Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Today's Train of Thought- Gypsum Rose, May 8, 2011

Today's Train of Thought takes us to the rolling hills and grasslands of southwestern Oklahoma and tiny Hollis and Eastern shortline. The 15-mile pike got its start in the late 1950s after purchasing the former Missouri-Kansas-Texas (MKT) line between Altus, OK and Wellington, TX, ripping out the rails on the line between Hollis, OK and Wellington, TX almost immediately. Besides grain from elevators along the line, the major source of traffic for the Hollis and Eastern has been the wallboard plant at Duke, OK. In 1971, the Republic Gypsum company purchased the Hollis and Eastern and by the late 1990s, both the Hollis & Eastern and the Duke plant were purchased by American Gypsum. With imported Chinese wallboard cutting into the Duke plant's production during the latter part of the first decade in the 21st century, American Gypsum decided to divest themselves of the 15 mile pike in 2009. After soliciting bids for operating the Hollis & Eastern in early 2010, WATCO's Stillwater Central was selected as the new operator of the Hollis & Eastern. Prior to WATCO's takeover, the Hollis and Eastern also interchanged with Farmrail and the Witchita, Tillman & Jackson in Welon and the BNSF and Stillwater Central in Altus. Here, railpictures.net contributor Chris Paulhamus caught Hollis & Eastern GP10 #8710 trundling past some wildflowers at Martha, OK with heads east with a trainload of wallboard on a sultry July 6, 2006. The #8710 is half of the Hollis & Eastern motive power fleet, with an SW1 handling switching duties at the gypsum plant in Duke.

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