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The Book on Lueck Chapter.1

Since I have a signed affidavit that I can and should mention his name in quoting or transferring information or pictures from him as a board member of the Southern Forest Heritage Museum, I'll get that bit of business out of the way by mentioning it. Everett Lueck is the one being quoted here when it's not me. To save on ink, I'm leaving out the quotation marks as much as I can since I'm almost out of them, anyway.

The following passages are taken from months of correspondence with Everett. Whether he realizes it or not, every note has included some little golden piece of the puzzle that I see as the railroading history of western and southwestern Louisiana.

I have forwarded much of what he's told me to others. They have responded in amazement with statements reflecting on him as a library. He is a public library with the sharing of knowledge, his mission. This blog post is meant to interest and inform you as much as I've become interested and informed. If, at this point you want to stop and look around where Everett hangs out, here's a link.

Of course, not all of his email is included here. I've removed the story of the canoe trip with Bernice and Rachel.

The Book of Lueck

This is quoting him when I first asked him if I could quote him:

Look, I am just glad to have one more person to share all of this with. I have been working on some of this stuff since 1993, and there is not a day that goes by that I don't learn something new or find something else to add.

You know, you are just like I am. What is the point of having stuff if you can't share it. You have given me the opportunity to share what I have collected, and not only with you, but everyone else who browses your website!

ME: These are random nuggets and pictures, so don't expect a story.
There will be little explanation on my part. There will be mistakes in grammar and in some of my sentences, as usual. This is not a thesis but an open book to a few correspondences that could be a book. It starts slowly but gets exciting, I promise.



I just thought that I would add a couple of things to what you put out on the website, for your own information.

I have included a couple of pictures taken in 1954 by Edmund Hays, of logging on Crowell's line to Meridian. One shows engine 202 with the tank car on the log train, and the other shows the McGiffert working and loading logs.
In your picture of the tank car, we have determined that the tender in that picture came from Crowell engine 204, which was a sister of the 202 and scrapped in 1955.

The engine in the car knockers shed at Longleaf, is the 106, which is the same engine pictured on the Peason Historical marker. That picture was taken in front of the Longleaf engine house in 1952. It was never owned by Peavy or the Christie and Eastern RR.

We have spent over 6 years going through files at Longleaf, and visiting with the Crowell family, and the Peavy family trying to unravel the RR&G and C&E history. As best that I can do right now, it goes like this:

In 1916, the Crowells owned 3 logging companies, Crowell and Spencer at Longleaf, Meridian at Meridian, and Alexandria Lumber at Pineville and Pawnee. They also owned the Red River and Gulf which ran from Longleaf to LeCompte, and operated trains over the Meridian Lumber tracks from Longleaf to Meridian.
The Peavy family (funded in part by A.J. Hodges) owned the Peavy- Moore Lumber Company at Kinder. The Kurth family owned the Pawnee Land and Lumber Co. at Pawnee.

In that year, because of the construction of the Western Pacific RR, the bankruptcy of the Gould family forced the family to sell off their timber holdings in Louisiana, many of which the family had owned since the 1870-1880 period. The largest of these holdings was over 200,000 acres in Vernon, Rapides, Sabine and Nachitoches parishes. The Crowells along with the Peavy-Hodges families and the Kurths, formed a loose combine and bought this land, minerals, timber, everything from the bankruptcy court.

The Crowells then started extending the RR&G west from Longleaf, and the Peavys built the Christie and Eastern east from what was then called Christie on the KCS to Peason in 1917. For various reasons, it was not until 1919, that the Crowells completed the RR&G to Kurthwood where the Vernon Parish Lumber Co. (owned by the Kurths) built their mill. The Crowells harvested logs and set up their base of operations at Hutton (east of Kurthwood) while the Alexandria Lumber Co. built their mill at ALCO, half way between Kurthwood and Hutton. The RR&G hauled the finished lumber from Kurthwood and ALCO, and the Crowells hauled logs from Hutton to Longleaf. Vernon Parish Lumber logged west and southwest from Kurthwood, Peavy-Wilson south and east from Peason, but only in Sabine Parish, ALCO both south and north from ALCO, and the Crowells logged both north and south from Hutton.
I would love to be able to explore all of this area for the old grades sometime.

It was not until 1922 that the Crowells and the Peavys connected Peason with Kurthwood. In that year, they built an unincorporated logging railroad between the two towns, owned from Peason to RR&G Jct. (on the Sabine-Nachitoches parish line) by the Peavys and from there to Kurthwood by the Crowells. Even though trains of the Christie and Eastern and possibly the RR&G operated over this trackage, it was never owned by either railroad company, but was owned by the two logging companies. The railroad was built to mainline standards however. The RR&G passenger train ran only to Kurthwood, and the C&E offered mixed train service only to Peason, so I still don't know how one travelled from Kurthwood to Peason, except in the caboose of the occasional freight train.
In 1934 the Christie and Eastern filed with the ICC to discontine service from Peason to RR&G Jct, and abandoned the entire railroad in 1935.
The whole history of the relationship between the Crowells, the Peavys, the RR&G and C&E is only very poorly known.

I need to get to Peason and take some pictures for BP. It was his great uncle that was the Peavy-Wilson company that owned Peason. They also had operations in Kinder, and east Texas and Florida.

A Little About Maps

I am fortunate enough thorough various sources also to have acquired digital versions of all of the old USGS maps for southwest LA, including the 1930 planimetric maps, the 1940 era Corps of Engineers maps, the 1960 era and 1980 era topographic maps, so I can sort out the abandoned RRs from the trail trails, for the most part. Of course, again, by 1930, there were a lot of logging RRs and spurs that had already become "trails". Tony Howe has done a lot of work on the logging RRs of Louisiana, and there is a listing of all of the known Logging RRs on his website at
The other set of maps that I really use, is the National Geographic digitization of all of the post 1960 USGS maps, which comes with a modern road overlay, that you can turn off and on. I sent you a 1927 map of the RR&G from the files at Longleaf, and a map made from the 1942 war dept. maps that shows both the RR&G railroad and the C&E grade.

The Beginning of the "Big Cut" saga
, just one of the bits of info that has equated into "further investigation". (I found more quotation marks)

Big Cut is 3 miles NW of Longleaf on the main line to Kurthwood. It was the top of the climb out of Longleaf. During WW2 the Claiborne and Polk Military RR built a bridge right across the top of the RR&G at the crest of the hill, and the foundations are still there. The forest ranger in Forest Hill can take us there, or we can get within about 1/2 mile on a road built on the old C&P grade. You can get all the way there, but I will have to walk the last part. I have some pics that were taken there last year by a C&P historian, but I have not been there yet.

Boy scout road is on the Glenmora and Western railway grade for a couple of miles. That was the common carrier RR for the Cady Lumber Co which had a mill in McNary. I have a map for that one also, but you can find it on the maps too. There are some other grades along 112 west of Claiborne also.

ME: Then I asked him about the Franklin and Abbeville RR. That led to an investigation and a discovery of the railroading west of New Iberia. Those rides are found under the Island Hopping and Cushing's Child titles.

