More Sources

My other active blogs:


History Hunts Blog http://historyhunts-blog.blogspot.com/

Following Louisiana's & Mississippi's Historic Railroads http://oldrrs-blog.blogspot.com/

Finding the Lumber Mill Railroads http://lumbermillrrs.blogspot.com/

Following the Historic Rails of Mississippi http://mississippirails.blogspot.com/


The Louisiana & Arkansas RR - Packton to Ferriday Pictures Enlarged


History books tell of things that were. Many folks accept them as the final statement on a subject. Not Al and me. James R. Fair's "The Louisiana and Arkansas Railroad, The Story of a Regional Line" is a history book. Of late, History Hunts has been, off and on, an amateur's attempt at supplementing that write. Fair has led me on many an expedition. From those outings I've added a few pictures to coordinate with his tales. This will be another one.

From Fair's book:

"The Jena extension was completed at the end of 1903, except for the 180 foot steel-truss bridge across the Little River near Georgetown. (This was the first bridge of any consequence to be needed by the L&A.) High water during the spring and summer of 1904 delayed completion of the bridge, and through service from Packton to Jena could not be provided until February 1905. The terminal point, Jena, was an old settlement that had become little more than a country post office in the midst of a dense pine forest; but Buchanan now owned most of the forest and proceeded to build up Jena to the point that it was incorporated in 1908. Estimates of lumber yield from the Jena area ran as high as 250 to 300 million board feet per year, for at least twenty five years. To exploit this lumber potential, Buchanan located three mills in the vicinity, one of which, at Trout (three miles west of Jena) survived until the 1940's.

The L&A issued an attractive brochure in 1904, designed to tell the world about the railroad and its geographic region. It claimed that the mill at Stamps was the largest in the region, shipping some 82 million board feet of lumber in 1903. The brochure described a seemingly inexhaustible supply of trees for lumbering, yet serious attention was being given to the reuse of cut over land. The railroad boasted that it was being constructed to rigidly high standards, with an eye toward freight traffic interchanges at several points. This sanguine attitude of management appears to have been justified; on June 8, 1904, the Louisiana Railroad Commission made an inspection of the property and reported:

The roadbed and track of this road are splendidly constructed, ballasted with gravel and laid with heavy rails on cypress ties, and are unusually smooth for a new road. The depots are all frame structures , but are constructed along modern plans, and in each there are water coolers, and ample provisions for their proper heating. The closets are located at a convenient distance from each depot.
Construction of the Alexandria extension began in early 1905, departing from the Winnfield-Jena line at a a station named Packton. On July 1, 1906, 30.46 miles of railroad were placed in operation between Packton and a connection with the Iron Mountain at Tioga, Louisiana, 8.2 miles north of the joint Iron Mountain -T&P) depot at Alexandria. Trackage rights were secured from the Iron Mountain and T&P, which included a bridge over the Red River and use of the joint passenger station in Alexandria. Separate freight facilities and yard trackage were developed by the L&A.

The survey of the L&A route into the Alexandria area called for a direct line from Tioga to Alexandria through Pineville, utilizing the Edenborn bridge (of the Louisiana Railway and Navigation Company, the new name of the Shreveport and Red River Valley, to cross the Red River. William Edenborn refused to grant such rights to the L&A, keeping alive the old rivalry between Buchanan and himself; hence the arrangement with the Iron Mountain and the T&P.

Me shortening the last passage:

At about this time the Rock Island.... was moving south through Winnfield and agreed to use the L&A tracks from Packton to Tioga. Buchanan extended tracks to the Edenborn Bridge, with a connection at Pineville Junction to the LR&N. Edenborn allowed the Rock Island trains to cross his bridge. For many years only the RI used this short stretch of the L&A rails.

It was like a splinter that would not come out. I needed to see it all. Even Al put on an air of interest. We were off. (You decide the interpretation of the last statement.)

Unlike Fair's book, this will also be a travelogue of our attempt at being in the places where determined industrialists had not only taken great steps for themselves, but for the economic future of a region. Those guys didn't do it alone. They did it on the backs of the working man. Without that catalyst they would have been powerless. I walked several tracks imagining the hammers whaling in the humid Louisiana heat. I later realized it was my throbbing heat swollen head inside my full coverage black helmet. Al suggested I take it off for the next stroll. He does have his moments.

Enough dry truthful history, it's time for embellishments.

Late again, Al showed up sporting a new t-shirt Bootsie had given him. You ask, what happened to Tilly? They are the same person, Bootsie is Tilly's middle name which she now prefers because it reflects what Al gets if he doesn't behave. After 15 minutes of the t shirt explanation, I finally ushered him to the bike and said, "ride".

BTW, Bootsie, the fig cake is wonderful. Thanks you.

I'll pick up the ride above Porte Barre on La. 103 as it leaves town headed for Washington, LA. Remember, this is a travelogue site. We'll get to the RR stuff eventually.


Next was La. 359.


La.359 is another example of the basic La. road configuration, bayou on one side, fields slanting to back swamp on the other. Find a road like this and you have found some fun. Our bayous meander, a lot. It was 9 AM.

Next, US 71 at LeBeau and the Masonic Temple.


Exiting 71 a little above LeBeau....


It was time for more bayou chasing. Bayou Petite Prairie was our rabbit.


Spring Bayou and Bayou Rouge pick up where Petite Prairie leaves off.


We rode through Evergreen and found that the old Victorian is now occupied and slowly being brought back to life. I had talked to the owners niece a while back and she had said that "things will be looking up". Indeed they were.

