Saturday, 4 May 2013


IN A NOTHING TOWN (Sierra Blanca, Texas) I HEARD THE STORY FROM A BEAUTIFUL LADY----more than six feet tall---so beautiful-- it was all I could do to keep my composure.  Her husband standing nearby no doubt kept my enthusiasm in check.  I didn't even get a picture. (perhaps if she sees this she will send me one)

Anyway---she told me the story and I promised to write a poem about it. Did so--and sent it to her.

Fast forward a few years to yesterday--in the same town---no beautiful lady in sight---but this time ---while re-reading the historical markers--I hatch a different agenda:

Here's the town now

It had its 15 minutes of fame
Found the spot---turns out there's an exit there---and a ranch named itself after the incident. 
And Heeeeer's the exact spot where the fabled incident occurred.  Am I lucky or what? There's a train parked here for a few minutes.  I hurry to quiz the engineer---shouted up at him over the noise of the idling engine:  DO YOU KNOW WHAT HAPPENED HERE?  He said yes----then climbed down to talk to me. (brought me a bottle of water)
 Meet Brook----a very nice guy who re-told the story to me. I gave him my card and told him the world would hear of him by tomorrow night.
So thank you again Brook and here's the story---in rhyme---for my readers.
How the Great Southern Railway Race Was Won

Two railroads racing toward Sierra Blanca,

Southern Pacific and Texas Pacific.

With much to win, much to lose,

The tension was terrific.

Building as fast as men could be pushed,

The Texas Pacific’s superior crew

Seemed destined to reach the junction first,

Despite what the other could do.

Seeing defeat as virtually certain,

Honorable men bend to the facts.

But of a different breed are they

Who mastermind the tracks.

Thus one day, the crew that was winning

Looked up from their work to the sight

Of wagons loaded with food and liquor

And ladies of the fancy type.

We are here,” said the Madam, “to toast you heroes,

To honor your labor so hardy.

For you, the builders of our future,

Free drinks, free food, let’s party!”

All day and all night, festivities rolled.

At dawn, the wagons slipped away.

Drunken men lay everywhere,

No work was done that day.

And so, two critical days were lost

While the Southern crew worked hard;

Overtook the Texas crew;

Were first into Blanca’s yard.

That’s how the great railway race was won,

And it’s not surprising news

That the Southern guy hired all those ladies,

All the wagons and the booze.

Two lessons can be learned, I guess,

By all us history pupils:

Women and liquor are irresistible;

And Big Shots have no scruples.
                                                  Randy Vining
                                                             Thanks to Julie Porter
                                                                        of Sierra Blanca for the story



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