Missouri Pacific in San Antonio, Page 2

Additional Information and Photos Page
Missouri Pacific Station in San Antonio, 1971
Missouri Pacific station in San Antonio in 1971, not long after it was shuttered
Missouri Pacific station in San Antonio in 1971, not long after it was shuttered. This door faced Houston Street. The baggage and REA building can be seen in the background
Baggage, light freight and Railway Express Agency building at the rear of the Missouri Pacific station in San Antonio in 1971. This structure was demolished not long after this snap was taken
In 2006, an intriguing folder was located at the Texas Transportation Museum detailing an abortive effort on the part of the museum to acquire in 1971 the recently shuttered Missouri Pacific station at the corner of Commerce and Medina Streets. Included in the copious but ultimately fruitless correspondence, which includes letters to and from MOPAC, the San Antonio mayor, the San Antonio Conservation Society and even US Representative Henry B. Gonzalez, were a number of tiny photographs and an undated area map detail showing the location of many forgotten aspects of MOPAC's operations in down town San Antonio.
1971 interior shot of recently shuttered MOPAC station in San Antonio
1971 interior shot of recently shuttered Missouri Pacific station in San Antonio
1971 interior shot of recently shuttered Missouri Pacific station in San Antonio
Modern technology has allowed for a generous enlargement of the photographs. Included are some extremely rare images of the baggage room and REA offices located immediately behind the station. More searching just might reveal images of the freight house and the turntable on the other side of the tracks, now we know what to look for.
1971 image of recently shuttered San Antonio MOPAC station seen from Houston Street
1971 interior shot of recently shuttered Missouri Pacific station in San Antonio
1971 interior shot of recently shuttered Missouri Pacific station in San Antonio
International and Great Borthern Hotel in San Antonio
The International and Great Borthern Hotel in San Antonio, located across Medina Street from the passenger station, in 1909
The newly restored former International and Great Borthern Hotel building in San Antonio, located across Medina Street from the former passenger station, in 2016
Images of the Missouri Pacific Wetmore depot in San Antonio
The only known photo of the Missouri Pacific's Wetmore depot on what was then the north-west edge of San Antonio. It was at the intersection of Wetmore and Thousand Oaks, just a short distance from the Texas Transportation Museum. It was torn down in the late 1950s.
International and Great Northern train crossing trestle bridge on Wetmore Road. The museum is just across the road from the IGN tracks, and the trestle is still in daily use..
As well as its main station downtown, the Missouri Pacific had two other stations in San Antonio. The first was built very early, around 1881, just north of the intersection of Thousand Oaks and Wetmore Road, which was named for a vice-president of the International & Great Northern RR, the MOPAC owned company that arrived in San Antonio in 1881. At this time the location was absoultely in the middle of nowhere and it was hoped the depot woud be a boon to development and serve several dairy farms in the area. The Texas transportation Museum neraby to this location was created on such land. The second station was opened in the then very swanky new suburb of Monte Vista, a few miles north of downtown. Serving new, wealthy suburbs was all the rage at that time. Folks could arrange to have their luggage picked up the the REA - the Railway Express Agency - and put on board the train downtown while they could simply arrive at the uncrowded suburban depot when the train was due. The Wetmore depot was closed in the 1950s. The last passenger train to stop at the Monte Vista depot was in 1964.
Images of the MOPAC Monte Vista depot in San Antonio
Monte Vista depot in San Antonio in the late 1950s.

