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Following Louisiana's & Mississippi's Historic Railroads

Finding the Lumber Mill Railroads

Following the Historic Rails of Mississippi

The Breeze

By JJ Cale

You can call me the breeze
I keep blowing down the road
You can call me the breeze
I keep blowing down the road
I ain't got me nobody
I ain't carryin' me no load

Ain't no changin' the weather
Ain't no changin' me
Ain't no changin' the weather
Ain't no changin' me
I ain't hidin' from nobody
Nobody's hidin' fom me

I got that green light babe
I gotta keep movin' on
I got that green light babe
I gotta keep movin' on
I might go up to Califonia
Might go down to Georgia
I don't know.

Chasing Trains: The Marathon

This one is so long I'll have to break it up into chapters.
I started at 10 AM and finish, 190 miles later, at 5:30.
This is my story and I'm sticking to it:

Chapter 1

The East End of the Lafayette yard.
These are the same steps we saw in the last ride review.
That is the famous 902 switch, the gate in and out of the yard.

I liked the boxcars because they'll add to the next pictures.

This one rates a triple. It captures the steps, train and switch.

Once in a while I can see them waving at me, or some hand gesture?

It was headed east to New Orleans.
The mess around the signal is part of the complete system
overhaul, it seems.

This was something new to me.

Scottish Thistle Rail Excursions

Lowell added:

"I had a report of a sighting of the car SCOTTISH THISTLE today in New Iberia. It's a California-based private car available for charters, etc. See its web site at . Amtrak will drag these things around on the tail end of their trains for a very pretty penny. This one was built in 1959 by the National Steel Car Company (Canadian) for the Canadian National Railways. It was used by a regional vice president based in Winnipeg. It was sold to the current owner in 1994".

A "Special" had come through and I mentioned it to Lowell. He explained:

"The private train that came through several days ago was loaded with some California bands headed to the New Orleans Jazz Fest. It was a publicity stunt courtesy of their record company".

The other half is doing this:

Chapter 2: Into Crowley
More new signals are being put up. Here is the newest on Elenore Road.
Seems they could be a bit more careful.

This is the famous east end Crowley switch. The Cajun Prairie
is evident.

You know where you are? (map below)

Chapter 3: The Confusing Rails of Crowley

Since no one cares, I'll refrain from explaining it and simple
show you the pretty pictures. No I won't. OK, left goes to
US 90 and crosses it and goes into a yard then flies off to Eunice. It
is part of the old MP and priors. Straight parallels the BNSF
main line (was SP, was Louisiana Western) The switch to the
right is not the switch shown below. That switch is closer to
the warehouses.

Have I ever told you I love Crowley, even if she is a
mysterious woman I met on a train.

Below, looking west. Now are you getting the idea? Right
goes north as mentioned above, to 90 and Eunice.
Straight goes west to the warehouses and where I'm parked,
marked "Slab" on the map. I had walked east to the switch
above and shot back west.

This is the switch for warehouse rails, below.

It is not remotely controlled.

Proceeding west, the warehouse spur branched into two.

Backing up, you can see the big picture. Exciting?

The Signal

This signal is there to say stop or go. It is saying stop, do not
proceed across the main BNSF line. There is probably added
protection there, also, like a flip lockable derailer, though I
don't see one.

I was parked here. A barren slab of concrete with a platform.

West of there were the warehouses, pictured above and below.
I love these buildings. Note the rail access doors.

Rice on my slab.

Rice. These were taken where you see "Grain Cars" on the map.

Or, by this building if you go looking.

The End (as seen on the map)
Looking back to where I was. The slab is at the end of the
building on the right. Actually, some are following along.
These are the pictured warehouses. I'm so worried you'll get lost.

This has been batted about for a while. I will not give up.
This building was railroad. The rails going to the south side
of the main line from the old MP are to the immediate right (east).
I will not let it go. Bring it on.

Below is the old, before the MP depot at Crowley.
Notice the dormer design. Apply it to the front design
above. Though not exact by a long shot, the era may be the same.