More of Lueck:

The F&A ran from Franklin to Youngsville and Milton. It crosses the I&V line from New Iberia to Avery Island and Abbeville, at Davids, which is 1/2 way to Avery Island. Part of it goes south from there to the port of Iberia, and there used to be a stub of a few hundred feet which was used for car storage that ran to the north. When I was doing some drilling at Avery Island, the tracks used to be in place all of the way to Youngsville, but I don't know what if anything can be seen now. The only place that I think you can sort of see it is where it crosses LA 88 at Lozes. I think that every where else, the farmers have plowed it under. The other line that is in that same area is the old MP branch to Jefferson Island, that was torn up after the salt mine collapsed in the 1970s. Jefferson Island is also an interesting place to visit.

There used to be a line that crossed the I&V at Davids, and when I was last there, it branched off to the south and the port of Iberia where all the offshore stuff is. Is it still there? If it is, that is the south end of the Franklin and Abbeville, and Davids is where it crossed the Salt Mine branch. Everything north of there was taken out in the early 1980's

ME: I collect tie plates, no not pie plates.


Since the tie plates are particular to a specific rail weight and base size, usually when you lay heavier rail, you need new tie plates.

I had a question about different rail sizes on the same line.


As far as changing sizes goes, like from 50 to 80 or something like that (we have 30 to 56 and 56 to 60 and such as that at the museum,) they make splice bars (angle bars, rail joiners or whatever you want to call them) that fit each height of the rail web and head, so that they kept the rail surface smooth on top and inside as well. Then you shim up the shorter rail to make it all solid.

I showed Everett an old article I'd done which seemed to press his buttons as he erupted into a outpouring of old logging RR names and planned an expedition. I'll have to remind him of that.


Oh boy, are we going to have fun! Oakdale, Glenmora, Oberlin, Kinder, etc etc etc.

Ever heard of the Oakdale and Gulf RR? Only lasted a few years but it connected Oakdale and Pine Prairie. My friends John and Bill's grandfather surveyed it in the 1920's.

How about the Elizabeth Southern RR? Ran from south of Elizabeth thru (note his speed spelling and the lack of commas because there just wasn't time for commas as it was erupting too quickly) Elizabeth to Oakdale. Glenmora and Western RR? Hillyer Deutsch and Edwards Logging RR? Louisiana and Pacific RR? Victoria, Fisher and Western? Old River and Kisatchie? Leesville, Slagle and Eastern? Oberlin, Hampton and Eastern? Kinder and Northwestern? Zimmerman, Leesville and Southwestern? The old Texas and Pacific main line through Victoria? Jasper and Eastern RR? Gulf and Sabine River? Zwolle and Eastern? Woodworth and Louisiana Central? Neame, Carson and Southern? Gulf, Sabine and Red River? All of these are north and west of Kinder.

But I have one for you that is right in your back yard. the Teche railway and sugar company (nor capital letters) that ran from Carencro to Breaux Bridge and Arnaudville. The only record that I have of it is that it ran directly east from Carencro, and then split to run north south to Arnaudville and Breaux Bridge. It shows up on a Louisiana RR map that I have from 1895, and a reference the a railroad guide by Edson, that says that it existed from 1894 to 1899.

When we know that we can both to Glenmora, I am going to get [a fella I know] there to arrange a tour for us of all the old logging rr grades. He used to be a forester for all of the major logging companies there, and still knows how to legally get us on their lands, and where to take us!

ME: I'd take a picture of a pole outside a depot. I knew who to ask about it.


Ah, the pole outfit. In the days when every station had an agent, and before radio etc, train movements were controlled by timetable and train order. The timetable told the engineer and conductor what time that their train had to be at a certain spot to avoid other trains, pick up passengers or what ever. IF for what ever reason the dispatcher overrode the timetable, or the train was an extra train not on the timetable, its movement was controlled by train orders telegraphed from the dispatcher to the appropriate station agent that could get them to the conductor and engineer of the train. The pole out in front of the depot told the engineer if he could just blast on by the depot, or if there were orders at the depot for him. It had a paddle on the pole and a light for at night. If the paddle was straight up and down or the light was green, he could keep on going. If the paddle was up at a 45 degree angle, or the light was yellow, that meant, slow down, and the station agent will hand up Form 19 orders, which were usually on green paper and handed up to the crew on the fly. If the paddle was straight out, or the light was red, it meant stop for Form 31 orders, which had to be signed by the engineer and conductor, and the train physically stopped. Form 31 orders were usually yellow as I remember. So the pole is called a train order signal. Now days with radio, GPS and computers, the dispatcher not only knows exactly where every train is, and how fast it is going, but can contact the crew at any moment to transmit information. Today's version of orders are now called "Track Warrants" and a warrant allows a particular train exclusive authority to occupy a particular piece of track for a specific time period and it is all done with GPS and wireless internet etc.


You can see the train order signal out in front, and it is bidirectional. The signal to the right of the mast governs train movements from right (north) to left (south), while the signal on the left of the mast governs movements from left to right. In this case, there are no orders for trains in either direction. This type of signal is called a semaphore signal, with the arms. There were other types, that rotated so that when the arms were perpendicular to the track the red light would be on, and it would mean stop. I don't have any of either type in my picture collections because unlike someone that I know who is good about taking pictures of everything that is remotely interesting, I am not good at that, and so now, do not have pictures of things that used to be common, but are now gone forever.

Me: Then the subject returned to Big Cut and the Claiborne and Polk Military Railroad.


The army originally planned to buy the RR&G but that fell through and they built the Claiborne and Polk instead. The soldiers called it the "crime and punishment". I have quite a bit of stuff on the RR including some pictures taken before the C&P was built across the cut. The C&P used the Hillyer, Deutsch and Edwards and Louisiana Sawmill Co, tram road for about 50% of its mileage, with the army building the east end from river to Camp Claiborne and the west end from Lacamp to Fort Polk. Charles Fenstermaker Sr. surveyed the tramway and several connections to the tramway for the army ...

ME: That was followed by a barrage of pictures for my articles.


OH, I forgot. The lack of trees is because the land was clear cut and not reseeded. Most of what was Camp Claiborne was harvested by the W.H.Cady Lumber Co. of McNary. It was all cut out by 1927. The land was first acquired for Kisatchie NF and then transferred to the Army in 1940. Reforestation was not started until the 1950's and look what we have today. The army wanted the cut over timberlands because they were ideal for things like the 1940 Louisiana Maneuvers where some guys like Bradley, Patton and Eisenhower got to practice.

As far as Narrow Gauge, I only know of a single instance where the Army used narrow gauge on any of their bases, and that was a base back east where they used some WWI 2' gauge stuff. Everywhere else, it was all standard gauge as it was easier to load and everything else.

When I finish getting ready for my meeting tomorrow, I will tell you the story about they army trying to take over the RR&G to use to connect Claiborne and Polk, why it did not happen, and the C&P was built instead.

ME: That story when I find it. The conversation took a side track to talking about the Texas State Railroad since he'd mentioned one of the C&PMRR engines finally find an old age home at the TSR.


From what I read in the papers, TSR had its best year ever under the new American Heritage Railways management. They had a lot of special stuff like the Day out with Thomas to get people to come in and all. I know that gas prices have affected the other AHR railroads, like the Durango and Silverton, and the Great Smoky Mountain RR, but that actually may have helped out the TSR because a lot of Texans go to both the Rockies and the Smokies and this year they may have just stayed home. I suppose that since they are now run by somebody other than the state, that the fact that they can actually advertise might help a bit also. (Texas constitution prohibits state agencies from advertising).

