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  • Texas | Columns | "It's All Trew"

    Trew Ranch hosted
    Rockledge rail site

    by Delbert Trew
    Delbert Trew

    From 1900 to 1902, Rock Island Railroad built tracks from Oklahoma to Tucumcari, N.M. From todayís Jericho to Alanreed, the track followed Old Trailís Ridge, dividing the Salt Fork of the Red River and McClellan Creek watersheds. It also was the early day mail route from Old Clarendon to Mobeetie.

    About every 10 miles, a section crew station was built for upkeep of the track. A site on the Trew Ranch, one of the few level sections, was selected for a side track to allow trains to pass when meeting. A small frame house was erected for the section foreman. Since it was before drilled water wells, a cistern was built and kept full from a water tank car.

    The site was named Rockledge for the many rock ledges in the canyons nearby. Mr. Terbush was the first section foreman. He and his crew witnessed a double murder at Rockledge one morning when a local rancher and an Amarillo real estate agent staged a shootout to settle an argument. They helped the rancherís son load the bodies onto a boxcar for transport on to Alanreed.

    The first graded dirt road from Groom to Alanreed followed ruts of the old Indian trails and the mud wagon that hauled the early mail. It was believed to have later been marked as Texas Highway 15 for awhile. Jericho Gap, a famous Route 66 icon, remained unpaved until 1934 when the Civilian Conservation Corps and Works Progress Administration crews paved the section. About this time, the section crews were consolidated and Rockledge was left vacant.

    In 1927 and 1928, a 14-inch oil and gas pipeline was laid from the Dumas area to Childress. Rockledge boomed as a pump station with two large tanks and huge pumps installed and six kit-type houses with two three-car garages and a storm cellar built to house six families to operate the pumps.

    The pipeline engineers made a mistake when they missed the fact it was downhill from Rockledge ridge to Childress and most of the huge pumps were not needed. Consequently, most of the equipment was moved, along with three of the houses, on down the line to another pump station site. What was left was called Rockledge Camp.

    During the early 1980s, technology developed equipment to open, close and gauge flow by radio. The huge tanks were left unused, the camp people moved and the homes and garages were sold for salvage or moving. Once again Rockledge was without people.

    In the mid-1980s, the Rock Island Railroad declared bankruptcy. The good railroad ties were shipped to Houston for landscaping and the rails, plates, spikes and switches were shipped to China to be reinstalled for a second life. Adjoining landowners were given the opportunity to buy back the right-of-way. Most of the road bed gravel was salvaged by local county road departments.

    The huge reservoir tanks were recently salvaged, leaving only the concrete bottoms. Today, the site of Rockledge is marked by concrete footings, foundations, levies, dead trees, a radio tower and a small group of radio equipment and valves.

    Like many ghost sites, Rockledge has almost returned to its original condition before the white man arrived.


    © Delbert Trew -
    January 7, 2012 column
    More "It's All Trew"
    Delbert Trew is a freelance writer and retired rancher. He can be reached at 806-779-3164, by mail at Box A, Alanreed, TX 79002, or by email at trewblue@centramedia.net. For books see delberttrew.com. His column appears weekly.

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