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International Railroad Discussion > mundo: FM-powered excursions on Bosques de Chihuahua


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Date: 01/23/19 02:19
mundo: FM-powered excursions on Bosques de Chihuahua
Author: Evan_Werkema

The first customer for Fairbanks-Morse locomotives outside the United States and Canada was also one of the most obscure: Bosques de Chihuahua, Sociedad de Responsabilidad Limitada de Capital Variable (essentially "Chihuahua Forests, LLC").  Located in the state of Chihuahua, Mexico, the Bosques ran east from a lumber mill at Mesa Del Huracán about 20 miles down to a connection with the Chihuahua Pacifico at an isolated spot in the bottom of a valley called Cumbre (which ironically means "summit.")  The distance between endpoints as the crow flies was less than 10 miles, so needless to say the Bosques line did a lot of twisting and turning.  The railroad was abandoned in 1988, but thankfully aerial views on Google Maps highlight the grade more or less over its entire length, with a few deviations here and there:

Mesa Del Huracán: https://goo.gl/maps/yayXmNDkXvr  
Cumbre: https://goo.gl/maps/DnYmjtGXem92

The Bosques rostered three diesel locomotives: EMD SW1 #500, a fairly late SW1 built in 1951 and the only example of this model exported new, and two Fairbanks-Morse H16-44's numbered 501 and 1000, also late examples of their type.  The 501 was delivered in 1955 a few months before neighboring Chihuahua Pacifico received its first H16-44's.  The 1000 came six years later in December 1961, after FM had ceased producing locomotives for the US market but was still turning out an occasional H16-44 for CH-P.  Both 501 and 1000 were painted in the same red and yellow scheme that had adorned FM's 1953-vintage H24-66 Train Master demonstrators, but the Bosques H16-44's were never demonstrators themselves (FM put out three H15-44 demos back in the late 40's, but never fielded an H16-44 demonstrator).  David R. Sweetland's H15-44 and H16-44 - Fairbanks Morse's Distinctive Road Switchers says that a repaint at some point before the mid-70's saw the original bright red color changed to the darker maroon seen in the following photos.  Neither unit was built with MU, and while 501 eventually gained what looked like an MU receptacle on each end, 1000 never did.  When both units were used on trains over the road, they were double-headed with an engineer in each locomotive.

Ed Von Nordeck's Let's Travel Tours ran a couple of trips to Mexico to tour the Bosques de Chihuahua line in 1987 and 1988, just before it was abandoned.  The following photos from those trips were taken by Ed (TO user mundo) or by the late Bill Farmer.

1) The 501 was the power for the first tour, which took place on May 29, 1987.  This view looks north as the engine stands beside CH-P's Cumbre station with the excursion's main line power, CH-P GP38-2 #902, standing in the distance.  (Farmer)

2) A closer view of 902 with the 501.  (Farmer)

3) The 501 shoved its train north to the junction switch, then entered its own railroad for the climb to Mesa Del Huracán.  The 902 and some loaded bulkhead flats are in the distance on the right. (mundo)

 



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 01/24/19 02:56 by Evan_Werkema.








Date: 01/23/19 02:23
Re: mundo: FM-powered excursions on Bosques de Chihuahua
Author: Evan_Werkema

4) The Bosques line crossed over the top of the CH-P, then scaled the west side of the valley.  Looking north, we can see the Cumbre depot on the right and the main line excursion consist mostly hidden by loads of lumber on bulkhead flats. (mundo)

5) Modern aerial views show the route was quite circuitous and mostly running through a canyon of trees, but there were a few cleared areas with house, stables, etc.  Judging from the bridge footings and the setting in general, this eastbound photo runby appears to have taken place at this spot: https://goo.gl/maps/Mdt7NL664s32

6) Excursionists posing at the entrance to the Mesa Del Huracán sawmill complex. (Farmer)

 








Date: 01/23/19 02:27
Re: mundo: FM-powered excursions on Bosques de Chihuahua
Author: Evan_Werkema

7) The lumber cars at Cumbre suggest the mill was still active in May of 1987, but the mill grounds look pretty deserted in this view facing east, with just one bulkhead flat visible off to the left. (mundo)

8) The excursion consist: an ancient wooden caboose, a Bosques flatcar and NdeM gondola outfitted for passenger use, and NdeM caboose 43838. (mundo)

9) SW1 500 puts in an appearance. (mundo)

 








Date: 01/23/19 02:31
Re: mundo: FM-powered excursions on Bosques de Chihuahua
Author: Evan_Werkema

10) Another view of 500 with the excursion consist to the right. (mundo)

11) Two thirds of the Bosques roster, both two-stroke cycle machines and with sequential road numbers, but with precious little else in common save the track gauge. (mundo)

12) Now short-hood forward, the 501 is ready to lead the four-car train back east to Cumbre. (mundo)

 








Date: 01/23/19 02:32
Re: mundo: FM-powered excursions on Bosques de Chihuahua
Author: Evan_Werkema

13-14) A photo runby at another short trestle, which appears to have been located here: https://goo.gl/maps/DWbwzwtQEzK2

15) The utterly clean rooflines of the Bosques FM's were interrupted only by the exhaust stacks.  Even the airhorns were hung off the sides of the hoods.