My Mistake, the TSR #300 was C&P #20. If I remembered to send you the two articles from the Military Railroad Service Journal, there are two pictures of #20 off of the track and derailed somewhere in one of them and a picture in the other one of the engine equipped with a most unusual appliance called a Coffin Feedwater Heater. It is the thing hung in front of the boiler that looks like the bill on a baseball cap, and is designed to heat the water before going into the boiler using the left over heat from the boiler.

ME: Then there were huge maps of Claiborne. Mark would send one and Everett would counter. Then Mark would send a bigger one and Everett would counter. I was just smiling as I was the net benefactor. Actually, we all were. After one exchange, I wrote Everett:

Yours is bigger than his! I love it, dueling maps. Of course, my main interest is the rail layout in the camp. I know these pages are pieced together. I have one problem, the rails at the bottom. Do they meet?

The correct answer is yes, but. The rails to the right are the Main line of the C&P and they turn south at about below the NX,
and go to Big Cut.

The rails off to the west are a branch line that was built sometime after 1941, when the topo map was made, and extended to the coal storage area on the western part of the base. Curiously, enough, they connected to the C&P with a wye junction which meant that trains entered this spur from either direction. Also interesting is that this spur was a rather heavy piece of construction just to get to what is noted as "coal storage" on the maps. It also comes close enough to the RR&G that I cannot believe that there was not some sort of connection at that point as well. Even curiouser than that, is the fact that in aerial photos taken in 1951, in the same area where the H-H' arrows are on the map, there apparently is some sort of an airfield ( photos will be scanned and coming to you). It appears on the 1951 photo that the rail may still be in place, and the spur is being used in some sort of construction. The 2003 government report on the reclamation of Camp Claiborne, simply says that it "could be the result of railroad construction activity" Like I said, very interesting. By 1951, the RR&G is abandoned, Camp Claiborne is deserted, and the C&P is supposedly both abandoned and torn up. I remember reading somewhere that the MoPac connection though was not removed until the 1960's, nor was the trackage within the camp itself. Hmmm. I sent you a copy from the 1957 15 minute Topo map showing how everything connected. Now I have to scan the photos, which are already scans, and the 7.5 minute quad, which shows more RR grades through the camp area, some of which are the old Glenmora and Western RR which died in the 1920's.

ME: I replied with what I knew.

"It appears on the 1951 photo that the rail may still be in place, and the spur is being used in some sort of construction"

Have you ever heard of the Alien Incarceration being carried on at Claiborne. The place is riddled with tunnels and secret chambers. I think they took the Roswell space craft and crew from Area 51 in 1951 because the media was getting close to unraveling the government's story, thus the rail activity. They couldn't fly the thing in, it was too large. It had to be shipped. The incarceration took place at the adjoining sewer plant, which by the way, has had the stairways cemented up. I have the pictures to prove it. My question is this, is that craft and the remains of its crew still buried at CC? That is curious. I know you were thinking the same thing, don't worry, you are not alone. Of course that all dovetails with "heavy construction" and "some sort of airfield". Were they trying to get the saucer off the ground. Kinda gives you chills doesn't it? The heavy construction of this "training camp" is now making a little more sense.

Everett's appraisal: H--Y S--T! '

Now it is time for Everett's story of intrigue and mystery when the government came to town back in WW2. Here it is:


There is even more to the RR&G - Army story .... I have a whole book of correspondences that were exchanged between the various RR's involved and the KCS alone. The most interesting thing is that the Army told everybody what they were going to do, almost before they talked to the Crowells. The first major meeting on the whole proposal was conducted without even the presence of any Crowell, or Crowell employee. When I asked [a relative] about the whole thing, in the early 1990's, his comment to the Army captain involved, was that the captain would have to go and talk to [the relative's] father, as [relative] was just the operating Vice President of the RR&G, and that RD was the one who actually talked to the captain. The Army's original plan was not only to take over the RR&G, but the Rock Island between Alex and Eunice, the SP branch from Midland to Eunice, and to have control over the MOP from Kinder north to Alex, and Camp Beauregard, as well as from Kinder to Eunice, as well as the Santa Fe from DeRidder to Oakdale. The plan was to buy the RR&G and rebuild on the Christie and Eastern grade from Sandel (Christie) to Peason, and the Peavy Lumber-Crowell Lumber connecting line from Peason to Kurthwood. That way the military would either own or have control of all of the lines between Camp Beauregard, Camp Livingston, Camp Claiborne, Camp Polk and England AAF field. As far as the RR&G was concerned, they were going to rebuild it into a heavy duty RR, use it for demolition and rebuilding practice during mostly daytime hours, and run Army trains and the RR&G trains on it at night. From what I can gather, in the beginning the Crowells sort of made a tentative agreement with the army and congress actually appropriated the funds. At that point the trail goes cold, from April, 1941 to June, 1941. In early June, the army put a survey party in the field headed by C.H. Fenstermaker Sr. to survey the Hillyer, Deutsch, Edwards - Louisiana Sawmill Co. Logging RR (which had recently been abandoned) from Glenmora to LaCamp and the end of track, then they would construct a new line from there to Slagle, and rebuild the abandoned Leesville, Slagle and Eastern into Leesville, ( I have a copy of the survey map, to prove that this was done). About a month later, they modified the plan again to use the HDE RR for only the middle part of the rail line, and the army would survey and build both ends, which was what was finally done.

I have two suspicions about what actually happened between April and July. First, the Army Captain was a reserve captain who was a railroad engineering department employee before being called in to service. I have read some of his writings about his military experiences that were published in the 1960's, and frankly he was a "little Napoleon" to be nice about it. In his writings he brags about everything that he did for the Military Railway Service, and denigrates the contributions of everybody else involved. Interestingly enough, the one thing that he never mentions is the fact that he conceived the RR&G- SW LA plan, and spent 3 or 4 months trying to pull it off. Knowing the Crowell's as I do, I think that Sr. simply got fed up with him and showed him the door. The other thing that I think happened was that the Marines and the Navy got involved. All of the Crowell's timber came from Hutton and Sieper along the Kurthwood line, and was milled at Alco and Longleaf. Virtually all of the Crowell lumber was going to Navy-Marine projects at that time. We have correspondence that shows that Crowell timber was going to building new slipways at the New York, Brooklyn, and Norfolk navy yards, (where they built little ships like battleships and carriers), construction of the shipyards in Beaumont and Orange, and most importantly, to Higgins in New Orleans where Crowell timber may have been in over 1/2 of the 20,000 PT boats, Eureka boats, and LCVP Landing Craft. We think from what little paperwork we have been able to find at the museum, that Crowell timber was used for the head log, and keels of at least 3,000 of the 7,000 LCVP's built by Higgins. The LCVP is the drop ramp infantry landing craft that made the Normandy and Pacific landings possible. Basically, what I am saying is without the output of the Crowell mills and RR system, the US could not have won WW2 in the time frame that it happened. Without the Crowell timber, and those 3000 landing craft, the war might not have been won until 1949 or so. Eisenhower was asked in later years, what army weapons won the war, and his surprising answer was, "the jeep, the C-47 and the LCVP". So I think that RD Sr. may have talked to the Navy and Marines, and when they realized that they would lose their timber resource because there simply would not have been enough capacity to handle all that the army wanted to do, plus the Crowell traffic, that they put pressure on the army as well. Allen once said that Sr. also suggested the HDE tram to the army as an alternative, and they jumped on it.