I took Al by the previously shown antique farm implement exhibit a local has on display. Sorry, no recent shots and the old ones are buried somewhere. We were next on La.115 headed into Hessmer, named by Edenborn, mentioned above. The KCS article has more about Hessmer and Edenborn.

We crossed a bridge and I wildly shot and hit.


From time to time I shoot to shoot. I shot again. To this point all of the pictures were taken on the move. No dear, both hands remained on the bars. Don't ask how. Obviously, the next one wasn't taken on the move.


I stopped at the old feed store in Hessmer which was also a fruit and vegetable warehouse. Yes, Al knew all about it and pointed out the sign on the wall I'd missed when doing the KCS write. There are a lot of entrepreneurial Roys in Mansura, also.


"Earl Roy Produce Fresh Fruits and Vegetable Market".
Al had dealt sweet potatoes with him.

We crossed the Red River. The next page, when it is written, will begin my intensely serious examination of the historical places of which I spoke. It will be so boring it will make you cry, but all the words will be spelled correctly, a big bonus. Between tears, there will of course be the comedy afforded by two old _arts wandering around deliriously, wearing black helmets in 100F heat, one step ahead of being taken off to Pineville's famous sanitarium for the mentally afflicted.

Page 2
Page 2, leaving Moncla, we crossed over the Red River on a new bridge which was required by the Corps of Engineers when the river was deepened for larger ships. The old Moncla bridge fell just like Edenborn's railroad bridge had fallen in Alexandria, at the hands of some some grand scheme which I'm not sure ever amounted to much. I might spend a day at one of the locks and just count the traffic. The loss of Edenborn's RR Bridge is discussed in the KCS ride report.

Back to this page:

Some places you just feel obliged to photograph. The Red River is a mystery along much of its course*. Not really, but the part below the La.107/115 Moncla Bridge is. Well, at least to me. The bridge is the final spanning of this great river that began west of Palo Duro Canyon which is south of Amarillo, Texas. I'll give you a moment to soak that in.

*(That's a sentence I learned from watching National Geographic Specials)


Ready?

Now?

OK.


Here's looking down the levee at the new Moncla Bridge.
Bits and pieces of the old Moncla Bridge can be found up and
down Bayou Boeuf south of Alexandria. I think it was cut up and sold
by some getterdone entrepreneur. One section now crosses
the Boeuf and leads to the falling down Red River and Gulf Depot
at LeCoumpte. One bridges the Boeuf at Barbreck Plantation. One crosses
behind a historial cemetery along La.29. Another long span is above LeCompte
behind LaMurie. I had wondered where all these fine bridges had come from.
Here. The hand is Al's attempt to be in every picture.


That thing could be an alien space ship for all I know?

Here are 2 more wild shots taken while crossing the bridge.

Downstream


Upstream


This is an abridged map of the ride featuring some of the major
rivers. I chunked that in since there are river people who
read this thing. The yellow line is us.


I once did a ride report that I called "Louisiana's Mystery Land".
The LML is bordered by the Mississippi, Black and Red Rivers. It really
isn't a mystery if you know about it. The fact that you don't know
about it may be a mystery to some. It's all in one's perspective.

We followed 107 up to Pineville. Along the way I took a side road to the paper mill.
The reason I did this is because one of the spurs that leaves the old L&A,
the present KCS, goes to the mill. I also took it because Marion collects IP Mill pictures.
I'll send you the large versions, Marion.



I wanted to go in and see the local engines which belong to the plant,
but we had 300 miles to go and it might have taken a while proving
Al was not a terrorist.

Marion got the shot and wrote this back:

Many thanks for the picture of the Pineville mill.The building you are looking at is a Recovery boiler/power generator house. After the chips are cooked, the cooking liquor is strained out of the pulp, water is evaporated out of the liquor until it is a thick dark brown semi-liquid. This liquid contains the lignin (the glue that holds the wood fibers together). This liquor is heated and sprayed into a boiler where the lignin burns and produces heat which makes steam which is used to heat water and / or dry the paper on the paper machines. It sounds complicated and it took many years to evolve, but it is now standard, every day practice for all paper mills. This is where we recover and recycle our cooking liquor.

Marion is my go to guy on anything mill related for obvious reasons.

We next tried to find the wye that left the main line and came to the mill.
Hey, we were bored.

On our first try we found some ducks. They were OK but the owner started
firing at us. Al began wildly firing back because he though someone was trying to
harm his newly adopted ducks. I had to convince him, from the nick on my helmet,
that the shooter was aiming at me. He again wanted to fire back but I explained,
while behind a tree, that we really should go and if one of those bikes took
a bullet, we'd be stuck here. He said he liked it there, especially the gun play.
I gave up and left as he ripped off another round. I soon heard Al roaring up
behind me firing his gun into the sky. I knew he was mad at me. I held the GPS
up high and he quit. Sometimes I have to pull my "big gun"which is knowing where we are.
Al has one Achilles Heel, being lost. Seeing the result is not a pretty sight.

Al requested that I show you "his" ducks.


Probably more important to this write than the duck episode is the location of
the wye that goes to the mill. It is also the area known as "Pineville Junction".
Remember? That was where Buchanan's L&A rails were allowed to intersect
Edenborn's LR&N, but the L&A could not cross Edenborn's bridge. The Iron Mountain
had trackage rights, having piggybacked from Packton. The L&A and T&P used another
bridge.

If I got all that right, it's a wonder. If not, you can research it. Suddenly I feel a
vacuum as all leave to check the facts.


Above is the wye to the mill "Y". [it heads southeast through "Church" on the map.

