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.
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
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
7, 2012 column
"It's All Trew"
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 email@example.com.
For books see delberttrew.com. His column appears weekly.
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