Tarrant to Arlington

The Great Southwest Railroad

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Note: Historical information was drawn from the Handbook of Texas Online.

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The Great Southwest Railroad passes over TX Route 360 in Arlington, TX. Note the faded letters on the girders of the bridge. This bridge sees a short train about once a day. Photo by Matt J. McCullar, March 2009.

The Great Southwest Railroad was a small yet vast switching railroad, chartered on May 7, 1957, to serve industries in Arlington and Grand Prairie, TX. The line was built and operations commenced two years later. It connected to the then-Texas & Pacific line in Arlington, and meandered northward to a connection with the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific at a small community called Tarrant.

Just a year after it started operations, in 1960, 90% of the GSWRR was purchased by its two connecting railroads, the T&P and the CRI&P, each with a 45% share. In 1985, the Missouri Pacific, which had purchased the T&P, purchased the Rock Island's shares outright, giving MP complete 100% control; the GSWRR was subsequently merged into the MP in 1987.

Today, some of the tracks are still used to serve local industries by Union Pacific. While its northern connection has been severed with the Rock Island (which is now owned by the cities of Dallas and Fort Worth, on which their Trinity Railway Express commuter trains run), the southern connection with UP still sees about a train daily. Some of the spurs have since been abandoned.

The map presented plots out the GSWRR in its entirety, based on 1981 topographical maps.

There is a trestle with a long section missing. It can be seen by looking east from northbound SH 360 at Riverside Pkwy.

Brian556
Denton, TX
3/10/2009

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.....And if you walk the dirt bike/four wheel drive trails back into the woods all the way to the Trinity River....There is still a large iron trestle bridge spanning the river. It is also clearly visible on satellite images of the area. Some 4X4-ers actually drive their trucks and Jeeps across it (They got more guts than I do)!!

Joe
Keene, TX
12/7/2009

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I read that they recovered an old steam locomotive from that location at Riverside Parkway and 360 about 20 years ago that had been left there since a flood at the turn of the century.

Gregg Orange
Ft. Worth, TX
7/8/2010

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I worked for the GSW Railroad in 1959 and 1960. There was only five employed for the RR at that time. Mr Mc Broom was also a major person in building the railroad. The owner of Six Flags required that a section gang motor car be washed and cleaned so he could bring his friends and family out for a week end ride on the tracks. We had a caboose that we would attach to a flat car. Mr W. would have a band for music and waitress from the country club he owned to serve people on the flat car and caboose that may bring their Idustry to Six Flag Industrial Park. The chat for the road bed would be delivered by the Rcck Island Railroad at Dorthy Track (now TRE Centerport).

Utah Rogers
Arlington , TX
3/27/2012

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Mr. W. was Angus Wynne who developed the industrial area and has a statue of him in the center of it. He also built Six Flags Over Texas in that area.

Allen
Portland, OR
8/3/2013

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I hired out for the GSWRR in 1974 and still work for the UPRR today. I have part of an old newspaper of when the RR had it's Grand Opening!

Donny Mahan
Colleyville, TX
1/21/2014

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When I was on the Fort Worth "T" board, I was trying (along with some others) to get the T.R.E. to purchase or lease the trackage in order to put a station close to the new Cowboys Stadium and the Ranger Stadium. The issues were that the sharp curves may have been difficult for the bombardier coaches to navigate through, and the replacement of the bridge over the Trinity river watershed. Although it may never happen, it would be nice upgrade and use this trackage.

Jeff Ritter
Richland Hills, TX
8/2/2014

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Jeff Ritter & Donna Mahan or anyone, Do you know of a time when there was a train stop in Grand Prairie on Main st (180? I am doing research on public transportation in Grand Prairie. Thank you

Juliette
Grand Prairie, TX
8/11/2014

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Donny Mahan...I'll bet your Dad was Ross Mahan and I worked with him on the GSWRR around 1968 to 1972. I remember him showing me a pocket watch you got him for some occasion...Christmas, Birthday? A good man.

I am in Chandler AZ now. Retired Capt. Southwest Airlines. Let me hear from you.

Gale Perkins
Grand Prairie , TX
10/13/2014

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Gale Perkins... Sir,you are correct, Ross was my father and I did indeed give him a pocket watch for Christmas! Good memory,that was a long time ago. You are also correct in your assessment that he was a good man, well liked by everyone!

Juliette.... I know of no train stop in Grand Prairie, I am assuming you are refering to passenger service?

Donny Mahan
Colleyville, TX
10/20/2014

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Juliette & Donny...I grew up in Grand Prairie and in the 50's I believe there were occasional stops. I seem to remember taking the train to Dallas and going to the State Fair. Donny, are you still doing the kind of work on the UPRR that I remember so well on the GSWRR. If I had not wanted to fly I might have made a career of it.

Gale Perkins
Chandler, AZ
10/22/2014

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The tracks now owned by TRE were heavily used by the Frisco, Burlington and Rock Island in the early 1970s. I walked the tracks to the switch at Dorothy Junction where the GSW joined the mainline. The area was built on an anticline that had some geological importance in the area. Some geology textbooks refer to the "Dorothy Cut."

