Monthly Archives: September 2015

Book Review of West Florida Rails In Color Volume 3: Bone Valley Phosphate Operations 1971-87

Back CoverSo, finally a Bone Valley book exists. I would have made one a long time ago myself if I had possession of old photos. The book just came out and I got my copy right away. After having it just a short time, I can already say this is currently my favorite railroad book ever made. There were some things I was hoping would be in this book that weren’t–like pictures of the tower at Rockport from the mid 80s and clear views of certain plants and mines I’ve long wished to see for modeling purposes–but there are plenty of good things nonetheless. The book is composed of and limited by photos taken by Emery Gulash (there are also some photos by the book’s author Jerry Pinkepank). Most of the photos Emery Gulash took were typical railfan type photos, which are nice but not always that useful for modelers. That’s my gripe with railroad photography in general. For someone who wants photos for modeling purposes, the typical shot of a locomotive at a slight angle isn’t often all that useful since such photos don’t emphasize cars or structures. In fact, such photos often block out cars and structures.

The book cites this website as a reference source for figuring out locations of certain pictures from Emery Gulash’s collection. So far I’ve noticed one error (errors are virtually unavoidable when dealing with the transient Bone Valley). The picture on the bottom of page 108 is Agricola not Big Bend. There are two similar pictures in the book of the plant at Agricola. The Agricola plant is something I’ve long wanted more pictures of for potential modeling purposes, so if anyone out there has any send them to me. I’m always looking for pictures of phosphate plants and structures (see my wish list at the end of this post).

RocklandOne mystery this book has solved for me so far comes from page 88. At the top of page 88 is the same place as the picture on the bottom of page 77 in the book Seaboard Coast Line in Florida. The location is Rockland. Most of that stuff has been long torn down, so I was never quite sure where that place was. I can now pretty much verify it is Rockland based on photos I’ve found of partially demolished structures from that location.

I never quite realized that the blue 100 ton Ortner-built rotary flip-top gondolas that I always refer to as the BPPX cars were also owned by Mobil. Mobil had 70 that were painted either beige or white (I’m not sure) marked MOBX 51500-51569. Unfortunately, there are no clear side pictures of the MOBX cars in the book. But it seems the MOBX cars had square roof hatches while the blue BPPX cars had round hatches. I also never realized there used to be a SAL Edison station, which was disintegrating during the time the pictures in the book were taken.

There are a lot of pictures in the book from around Nichols. The Nichols shots show more details of the Conserv plant than the Mobile plant. The most revealing shot of the Mobil plant is at the bottom of page 76. There are some nice Pierce/Achan shots. There are several shots of the Agricola to Rockland/Watson Swift operation. Nothing really from Mulberry yard or New Wales. The book also covers the ports and Tropicana.

Anyway, the book is great for what it is: a collection of photos taken by Emery Gulash. And the West Florida Rails In Color series as a whole is great. But there are still things I need to find out for modeling purposes about the Bone Valley and the ports. I was born in the 80s, so I wasn’t able to go out and take photos and document the peak of the Bone Valley in the 80s. So, I’m trying to gather as much info as I can before the history becomes lost.

West Florida Rails In Color Volume 3: Bone Valley Phosphate Operations 1971-87 Here’s the publisher page for the book, but you can find it for sale various places for under $50.

List of Unknowns (Contact me if you have answers to any of these or any Bone Valley related info to share!):

  • The color of the trim on the Rockport yard tower in the mid 80s (I think it was blue).
  • The lay of the plant at Agricola (I need more pictures with more angles).
  • Details about the Piney Point plant and its operations, were there rotary dry rock trains between it and Rockport?
  • Details about the TECO coal trains, how and where exactly they were unloaded at Sutton and Big Bend?
  • The structures around the Mobil drying bin at Nichols.
  • The Mobil mine just north of 640 east of Edison.
  • The Tencor mine.
  • CF Industries Port of Tampa.
  • The Royster plant structure.
  • The operations and plants of Brewster Phosphates.
  • The history of the tower at Agrock, when it was built and what it looked like originally.
  • The Eastern Associates Terminals unloaded at Rockport.
  • Did IMC only use its own port at Sutton or did it also use Rockport?
  • And more, but that’s all I can think of right now.