The last little thing in all of this, is that when the construction battalions began to congregate at Camp Claiborne, neither construction equipment had arrived, nor the surveys for the C&PM been completed. The Crowell's had an RR line between Longleaf and Meridian (north of Turkey Creek) that had been out of service since 1928, but could be used to reach one other tract of timber that they owned if it was rebuilt.
Apparently, the army rebuilt that line in August and September of 1941, to give the construction battalions something to do to get practice on. So apparently what ever happened, there were no hard feelings between the Crowells and the army, except maybe for the captain who did not get his way.

ME: That could have been a movie!
He followed with this, "Feel free to pass it on, with the full knowledge that not all of it is fact, but some is opinion based on fact plus knowledge of the situation from other perspectives".

Everett, no doubt, hangs with lawyers.
Then came a barrage of Claiborn pictures to balance all the recent text.

Next, I asked him about backing up. I recently used this explanation as my own which I feel floored the recipient. It still floors me. Please put on your safety belts:


Steve...... First, I want to confine this to rod driven locomotives, ruling out gear driven engines like shays etc, which do run equally well in either direction.

The biggest problem running steam engines in reverse is not the engine itself, but the tender behind it.

First, by virtue of its function, the tender is the most derailment prone car in the train. Its balance is always changing as the locomotive uses up fuel and water. Since a steam engine uses more water than fuel, it soon gets front heavy until the next water stop.

Oh, and the water, as soon as the level starts dropping, the water starts sloshing from side to side as the tender rocks from one low rail joint to the next.
Beside sloshing water, the tender on many smaller locomotives is attached to the engine with a drawbar which works well to transfer power as long as the loco is heading forward, but when backing up on any sort of a curve, there suddenly is now a tangential component to the force applied to the tender, which wants to push it off of the track.

Now the last thing about tenders is that they are hard to see around. Running forward, there is at least a view down the boiler so that the crew has some idea of what is ahead. Backing up, you are looking at a solid wall of metal and the only way to see around that is to hang your head way out of the cab window, and sometimes that is just not a good idea.

Now we can go on to leading and trailing trucks. Engines designed for low speed, switching or freight service generally get along fine without these accessories. Your writer is correct on the fact that leading trucks came along, to LEAD the locomotive into curves and across rough track. The four wheel lead truck, which came into use long before the 1850's, is and was the most stable at speed, and had the added advantage of being able to support some of the weight of the cylinder saddle and cylinders which is where most of the weight in the front of a steam engine is.

Until the end of steam, most engines intended for either passenger or high speed freight service had 4 wheel pilot trucks. 2 wheel lead trucks were generally used on freight locomotives where the expected speed was slower and there was a desire to get as much weight as possible on the driving wheels.

Trailing trucks are another story entirely. In the beginning, the early engines with trailing trucks had trailing trucks that were designed to work just like the lead truck, when the engine was operating in reverse. Thus, if you could get rid of the tender, and put the fuel in a bin behind the cab and the water in tanks on the boiler, you could go forward and backward easily.

Other engines, like the early 2-6-2 and 2-8-2 types were built with the trailing truck to be the "reverse lead truck" as it were, with the main weight centered over the driving wheels. Engines of this type, often called "double end type" began to be developed in the 1870's and 1880's. It was not until boiler design changed from a narrow firebox to a wide firebox, which allowed for more combustion, thus higher temperatures and a more efficient locomotive, that the trailing truck evolved in to a means for supporting the weight of the larger fireboxes.

As locomotive size and thus firebox size grew, trailing trucks grew as well, from 2 wheels, then 4 wheels and finally 6 wheels on the heaviest of all steam locomotives. As the engines approached both size and weight limts for track, the larger engines were never intende to be operated at speed in a reverse direction any how so that the "reverse leading" function of the trailing truck became totally replaced by the "firebx support" trailing truck.

In short, if you only need to go slow, and you don't have a big appetite for fuel, you probably can get along without any pilot truck or trailing truck. If you want to go faster you need at least a 2 wheel lead truck, and if you want to go really fast, 4 works better than 2. If you are small, but you do a lot of running in reverse on bad track, a light 2 wheel trailing truck is in order, but as your appetite for fuel increases, you need to get more support under that energy generator. (I am NOT talking about my stomach, so don't even go there!)

Hope that this thoroughly confuses the situation.

ME: Do I detect a little devilment? Then he gave me a report on his project at SFHM.

Got sanders all operating. pulled front axle to replace bearings and bearing blocks, took car for test run today. derailed 3 times. seems like axle is a bit tight on the new bearings, so wheels are rotating on the axle and just rotating the nuts right off, with the wheel following. Actually looks like that has been going on for a long time, because the wheels are so loose on the axle, that at least 1/8 inch is worn off of the axles at the ends. Now have to go back to make a new axle, and find better wheels to put on before can use the car. Hate weekends like that. Just like a real RR.

ME: When Alphonso and I visited with him he was showing us some broken burned out bearing piece. When he handed it to each of us to hold, I flashed on being in second grade again. That was funny.

From this point on, I could not trust Everett. I sent him a serious request as follows:

To Everett:

I asked Alphonso what this was. It was close to the Melville to Simmesport T&P line torn up in 1945, north part, and 51, south part. Does it look rail related, as in loading contraption? Alphonso told me to ask you since I'm the one who knows the hotsy totsy rail expert. (He's my ag expert and hasn't a clue.) I won't expand on that. Hint, the RR picked up molasses from the sugarcane plantations. I realize you are log oriented and you can't be expected to know it all though you will make a liar out of me if you don't. We here at History Hunts thank you. PS. I'd say the floor of that enclosure is about 12 ft off the ground, maybe a bit more. Why the elevated platform and railing w/ladder? Helicopter landing? Dirigible tender? Damn, it's a lighting platform for a pop festival with dressing rooms. Yea, well, I ain't got a clue either.

Everett's Reply:

Landing pad for space vehicles piloted by aliens looking for their relatives who were moved from New Mexico to Camp Claiborne?

ME:That was a Touchet for the previous alien story.

Me: I had asked about stuff being stolen around the museum. He came back with this story.


I forgot, in talking about people taking things, we did have an unusual incident regarding the 600# anvil in the machine shop. Now I got this second hand, so be aware that certain facts may be slightly exaggerated, but it seems that someone told someone who told one of the [passing train] crew members on the line about the anvil. So one evening after the museum closed, they stopped their train and went up the hill to the shop to get the anvil (I guess one of them had a use for it). At any rate, they managed to get it all of the way down the hill, and on to the front porch of the locomotive that they were running.

As they went through this long effort, one of the Crowell family, who still keep things in the big finished lumber sheds, observed them, and being outnumbered, simply called the sheriff. The sheriff stopped them in Glenmora, made them back up the train, and carry the anvil all the way back up the hill. The train was over 4 hours late and had the whole line tied up. Needless to say, they aren't working for [the train company] either any more.

ME: I had visited up there and questioned why the tender was U-shaped.


Ok now, why is the tender in a U shape. All that the tender is is a water carrier for the steam engine. The open part of the U is floored and carries the fuel. In the case of that tender, it was wood, and they just piled it up in the middle of the U. The 400 and 106 have oil tanks that are dropped into the middle of the U but are not connected to any thing else. They just sit on the floor of the tender.

ME: Depends on your definition of what "is is". Yep, he's been hanging with lawyers.