Al, having shaken off his mad, said I should have taken the shot from the split toward the arm of the wye going east to the mill. I did it backwards which is so unlike me.


Looking the other way you can see Al yelling at me to take his picture where
the rails depart for the mill. Actually, I had cut my way across the tangles and
trudged though mud. He had simply taken the trail but was a bit late in pointing
that out. Al is quite an asset, if not a delayed asset. That fact would be reinforced
later. I never jump his case on the road, but I can from a distance and these writes
afford that opportunity.


When he wasn't looking I took a better shot.


The line on the left is the one to Packton by way of Tioga, Buchanan's 5 miles
that he couldn't use but the Iron Mt. could. The games big boys play.

Next we went up behind Louisiana College where I'd been on the last Pineville tour.
We needed a break and there was a patch of shade there. We were trying to follow the rails to Tioga and here we were. I remarked to Al that it was about time for a train to show up but realized that probably one wouldn't. Run, go get the kids.


Yes sir, about that time the warning signal started clanging.




No, not the same shot, look again.


There were two.
No, three.


And a dump car.


And that was it.
Seen closer in this shot.


This all seemed a little inefficient. Then a guy jumped down
and turned the switch.



Then he began walking away from the engines.


They began to move backwards pushing the car onto a siding.



Above is proof that the same picture can be used twice which is efficient.

They dropped the car off and pulled forward. The switch man
returned the switch to its usual mainline position. That prevents
surprises.


If confronted, the engine wins. Remember that.


Obviously there has been no progress in this realm of railroading in 150 years.
Is this a sign of union power? Are there still firemen? Seems strange to have to manually switch.
But, he did wave to us after Al let go a sound that resembled an Indian war cry after being shot.

Had, in fact Al been shot back at the duck deal? He never complains much, I just choked. I should have said that he doesn't complain like normal people do. He's more reactionary. Maybe he wasn't yelling to the switch man? I'll have to ask him.

Reflecting, this may have been the high point of the ride. Al and I have yet to discuss high points.

The three engines with no cars left.............


..........satisfied they had completed their goal.


Ok, Darlene, those are soccer goals and that was a joke. Notice
the switch guy riding on the side of the engine. Why. I'll sleep on it.

Page 3


We headed for Tioga where I remember being told there was an old depot. I remembered that 5 miles past Tioga which meant we had to U turn and come back down US 167 to where you see "C". The "KCS UP X" thing signifies where the Union Pacific, coming from their Red River bridge, crosses the Kansas City Southern tracks coming from Pineville Junction. There appears to have been a large yard there at one time. The cross track seems to be below the 167 bridge. I forgot to look being intent on staying alive on a real highway. When we got back to Tioga we found this.
Click it if you can't read it.


Here we have the Iron Mountain part of the puzzle mentioned.
I believe the Iron Mountain was bought out by the Missouri Pacific?
Or was that the Rock Island? I can't keep them straight and it's not my job to do so.
Edenborn allowed the Iron Mountain, and later the MP to use his bridge. So maybe so?
But the Rock Island had ridden the L&A to this point from Packton. I'm confused.
Don't look for things to get any clearer.

Here's looking around the Commissary Museum area.


Yea, he was still mad and muttering about ducks.
I told him this was his last picture if he didn't let it go.


The next thing I heard was that Indian again.
He had found a caboose and was waving to the imaginary engineer
to pull forward.


He told me to completely document the caboose.






It had five "lights on behind". "Well, the blue light was my baby and the red light was my mind".


Here it is in Illinois in 1984.


Seems like it was built in 1966 "at the Centralia Shop".
The real caboose could have been built in 1966 BUT.....

All I could find regarding the Centralia Car shop [at first] were links for model trains.
This caboose, evidently, is a model for a model which explains the weird pictures below
which are really drawings found on Flicker.
Virgil, you know anything about this?



IC is Illinois Central RR. ICG is Illinois Central Gulf RR.

But there's more, Centralia is a real place. This from Here.

"In 1853 the Illinois Central Railroad laid out Centralia proper. David Oxley was the master mechanic at the Centralia I.C. shops from 1854 until 1890. Through years of experiments, he developed coal-burning locomotives to replace the old wood burners. The name, “Centralia” was given the new town in honor of the Illinois Central by John W. Merritt, the newspaper publisher at Salem, the county seat. The Chicago, Burlington and Quincy first reached Centralia in 1882. In 1887 the Louisville, Evansville and St. Louis Railroad (the Air Line), which was part of the Southern Railroad system, ran through Centralia to Mt. Vernon. In 1893 the Centralia and Chester line ran between these two towns and in 1896 was extended to Salem. It was later to become part of the Missouri Pacific system. To local citizenry it was the Mike and Ike".

That made me dizzy. Can you repeat any of it? I can't. That was a pure case of info overload. I did that one time giving directions on a ride. That jerk is still lost.

Read IC History Here. That's enough on the caboose.

We were at the "Control Point, South Tioga". I've started a collection of "Control Point" pictures, want to trade? The big ones are awesome.


There was more stuff on the grounds.




Steam Stuff and an old barber shop. There were a few more
less impressive buildings.


Al was strolling down the porch, often called a gallery.


He was muttering again.


Something about "just like Angola Prison".

I looked closer and they were mail boxes with the names still attached.


I don't know what that is behind the boxes.


Leaving, we headed north. We passed this house and it
sure did look like an old school. If not, pretend.

Next, we headed to Bentley. More later. We still have 290 miles to go.



Page 4
OK, after a very bad night with a sick dog, my plans to attack Monday have shifted to a more defensive position. I'll see if I can flank the day by writing one more page and then do my best General Forrest imitation at conquering the enemy.

