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THE COLORFUL FORT WORTH & WESTERN Texas Tarantula BY JOHN LEOPARD/PHOTOS BY THE AUTHOR


IN 1873, A FORT WORTH NEWSPAPER published a visionary map portraying the Texas town as the railroad center of the Southwest. On this map the then trackless city was represented as a large black dot with nine rail lines ra- diating outward. Looking much like a spider, this map became known as the “Tarantula Map.” Three years later in 1876 the first rails were spiked into the city from the east by the Texas & Pacif- ic, with other companies soon to follow. By the early 1900s the map’s early pro- jections were realized. Fast forward to 1988 when two local businessmen formed the Fort Worth &


Western Railroad (FWWR) and pur- chased from Burlington Northern six- miles of industrial trackage running along the city’s near west side. In addi- tion to a serving a handful of freight customers, FWWR operated a passen- ger train serving the growing tourist destination of Fort Worth’s “Cowtown” that pays homage to the city’s history as a livestock and meat processing cen- ter. From this humble start, through a series of purchases and leases the FWWR has grown to operate 276-miles of track and the company’s network in its own right now resembles the Taran- tula Map.


For its first ten years of existence the


Fort Worth & Western was more like a small spider in terms of the size of their operation, existing in the shadows of its much larger neighbors in Fort Worth. However in late 1998 the line grew into its Tarantula nickname, a name that one normally associates with an arach- nid of great size. On December 12, 1998, FWWR acquired the former San- ta Fe Dublin Subdivision between Fort Worth and Ricker, just east of Brown- wood on BNSF’s Clovis, N.M., to Hous- ton route. The Dublin Subdivision was made expendable when Santa Fe se- cured trackage rights over Union Pacif-


OPPOSITE: The crew of train FWDU has just completed a set out at the west switch of the Cresson siding and are about to continue their jour- ney to Dublin. The CTC system installed by the Santa Fe was deactivated in 1994 with trains now authorized for movement by track warrants. ABOVE: The fine sping day of April 11, 2011, finds Job 103 crossing the Trinity River bridge just north of downtown Fort Worth. This crew will switch an array of customers along the main line through the city.


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