Next were the timetables. They are still coming and now Mike has offered me more timetables. I don't want to know who has the biggest timetable. But, they sure are fun to read.

Then I started questioning on the maps I'd drawn on. Click the map to enlarge:

ME Still:

On an old map you sent (SP) , I see a line going from north Eunice to LaMourie then probably into Alex. I've followed it from LaMourie to Lecompte. From there my Garmin software shows it going to the east tip of Cocodrie, then I suppose it follows US167 to La.13 into Eunice. Was that the Rock Island all the way? I'd like a list of the stations, but can't find it on the "limited" collection of info you sent. It is one of my favorite watering places along that route. I just thought I'd share that.

Everett's Reply:

The purple line is the Rock Island. It was the line that the old RI employees used to call the "Little Rock". It started in Little Rock, and ran south through El Dorado, Bernice, Ruston, Jonesboro, Winnfield and into Alexandria. There it went to Lamourie, Lecompte, Meeker, Meridian, Turkey Creek, Pine Prarie, Easton, Reddell, Mamou and Eunice.

ME: More map discussion followed as I sent him back some of his maps which I disguised as my maps.


Some Cool maps!

I knew that the SP went north into Mamou and that the T&P came from Ville Platte to Eunice, but I never did know exactly where in those two towns that they went.
Now, I have another hunt for you in that area. The original T&P line from Bunkie went to Ville Platte and then to Eunice. At some point in time, I don't know exactly when, the line from Ville Platte to Eunice was pulled up and the rails relaid into Opelousas like they are now. Then when and why of that might be very interesting. I sent you my map of Mamou. It shows Railroad street and Railroad avenue go N-S parallel to the SP tracks on your map. Apparently at some time, both Eunice and Mamou had several sawmills that contributed traffic.

Oh, one more thing, when you go to Pine Prairie, we need to find where the Oakdale and Gulf RR connected with the Rock Island. That could get real interesting!

ME: The part after "Oh" is pretty funny since he had it drawn in one of his excellent maps. I kept getting back with him about not being able to help him with this and finally he admitted to have suffered from a SM (us older folks know what that stands for).

We are nearing the present. A recent trip to LeCompte was spawned by this and information from others, including Mike and Lowell. First the map which will enlarge.


If I remember it correctly, it set in the field across the bayou from the T&P tracks. It stayed there at least through the 1980s but by 1997 it was gone.
I need to cut loose one day at lunchtime, and go eat at Leas, and go to spring hill cemetary and look. The RI bridge was just an RR bridge as far as
my (now slowly deteriorating) memory is. Interestingly enough, I have a good friend from my soccer refereeing days, who lives in LeCompte, literally
on the old RI right of way. We used to camp a lot at Indian Creek, and would come up 13, to 167 to LeCompte and cut over there, and at least
twice I remember seeing a RI train on that line, 1 small diesel, a couple of cars, and caboose, going at 5-10 mph because the track was so bad.


Then we got into talking about what needed to be done at SFHM. I told him what I wanted him to do concerning the separated couple 202E and 202T. I had stepped over the line. He read me the riot act on what was going to happen and in what order stating the need for organization, something I didn't fully understand. I've made plans before but they never had any organizational facet. About the third note, he began with, "In all seriousness". I felt like Mr.Kotter had just quietened the classroom. I quickly changed the subject to the Cumbres and Toltec Scenic RR.

Thus ends the first chapter of the Book of Lueck. Hopefully, when he sees that I have kept it professional, he will continue his offerings.

MORE TO COME. Mike and Lowell have both contributed piles of information. Mike's you've seen from time to time in his writes on his father's career as "The Railroader". Lowell seems to love to do detective work. That too will be added later on. His recent work on LeCompte has been very expanding.

That's it for this cold day, Later Gators

The Sunday Ride to Ponderance (missing page 4)

I've hooked up with some pretty knowledgeable people. I'm not mentioning any names since that would enlarge their egos resulting in a further tsunami of ponderous information. Like, I'll never tell this one cat that I like train schedules again. Need a schedule to anywhere that's 80 years out of date? I have it. Of course I'm kidding. I should back off this silliness fast since I love all the information as it continuously leads to new ride ideas. So, let's have a group hug.

Now that I have my credits taken care of, let's move on. It was Sunday and the day was slipping away. The wife was eying a nap which left me twiddling my thumbs. I knew it was late for a 200 miler, but knowing stuff never has made any difference. I bare the scars to prove that.

I wanted to see several things and document them in this rag. Two were brought to my attention by several correspondents who I list among those aforementioned knowledgeable people. One place was the field where the Red River and Gulf Railroad had its depot in or near LeCompte.

The depot was on a branch of the RR&G that originated in Longleaf, pictured below.

EL sent these three shots. They are a part of the Southern Forest Heritatge Museum collection. Visit the place at Longleaf, La., located between Glenmora/McNary and Forest Hill.

I recently met the grandson of the older couple. The lady was his mother.
Meeting him was a treat.

The other place I really wanted to see were the LaMourie Locks. Their existence was the bi-product of a discussion on the Red River Railroad which was spawned by LM asking if I knew what was the oldest depot in Louisiana. That was in LeCompte, also.

Here's the picture of the old Red River Railroad Depot, oldest in Louisiana. I sent it to LM after I had found it in a weird place and then when I wanted it to use here I couldn't find it. LM, reading this page saw my distress and sent my picture back to me. Now I can sleep. Thanks LM.

MW got in on the action and in fact went on a mission to capture some photos of the lock which the owner of the railroad had originally built. While he was on maneuvers, he went to Englewood Plantation and got me some shots of the saved Bennett home and store. I would still be in a funk if he hadn't related their rescue to me.

While I was in LaMourie, I could not pass the chance to see if I could find where the Rock Island Line had branched south off of the "Texas Pacific" (a guess for now). I'm sure LM or MW or EL will chime in on what was the railroad which ran with US 71 at that point. I would also drag LaMourie one more time to see what I missed, which I believed to be nothing. I was wrong. I constantly ponder that realization.

I almost forgot the first stop on the ride, the cross tracks. The Premium Members have already been given a hint of what that is all about.

I've traced several sets of rails coming from Cheneyville and Bunkie.The ones from Cheneyville are, of course, ghost rails. MW, who has been sending the great "Railroader" series and owes me one now, got me started on Bunkie as it was the location of the switch for the Church Point Branch, one of his dad's runs. Then, I traced the Southern Pacific branch that originated in Cheneyville and went south to Lafayette. Much to my surprise, I saw on my software that they had crossed. I really needed to be at that spot south of Bunkie. How bad? You'll never know.

That sounds like a lot of stuff, but worry not, I am efficient and dispatched each need to ponder with true abandon. Shall we begin? First, let me say that what you will be told is not in the order in which it happened as my movements were too confused and disorderly to be followed by anyone. That disclaimer out of the way, we can begin in earnest.

It was a Sunday afternoon in November.

Before we can even get into all the heavy pondering which my plan of attack included, I needed to get to the area. Basically I arrived at Washington as fast as I could. Remember, this ride required efficiency. I knew I could make time hooking up with La.182 and flying north on it. Assume what you will, yep, that's right. 182 would bring me to Eola, the holy ground of the cross track. I felt as if I was on a spiritual mission as I anointed myself "the pilgrim".

Flying along at a blurring pace, I read this street sign.