By the 4th page of these historical railroad ride reports, I should be getting request for more information on the varied routes, personalities and rail layouts. That not happening, I will shift my emphasis from the academic to a more mundane, yet spirited, approach, one that I'm more comfortable with, anyway. Evidently, Al's suggestion that I make a big deal out of the caboose has fallen into a void of none interest. [actually Virgil just wrote and said the two weird pictures of the caboose were indeed weird and he knew the source, a program that lets you enter a Matrix type world and become an engineer. I wonder if you can face the real world after that?]

I was sure that a whole discussion group could have been elevated around the caboose subject. No problem, that was just another fishing trip on the web. Sometimes not catching is better than catching. A Mz Panhead on the end of the line and I'd have to cut it after shooting her. As a result of the above, fold your wings back because we are getting ready to fly through this one. I'll add the previous pages on the L&A route at the end. From here on out it's just frivolous journalism. Well, I did get bogged down a little.

We headed north after putting the bikes on an abandoned hand driven rail scooter.
Al finally got the knack of the seesaw drive. I never imagined one of those things
could really do 60 mph. It put "hearing the rails sing" in a whole new light.



At Bentley, we left the scooter and headed east on La.8 from US 167 to look for possible depot locations. All the signs and more were there. But, first we saw what appeared to be an attempt at a tourist trap . Too bad it didn't work out because it seemed to have some valuable historical artifacts.







This one, above, looks suspiciously RR.


Evidently, it all was a "Louisiana Adventure" gone bad. I can relate.
Nice try, though. Al said there was a functioning RV campground nearby.
Give them a try.


Bentley was named after a rather interesting person. I'll see what I
can find real fast. If not, you are on your on. BTW, Mr.Bentley was
my great grandfather's boss. He worked as a surveyor for Bentley
out of Zimmerman, another mill town. I just found something that
shed a whole new light on my g.grandfather. CLICK HERE.
It seems that Henry Wilson was more than just a surveyor to Bentley
and Zimmerman.

Also, you will see Julius Levin mentioned again. If you read the historical
marker on the last page, you'd know we were at the location of Levin's mill in Tioga,
the place where the caboose was. I love it when a story comes together.


This is Henry Wilson, my great grandfather, in action.
In the car picture below, the hats match. Could it be?

Extracted from that article:
Joe Bentley's Place in the Rapides' Lumber Industry
Unfortunately, there are those who have branded Joe Bentley as the “Paul Bunyan” of the south, and the man who built his hotel because another, lesser hotel, refused him when he applied for service. This type of aggrandizement detracts from a creditable legend. While local tradition puts some faith in the second claim, where he was probably looking too much like Paul Bunyon, the first is based primarily on someone’s fantasy. Further, to say that Joseph Bentley and E.W. Zimmermann introduced Rapides Parish to the lumber industry is a gross misstatement, but their place in the history of the local lumber industry is well established. Actually, they came on the scene late in the 19th century, around 1892. It was William Waters, and Levi Wilson, on the other hand, who first cut in the pine forests, formed logs into rafts, and pushed those rafts down the Red and Mississippi Rivers to build a major part of 19th century New Orleans. This was around 1815.
Joseph Bentley with his driver, 1910-15
Joseph Bentley with his driver, 1910-15
In post Civil War Rapides, the man to first enter the lumber business in a big way was Julius Levin. He had moved directly from Prussia to Alexandria in 1853. After several years as a merchant, Mr. Levin studied and became interested in the lumber and building materials businesses. He manufactured and/or dealt with brick, cypress shingles, doors, lumber, and pine cisterns. One of the earliest Levin ads in the Louisiana Democrat about his large lumber business appeared in 1879, about 15 years before Bentley and Zimmermann arrived. By 1887, his Alexandria Mills had produced so much lumber, that 800,000 feet of the stuff was stocked on his large loading dock. It was stocked there because available railroad cars couldn’t transport sufficient product to fill the demand. Levin was shipping lumber all over the country and into Mexico. Unlike Bentley and Zimmermann, however, Levin’s material came mostly from independent sawmills, four Pineville-side mills in particular. His own timber holdings were relatively modest. His plant not only included a large sawmill, but the largest of the early planning mills in Rapides Parish, and he had transportation facilities by either rail or river that couldn’t be matched.
Joe Bentley and E.W. Zimmermann, originally from Pennsylvania, arrived in Rapides Parish around 1892, directly from the saw mills of east Texas. They had purchased a sawmill from Frank and Don Peak of Orange, Texas, in 1892. Presumably, they left this mill.in operating condition. Henry Wilson came with them; he was the negotiator in the purchase of standing timber and timber land in Rapides Parish, as well as the surveyor. Although he was offered a partnership he refused.
The first large plant was the J.A. Bentley Sawmill north of Boyce. A company town was established named after E.W., and eventually the plant was widely known as the Zimmermann sawmill. At its peak, the Zimmermann community included 118 houses and a population of 500 or 600 persons, half black, half white. The community had its own fire department, utility system, post office, and railway express agency; household goods and clothing could be purchased from the company commissary. Also available was candy for the children and soda pop bottled by Joseph Baker's company in Boyce. About fifteen miles from the mill and the mill pond was Zimmermann Camp, home to the loggers and their families.ii The company amassed 90,000 acres of virgin pine, (including the holdings of Frank and Don Petty near Cotile), stretching from Rapides into Vernon Parish. It built a private thirty-mile tram railway for transporting the timber into the mill, originally on a narrow gauge 52” track. However, the railway became inefficient by 1949, and it was replaced with trucks.
The acreage was stripped bare by 1962. It is approximated that over a billion board feet of timber went through the mill during its seventy years of operation. At its production peak it was processing twenty-two million board feet annually, but over the years it averaged 15 million. This annual production was sufficient to build 1,000 to 1,500 three-bedroom houses. Upon the death of Bentley in 1933 and Zimmermann in 1938, the property was inherited by relatives. Operation of the mill continued into the 1960's when the supply of timber was exhausted. E. C. Johnson who joined the company in 1947, became general manager, an he was the man to close it down in 1962. The T.L. James Company leased and reforested the entire 90,000 acres.iii
By July of 1903, J.A. Bentley, Paul Lisso, and D.F. Clark had selected the site for the Enterprise Lumber Company to locate its huge $300,000 sawmill in Alexandria. It was located on Experiment Plantation, in the Enterprise addition, where Bayou Rapides was crossed by both the T & P and Iron Mountain railways. It included a 20-acre tract of land that was used as a millpond. In the previous month, the company had purchased 21,000 acres of prime pine timber land from Carpenter and Company of Michigan for $500,000. Enterprise had an annual cutting capacity of 30,000,000 feet, or 82,000 feet per day. It estimated its timber holdings sufficient to supply its demands for another twenty years. Bentley was president of the company, and his partner at the Zimmerman sawmill, E.W. Zimmerman, was vice-president. Paul Lisso served as secretary/treasurer; S.F. Sharpe was general sales agent; E. Beuhler was general superintendent; H.H. Turby was cashier, and R.A. Waitz was the stenographer. It was projected that operations would begin December 15, 1903, with 125 employees.iv
Back at the tracks there was so much to imagine.