In 2006, I rode the TRE and got off at Centerport and walked to where the junction had been. There was no sign anywhere that it had ever been there. No rotting crossties, spikes or anything. By that time, the bridge over the Trinity River had washed out and the only tracks were on the south side of the river.

Allen
Portland, OR
10/22/2014

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Gale, Yes I am still working as a Conductor in Arlington. You probably made the best choice as far as careers. Although we do have really good benefits and a pretty handsome retirement!

Allen, The bridge over the Trinity River is still in place although it is not visible from the area where the switch known as Dorothy was located.

Donny Mahan
Colleyville TX, TX
10/24/2014

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Juliette. I grew up in Grand Prairie from 1954-1972. I road the train from GP to Fort Worth about 1960. The train station was on Center Street at the site of the current Jack in the Box

Tom Peel
Grand Prairie, TX
2/16/2015

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I am doing research on the GSW Railroad for a historical perspective story in Cowcatcher Magazine. I would really like to talk to some former employees, including Mr. Mahan and Utah Rogers who have contributed to this thread. If either or anyone else who has information/stories about the railroad could contact me off line (cowcatcher@verizon.net), I would appreciated it.

Thanks!

Tim Blackwell

Editor/Publisher

Cowcatcher Magazine

P.O. Box 176

Keller, TX 76244

www.cowcatchermagazine.com

Tim Blackwell
Keller, TX
7/25/2015

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My dad John F. Robison started the GSW RR back in 1960 and Mr. McBroom was his immediate boss and the big boss was Angus Wynne. I watched the boom through the 60's and 70's and went to work with my dad during the summer break.

I am just now donating dad's RR items from his tenure at GSW RR as well as his American Shortline RR tenure as a board member for 2 terms to the new RR museum in Frisco.

Bill Matthews of Keller,Tx. was my dad's foreman and I still remember some of the employees such as Leroy Rowlett,T.C. Hagan and Levy.

I also contacted Tim Blackwell of Keller today and passed on some info. to help his efforts on writing his article about The GSW RR.

I am so proud of my father's careerwith the GSW RR and intend on volunteering at the new museum when opened.

This is some great history folks!

Mike Robison
Grand Prairie, TX
8/12/2015

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To Mike Robison...Your Dad was the man behind the desk at GSWRR when I was there. You may have seen the post I have about Ross Mahan father of Donny below. ...You mention some names I had forgotten, T C Hagan, Leroy Rowlett and Levy. Levy Was the most senior man and was the day job engineer.

Gale Perkins
Chandler, AZ
8/13/2015

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Gale,

I do remember your name! Also do you remember Joe Wolfe?

Thanks,Mike

Mike Robison
Grand Prairie, TX
8/17/2015

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Mike Robison

I do remember the name but so much time has passed I can't put a face to it. I noticed you may be living in Grand Prairie. I grew up there and still have two cousins living in Grand Prairie.

Gale Perkins
Chandler, AZ
8/17/2015

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Mike Robison

It just hit me I do remember Joe Wolfe. I believe he took care of the locomotives.

Gale Perkins
Chandler, AZ
8/18/2015

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I used to talk to a clerk on the GSW, when I was working for the MKT in either Ft Worth or Dallas. I think the MKT or OKT interchanged to them.

Did the GSW have an employee timetable, special instructions or a map of their industries for the crews to use? This is before the MP got ahold of them?

Michael Lowe
Logan, IA
8/31/2015

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Mike, thanks for reaching out. I'm looking forward to seeing the items you donated to the museum. I did an article on the GSW in 1984 when I was a cub reporter for the Arlington Citizen-Journal. I met with a top official, I believe, and think it may have been your dad. I got the ride the locomotive for about 30 minutes. Seemed like it was an SW1200 or something like that. At the end of the interview, he gave me a GSRR Railroad Pass, signed by Angus G Wynne, Jr., and C.W. Goyer, Jr. It says:

Great Southwest Railroad

Serving the Great Southwest Industrial District with the most modern and efficient rail service. Connections with the Rock Island and the Texas and Pacific main lines midway between Dallas & Fort Worth. All units diesel-electric and two-way radio equipped.

Sophisticated equipment back then. No date on it.

Does anybody know of C.W. Goyer, Jr. I don't think he's the guy I interviewed, and I haven't run across his name.

Tim Blackwell
Keller, TX
8/31/2015

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Look what I just found way up near the small community of Pipestone, MN:

https://goo.gl/maps/cJNCd

Still in the original paint! Tim, is this the locomotive you rode in, by chance?

Greg Harrison
Fort Worth, TX
9/9/2015

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Wow, Greg, that's awesome! No, I actually rode in MP 1290, as I just learned today after seeing a story I wrote about GSRR in 1984. No. 103 is one of two that GSRR purchased shortly after that article published and just before UP bought them out. Wonder if that locomotive is still up in Minnesota.

Tim Blackwell
Keller, TX
9/9/2015

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