The Longview Yard

Chuck Harris Collection - part 1 of 3

"73" is a communicator's "Best Regards" and "RD" was Mr. Harris' telegraph operator ID.

The above photo was taken around 9:45AM by Roger Plummer in snowy Sulphur Springs. Cotton Belt engine #678 (4-8-2) is pulling Train #6 with a 7 or 8 car consist which includes one Pullman.

About Mr. Harris (a brief autobiography he prepared especially for this web page)

Click here to visit page 2 of the Chuck Harris collection.
Click here to visit page 3 of the Chuck Harris collection.

Click on the image to view an enlarged version. Use your browser's "back" button to return to this page.

This selection posted 12-2-98 through 12-8-98.

MP 9310, an 0-6-0 switcher, rests at the west end of the yard in Longview, TX, about 1937. Built by Alco in 1920-21, engines 9301-9320 were oil-burners, and along with similar ones from the T&P, worked the yard at Longview until the end of steam. One of the MP engines was used on the work train when the industrial lead to the Texas Eastman chemical complex in Longview was built in 1949. Photo by A. E. Brown.

MP (I-GN) 1153 (Alco 1926) waits to take the Sunshine Special out of Longview Jct. in 1936. During this time, a Texas & Pacific 4-8-2 of the 900-series handled the combined Ft. Worth and Palestine section of the 'Sunshine' between Texarkana and Longview. As the 900 cut off to take water, a yard engine cut the Palestine cars out and put the train together. Notice the track is on the south side of the old frame passenger station. Photo by A. E. Brown.

Longview Jct. in 1936. The yard office is just east of the passenger station. The train order semaphore, with blades down in both directions, can be seen behind the telegraph-telephone pole at the end of the station. The present brick station, a part of which is used by Amtrak, was built in 1940. Considerable changes were made to the tracks at that time. The Sixth Street grade crossing was closed at the same time. Photo by A. E. Brown.

MP (I-GN) 4-6-0 375 (Alco-Brooks 1908 reblt 1923) heads a long Sunshine Special out of Longview in the summer of 1935. On the I-GN from Longview to Palestine, the Laredo and Houston sections were combined, and separated at Palestine. In addition to "depression era economics", this practice reduced the traffic during the height of the "oil boom". The eleven cars, totaling around 800 tons, is very close to the tonnage rating for these ten-wheelers over the ruling grade southbound into Overton. A video of this train struggling up the grade into Overton would be priceless. Ray Street, in present-day Longview, crosses these tracks about where the second passenger coach is located. Photo by A. E. Brown.

An unidentified engineer rests with hand on reverse lever, in the cab of a T&P 700-series 4-6-2 at Longview in 1940. (For the want of a fill-flash!) Photo from Wills Gillock.

T&P 625, an I-1b Class 2-10-4 (Lima 1928) heads I-GN connection No. 66 toward Texarkana. This photo was taken on March 15, 1936, a few miles east of Longview. Note the cattle car is handled next to the engine, followed by eleven reefers from South Texas. The reefers were frequently iced in Longview as the weather grew hotter. Photo by A. E. Brown

T&P 473, an 0-6-0 switcher (Alco-Cooke 1923) switches passenger cars at Longview Jct. in October 1936. The switch crews used both T&P and MP engines depending on which was assigned to a yard job on a particular shift. Photo by A. E. Brown.

Roundhouse lead and service tracks at Longview in 1940 or 1941. On the left is MP 2-8-2 number 1483. Farther down the tracks is a T&P 600-series 2-10-4. On the track at right is MP 1157 (StlB&M), a 4-6-2, in front of which is T&P 402, a 2-8-0. Until 1940, passenger power arriving from Palestine on the I-GN was swapped for T&P power between Longview and Texarkana. After 1940, I-GN or MP power made the trip from Palestine to Texarkana, and vice versa. Freight power did not run thru until the diesels began arriving in the late 1940s. Photo from Wills Gillock.

Around1990, the webmaster (Jerry Lentz) took this photo of the west end of the Longview yard at the foot of 6th street. After careful examination of the 1940-41 photo above and the 1990 photo, your webmaster has determined that the 1990 photo was taken from nearly the exact spot as the switch stand in the left foreground of the 1940 photo. The engine at the far left sits on what is now the abandoned track at the far left in the 1990 photo.