And the Control Point picture. There were rails running everywhere.


Here's the gem, the Bentley Depot, taken in the early 1900's.



Page 5
Dry Prong to Packton



From Bentley, we rode busy 167 north to Dry Prong.
Al bolted from his bike and..........


I heard the Indian yell again.


Al had donned his Keith Richards autographed shades.
Was that rail ballast dust in his beard?


What next? He was having a hard time figuring out how to get down.


He finally got down and we both read the Historical Marker.
We were firmly established on the L&A.


I didn't spend enough time in Dry Prong. You can understand what
ate what I had. Al wanted to become a hobo. He really had
his mind set on it. I had to convince him that the bike was not going to
ride itself.


Next stop was Williana. I wanted to show Al La.472. It's a pretty nice bike road in its upper reaches. It follows the rails for a while then they veer more toward 167. Between the two roads is the Kisatchie National Forest with great gravel roads for those who like that scene.


The above picture is an example of pure laziness. Mine.
I could have gotten a better picture very easily.
It says, "Control Point South Williana".

Time for a map.

The yellow line is our tracks. I realized that when we got to La.500
we had to go west to Packton. I was not going to pass up the junction of
the Jena line and the Winnfield to Tioga line. Yes, my old software has
the old line on it that follows La.500 from Packton to Trout, then Good Pine and Jena.
Trout and Good Pine were Buchanan mill towns. Jena had a mill also. They were the
fruit on the branch. To set things straight, the Winnfield to Jena stretch was the "mainline"
The Alexandria stretch was a "branch". Of course that changed later on.

Back to 472, here we go. We parked and walked out to the tracks. 2 perspectives.



Turning west on 500, I aimed for the first rail crossing on the way to Packton.


Looking down the line I can see these folks will be having ghost trains
coming through their bedroom all night. I think I'd have planned differently.


On the north side, the side going to Georgetown, evidence of the
railroad is passing quickly. Our forest eat history.


Next would be a long anticipated moment.


From this point on, it got intense.

Page 6
Here comes the first "boring to tears page". To add to the misery
I'm starting on a half tank of gas due to spending the whole
morning's writing session trying to guide Al through the ordeal of
barbecuing steaks for a large group. The only reason
I did is because I feel his pain. Barbecuing steaks for a large
group is an impossible task. That's why most chefs get drunk
during the experience. Al doesn't drink because he thinks it
makes him crazy. Well...... I could go down that road but I
won't because he reads this thing. The other reason he doesn't
drink is because he's a control freak. Remember me mentioning
the fact that his Achilles Heel is being lost. That's a symptom
of his problem. Asking me how to barbecue steaks is another
symptom. I could see he was approaching one of his shaking
episodes so I had to at least give him some guidance even if I
am totally unqualified to do so. That's why this page will be a
dirge instead of a march through boring to tears hell. Maybe
I should have put this as a footnote. No, the plain truth has to
be out front. While I'm at it, all the information on this page
was stolen along with most of the pictures. I may be worn
out but at least I have a clear conscious. Also, this page will
not be published until after his barbecuing trial. If he knows I gave
him unqualified information he'll be at best muttering, at worst,
you never know. Oh, to save on putting another footnote, all the
information on this website is UNQUALIFIED. When history
leaves a void I fill it. Imagine History Hunts as a pothole pocked
Louisiana highway.

Back at the ride we were finally at Packton, the actual start
of this History Hunt. I am at a teetering point right here.
I could include all my research or none of it and suggest you
do your own. But, you wouldn't. Being there is the "push you
over the edge" incentive that is needed to spend hours hunting
down lost names of places and trivial moments in the past.
Most of us are way too concerned with the present, rightfully so,
to attempt that investment which in the end is pointless. My
only analogy is a crossword puzzle. Indeed the stretch from
Packton to Vidalia is a puzzle to me. There are conflicts in the
info I've been able to find. That later.