 








Date: 01/23/19 02:35
Re: mundo: FM-powered excursions on Bosques de Chihuahua
Author: Evan_Werkema

16-17)  Another eastbound runby at another clearing, which appears to have been here: https://goo.gl/maps/stfFrquwDTm (mundo)

18) The exact location of this one I haven't been able to pin down, but my hunch is that it was taken here looking northeast: https://goo.gl/maps/UFHv1ZjL44w  It's a lovely scene in any case.    (mundo)
 



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/28/19 04:49 by Evan_Werkema.








Date: 01/23/19 02:37
Re: mundo: FM-powered excursions on Bosques de Chihuahua
Author: Evan_Werkema

19-21) Back at Cumbre in glorious afternoon light, BdeCh 501 and CH-P 902 sort out which cars belong to whom.  The views look to the south. (mundo)

 








Date: 01/23/19 02:39
Re: mundo: FM-powered excursions on Bosques de Chihuahua
Author: Evan_Werkema

The second Let's Travel Tours excursion over the BdeCh, SdeRLdeCV (whew) took place on May 14, 1988 as the line was about to be abandoned.  The power this time was rough-looking H16-44 #1000, and the skies appear to have been overcast throughout.

22) At Cumbre, the 1000 and two-tone blue NdeM GP38-2 905. (Farmer)

23-24) The 1000 poses alone and with her crew at Mesa Del Huracán. (Farmer)

 








Date: 01/23/19 02:41
Re: mundo: FM-powered excursions on Bosques de Chihuahua
Author: Evan_Werkema

25) One photo runby westbound at an indeterminate location. (Farmer)

Aerial photos suggest the sawmill at Mesa Del Huracán is still largely intact, but the tracks and of course the FM's are gone.  Both are believed to have been scrapped.  A photo caption on Mexlist.com suggests the SW1 went to work for the COPAMEX (Pondercel) paper mill at Anáhuac, Chihuahua.

Thanks as always to Ed for sharing his collection of photos with us!
 




Date: 01/23/19 04:42
Re: mundo: FM-powered excursions on Bosques de Chihuahua
Author: gcm

What an excellent series of interesting and unusual images from an area I don't know much about.
Thanks Ed and Evan!
Gary
 



Date: 01/23/19 05:38
Re: mundo: FM-powered excursions on Bosques de Chihuahua
Author: mundo

Photo 3, is a good shot of Bill Farmer in the Gon, departing Cumbre.

Thanks Evan for all the research.  Fills in info that I did not have.

Maybe you can post one photo of the "outdoor Fred Harvey" food service at Cumbre provided in the Gon.  This was on the 2nd trip.



Date: 01/23/19 07:57
Re: mundo: FM-powered excursions on Bosques de Chihuahua
Author: tomstp

What was the metal looking "box" on the roof of the caboose?



Date: 01/23/19 09:21
Re: mundo: FM-powered excursions on Bosques de Chihuahua
Author: mundo

Box was water for the caboose.  However, when ready to leave Cumbre to head south, theCHP loco was low on water, so, moved the caboose along side to top off the diesel water.



Date: 01/23/19 20:10
Re: mundo: FM-powered excursions on Bosques de Chihuahua
Author: callum_out

Breathtaking, only shots I've ever seen of the mill and the remote parts of the line, never even knew this
stuff existed which was a bit stange since there were a couple fan trips. Thanks to Evan and Ed for posting
these.

Out



Date: 01/23/19 20:36
Re: mundo: FM-powered excursions on Bosques de Chihuahua
Author: lynnpowell

Cumbre itself was not on the Chihuahua Pacifico mainline.  It was on a 175-mi branch line, now abandoned and removed, that ran off the mainline at La Junta, northwest to just north of Mata Ortiz.



Date: 01/24/19 01:46
Re: mundo: FM-powered excursions on Bosques de Chihuahua
Author: CA_Sou_MA_Agent

Excellent series.  An amazing operation.  Thanks Ed and Mary Lee and Evan for all your efforts.  The fact that I didn't do either of those trips is a HUGE regret on my part!  



Date: 01/24/19 03:14
Re: mundo: FM-powered excursions on Bosques de Chihuahua
Author: RayH

Damn, wish I could have been on that first trip too, you had a lot more sun and photographic ops! Still, the second trip was great and I'm glad to have been on it. If I didn't say it 30+ years ago, THANK YOU mundo!



Date: 01/24/19 05:57
Re: mundo: FM-powered excursions on Bosques de Chihuahua
Author: refarkas

An "A+" collection of images.
Bob



Date: 01/24/19 07:15
Re: mundo: FM-powered excursions on Bosques de Chihuahua
Author: PasadenaSub

Thank you for another wonderful series of photos and background on the operation.

Rich



Date: 01/24/19 07:56
Re: mundo: FM-powered excursions on Bosques de Chihuahua
Author: DLM

Great story and photos.  Beautiful country.  The front porches of the FM's are really high off the ground. Thanks for posting.



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