The Milky Way rises in the southern sky on the Great Plains of New Mexico. It's a little after Three AM, and we see the classic lines of a railroad switchstand silhouetted providing a bit of contrast between the ground and sky. We're at Milepost 709 of the Atchison Topeka and Santa Fe's Northern District, the East Switch of Colmor. The siding of Colmor straddles the border between Colfax County, and Mora County below, hence, "Colmor".
The inky blackness of this night falls over the landscape in a way reminiscent of a evening over half a century prior*, as at the next station east of here, Robinson, became the site of one of the Santa Fe's worst tragedies. During the dark of the moon, the Santa Fe's "Fast Mail Express" took the hole in Robinson to make way for the railroad's crack passenger train, "The Chief" to continue its leapfrog across the plains and passes towards Los Angeles Union Passenger Terminal. The meet wasn't supposed to occur here, as it was carded for a siding a few miles to the North, but the Fast Mail had lost time, and was instructed to meet here. Unlike the Colmor switch of today, Robinson was not "Sprung", i.e., a spring switch that would allow the train to trail out of the siding once The Chief had passed. So in the pitch, the fireman jumped off to prepared to line the Fast Mail once the passenger train had cleared. Instead, the switch was lined too soon, and the semaphore signal in front of the Chief made its journey from skyward to the heavens, to the horizon, signaling to the engine crew of their imminent demise... Metal, fuel, mail and flesh create a cacophony that would split the silence of the night.
Today, Robinson is gone, only marked by its milepost, 705. Standing here at Colmor is about as close as you can get to that evening.
*Thanks to Modern Smartphones, I've been able to find a night sky "map" of that night. While the galactic center seen here may not have been visible that night , the outer bands would have. But walking back to my car from shooting the semaphores against this backdrop, the Robinson Incident was the first thought that popped in my head.
A continuously growing album of photos that IMHO reveal the awesome and seldom seen beauty of railroads from the dimming of day to dawn's early light! From dusk to dawn, trains roll on! (I'm still finding sunset to sunrise surprises!)