Al and I de-biked at the railroad, corner of the KCS line, Winnfield to Tioga, and La. 500.


I first looked south and imagined the wye going to the east.
I didn't walk down there as it seemed a bit out of reach. Look
at the dark place just before the rails touch each other.

On the north side of the road there was immediate stuff to ponder.
Yes, I figured out what those old rails were. Wow.


These large cement supports could have been the base for a water or oil tank.


Had they been moved to the side or was this their original positions?


I say they were moved seeing their disarrangement and teetering.

Next, I walked toward the north wye arm.


I cannot express my excitement. If I had known what I do now
it would have been doubled, maybe tripled?


Here's the all important "Control Point" sign and an active switch.
Was this part of the old wye to Jena sometimes used? Was
the proximity of the "lake" an issue? Did it supply water for
the tank? I think the line was pulled up in the mid 1980's.

One more.

Next, I walked down the wye to see how far the rails continued.


I'd say the rails were not used past this point. They were headed
to the highway where they crossed and joined the other arm coming
from the south side of the road. I turned toward the main line and shot
walking back up.




I walked back to where Al was patiently waiting. He doesn't like
walking and often just surveys the parking areas. Be forewarned.

I saw another spur coming off the west side of the main line and wondered. I wonder no more.


Get out your crying towel, here it comes.
First, the mystery spur. Some of these excerpts come from
Railroad Commission books documented in the early 1900's.

What you are looking at is the abandoned Rock Island Line
coming from Winnfield. My source said it was abandoned prior to
1924, but my sources are vague. It was once part of the Rock Is.'s
main line to Eunice, La. It paralleled the L&A from Winnfield and maybe
further until it's usefulness was deemed unnecessary. I further found
out that this point is called L&A Junction. I assume that the Rock Island
did not again ride its own rails until Alexandria or south of Alex at LaMourie.
But that's a whole other discussion.

Here are a couple of those Railroad Commission findings.
Click these if you can't read them.




Now I have a question. Besides being a junction, what importance did Packton have?
And, how large was it to rate two stations? BTW, Willow Glen is on the south side of Alexandria
which does not jive with my assumption that the RI did not have its own track until LaMourie.
I think in the KCS write Mike had pointed out that they did have their own right of way.

At this point I'm stopping and assessing my bootie.
The boring stuff is far from over. I just need to figure out how I'm going to present it.
The naming of the article, "Packton to Jena" is way too limiting. We'll take this thing
into Ferriday before leaving it. Along the way much confusion will be presented. I'll start
by leaving you with this. Al, if we hadn't come home, we could have ridden to Hope, AR.
What is really important, below, is the mentions of Wildsville, inferring that it was the end
of the L&A branch. What confuses me is the fact that the Ferriday site says that residents could
take the L&A out of town. Ferriday is east of Wildsville. Hang on. this will get exciting.

Click below to enlarge.


Speaking of bootie, here is mine from Packton:


Of course you recognize the spikes. The other deal you may not,
but my wife did. It's a brake airline hose, what you see connecting the
cars on a train. This one had a problem and was disposed of track side.
The spikes were found pushed up in the ballast away from the rails.
The Smithsonian is calling, got to go. More later. Keep that crying towel handy.
Oh, the red mug is my coffee cup. Now you understand what it takes to write these things.
And what it takes to read them. Beat you to it.

Page 7
Before we move on down the line you really need to read some history.
This is from Fair's book.

If you can't read these, click them and they will open
larger in a separate window. Hit your back button to
return here.


Of Note: As of 1902, a contract had been let for a
38 mile mile extension east from Winnfield to Jena.


Of note: The line from Packton, on the Jena extension,
to Alexandria was being surveyed. 8-10 wheeler steam engines
were on order.


Of Note: Important passage: The extension to Jena,
with the ultimate objective of Natchez.... was motivated
by Edenborn's competition. I'm not interested in Edenborn here.
I'm wondering where the L&A's reach actually ended.
Hang on to that Natchez statement.


Of note: The bridge at Georgetown is way cool and still there.
1905: through traffic from Packton to Jena. Trout and Good
Pine were two noteworthy lumber mills. Buchanan owned the forest.


Of note: 1905, construction began from Packton. June, 1906,
the 30 miles of rail were in place between Packton and a
connection with the Iron Mountain at Tioga (where thecommissary was).
This point was 8.2 miles north of the joint Iron Mountain
and Texas and Pacific depot across the Red River in Alexandria.
Here's some confusion. Edenborn had forbidden Buchanan and the'
L&A from using the Edenborn Bridge. Yet, above it says, " Trackage
rights were secured from the Iron Mountain and T&P, which included
a bridge crossing of the Red River and use of the joint passenger station in
Alexandria. Separate freight facilities were developed by the L&A. So,
it is obvious that the L&A used the north bridge, shown in the KCS article.
That bridge is still in use by the Union Pacific. The Rock Island having ridden the L&A in,
used Edenborn's bridge by way of the 5 mile extention from Tioga to Pineville Junction.


I think I got it right!


Of note: The final constuction extended eastward from Jena "toward Natchez",
not "to Natchez". The work began in 1911 and had as its destination a connection
with the Natchez and Western (formerly Natchez, Red River, and Texas) on the east
bank of the Black River. This involved two large bridges at Georgetown and Jonesville.
Yes, I have pictures but you'll have to wait. The connection was made at Wildsville Junction with
the N&W. The N&W was a sub of the Iron Mountain which would become the Missouri Pacific.
Thus the MP's navy at Vidalia. That's another story.


So, the Packton to Natchez stretch was a BIG DEAL.