Courtesy of Ernie Jordan / San Antonio Model Railroad Association.
Monte Vista depot, San Antonio. Last train, July 31, 1961.
Monte Vista depot, San Antonio.
Monte Vista depot, San Antonio.
Missouri Pacific freight operations in San Antonio
It is a truism of railroad business that while they made their reputations with passenger service, they made their money with freight. It came to a point that even though the number of passengers was declining, costs were escalating and the MIssouri Pacific, along with every other railroad decided to get out of the passenger business altogether. In the beginning, the Missouri Pacific handed most of its freight business from a small yard adjacent to the passenger station but increasing demand and larger trains required the construction of a dedicated freight yard further south. Known as the SoSan yard, still in service today, though itself eclipsed by an even newer facility called Southon near Von Ormy, the larger yard, witha major repair facility and multiple storage tracks, eclipsed the relatively tiny operation downtown and led to its demise. The old fright depot accross the street from the passenger station was demolished to make way for a major bridge to carry traffic on Commerce Street high over the tracks, getting rid of a major bottleneck for getting in and out of downtown.
A view of Commerce Street looking from the tracks in front of the Missouri Pacific passenger station towards downtown San Antonio. The freight depot is in the center of the image on the other side of the street
Image of the Missouri Pacific's San Antonio freight depot on Commerce Street
Missouri Pacific steam locomotive 1009, formerly owned by the San Antonio Southern RR. This locomotive, snapped in 1941 or 1942 near the round house at Commerce and Comal in San Antonio, is very possibly the locomotive that Harry Landa went to the Baldwin factory in Philadelphia to buy in 1920. To the best of our knowledge it is the only new locomotive ever purchased during the brief existence of the S.A.S. It is a 2-8-0 'Consolidation.' It is the only Consolidation Class C150 ever built by Baldwin. It stayed in service until 1948 when it was wrecked in an accident in South San yard involving a large number of reefers. Thanks to retired MOPAC engineer Keith Jordan for the picture and the information.
Missouri Pacific steam locomotive 1111 in San Antonio. It was formerly owned by the St. Louis Brownsville & Mexico. MOPAC kept an SLBM identifier on its steam dome.
Missouri Pacific steam locomotive at the water tower near the down town round house in San Antonio
MOPAC steam locomotives at the round house at Commerce and Comal in San Antonio.
Missouri Pacific freight train in downtown San Antonio in 1968
Missouri Pacific freight train under the Commerce Street bridge in downtown San Antonio in 1970
Interesting Missouri Pacific accident in San Antonio, 1967.

Quote from the San Antonio Light, Thursday April 6, 1967:

Possibly the latest in locomotive hood ornaments is a new Pontiac GTO. At the Missouri Pacific yards, Medina and W. Commerce, this mishap occurred when the switch engine came in contact with an open-type freight car carrying autos. The top-level row of autos had been readied for unloading when it rolled onto the switch engine. The unloading device, which can be adjusted to various levels on the freight car, simplified the chore of getting the undamaged auto off its perch.
Missouri Pacific freight train passing the San Antonio passenger station in 1968
Missouri Pacific freight train near the San Antonio passenger station in 1968
Missouri Pacific freight train heading towards San Antonio from Austin, 1969
Missouri Pacific truck service advert
Missouri Pacific locomotives assigned to the San Antonio area were given numbers in the 1000 range. Many were previously owned by smaller companies acquired by MOPAC. Often an identifier of its origin would be maintained on the locomotive, although exactly what purpose this served in unclear other than nostalgia. The round house at Commerce and Comal was once a bustling place, as was the whole area. High school students were employed to take train orders by bicycle from the signal tower near the old freight house to crews waiting in the often stifling locomotive cabs. One such young man in the early 1940s was Chuck Hustler who soon enlisted in the navy. We are grateful to Keith Jordan, a recently retired MOPAC engineer, for some of the above these pictures and information.
Maps showing the Missouri Pacific Passenger Station,
Freight Depot and the nearby Yard and Roundhouse

The image on the left is very large and may be slow to load
Missouri Pacific's 1958 freight schedule for San Antonio
Simplified map showing all the components of the Missouri Pacific's operations in downtown San Antonio
Undated street map showing the Missouri Pacific passenger station on one side of Commerce Street at Medina and the freight depot on the other, plus other local businesses including a post office and a bus station. The baggage and REA building is on the other side of the passenger station. The map also shows the track layout, the small yard complete with rolling stock shops and a large turntable. The area where the freight depot was is now occupied by the Commerce Street bridge over the remaining tracks.
Map detail showing inbound freight depot in relation to the MOPAC passenger station in San Antonio
Map detail showing turn table and track schematics near the Missouri Pacific station in San Antonio

 

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