Below is a map of all the confusion above. The green line
is the path of the rails going between the warehouses to "End".
It was not on the old topo map. They may be newer, or simply
missed. Click the map to expand. Gray is my route. "Slab"
marks where I parked. It is the best view of the inner west end,
an area that had been very confusing to me. "Tank Car"
marks where I said "now you know where you are", as it
was the subject of a revelation a while back. And, don't
miss the "Mystery House". Was it the business house for the
Missouri Pacific rail yards?

Chapter 4: Esterwood North.

I went west on 90 to Esterwood. I could not tolerate La.13 again.

Esterwood is at mile post 172.48.

I went north over Bayou Plaquemine Brule. (burnt persimmon)
The picturesque pumping stations are pictured below.

This is the one lane floating lift bridge.

Chapter 5: North to Eunice.

I came out 7 miles below and to the southeast of Iota.
Hum, Iota, maybe I'd try to find more of the old SP that
ran from Midland to Eunice?

The day was gorgeous with a light wind in comparison with
the gales that had been blowing for the last week. I could
not have been here then.

Yes, that is wheat growing.

La.98 headed to Maxie on 13. I'd check out a little of the
AKDN rails (previously MP and priors, the same rails
that came in at the west end of Crowley and the warehouses
I showed you.

Mud boat below. Why, shallow pond crawfishing.

Farm shot.


Rice field, not used.

Going down.

At Maxie, I turn north on 13 and went north to the road
that goes to Mowata.

There is a famous rail crane there. Had AKDN left it here,
or priors? I'll check out the year it was built but I can't get
bogged down right now.

Mowata Sidetrack

Who had parked it and left it?

I know Al could get it going.

I liked the hand brake.

North to Eunice

Leaving Mowata

A Picture Opportunity

Chapter 6: Following the old Southern Pacific into Eunice.

An amazing find: This is down Buckhorn Taxidermy Road.
I am the gray line. Right below Pork, I took a left and rode
down this extremely thick gravel road to the SP right of
way, in dark red. This is as close to the Bayou Mallet crossing
as I've been able to achieve. It was a moment. The rails, south,
are headed to Iota. North, goes to Eunice. (just to keep you
tight with what's happening) The rails through Pork are the
old MP. (note, see "Frey", see "Pork". Can you make the connection?

This is the SP ROW. This is looking southwest to Iota. Behind
me, to the north, the rails will cross Bayou Mallet.

The Cleco electrical plant as seen from the ROW.

Chapter 7: Entering Eunice.

There is so much to assimilate below, I'll post this map
in several spots. The red line is explained further down.
It was another "moment" in this ride. Ignore the veer to
the left it seems to take. It's your imagination.

Where La91 crosses, these supports held the overhead
warning array or individual signals? I'll go with "overhead".

It was powered by this box.

These trinkets were everywhere.

This was the Eunice Bottling Company. They were probably
the Coca Cola distributor.

Across from it were the discarded rail crossing timbers next to the ROW.

Duson, La.13, is the main north-south route.

Looking south where the SP rails angle into Eunice:

This is a Duson St. cross road with the old crossing warning still there.

Looking north. The mill on the right is on the MP rails.

Here, I was right behind Eunice's little museum which was
the Midland depot, the origin of this SP branch. Actually,
Midland was the end of the branch that started in Abbeville
or you might say, New Iberia.

This was wired onto the switch. "Attend to Derailing Switch".
It was right behind the museum depot.
Why a derailer?

Looking North.

Looking south.

Looking north. The rails went through a mill location, marked
"Mill" on the map, below.

Looking down.

Looking south.

Looking north. Now here we go with something interesting.
This is looking toward Coburns Plumbing Supply or into Coburns.

Looking back south. See the rails are bending east to the
interchange with the old MP, now AKDN rails. But, the
ties stick way out to the west.. There was a switch here, I'll bet.
Or the rails kept straight, crossed the main line MP and proceeded
straight ahead to Mamou.

