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History Hunts Blog

Following Louisiana's & Mississippi's Historic Railroads

Finding the Lumber Mill Railroads

Following the Historic Rails of Mississippi

Southeast Louisiana Gravel Pit Railroads: The Little Engine at Sun

Taking a break from the drudge of moving, I looked through my old pile of information printed off the net that I never use. I found a list of a number of old steam engines in Louisiana. Since I've revived my interest in train stuff, I thought it worth rereading. I saw one was listed in Sun,La., a stones throw down one of Louisiana's sweetest roads, actually, two of them, which would make a nice little loop to the envisioned prize and back. The information described the engine as being at "Sand Company" and that it was "stored". Both, no longer true.

I am getting away ahead of myself. Obviously, from the picture at the top of the page, I found it. Finding it was the Holly Grail of a long adventure and hours of research covering this part of Louisiana and a certain GM&O Railroad. The map, below, shows the route of the extinct line in purple and a great touring route in yellow. The sections of the GMO that no longer exist, locally, ran from Bogalusa to Slidel. At Rio (actually "R-10", the station number), a side line went west and then north to Franklinton, LA and Tylertown, MS. I've ridden the whole thing and taken pictures of the bed wherever I could. I know, strange, but bear with me.
Well, you'll have to if you want to see all of the engine.

Right Click the map and choose to open in new window. Fred, the map gets big.
That works with the pictures, also.

Below are pictures of my past exploits up and down and around the GM&O line.

The GMO at La.36, west of Florenville, headed to Slidell and as close to the Pearl River as a line would want to be.

Here's the GMO at La.60. A powerline has used the Right Of Way of the defunct railroad. Next stop going west would have been Zona, and then on to Franklinton and and Tylertown.

Here are a couple of shots from Rio (rye-oh). That's the way the natives pronounce it. As I said, the town was named after station R-10. The natives saw R10 as Rio, not to be confused with rio, "river" in Spanish. No comment.

Mz Guzzi did not understand her location. I told her she was on a rail bed. She, no doubt thinking of a place to recline.

That is looking from Rio towards Bogalusa, just to keep you oriented.

South of Rio, the old bed is now a driveway.

West of Rio, out the branch line, the rails crossed Talley's Creek at Stein. I had a nice conversation with some friendly "older" fellas there. They told me the railroad would take folks to Flanklinton on the weekend to go shopping and, I guess, to have a day on the town, a movie, maybe. Franklinton is the parish seat of Washington Parish, a parish rich in forest from which the lumber industry prospered and for which these rails were laid. The parish fairgrounds houses one of the big GMO engines, well worth the ride. I was told that it was getting a face lift.

I was too late. I believe this is where the Rio station had been.

I have a bunch more, want to see them? Just kidding. I realize those pictures represent the source of the saying, "Well, I guess you needed to be there", to appreciate them. Being there in the sometimes very still quiet, does invoke the imagination. I have seen a flash of light that I knew was an engine coming at me from down a rail-less ROW. That was a moment. Those pictures also represent hours of fun exploring some archeology of a recently gone era. I never expected to find what I have near Sun, Louisiana. I wonder if the person who laid his driveway on the rail bed ever sees the lights or thinks about ghost trains? Not yet, or he'd have moved the driveway.

PS: There are GMO stations still in existence in Slidell and Tylertown. The Franklinton station is recently gone, a hardware store is now there. The Tylertown station is now a garden supply store. It is in a historic part of town on the south side, again, worth the ride.

On the next page, we'll look around Sun and down the "tracks". Coming soon.

Last night, when I wrote the first page, I was on top of the world about finding the old engine. Then I made the mistake of contacting the person who had posted the list to tell him I found one and had pictures for him. He said he had a picture of it already and he knew right where it was. Period. That was it. He offered no praise or congratulations. I was crushed. :)Fred. When I offered my pictures, he said he'd like "some" of them. I looked to the North Star for guidance on which ones to send him. After receiving them all, he sent me some dumb form letter saying he had
And that these were on his site.

That was very personal.

Like I care. I was just trying to enhance his site.
What a twit. Is there something about old __arts with train websites? I've run into this pompous attitude before. Is it contagious? Gee, I hope not.
Sorry, I don't mean to slander the elderly, being one. He may be a young __art. But, honest, he smacked of old [like me]. Rant over, for a while.

