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In the Heart of the Blackland Divide

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Remembering the Roscoe, Snyder & Pacific Railway

The RS&P on a run to Snyder in the 1970s.
For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been working on an application to the Texas Historical Commission for a historical marker for the Roscoe, Snyder & Pacific Railway.  If approved, it will be permanently placed in Roscoe’s Memorial Park on Cypress and Broadway, across the street from the museum. 

Since the RS&P has now been gone since 1984, an entire generation has grown up here without it, but for most of Roscoe’s existence it was a major player in the area and for that reason deserves to be recognized and remembered.  Even today, many people around the country are aware of Roscoe, Texas, only because of its existence. 

The RS&P began in 1906 as the idea of General F. W. James, an early pioneer and west Texas entrepreneur, who hoped to connect the cities of Snyder, Post, and Lubbock by rail to the Texas & Pacific Railway at Roscoe and then continue on to New Mexico. Fortunes were waiting for businessmen who could bring efficient transportation to the new communities that were springing up on the prairie that not too long earlier had been the domain of buffaloes and Comanches.   

General James got the backing of a group of businessmen from Abilene and then went to Roscoe and Snyder with his idea.  The leaders of both communities were enthusiastic about his proposal and promised him both money and land.  A deal was struck in the summer of 1906, and in October the Roscoe, Snyder & Pacific Railway was formally chartered with a capital of $200,000. 

Surveying and grading began and continued until June 1907, when the first track was laid on the railroad’s right of way in Roscoe.  That fall the crews, working ten-hour days at 15¢ an hour, built a bridge over Cottonwood Creek, then laid track the eight miles to Wastella.  In early 1908 they reached Hermleigh, and in May they made it to all the way to Snyder. 

Passenger and freight service between Roscoe and Snyder began on May 22, 1908, and on June 4 there was a big celebration in Snyder attended by a crowd estimated by the Dallas Morning News at 10,000.  Track laying continued, and in September 1909, the work gangs reached the new city of Fluvanna, 49½ miles from Roscoe, and there was another celebration. 

However, in that same month the Santa Fe began laying track from Lubbock toward Coleman to connect with its southeast Texas subsidiary, the Gulf, Colorado & Santa Fe, and there was thus no future for the RS&P to go any farther.  So, its proposed northwestern expansion was never fully realized, and the Pacific part of its name remained only as a relic of the founders’ early dreams. 

Nevertheless, it survived early financial difficulties and prospered.  Even though passenger and freight service to Fluvanna was discontinued in 1941 and passenger service to Snyder in 1953, it  remained one of the most successful short lines in the country by serving as a bridge between the Santa Fe and the T&P railroads. Its success was recognized in a 1955 feature article in Railway Age magazine.

In 1962, it converted its old steam engine repair shop in Roscoe into a railcar repair facility to service its own cars and those of other companies—and later designed and built cars to meet shippers’ needs.  This branch of the railroad later became the National Railcar Company and is now Eagle Railcar Services.

In 1967, the RS&P was sold to Roger Mize of Snyder and the Murchison Brothers of Dallas—one of whom, Clint, also owned the Dallas Cowboys.  It was prosperous all through the 1970s with over seventy full-time employees, two modern diesel engines, and over 600 freight cars.  In those years, it made between $1 million and $1.6 million a year before taxes.

However, deregulation of the railroads following the passage of the Staggers Act in 1980 made it impossible for the company to continue to compete.  It began losing money and finally had to be shut down in August 1984. 

Nevertheless, the RS&P was a major player not only in the settlement, growth, and prosperity of Roscoe and surrounding area but also in the efficient and timely transport of goods and produce between the west coast and the south for more than seventy-five years. 

The track between Roscoe and Snyder was picked up shortly after the railroad closed, and all that remains today is the track and a diesel locomotive now owned by Eagle Railcar, but you can still follow the RS&P on an imaginary trip from Roscoe to Snyder by viewing this eight-minute YouTube animation created by railroad hobbyists.  

Sponsors for the historical marker are Susan Alford’s third graders, who raised the money for the application and the fee for the marker.  



The Ralls Jackrabbits proved to be too much for the Plowboys last Friday night, scoring a touchdown in each quarter to win by a score of 28-7.  Three of their TDs came on long runs, two by Kaleb Reese—a 60-yarder in the first quarter and a 41-yarder in the fourth—as well as a 32-yarder by Jonathan Vangundy in the third.  Reese rushed for 150 yards overall.

Roscoe’s lone score came with 1:36 left to go in the fourth quarter on a 2-yard run by Eric Padilla, who rushed for 102 yards on 17 carries.  

The Plowboys are now 0-9 for the year and 0-4 in district play. They conclude their season on Friday against the Yellowhammers in Rotan.  Rotan is now 3-6 on the year and 1-3 in district after defeating Roby last Friday 24-14.

If the Plowboys do go 0-10 on the year, it will be the first time it has happened since 1990 and the fourth time overall.  The other 0-10 seasons were in 1954 and 1967.  


The Frost-Whittington American Legion Post No. 227 announces a Veteran’s Day Breakfast, which will be held next Friday, November 11, at 7:00am.  All veterans and active duty personnel along with their families are invited.

For more information, call 325-766-8887.   



The weather was generally beautiful for the week with high temperatures in the seventies and lows in the forties.  A cold front blew in last Thursday bringing cool weather for a couple of days with lows in the high thirties and highs in the upper fifties.  There was a bit of a frost one morning but not enough to kill any plants. 

Thursday was cloudy and rainy most of the day with intermittent drizzle that amounted to about two or three tenths of an inch.  Monday was a bit breezy, but other than that, the weather was just about as pretty as you could ask for. 

That’s all supposed to change today, however, with a norther blowing in later on with temperatures falling from the seventies to the mid-fifties this afternoon with winds from the northwest around 25-30 mph and gusts up to 45 mph. Lows in the mid to low thirties are predicted for tonight and tomorrow night, followed by warmer weather for the weekend. 



Don’t forget that Daylight Savings Time ends at 2:00am this Sunday, November 6.  You’ll need to set your clocks back one hour to create the only twenty-five hour day we’ll have this year.  

1 comment:

  1. This branch of the railroad later became the National Railcar Company and is now Eagle Railcar Services.
    Transmission Shops in Fort Lauderdale


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