I don't want to strangle you with too much history right now so
I'll stick a pic in.


On the next page we'll travel from Packton to Jena. All aboard.
At the bottom of the page you'll find links to read the whole thing and other L&A/KCS rides.

Page 8
Please: Click the files if you can't read them, larger versions will unfold.
Please: If the sentences are not lined up, pull your browser wider.

For some reason I've become nervous like someone is watching me. I'm also very nervous because I have so much information that I'm afraid I'm going to forget something. The next stretch is between Packton and Georgetown. Georgetown was so confusing as I wanted to be at the point of the cross tracks of the L&A, later the Louisiana Midland, and the Missouri Pacific which was the Iron Mountain, and is now the Union Pacific, but, there is a big road construction project going on there and I was afraid of getting run over by one of those big old graders. Even Al retired from the field. That scene depicted later on this page.

La.500 goes through some of the Kisatchie forest. There are gravel roads that intersect the old right of way. If we had had more time I would have suggested we visit the ROW from the highway. But I didn't, having a very good sense of time and space. We did visit one spot. Al remarked that we needed to come back in the winter when we could actually see something and the snakes would be sleeping. From time to time Al is really encouraging. Ah, now I get it, I had just offered to let him use the red cold weather riding outfit Mark had given me and he was already planning a ride. Nothing "slow" about Al, well, except showing up on time.

Here's the forest stop east of Packton.
A fella sent me a You Tube ride down this segment.
Imagine 20 minutes of this pictures.


Visualizing trains here is a stretch. Visualizing my 4 wheeler
here is not a stretch.

Here's the cross track area, speaking of stretches of the imagination.
The almost invisible rail is the UP was MP was IM is confusing.


At Georgetown you are met (me introducing you) with the realization that this
stretch is about 2 railroads, the second being the Louisiana Midland.
The La. Midland is no longer around and seems a sad story to me.
But, then I'm emotional. Looking at these pictures brought back
a line I had read about the Missouri Pacific removing the diamond
that connected the Midland to its rails. Possibly that was its demise? Possibly
my memory stinks.

Here's a few more pictures while I look up what I've found on the La.Midland.

Here you see the Union Pacific (was MP) looking north. You can see the arms of the diamond
connector rails launching from either side.


Seems the UP is still using an "arm" as a storage track.
The L&A/LM /and Iron Mountain/MP cross track, was at the approximate location of
the bridge in the background and was the location of the Georgetown depot according to
something I read on Abandoned Rails written by a Mr. Rambo who I think is really
Sheriff Rambo possibly related to the famous politician, State Senator or Representative Rambo.

Any connection to the movie is unknown but could be fabricated. Roaming these woods
you learn stuff. That tidbit is just the tip of the iceberg.

Looking east, the L&A/ LM heads out of town.


On an earlier visit, I had hit it right. There's not a whole
lot of Georgetown. I've been warned to watch my P's and Q's
when visiting.


This is from a Wiki Page. Click Here to view it.
It is a little of the history of the LM.

The First Louisiana Midland (LM) was formed on January 1, 1946 by H.H. Holloway,Sr. Mr. Holloway owned a gravel pit at Rhinehart, LA on the Louisiana & Arkansas Railway's (L&A) main line. When the L&A made plans to dispose of the branch Mr. Holloway knowing without the railroad his gravel pit operations would ultimately fail. The LM would consit of 76.7-mile branch line from Packton, Louisiana to Vidalia, Louisiana from the Louisiana and Arkansas Railway. Passenger service was discontinued in 1953. On April 28, 1967, the Illinois Central Railroad absorbed the Louisiana Midland as part of its absorption of the Mississippi Central Railroad.

On April 28, 1974, the Louisiana Midland resumed independent operations, being controlled by Craig Burroughs' Joliet, Illinois-based Trans-Action Associates, Inc. The Louisiana Midland operated first with three ALCO RS-1 locomotives and later with three ALCO RS-3 locomotives.

In the 1980s, through freight service was discontinued between Packton and Ferriday, Louisiana because of poor track conditions and lack of demand, reducing the Louisiana Midland's operations to switching service at Packton and Ferriday. Traffic at the time included pulpwood, wood products and general commodities.

Operations ceased in July 1985. On July 1, 1986, the property was sold at a sheriff's sale.

Abandoned Rails has a couple of good pages on the LM. Click One Click Two
Virgil sent me this link. It's pretty awesome, also. Al, it has big pictures. CLICK HERE

The next big attraction going east is the Little River Bridge.




The 180 ft steel truss bridge was built in 1904 and completed in 1905.
In Feb. of that year, traffic to Jena began.


Toward the end, crews would let the trains cross in "low" with no one on board. They would catch the train on the other side after a pickup ride across the La.500 bridge. I wonder if
they ever got stuck in traffic creating a little problem down rail.

Past the bridge, Al skidded to a stop. I had told him we were going into his namesake parish.

C.Alfonso de LaSalle beamed with pride. Understandably, "de"LaSalle Parish was reclaimed for France once again bringing home the bacon for the de LaSalle family and making the King of France very happy. [He's holding a gun on me] Al's g....... grandfather is THIS GUY.
Added later: Al is possessed among other things.


More a little later. This is Al's Paw Paw. See? Next page link below.


Page 9
This is getting to be another double digit page write. I'm feeling enduro fatigue coming on
so I'll be pacing myself. Ferriday will be the grand finale and I want to be pumped for that.

