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We're near MP40.25 on Union Pacific's Lockhart Subdivision and it's harvest time in the cotton fields 2 miles west of Lockhart, Texas as the boll buggy driver gives a friendly wave to the crew of southbound BNSF 4501 as he trundles out into the patch to pick up another load from the pickers. It's 92 degrees at 11:18 on the morning of Friday, September 13th, 2019, and by the time 4 o'clock rolls around it will be well over 100. There's no place hotter in Texas than a cotton field at harvest time.

This is the Lockhart Subdivision in all her Texas summertime glory.

 A once-embargoed jointed-rail finger of the Katy that served the fertile black-land Granger communities of central Texas, its single-track now laid with 136-lb CWR supports the weight of intermodals, unit trains and merchandise freights alike as they roll in a timetable-southbound fashion down the 51.9 rail-miles between Smithville and San Marcos, Texas.

We're roughly 25 miles due south of Austin in this view looking in a north-northeasterly direction at 1:23 on the gorgeous yet still wickedly hot afternoon of Tuesday, September 10th, 2019, and with her tail-end still stretched out into Lockhart town proper, SD70M 4526 leads a solid block of autoracks south (compass west) past the ABS-controlled south switch of 9,484-foot Lockhart siding located at MP38.5. Since northbound freights are non-existent on this line, Dispatch 36 has found the Lockhart siding a convenient place to store the trackage-rights BNSF train whose crew is dying on hours.

But the bucolic nature of this scene is on borrowed time: 

Soon the fields in the foreground will be home to new High-end condos and apartment buildings that reflect the explosive growth of the area. Much to the consternation of the local residents, Lockhart is slowly losing its small-town feel as more and more family farms are succumbing to the developers in droves.

As the compass reads, we're two miles west of Lockhart, Texas as SD70M 2001 rolls across the cotton fields of the Clark farm near MP40 with southbound double-stacks at 2:44 on the scorching Saturday afternoon of August 31, 2019.

SD70M 2001 and GE 6298 roll southbound double-stacks at the Railroad Street crossing in Maxwell, Texas at 2:52 on the hot Saturday afternoon of August 31st, 2019.

SD70ACe 8412 rolls southbound tonnage near Maxwell, Texas on June 21st, 2019.

At 7:42 on the morning of July 30th, 2016, a hot-air balloon carrying 16 people and unwisely flying in heavy morning fog, struck a set of power lines near Maxwell, Texas, causing the gondola to crash to the ground, killing all 16 on board. At 10:51 am on August 16th, 2019, southbound SD70ACe 8525 crosses Jolley Road and passes near the site of the crash. The balloon struck the power lines between the first and second towers from the left in this scene, and the gondola impacted the ground in the pasture just beyond where the telephone pole is between the two towers. Between the pole and the tower on the left is a makeshift memorial placed on the ground next to the gate through which the first responders evacuated the bodies of the victims.

Sunset, July 20th, 2019.

BNSF 7007 grinds upgrade at MP45.25 with a southbound grain block at 4:24 pm on November 3rd, 2018.

7231 leads the MNLLF-20---North Little Rock, AR to Laughlin, TX---southbound past the south switch of the siding at MP38.5 in Lockhart, Texas at 10:38 am on July 22nd, 2019.

Cafe Gondola.

C45AH 8150 rolls southbound through the Valley near MP45.75 at 8:10 am on July 23rd, 2019.

Above and below---SD70M 4775 and a sister EMD unit roll southbound tonnage near MP39.75 at 4:47 pm on Friday, November 2nd, 2018.

Sliding-door refugees.

Rust at speed.

8251 and a sister GE roll southbound double-stacks across the cotton fields near MP40 at 11:05 am on July 8th, 2018.

Bulkhead flats and corn tassles near MP46.5 in the early-morning fog on June 14th, 2019.

Two miles west of Lockhart, Texas BNSF 4023 leads five FerroMex units and southbound (compass west) tonnage across the plowed fields of the Clark farm near MP40 of the Lockhart Subdivision at 1:17 pm on March 21st, 2019.

SD70AH 8902 leads a southbound empty rock train across Pecos Street and past the now-shuttered Lockhart Grain Company in the     Tank Town area of Lockhart, Texas at 2:05 pm on March 21st, 2019.

Above and the following 3 images---(1) BNSF 4461 rolls a southbound frac sand train into San Marcos, Texas and enters Main Track 2 of the Austin Subdivision at Ajax Junction, Control Point Q209, at 3:34 pm on April 22nd, 2019. The train will take a full 3 minutes to pass through the junction.

(2)

(3)

(4)

Above and below---Trackage rights are in full evidence as BNSF 7009 and a rear end DPU bring a heavy frac sand train southbound near MP40 at 9:40 am on January 26th, 2019.

Spot.

The conductor gives a nice wave as 5411 brings an empty rock train around the curve at MP45.75 at 2:19 pm on January 26th, 2019.

Above and below---Fog in the Valley.

Above and below---SD70M 5191 leads double-stacks and trailers downgrade near MP45.75 at the Valley Way Road crossing at 8:43 am on November 17th, 2018.

Down in the Valley.

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