T&P 627 (Lima 1928) heads a long train into Longview around 1948 or 49. The tank cars were probably picked up around Gladewater or Willow Springs (Greggton). The brakeman is on the ground ready to line a switch or make a cut. Few freights on the old T&P passed Longview without stopping to pick up or set out. The view is looking west. The station trainshed is visible to the left of the main track about twenty car lengths from the engine. Photo by Roger Plummer.

Marshall, TX, about 1939. Some forty or so locomotives sit in various states of disrepair or storage, following the decline in traffic brought about by a combination of lingering effects of the depression, and falloff of oil shipments. It appears that practically every type of engine owned by the T&P is represented here with notable exceptions -- 600's and 900's. In a little over two years, many of these engines will be run through the nearby shops, being urgently needed to handle wartime traffic. It is noteworthy that T&P did not feel it necessary to lease power from other railroads during the war. Photo from Wills Gillock.

T&P 716, a 4-6-2 (Alco-Richmond 1923) class P-1b, handles an eastbound morning passenger train (No. 8 or 26) toward Marshall. The location is near what is today the end of the double main track. The time is 1936. Notice the "Louisiana Limited" herald on the top of the smokebox, below the T&P emblem. Photo by A. E. Brown.

A T&P 4-6-2 heads an eastbound passenger train towards the TX42 overpass at Camps, just south of White Oak, Texas in 1940. The overpass remains a good location to photograph trains to this day. The oil well derricks that once dotted the landscape are gone. The old, fixer-splotched negative did not take away from an otherwise good picture. Photo from Wills Gillock.

T&P 906 (Baldwin 1928), an M-2 Class 4-8-2, heads a westbound freight through Longview in the summer of 1948. The 900's were seldom used in freight service. On track "Low 1" is T&P 0-6-0 switch engine 473. This picture provides a good look at the tracks in the west end of the yard as they existed at that time. The 906 is on the mainline. The track under the umbrella or shed to the right of the 906 was called "Passenger 1", and the one nearest the station was "Passenger 2". All three tracks were needed in 1957 when four passenger trains were scheduled to meet around 1AM. They were T&P trains 3 and 4, and I-GN trains 223 and 224 (23 and 24) between Longview and Palestine. If they were all on time, one train had to be held out -- usually 24. Photo by R. S. Plummer.

Longview roundhouse area as seen from the fireman's side of a T&P 0-6-0 switcher. Remnants of the roundhouse remained only a short while after the end of steam, being demolished around 1958 or 1959. Photo from Wills Gillock.

T&P 610 (Lima 1927), the most famous of the I-class 2-10-4's heads a long oil train east of Big Sandy in 1948. This engine is now on display by the Texas State Railroad near Palestine. It saw service on the Freedom Train in Texas during February, 1976. In March 1977 she passed through Longview enroute to Birmingham, and lease service to Southern. It passed Longview again in February, 1981, enroute to Ft Worth. The final Longview passage took place when the engine, in need of paint and lagging, and pulled by a diesel-electric engine, came in from Mineola and headed for Palestine in the early 1980's. It was not under steam on the final trip to Palestine. Photo by R. S. Plummer.

T&P 903 (Alco-Schenectady 1925), an M-1 Class 4-8-2, rests on an engine service track in Longview about 1939. Note the flagging equipment stored beneath the rear cab window in this fireman's side view. Photo from Wills Gillock.



17-year-old Chuck Harris working as a telegrapher at Hodge in 1953.

From Mr. Harris...
I was born at Pine, Camp County, Texas. Pine was a siding on the Cotton Belt at MP 497, six miles south of Pittsburg. (webmaster note: Smith Siding at MP 502 is the site of occasional crew changes. It is the sole survivor of five 85-car sidings between Pittsburg and Gilmer.) I attended school at Pine for the first two years, then my family moved to Pittsburg. Here, I was able to observe railroad operations on both the Cotton Belt and L&A - both were visible from our home.

I became fascinated with trains at an early age. In 1948, at the age of 13, I began learning telegraphy and station work in the L&A depot in Pittsburg from agent Horace Norton. A few months later, I began spending time at the Cotton Belt depot. By the summer of 1950 I had acquired sufficient proficiency at Morse telegraph to hire out to the L&A for vacation relief, and worked the agencies at Hughes Springs, Avinger, and Farmersville. I could now watch trains and get paid for it. At both Hughes Springs and Avinger, I was able to observe KCS 2-8-8-0's 758 and 762 as they ran turns out of Shreveport to Hughes Springs bringing in coal and taking out coke, coal tar, slag, and pig iron by the trainload.

