Workin' on the Railroad

A forgotten profession.

Photographs by Dan Winters

Lives on the lines:

A track-maintenance man (above left) drives a spike into Black Bridge, one of three bridges in El Paso that connect with the Mexican Railway over the Rio Grande. Locomotives such as General Electrics GP-40 (above right) cross the border through the doors behind him.

Welder Robert Shindo (above bottom-left) repairs worn wheels and axles; brakeman Ramon Leal (above top-left) guides the Tex-Mex, the oldest railway in the state, westward to Laredo; and switchman Danny Webb (above right) takes a break on a boxcar at the Dallas railyard.

How do we know that trains are safe when they run a highbridge like the one outside Langtry (above left)? Brake lines are tested by railyard carmen like Ronnie Hair of Big Spring (above top-right) and maintenance-of-way men in high-tech highrail trucks (above bottom-right).

Sandra Curtis (above right) keeps her eyes on the track as an engineer, while a railyard hand (above bottom-left) keeps his ears plugged amid the din. Their faces reflect the dangerous and demanding side of rail-roading, such as unloading rock cars (above top-left), rather than the romance of the rails.

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