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Cloud Mountain: 1943

Cloud Mountain: 1943

March 1943. "Coming out of the mountains on the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe between Vaughn and Belen, New Mexico, into the Rio Grande River Valley. In the distance is a quarry on the mountainside where the railroad gets its rock for ballast." Photo by Jack Delano, Office of War Information. View full size.


Cattle guard...

It appears to be a cattle guard, as I have always heard them called. They work because cattle are afraid to walk over the open grid they create. the triangles on the ends are just so the cattle don't walk around it, but it still give clearance for the train. A fence would mean the train would have to stop and open and close a gate each trip! I don't know if they work for deer or not, but rather doubt it given the deer's leaping ability.


The bridge is the one at 34.457N 106.5038W

Those cattle guards

we referred to in Alberta as Texas Gates.

Belen Harvey House

Back up the track in Belen the ATSF depot still stands and is used by BNSF and Amtrak (though that segment is in danger of losing Amtrak service). Right next door is a Harvey House that now (thankfully is preserved as a museum).

Yep, that's what it is

Cattle grids similar to this are common in Australia. They stop movement of all animals, as animals won't step on something with a sharp top edge, or even a rounded top, such as pipe. Generally, about a 3" gap between the grid strips also provides a barrier, because animals are fearful of gaps where they put their feet. Grids built with spaced rail line are also used in Australia where strength is needed, such as a grid on a road used by heavy trucks. However, I've seen a grid where one of the narrow boards on the angled side section, fell down onto the grid - and 345 sheep walked out over the grid, in single file - as sheep do!

Never knew about the double rail - thanks for that interesting info!

Cattle gate

I believe we're looking at a cattle gate here.

Barb-wire to either side of the tracks, barriers, and the funny looking treads on the road-bed. I've been told that cattle don't like to step on these "treads" and that's what keeps them on the other side of the gate.

Other worldly

This almost surreal photo showcases the mystical, mysterious side of the well-named Land of Enchantment.

Still There

Found it. 20 miles southeast of Belen and we're looking south here. The track makes a short S-turn here and this is the middle of the S. You can see the eastbound curve up ahead. Looks single-track then but twin-tracks now. The quarry is still there but looks to have been abandoned long ago.

EDIT: SouthEAST of Belen, not southwest. Sorry for any confusion!

Inner rails

The inner set of rails over the trestle are a safety device, designed to make it less likely that train cars will overturn and plummet off the trestle in case of a derailment. The wheels on one side of a derailed car would be caught between the regular rail and the inner rail, with a bit of luck keeping the car upright.

Inner rails are sometimes called Jordan rails. I'm not sure why, but presumably it is not related to the Hashemite Kingdom.

Is this a cattle grid?

I'm curious: I guess this wooden construction is built to hold back cattle or deer but how does it work? It looks like the iron strips make it hard for a large animal to cross, but I don't understand these wooden triangles. Wouldn't a straight fence be simpler? Can anyone shed some light on this?

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