 railroad map.

A temporary 3-foot narrow-gauge wooden trestle was built near Olsberg in order to facilitate building of the Gila River Irrigation Project. The bridge was washed out by flooding just 4 weeks later, but fortunately after the bridge had served its purpose.

The western end of the abandoned section is "in the middle of nowhere" at Dock, north of the town of Sacaton. There is an active shipper a couple miles west of the end-of-track who receives shipments in covered hoppers, as can be seen today; this marks the end of the active Chandler Branch of the Union Pacific. The eastern end of the abandoned section still has a stub track remnant about 1/2-mile long that is used to store maintenance-of-way cars. There are also huge piles of used railroad ties in the area.

See also The Florence Branch.

Thanks to Mike Palmer and Nelson Lawry for contributing information about this route.

Historic ICC Abandonment Filings

SOUTHERN PACIFIC RAILROAD
Docket Number: 22793 Date: 9/23/1963 Section: 1(18)
Applic. for auth. to aband. that portion of its main line at or near Dock to Poston, a distance of approx. 15.124 mi., together with all sidings, spur tracks and appurtenances. County of Pinal, State of Arizona.
Length: 15.124 miles Citation:  

Great photos Mike!

Kevin M. Smith
Cicero, NY
3/25/2010

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I have one comment and two questions.

The comment: Satellite photography of the currently designated Chandler Branch shows that remote customer just west of the end-of-track, and almost due north of the town of Sacaton, gets not only covered hoppers, but at least on the day of the photograph, even more LPGs and other tank cars, as indeed seems appropriate from the sizable tank farm at that facility.

Question 1: What is the name designation of the junction at the north end of the current Chandler Branch with the UP Secondary Main, occurring just north of East Baseline Road? [That road is also the city line dividing Mesa and Gilbert.]

Question 2: When was this original SP main line, which apparently shows on an 1895 map, built by the Arizona Eastern? I assume the relocation of the line to its current routing through Magma refers to the 1926 construction, yes?

Thanks,

Nelson

Nelson Lawry
Rollinsford, NH
4/19/2012

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I have the answers to these two questions:

1. The Chandler Branch, more recently termed the Chandler Industrial Lead, originates to the north at Chandler Junction or McQueen, all four of these designations, it seems, being in use currently.

2. The former SP main line from Poston Station, through Dock, to Chandler Junction, was built during the mid-1920s, with the portion from Poston Station to Dock abandoned in 1964, when the new SP alignment through Magma was opened. Clearly there has been confusion about these routings previously in this forum.

Nelson Lawry
Rollinsford, NH
5/24/2012

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Don't know where else to post this. Yesterday, after moseying around the southern end of the Union Pacific's Tempe Industrial Lead, my grandson and I drove east to check out the railroad's Chandler Junction, also designated McQueen. Here the UP's main line into Phoenix meets the north end of its Chandler Industrial Lead, formerly the Southern Pacific's main line running south and southeast to Poston. The southern segment of this line from Dock to Poston was abandoned in 1964. At the otherwise active Chandler Junction, a siding of two parallel tracks turns out from the UP main and goes east into the Arizona Republic's large Mesa facility. The newspaper's printing print was very likely once here, necessitating the siding for the delivery of the massive paper rolls. A notice on the front door of the office building fronting on East Baseline Road declares that the entire facility was vacated in November 2012, with of course the consequent abandonment of its double-track siding (still in very good condition).

Nelson Lawry
Rollinsford, NH
3/20/2014

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Because of my connections with this part of the Valley, including the newspaper, I can add a bit to the previous posting. To no one's surprise, it has to do with the downsizing of newspapers across the country, which the Arizona Republic did not escape. There are two former AR buildings in question here: the very large former printing plant in use since the early 1980s, of interest to railroad enthusiasts because it is the destination of the parallel siding tracks from the UP main Nelson reports, and the former news reporting and office building which faces East Baseline Road.

The Mesa printing plant had become outmoded a decade ago, with only the preprinted and community sections still being prepared there, and the remainder of the paper printed in the new Deer Valley (North Phoenix) facility, having more modern and higher capacity equipment. That plant closed entirely seven years ago and was offered up for sale. I do not know its current status, but I have not seen much of anything going on there, and certainly no RR cars on the siding. The rather smaller newsroom and adverts building out front was sold to Maricopa County (reportedly for $850,000) in April 2013, but the Republic continued to use it until last fall. Now the newspaper has vacated the entire facility, with very possibly no further use for that nice railroad siding.

Wynn Shugarts
Sun City, AZ
3/28/2014

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