I'd never seen it before and it of course reflected that a train station had been here on the Southern Pacific run to Lafayette. By the way, this is an extremely history rich area. Washington was founded in 1720.

LM just sent me this. I'll have a link to the History Hunts article on this branch at the end of the show.

"Here's a 1916 schedule of the Alexandria Branch of Morgan's Louisiana & Texas Railroad (a Southern Pacific predecessor) showing the station at Garland".

How cool is that!!

The next sign I saw was this:

I looked down into the waters of Bayou Boeuf and saw this:

For the non rail oriented public, there lies the remains of one of the trestles the SP had to use to cross a constantly meandering Boeuf. See it now, another year and it might be gone.

I had to stop at one of my old stores. Ah, nostalgia.

Next, I turned west off La.29 (what 182 had become)onto the Eola Road.

Here was the target of my lust.

I came to the old T&P rails now used by the Acadiana RR. (thanks LM)

I parked the bike when I saw this.

And then this:

And then this:
Which was not a happy moment.

I pulled myself away and focused on the tracks that I would have to walk to find the spot where the rails had crossed.

Last night when I sent out the announcement that there would be a new ride coming, I suggested that I had ridden the bike to the cross tracks. I knew that I might solicit a story from Andy and maybe an admonishment or warning from others. I got both and I want to share them here. First is LM's which is dead on serious. Rail riding should never be attempted for all the good reasons he mentions. Heck, it applies to rail walking as well. Here, read this and take heed:

"I don't know whether the Acadiana Railroad runs on Sunday or not, but I wouldn't recommend riding a motorcycle on the tracks. Even if trains don't run on Sunday, that would be an excellent reason for the railway to do its track inspections by hi-rail truck on that day. When on the rails, they are so quiet that you can't hear them coming when on foot, much less over the sound of your motorcycle. Whether you get hit by a locomotive or a pickup, you're just a much in a world of hurt".

But, we all do stuff that could backfire. Most of the time we live to have good stories to tell. Here's Andy's. They always leave me with a knowing smile.

"Well Steve, I used to do quite a bit [of rail riding],from bicycles to motorcycles. But on light bikes (165 harley, 175 alstates, 500 triumph, XL500 Yamaha, DT2 Yamaha, XT650 Yamaha) Last time I did a lot of it was when we had this pretty good size flood in '72. I used to listen to the tracks as best I could and see what time it was. Then get on the tracks and cross the flood waters , including the Mermentau River to go to a club over there and drink a few beers, then return between train runs. I did stretches with other bikes till they got too heavy to make them jump the first rail and spin the rear over the same rail to get in the middle. I once rode from Jennings to Roanoke on the tracks on my 165 Harley. ;-) just for the heck of it. I used to go rabbit hunting on it and my 175 Alstate at times for a few miles down that same track. What days back then".

He goes on:

"Once,[I was] coming back because a friend had called me and he had a lady in his truck that wanted to meet me. So, I jumped on my old Yamaha DT2 and took off. When I get past the flood waters on the Jennings side, there was a sheriff's car along with my friend's pickup. I jumped the bike off the tracks and went through the ditch and came up beside them. The deputy was excited about that wanting to know what I would do if a train was coming. I told him I timed the trains and knew their schedule at that time [and] if I saw one coming I'd get off the tracks being they were much bigger than I. He let me go with a warning not to do that again.
All was good and I met the fine young lady my friend had brought along. After they left, I checked the time and grinned and went back across the bridge to get another few beers. Ha ha ha Those were the days, More skill on a bike than sense in the brain".

I know the feeling.
I'll also say this now. Only believe half of what you read from me. Which half? That I can't tell you. Where were we, oh going to the cross track.

There was stuff on the side of the rails. I could only guess how far to go. I was looking for a clearing on either side of the tracks.

I saw this opening to the left. I descended and there was an opened space running parallel to the tracks. I believe now that it was the previous bed of the Texas and Pacific, the newer grade now elevated.

Looking south:

Looking north:

Going down to the "old grade", there had been this pile:

Further north there was this:

Going back toward the bike still on the lower level I was stopped by this:

And this:

I wasn't real sure I was where I wanted to be. What had this been? My first guess would be that it was the remains of a tie change or dismantled trestle. Feeling pressured for time and knowing my welcome down in this area might be over, I climbed back to the surface. I'll add, down on this level I didn't perceive a raise area as if there had been a bed now I come to think of it. Maybe it had been a road?

No, I just reviewed the large versions of the pictures and I was walking on a raised bed. The small drop offs on both sides are clear.

Across the way, almost in line to where I found the heap was a tree line that seemed it could have been the rails to Cheneyville. I let that do for now. This was one of the situations I sure could have used Alphonso. After all, he had discovered the Mississippi River. But, then, he would have been doing forensics on everything, reassembling and carbon dating.

I do think this was the place, notice the bend in the tracks to the south going to Ville Platte. This picture is looking back toward the bike (north)

Come to think of it. I may have walked right past it and gone too far. I may have to come back because I didn't really have that warm and fuzzy feeling I get when I'm right on, which is so rare I think I've forgotten what it feels like.

The clock was running, I was in the ball park but it was a large park. I headed to Cheneyville following the SP into town. The rails butt right up to the road on most of that stretch. It was on to the LaMourie Locks.

After leaving Eola, feeling a bit half done, I headed west on the Eola Road to La.181 riding it to US.71, just north of Cheneyville. The sun was sinking and I had to make time. Up US.71 I flew.(again) My arrival at the beginning of the 4 lane was a welcomed vision. I resisted taking yet another shot of the old cane mill in Meeker, as I had several "must" to do up the line. The first, and easiest, I thought, would be the Lamouie Locks. I will say this now, visit there in the cold of winter. First the leaves will be gone and you can see the thing. Second, the mosquitoes will be gone, maybe.

There are no pictures anywhere of the LaMourie Locks. I have pondered that possibility. There are sites that point out the coordinates and spew this and that about the place. Because of that void in the digital world, this page will be completely dominated by pictures of the locks. Both Mike and I heard the call and both of us responded by traveling long distances to end this shame. Our pictures are featured below. First, if I have not lost them, are a few conflicting descriptions of the lock's history. I vote for the second one.

Here is the WPA description of the locks probably done in the 1930's. I mark as incorrect the figures that do not agree with the National Register's assessment, below. That is my assessment.

I've determined that you cannot read it, so I'll type it out the best I can.

"Remains of the old brick locks on Bayou LaMourie on US Highway#71, maybe be seen three (3) miles north of Lecompte. These locks were built in the 1880's [incorrect] by a Congressional appropriation of $50,000 [also incorrect]. At that time navigation on Bayou Boeuf was essential to the planters in that section. Cargoes of cotton and h---heads of sugar [could it be "hogsheads"] were floated down the Bayou Boeuf to Bayou Cortableu [Courtableau] to the Atchafalaya River to the Gulf, thence to the New Orleans market by boat. When the Texas and Pacific Railroad was built and water transportation was no longer used here, the locks were allowed to deteriorate"

The second, form HERE, below, is an assessment of eligibility for the National Register of Historic Places.

The Bayou Lamourie Lock (1857) is located on Bayou Lamourie about one-and-a-half miles southeast of its juncture with Bayou Boeuf. It is just a few yards east of U.S. Highway 71 and is visible from the roadway. Despite some deterioration and the loss of the gate, the resource remains eligible for the National Register.