It was necessary to resign from the railroad in September in order to return to school. The following July 3, 1951, I hired out to the Cotton Belt and worked until September 1952. The Cotton Belt permitted me to keep my seniority while going to school by working at nights and on weekends. Numerous nights were spent working third trick telegrapher job at Mt Pleasant and riding passenger train 101 to Pittsburg and going to school all day.

The L&A assigned me to work the Shreveport-Minden swing job, and later the Hughes Springs-Pittsburg swing job. About the middle of December, I was assigned third trick job at the Shreveport yard, seven nights a week.

I had received permission to begin breaking in as a train dispatcher but this ultimate goal could not be achieved while working seven nights a week. I left the L&A for a second time in February, 1953, and returned to the Cotton Belt, where I worked the extra board until finally landing a regular job as second trick telegrapher at Hodge, near Ft Worth. (photo above)

In January, 1954, I was drafted into the U. S. Army and eventually ended up in Germany as a radio operator. Returning from the Army in December, 1955, I found CTC installed on the Cotton Belt and numerous jobs cut off.

I worked two years at General Dynamics in Lone Star while going to night school, then went to Texas Eastman Company in Longview, in the engineering department. I retired as a designer, after 34 years service, in March, 1991, taking early retirement.

I became acquainted with the noted photographer A. E. Brown of Shreveport, in 1968. Being employed by a division of Eastman Kodak, I had access to excellent darkroom facilities. Spent many hours with Mr. Brown processing prints. For each print I made for myself, one had to be made for him - that was our agreement. Our occasional printing sessions continued until 1981.

I later became acquainted with Roger Plummer of Sulphur Springs, TX, and Ed Robinson of Shreveport. These likeable individuals had sizeable collections of size 120 negatives and made them available to me. Ed had some processing experience and assisted me as had Mr. Brown. I later met H. E. Chelf who was living in Longview at that time, and also printed from his collection of negatives. In the meantime, I purchased prints from Charles Winters and Harold Vollrath. I had worked with Harold when he was a dispatcher for the L&A in Shreveport in 1950 and 1952-53.

I am currently Chairman of the Railroad Exhibit of the Camp County Rural Heritage Center and Museum in Pittsburg, Texas, with responsibility for installing an exact duplicate of the telegraph and telephone system in the former Cotton Belt depot. Currently living in Longview, still pursue my railroad hobby and still take pictures.

end of quote


Chuck Harris passed away February 29, 2008, at the age of 73.


An excellent resource for information about telegraphy can be found at: The Telegraph Office


Charles (Chuck) Harris

intro by Ed Cooper
Everyone who knew Chuck Harris felt the loss with his passing on February 29, 2008 at a Longview
nursing home. He was 73 years old. Chuck's telegraph key has fallen silent, but many will remember him
for what he did for them. Because Chuck Harris believed in helping others. He would tell you that, "My
field of expertise is in telegraphy, station accounts, waybills, consists, copying and handling train 
orders, dispatching, and maintaining a register where non-stopping trains threw off a register ticket.
And, of course, selling tickets for passenger trains. Railroading as it was in 1948 thru 1955."  But
his real expertise was in helping others find their way and finding answers to their questions. If you
look through his e-mails on Railspot, it becomes clear that he was a wonderful resource. He is best
remembered in the words of others: 

"He was absolutely hospitality personified. A real wealth of knowledge, too. I learned a lot about the
job of an agent/operator from Chuck and others like him."
 
"Chuck Harris is one of the nicest people I've ever met. He didn't know the word "no." 

"Every time I asked him for help, he was there. And not just for me, but for everyone."

"Over the years, Chuck and I enjoyed exchanging recollections.
Clear board, Chuck."

"I did not know him as well as some on Railspot. However, he was a font of information about the
Cotton Belt, KCS/L&A, railroad telegraphy, and East Texas railroads in general."

"Chuck was a whiz at Morse Code. I still remember the tobacco can on top of
the sounder at the Greenville agency."

"Chuck was a true Texas Gentleman. Clear board, Chuck as you hoop up your orders!"

"Chuck Harris was a very generous and knowledgeable gentleman and railfan."

"He was also a very gracious and generous host. He was very active on Railspot 
whenever there was a discussion of historical issues within his interests, 
telegraphy and train sheet procedures for dispatchers."

"He will be missed but not forgotten."

"I considered Chuck Harris to be the Dean of all Cotton Belt Historians."

"I echo what everyone else has said today about Chuck. He was a great guy and 
I will miss him and his comments on RS."

"A-men. Rest in Peace Red. 73 my friend."


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