Back to the story of finding the little engine that could no longer.
As I said, I was taking an afternoon break. The weather was perfect and it had been dry for a few days. I know one very fine dirt/gravel road that connects La.40 to La.437 just south of the Boga Chitto Bridge at Enon. Some of you oldsters might remember Enon as where the locals strung piano wire across the trails to surprise the enduro riders. Truth or rumor, who knows?

Here's my road, no piano wire.

Soon to be black berries lined the road. Snakes love black berries. I hate snakes.

Oh, for a true enduro motorbike.

The road then plunges into the Bogue Chitto backswamp where there is no telling what you will see. That actually goes for most of Southeast Louisiana. Hell, that goes for all of Louisiana. Then, there's Mississippi. Just be ready.

I parked and looked around. Now I'm parked and looking around for the rest of the swamp pictures.

Found it: ribbitt, ribbitt, croak.

I popped out on 437 and crossed the Bogue Chitto bridge, entering Enon where I turned east toward Sun.

There's a place along the way which features something very different, a split rail fence. I think of them as only being in the Appalachians and the east coast. Not. It seems they were where there were trees and no wire or wire was too expensive or hadn't been invented or...... Just a guess, I'm doing no research. Or, this modern day guy just wanted a split rail fence and made one. Whatever, here it is. I liked it so much I took 20 pictures. I don't abuse the North Star with petty decisions. That place is a loose end I've been meaning to take care of. This area will not be so accessible in the future. Pause for a sad moment.

Did I say that this is on La.16?

One more and then the stone house. Yes, we have a few rocks in La. I didn't know we had enough to build a house.

Not a bad page. What it does need is something red and another old barn.


Shortly, I entered Sun after carefully looking at every gravel pit along the way. Remember, I was looking for the old engine. I know it's been a while since I mentioned that, the rant and all.
I'd done Sun, I thought. Actually, I'd done Mr. Bush. For those who know Mr.Bush, you'll understand I was pretty worn out by the time the 2 hour old tire tour was over. I was there doing an unabridged article on the Gulf Mobile and Ohio Railroad. I was really into trains until........ The article lost its lust and I flushed it.

This was a new day and I wasn't doing this ride with any academic pressure, and certainly not for any traineez.

This time I had a secret weapon, the topographic map. The topo shows old rail lines. It is a priceless addition. All I had to do was line myself up with the dashes.

I knew I was crossing the old rails. I would have anyway being that it was a hump in the road.

I decided to go south on Silica Street and see if there was anything more to see down there. It is a dead end that heads south riding besides the phantom rails. The same old stuff presented itself.

Then I stopped where I saw a clearing crossing the old bed. Mercy. I just had a horrible feeling that if I told you what I'd found, you would steal it, which was at first exactly what I thought of doing. So, I'm not.

I'll show you this since you can't steal it. There was a branch line off the main line. The rails are still in the road.

Look at the rails, not the bike.
There was another hint. There were two sets of rails, one of which I'd missed back in 2006. It's the little things that count. Look at the bottom right of the picture.

There is a creek between Silica Rd. and the main line. A bridge would be needed to cross it. I said, "Steve, look for the bridge".
Mercy, rotten railroad ties. I was getting giddy.

Below is hard to understand. It is the precipice of the bridge before the rails became suspended by the trestle.

I figured I'd done Silica Road, again, probably in a mistaken haste, again. I left looking at the pretty lake that inhabits one of the old gravel and sand pits.

I looked back north toward town and decided to check out the rails on the north side of La.16, what the heck?

That house sits right on the side of the tracks. I know it had something to do with the railroad.

I rode up the street that shadows the rails. A lady was sitting in her front yard which was very close to the street. I asked her......and the little dogs let out a fuss. No one could hear. She left and got her husband who joined me at the bike. He was very interested in the GPS but knew nothing of the engine. He did know where a trestle was. It was the continuation of his street. He pointed the way north. It was more than I could have imagined. The next five or six pictures are of it. You would have done the same, so stop moaning.

It crosses Wright's Creek, which follows the line south and is what the other trestle crossed when it had been intact.

I rode across the limestone covered trestle dragging my feet. I did not want to end up in Wright's Creek because of some unpredictable limestone, one of the worst riding surfaces you can be on.

Next, I headed south on La.21 looking for the engine.

The engine was built in New Orleans for the Navy and sold to a local sand company. It is a small engine. Its number is 2653, the O-4-0 stands for the wheel layout, none in the front, 4 drivers and none under the cab. The ST part was a mystery to me. Steam Train would be too obvious.