There's my thesis, the red line. I got sloppy here. It does NOT
lean toward La.13 but goes due north. You can see I rode up
on the ROW to mark it. (gray line)

The Mamou Branch (red line) would have gone to the left (west) of that building at Coburns.

See them?

This is looking north at my assumed switch or rail continuation.
There were definitely rails here.

Looking south. Can you tell I'm excited?

Over near the exchange is the old AKDN 3018. It's the grain
train engine I found down in Crowley the other day.

This is the switch box on La.13 and the main e/w UP (was MP) line.
To the right (east) is Opelousas, my next target.

Chapter 9
Into Opelousas.

At Statesman Street the lights were on and the motors
were running but they were stopped. Something was
coming down the main line and they had to wait. I hauled
it there.

Passing, I said hi to the old T&P signal. (covered with vines)

Mark, this is the local UP train I talked about last night.
One engine, 5 cars, running very fast through town going west.

As soon as it cleared, here came the AKDN renters. It is
exiting the old T&P wye onto the ex MP/now UP rails east.

I like to zoom in and see who's working. I didn't know him.

There she goes across Railroad Ave.

I looked down the old SP at the sewage plant, a favorite
place of mine.

Back to the train. She was just about at the once MP station location.

She had to stop on the back streets for 2 minutes or so.

She headed down the hill toward Port Barre. The chase was on.
I hadn't chased one today and I was getting a little bored.
There would be another one, a very fast one. This one was
no waltz.

I ran down Grolee, crossed the crossing and headed back toward Opel
and made the U-turn under the US 190 overpass. I stopped at the
private driveway just as the turn straightens out. I was set.
I have wanted this shot for a long time. I didn't know there
was such a good parking place. I may bring my chair next
time, maybe a cooler, too?

Something was wrong. She was stopped. Were they sending
police to investigate me? Do I act suspicious? Wait, there is
a signal there. Possibly there was a discussion about it. No,
that's the road crossing warning array on Grolee. It was
sitting just beyond the I-49 bridge. Was the engineer taking
a pit stop? I spent a tense 10 minutes.

Finally, she got in gear.

Pop, there's my picture for the Trains Under Overpasses book I'm doing.

Chapter 8, I think?

Into Lafayette.

In my wildest dreams I'd meet the Sunset Limited headed back west.

No way, impossible. But, there she was crossing the overpass.
The camera was loaded and I held it up with my left hand
and pressed the button continuously. This is at 40 mph.
The shots and I would get faster, up to 45 or 46?

What was that car?

Lowell had this to say:

"Whatever it is (and it appears to be an ex-SP baggage car), both it
and the stainless-steel dome car to the left of it are private cars.
(Domes haven't been used by Amtrak itself in ages.) I rather
suspect that the baggage car is to allow the travelers in the dome
to have a place where they can go to smoke, get some air, and watch
the scenery go by or take pictures out the open doors. Notice how
the doors have railings in place to keep people from falling out".

I had thought it might be to carry some prized animal associated
with a private car, but he said Amtrak doesn't carry animals.

I'd turn down Walker Road and take out after her. But,
she was too far ahead. There she goes behind the trees.

Zooming the picture, I was never this close.

Chapter 9
Downtown Alive.

This is an old building on North Grant seen from my perch
at old Coburns in downtown Lafayette.

Jefferson St., MP 144.

Here came Mz Allegheny and her boyfriend 1707.

Back at the Lafayette Yard, a big old train had been waiting
to move out east. I'd heard the dispatcher fussing at Mz. Allegheny
for being slow and late. Had she caused the big train to miss a slot?

She had stopped near the Alex/BR Junctions. The chase
car appeared. 1707 is hiding, probably ashamed, behind the tree.

The engineer was transported from Mz A to 1707 where
the train would move back and go up the BR branch toward
the salt mine. Another chase, why not?

I'd go to the salt mine. On the way I'd cross the Vermillion.

There they were.

But, activity was stopping. They were tying up. Just what
I'll do right now. It was a full day. More later.