The Baytown Branch extends from its junction with the SP main line at Dayton, Texas south 25 miles to Baytown. It was originally laid as the Dayton and Goose Creek Railroad in xxxx. The Cedar Bayou Branch leaves the Baytown Branch at Eldon Jct. at MP xx.x. Unlike most Louisiana Branches, the Baytown Branch connects to a Missouri Pacific Branch from Houston at Baytown. There is also a unique double connection to the US Steel plant via the Cedar Park Branch and an industrial lead from downtown Baytown.
Industries served along the line include mostly petrochemical and related businesses. There are several chemical plants and a large carbon black plant (J. M. Huber) at Mont Belview. The carbon black plant can be seen easily from I-10 just east of Houston near the Wade Road (Exit 790) exit. The line runs into Baytown from the north east side of town crossing various main streets along the way. Once inside of Baytown, the tracks turn about 45 degrees to almost due west. The tracks then pass just south of Lee College and a city park before crossing the original line's namesake, Goose Creek. The tressle when I first saw it in early 2006 was a concrete pile bridge, however, during SP's control of the line, it was most probably a wood pile tressle. The tracks then pass across Market St. and under state hwy. 146 to get to Exxon-Mobil's huge petrochemical complex on the west side of town. This area is heavily industrialized and quite well guarded since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, so be VERY careful if you go down there. I should know, I was acosted by an over-zealous security guard down there and nearly hauled off to jail. I'm sure the Dept. of Homeland Security has a file with my name on it by now!
The maps that I have of Baytown are quite confusing and don't readily identify where the SP tracks end and the MP tracks begin. To add to the confusion, there is a myriad of in-plant trackage and the US Steel industrial lead all in a very compact area. Somewhere in Baytown there is also a T&NO 2-8-0 number 895, an ex Texas Midland loco (one of only two acquired by the T&NO and the only one to survive) on display in Roseland Park. Many thanks to Stephen Arnold for providing us with the link.
Some time in the late 80's or early 90's, a huge SIT (storage in transit) yard was built just south of Dayton along the branch. This yard is used mostly to store the many plastic pellet hoppers that are generated in this area until they are to be sent out to their ultimate destination. The most accessable part of the whole line, however, is the yard at Dayton parallel to US hwy. 90. This yard is always full of neat tank cars and covered hoppers. During the late 80's when I was driving to Houston quite a lot, I would always see a few sets of SP GP's switching cars in the yard. The branch diverges from the main line at the east end of the yard in a beautiful sweeping curve of around 135 degrees just after crossing US hwy. 90.
What I really need to know about this line, however, is the operational aspect. What sort of motive power was typical during what eras? How frequent were trains run? How long did a train take to make its run? I do know that the line was dispatched by DTC (direct train control) in the late 80's. I used to visit with the SP train dispatchers in Lafayette at night after everyone else had gone home. I distinctly remember hearing the DS give authority to trains in the Guffey and Mont Belvieu blocks. How I wish that I would have copied down info from those train sheets!!! Any input from those of you that were there would be greatly appreciated.
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