Jim Tatum sent this, " You asked about the term ST in connection with the little 0-4-0. That means saddle tank - in other words, the locomotives water tank is over the boiler like a saddle. There was no tender on these tank engines, the water being in the saddle tank and....the guest book space ran out. It ran on standard gauge rails. I think. Looking at the boiler from the front of the engine, you can see the saddlebag shape.

I just like looking at the old engines, mostly. I must admit I like getting into them, also. The picture shows the engine's final demise. Those trees will tear it up.

That's the fire box and boiler. If I'm wrong, let me know.

Here's looking forward on the brakeman's side. (because the brake is there)

And out the front window:

That's the view the brakeman would see. Here's his brake.

And a sun roof, heat rises and letting it out is the thing to do.

That's it and I'm glad this one is over. The thrill is gone and a sense of sadness prevails over this page. No one in the area seems to care. Just keeping the small trees off of it would help preserve it. It is a bit of history lost.


First of all, thanks to all who expressed their enjoyment of the last ride
on which I followed the F&A from New Iberia to Baldwin and
then back to the Lydia area. I thought it was as boring as a rainy
day in a tent. Since you liked it, I see that as license to spew more
pictures and my interpretations of them. Your notes of encouragement
have succeeded. I went to the vault to see what old shots of La.83, Baldwin
to Lydia I could find. La.83 drops off of old and new US 90. at Baldwin
It dips west and goes into west New Iberia. I haven't done the New
Iberia end that much and it seems vaguely unfamiliar when I try
to draw up a vision. I think I remember seeing a sign to it off of
La.14 if you want to look. Back to the subject at hand.

Alright, I'll admit it, I'm sitting in a dripping tent right now and
this is the best I can come up with to prevent stir craziness. So,
I may ramble to use up my and your time. If you skip ahead it
won't hurt my feelings. I'm getting my yayas and I don't need
to know if you are getting yours.

La.83 is a mini La.82. 82 is a grand tour of Louisiana's southwestern
underbelly. 83 is a small sample. But 83 offers 319 which actually
lets you see a little open water. At Cypremort Point, one side is West
Cote Blanche Bay and the other is Vermillion Bay. The following will
be a few old pictures I took along 83 and none of Cypremort Point
or La.82.

First, since I mentioned La.82, here it is. Click the map to enlarge.
But, that's it, you don't get anymore than the map.

It features Rutherford and Holly Beach, both unaffected by the oil
spill as far as I know. Rutherford is basically empty, though the last
time I went I was carried off by sand flies. But, that's history and
I thought I was, too. Everyone should ride 82 before it falls off into
the Gulf. Parts near the western end have already. The
Everglades have nothing on this stretch plus there is a neat visitor's
center on La.27 and a ferry at Cameron where 300 bikers once crossed
at one time setting a world's record and challenging the Olympics to
list ferry riding in numbers as a new gold metal sport.

Where was I? Oh, La.83.

The first group will be structure I find either interesting or attractive or both.

A farm house near Baldwin.

Isn't it gorgeous.

The Freetown Methodist Church
I once had its age, accept that it is old. Towns named "Freetown"
usually meant there were free "people of color" there instead of
them being slaves somewhere else.

Freetown is west of Glenco.
On the east side of Glenco is this home.

On the west side of Glenco was this place that was once a home.

This was once a country store. Then a disco, then nothing but
an old store with a hard luck story.

The grandson or great grandson of the builder now runs this place.
It is opened in the cooler months, so said. It is on 83, just west
of Lydia.

Right down the road toward New Iberia is this place.

Heading back to Baldwin, this is the place I showed you on the last
page of the F&A ride. It has sense seen hard times and no love.
It is now practically overgrown.

Sorry to end the structure segment on a downer. Let me see
what more I can add.
To elevate the mood, here's this.

It's the US Gov spy balloon at Glenco. What located them at
Glenco has to be an intriguing story.

I guess they are located out of MC or they were forcedout of MC?
Anyway, they are in Glenco, now. I visited with an officer that
worked there and he said they were looking at Cuba. I asked why
were they using Glenco instead of Key West. He muttered some-
thing about the general's girlfriend, but he couldn't expand on that.

Past Weeks Island the road enters the marsh. This part of 83
is "new". To get to Weeks Island you once had to go through
Baldwin or Sorrel. Jacque's mom lived in New Iberia but taught
the miner's kids in Weeks Island. She had quite a trip each day.

Here's the scene from the Bayou Patout landing. On the last page
I showed you the bridge.

It was from there I saw a huge swamp fire.

Lighting is the usual culprit. I found the source. It was a trash fire
started by a guy named Lightning.