The Bayou Lamourie Lock is not a lock in the traditional sense -- i.e., a device that permits a boat or barge to make a change in elevation as it traverses a canal or other waterway. Referred to as a lock in the 1857 legislation authorizing its construction, its stated purpose was to improve navigation on Bayou Boeuf. Bayou Boeuf was a major transportation artery for planters in lower Rapides Parish;
however, its variable water level rendered it unreliable much of the year. The
purpose of the so-called lock was to prevent water from Bayou Boeuf from flowing into Bayou Lamourie, thus lowering the former's water level. The lock functioned more like a dam, but with a gate that could be opened to release water when necessary. The lock structure itself consists of matching brick faceted retaining walls with earth backing which effectively narrow Bayou Lamourie. At the narrowest point was an operational gate. The gate is no longer extant; however, surviving curved cast-iron fittings suggest that it was a double gate that opened in the manner of a pair of French doors. The walls rise approximately eight feet above water
level and are about four feet thick. Each side of the lock structure is braced by a brick reinforcing wall which meets the retaining wall at an angle (see sketch). The reinforcing walls may also have been used to attach fittings to anchor gate handles in place when the gate was in the closed position. The retaining walls are greatly overgrown with vegetation for much of the year. Settling of the western end of the northern wall has caused a large crack.

Assessment of Integrity:
Despite the deterioration and the loss of the gate, the Bayou Lamourie Lock retains enough of its original character to convey its historic purpose. With its high brick retaining walls which narrow the bayou and the cast-iron fittings for a gate, the resource still looks like a device to control the flow of water.

Significant dates N/A
Architect/Builder unknown
Criterion A
The Bayou Lamourie Lock is locally significant in the area of transportation because it improved navigation on Bayou Boeuf. By stabilizing the water level in Bayou Boeuf, it facilitated the transportation of crops to the interior port of Washington and on to New Orleans. At the time the Bayou Lamourie Lock was authorized by the Louisiana legislature, planters along Bayou Boeuf were in serious need of a reliable method to transport their crops to market. Bayou Boeuf runs eighty or so miles,
twisting and turning, from its juncture with Bayou Lamourie to Washington. Because of its narrow banks, irregular channel, and oftentimes low water level, the Boeuf was certainly a less than dependable method of transportation. However, it was the only choice other than an overland journey of some twelve miles through swamps and forests directly to the Red River or a day's trip to Alexandria and the Red River.
To stabilize the water level in the Boeuf, the Louisiana legislature in 1857 authorized the construction of a lock at or near the mouth of Bayou Lamourie, as previously mentioned. The sum of $15,000 was appropriated, with the balance to be paid by citizens living along Bayou Boeuf, as stipulated in the legislation. Prominent planters were named as commissioners to select the location of the lock and oversee its construction. Bayou Boeuf remained the way to transport crops to market until the coming of the railroad in the 1880s. As was true across Louisiana, water transportation gradually gave way to rail transportation. The Lamourie Lock became of no use in 1901 when a dam was built close to Bayou Lamourie's juncture with Bayou Boeuf. The closing date for the period of significance is c.1890, by
which time the Iron Horse had become preeminent.

References to and Extracts from Acts Passed by the General Assembly of the State of Louisiana.
1856 to 1918. Affecting Levees. Drainage. Reclamation. Public Lands and Kindred
Subjects. Compiled by Frank M. Kerr, Chief State Engineer, October 1919. Revised to
include Acts of the Legislature of 1920.
Acts State of Louisiana Regular Session. 1857.
Report of the Board of State Engineers of the State of Louisiana. April 20, 1900 to April 21, 1902.
Reports the completion of the Bayou Lamourie Dam.
Plan dated January 1901 showing cross section of Bayou Lamourie Dam and its location, Office Board of State Engineers, copy in Register file, Louisiana Division of Historic Preservation.
Eakin, Sue. Rapides Parish. An Illustrated History. Northridge, California: Windsor Publications, 1987.

Mike drew the previous mention of the Red River Railroad together with the locks with this statement, "Smith's railroad initially ended at Bayou LaMourie, where he built a set of locks to help move his crops to the railhead. If you are northbound on US 71, you can see the old brick locks from the bridge, looking East down the bayou. Smith later extended the tracks to LeCompte, so he could ship on the small packet boats on Bayou Bouef".

I'll add, the railroad was destroyed in 1861 [Civil War] leaving no means of transporting crops efficiently.

I told you I know knowledgeable people. There is more that I want to add, that later.

Here are the pictures. From the above description, you should be able to tell at what you are looking. I noticed that the water was flowing into the structure, exactly what Smith was trying to keep from happening. The map shows that the water was flowing into LaMourie from Bayou Boeuf.

These shots were taken from the highway. The first one is of the opening where the gates were. Mike must be very tall or made his wife stand on his shoulders. My shot didn't measure up. The pictures are a little larger if you click them.

The next is zooming in on the left side.

I, not being in a suit like Mike, was able to climb down near water level for the following shots. This shows the crack mentioned in the assessment.

The next one is a good shot as deep into the structure as I could manage.

These shots were somewhat lacking because the locks were on private property. They were taken with long distance lenses as neither of us condone treaspassing. First is Mike's great shot. I can't figure how he managed that one, either.

And, mine from the ditch. Notice how long the structure is. Why? It seems if it was just a gated dam that there would be no need for this length. Possibly the length was for support purposes. The next time up there I will ask permission to shoot it all around and from the top down. I dig hydrology, the older the better.

That's it for the LaMourie Locks.

Next, we'll go up above LaMourie and try to find the branch switch location.
Frankly, I should get a post office box in LeCompte. There always seems to be a reason to come back to town. Even Everett has acknowledged that. When I asked him a question regarding LeCompte, he replied that it would take another trip to figure it out. I figured he was being flippant, no, he meant it would take another trip for him, also. That's OK, LeCompte is worth the ride. Geologically, LeCompte sits snuggled up to the Kisatchie Wold, our Alps. I've read that settlers escaped the heat, humidity and "epidemic gasses" of the Bouef lowland by traveling to the high country in the summer. Were they talking about Louisiana? Maybe, the Red Dirt area of the Kisatchie National Forest does approach 400 nose bleeding feet. Suddenly I feel like Joe on Taxi. Where was I?

Back down in LeCompte I had one place I wanted to seriously ponder. I had already considered the ride a subdued success. I was close at the Cross Tracks, close at the Locks, pretty close at the RI Switch off the T&P above LaMourie, bingo at the Lamourie trestle find, but the search for the exact location of the old Red River and Gulf Depot and rail bed didn't pan out since I couldn't find a person old enough to ask and Everett wasn't around as he knows the location of the depot and watched it deteriorate. Since I have gotten down and dirty with the Red River and Gulf, I also wanted to know where the tracks had left the island and tagged the Texas and Pacific. I didn't want to know "over there somewhere". I wanted to know.

I had arrived in Ponderance. It was getting late and I was looking at a night ride back home. I decided to work fast to limit the dark time on the road which is not fun.

I efficiently rode into LeCompte dodging where I suspected drug deals were taking place. I never like to mix drug dealing with history hunts.

Some of those white lines are from when I came into LeCompte the first time going north to LaMourie. Here, I was coming from LaMourie. You see Carter C Raymond Junior High, it's the line between "m" and "o" in Raymond. I wanted to join the ghost rails of the Rock Island as soon as I could. I headed toward where you see "39" Sure nuff, there was a large median as if left to welcome the train coming in from LaMourie. In fact Don's Cajun Kitchen has located there in preparation for the revitalization of the branch. Don knows railroads are the coming thing in transportation.

Don might be right sooner than he anticipated? Oh mercy, it's Al again and he has a friend he's convinced to fireman.

After waving to Al and Julio, I made my way down to Water Street and turned east. I'd show you the remains of the trestle over the Boeuf, but that would require another drawing and I'm near out of ink. Just east of the old trestle is a bridge you can cross over to the island, the location of the of the old RR&G depot and cross track with the Rock Island.

Entering the island I saw this older couple exiting a house. I waved them down. She was all smiles but I got the idea she was suspicious and they were not moving until I left their enclave of 3 houses on the island. I ask her if there was ever train stuff out here, knowing that there had been. She said she remembered some rails but that was it. I suggested that there had been a depot and she drew a line in the sand, eyebrows narrowed and with pursed lips, said, "no depot ever in my life time or his". I asked if it would upset anyone if I rode out into the field. She curtly responded with pursed lips and narrowed eyebrows, "yes you would". Feeling like I was in the wrong neighborhood, again, I recrossed the bridge, them still in their car watching. I may have to look in a mirror and assess just how menacing I am.

On the way out I took a picture of the beautiful bayou as I was in the mood for something un-pursed and un-narrowed. First, this is a shot of the island looking toward where I suspected the the rails to jump the bayou. Gee, doesn't that look like a rail bed? Sometimes I'm standing on something and don't realize it until I post the pictures. But, the telephone poles that mark old rail beds were out in the field. I'm wrong. Ponder on.

Next is the bayou and then we'll get to some serious pondering as I have maps. But first, I have to ask you a question. In all the things you ponder, your navel, the source of the universe, why your mother in law is the way she is, gravity and on and on, aren't maps the most fun to ponder? Al said, "my navel".

This is an old topographic map Everett gave me. It clearly shows the Red River and Gulf coming in from Longleaf to the west. The bridge I had crossed to the island enclave was to the east of the Rock Island tracks. The cross tracks, as you can see would have been to my right, out in the field. It seems that the dash lines which I thought were the rails was a road bordering the water.

I didn't have any guidance from the old GPS TOPO map on this one so I just took Water Street east around the bend to where I supposed the rails might have come through. I saw two bridges, either of which I thought could be candidates for the RR&G.

This steel one was closer to town where I'd been. I think it went to a single residence. I should have panned out with the camera while I was on the island, I might have seen the house.

The second is creosote. Could it have lasted 90 years? The supports for the steel one were also creosote.

I was going to show you my Norman Street theory but that is blown to hell by the old topographic map. "I think we need to go to LeCompte one more time". I'll bring Alphonso since he's very familiar with the place and has ridden his ghost train right past the cross track. We'll meet Everett who will have converted the old topo map into measured coordinated analogical spirizoids plantums. Then we will stand on the spot and sing railroad songs.

Seeing me frustrated, the chief railroad spirit, we of Indian descent call Choo Choo Ding Dong, sent a real train to distract me from my failure. I set about photographing the train in such a manner I am sure Homeland Security was being dialed.

But then a new question arose. Remember, I know nothing of railroad workings, I just follow dash lines on an old topographic map. I was wondering what a Norfolk Southern Engine was doing down here hooked up to a Union Pacific. BTW, I like NS's TV ads. The engines have a neat color scheme, also. Further down the line, I'd see more ponderous couplings.

Mike wrote back with this information after seeing the stopped trains:

"NS locomotives are on the UP because a neat thing the two railroads cooked up. Two scheduled trains, the NHY (westbound), and the NNY (eastbound), originate in Asheville and Houston respectively. Both are made up of dedicated traffic bound either for the West Coast (Los Angeles) or the East Coast (Asheville). They do a moving crew change at Avondale, LA (foot of the HP Long bridge). UP crews from Houston gets off after making relief, and NS crews take it on towards Montgomery, AL. The reverse happens going towards Houston. The train never stops until it reaches the appropriate terminal. They don't worry about switching locomotives. The KSC engine has me stumped, but I'll find out from my son".

Sure, you want another shot, no problemo.

I split, not in the best of moods. Choo Choo Ding Dong intervened again. Down by the old mill at Meeker, a KCS was hooked up with a UP. Curse me, I'm talking RR. KCS is Kansas City Southern which has a long history in Louisiana. Learn about the Louisiana and Arkansas RR,it's your civic duty. OOps, a Jim the taxi driver moment. UP is the Union Pacific Railroad that bought or merged with our beloved Southern Pacific. That's all I know, little right be talking RR, RailRoad. That KCS is mo pretty than that UP.

This is a fine shot, I must be getting tired.

LM explained the presence of a KCS and UP together. Very interesting.


Meanwhile, I can explain the presence of KCS power on a UP or a BNSF train. KCS has separate agreements with each of these other railways whereby motive power runs through on unit coal trains between certain coal mines on BNSF and UP in Wyoming and certain power plants locate on KCS in Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Texas. There's no need to change locomotives when the trains change hands and crews in Kansas City. KCS and the other partner each contributes locomotives to the respective power pools for these trains. Each locomotive has a cumulative horsepower/hour meter to measure its output. Various economic and geographic vicissitudes typically result in the BNSF and UP locomotives incurring more horsepower/hours on KCS rails than the KCS locomotives incur on BNSF and UP rails. Thus, periodically, KCS will hand over several of its locomotives to BNSF and UP for their general use to repay the debts. BNSF and UP use these locomotives as if they were their own until the meters say "enough already." Thus, KCS locomotives are subject to being seen anywhere on either the BNSF or UP systems.

I went back through Cheneyville and Bunkie. I took some pictures at both. I've pondered using them. I have decided not to. A whole page or two is coming on Cheneyville based on its history and not a railroad's but of course including one. I'm ready to leave this place, referred to as Ponderance, and hit the sack. I hope this has left you pondering some history. It doesn't have to be this history, it can be any history. Kick in some geography and you'll be ready for a pondering good road trip. See ya down the tracks or around the bend or splashing around in some bayou I just feel into. Steve

PS: Alphonse just sent me a swampgram. Don't make me explain. Here's his message:

Well, me, I'ma tell ya what; maa dat make me feel so good dat you put me along in de ride like dat. Dat make a much more conneck, like I was dere wit you, neg. maa you cover some ground an look at some lotta stuff dere. 'Course me I was havin' fun drivin dat train up an down dem old tracks like dat an blowin dat steam whistle an wavin' at all de peoples ahh see, maa specially dem purdy girl. Hey maybe you should start carring one of dem how you call,....MACHETTE with you, look like dat might come in handy for you kind'a 'splorin, an somema dem high snakeproof boot wouldn't be a bad idea neither no, you. But de bes ting would be to always have Alphonse wit you cuz goin in dem places two is better dan one in case somethin happen bad ya know, an too he's such good company haa? Alphonse

There is more. Lowell rented a helicopter and went out looking for the Red River and Gulf Bayou Boeuf crossing. He, without a doubt, found it. All the forensics point straight to his hypothesis. One, the cuts in the bank, two, the inline continuation with Everett's map, and third, the obvious road replacement for the hump that afforded the RR&G's access to the T&P. Bravo! You may join the gang as we will meet out on Water Street and sing Railroad Songs in the near future.