After claiming [de] LaSalle Parish, Al was renewed. He rigged a flag staff on the back of his bike allowing the Fleur d' Leis to wave proudly down La.500. I requested that he fold it when we reached US 84 [El Camino Real] which I explained was owned by the very powerful Spanish, an ally of his King's. If that didnt' retract the flag, I knew I'd have to explain the "US" part of the road number. Following the old right of ways with Al along takes on several dimensions.


I figured it was time to step back and get a better look at the route.
It is hard to believe I'll have to start posting more maps, but I will.
Right where you see the "Hwy500" label is where that highway
reaches 84. Soon you come to a hard left turn that rides the north
edge of Catahoula Lake, where the three mills belonging to Buchanan
had been built keeping the railroad humming.


On the Natchez to Jena ride, I'd tried to find the location of the
old Jena depot. I'm convinced I did.



Here's an old picture of it. Added: New pictures are not available.


Engine, maybe? Rail car, maybe?

Jena was up to her old tricks. None of the stop lights on US84 were timed.
The bank's electronic sign said 1ooF. We were wilted. we found an air conditioned
sitting area inside a convenience store and sunk into our chairs nursing cold drinks.
Dante's Inferno awaited us. Actually, it wasn't that bad. You know in Louisiana, it's
a dry heat. Once on the road, Hot Jena was completely forgotten.

Soon a private exhibit appeared which I'd seen before. Al drives an Edsel, so I figured he'd like
seeing it. Here are a few pictures.





Al's is sort of like that one.


I think the paint was donated. Or possibly the painter was on drugs having painted it in the 60's?
Seeing a psychedelic pink antique tractor with spiked iron wheels coming at me would be a unique nightmare.

Moving on down the line, the rails moved away from US 84.
On the Trout ride I'd ridden up into the hills and found Rhinehart.
I believe I read that it was a temporary end of the line at one time.
I found where the rails had crossed La.8. It was not a memorialized
location.


From Jena to the Little River, the rails follow the stream beds
to keep the grade as close to level as possible.


Go ahead and click the file below to enlarge.
I might add that I found a trestle south of Rhinehart that even the experts didn't know about.
LOL's 


This is where I wanted to visit in Jonesville.






What I get from the above is that the L&A crossed the Black
River on its fine bridge and proceeded to Wildsville for a big
party where it met the Natchez and Western ( a sub of the
Iron Mountain that became the MP) The 24 mile extension
is from Jena, I checked it. It's about l.8 miles from the bridge's
east entrance not 1.6. The next is confusing, "and 2.o miles
east of the end of the Natchez and Western at the town of Black River".


This the only way I got 2 miles to work out. Had there been a spur up there
that was part of the Natchez and Western? I'll wake up at 2 AM, suddenly
clear on this confusion. I'll call you immediately and let you know.

But, I got ahead of the ride. That's what happens when I obsess on something.

Back to the ride:
I tried several approaches to reach the bridge location. I finally got "on track"
and came down the line with anticipation pegging.

Ahead, what the heck was that?



Was the name of this art object, "The Hills", or were "The Hills"
the artist? And, what could be its name?

Ahead lay the levee of the unpredictable Black River, the
sum of the Tensas and the Quachita where they join above Jonesville.
I heard the noise of an approaching steam engine. The thing follows me.


Indeed, we were hooked up.

The site did not give up much because I did not try hard enough.
There are supports still in the water. There are still support post
visible in the ground. They will be gone soon. Eagle Eye Al found them.
I did not find the supports in the water until we were crossing the car bridge.
He lamented that we were probably the last people on the face of the
Earth to know what they were if they are actually ever seen again.


With that poignant thought, I'll sign off for the night.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
The Ferriday Page

Where do I start.
Ferriday's rail history is......well... like describing its great musical heritage. The famous ones are all gone.

I'll jump right into it and then back off so you can read another description.
First a map. There will be many and probably repeats to keep you sharp. More than what I can claim. All get bigger when clicked. Hit the back arrow to return.

Al and I wandered into town. Seems I've said that before.

We more ore less ended up here:

This is a picture of Concordia Junction (above). Al and I just happened
to happen upon it. A few blocks after passing through it he said,
" I saw some rail ties in the dirt back there. We were then in a
place we needed to leave and I couldn't chance going back.
You can venture into danger, but don't linger.
I'm going to have to talk to him about blowing his horn when
he sees something important. He has a visual gift, but doesn't
realize it. I will try to remain patient, but that was the
second time that day he'd done that. I don't want to be too
harsh or he won't tell me at all until the post ride conference.
Then, I may take his gun and beat him with it. Lately he's
been thinking he's Lt. Dave Robicheaux in J.L Burke's books.
This phase may be distracting the rail sleuth I once relied upon.


This train was coming in from in from Vidalia/Natchez. (in a dream)
The picture seems to be taken from the L&A /Natchez and Western wye.

The progression of our ride through Ferriday simulated what
you'd expect of a couple burned out geriatrics after 300 miles
of riding in the sun. Few pictures were taken as I think I forgot
why I was there.

These tank supports were in that area. For some reason I felt compelled to shoot them. I can offer no explanation.


The following comes from a write on Ferriday's history, credited below.
I"m going to hand copy it because I want even the lazies to read it.
This is not all of it, but the part that applies where I want it to. At this
point I am as write fatigued as I was ride fatigued in Ferriday, so I guess
this deal is in sync.

Here we go, several questions asked along the way are answered here which is pretty cool.
I guess I could have read it earlier but I didn't, so here it is, and we can read it together.
You first Johnny:

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The railroad era in Concordia began when the Vidalia & Lake Concordia Railroad & Steamboat Company reached the vicinity of Ferriday's plantation in 1876. The narrow-gauge route, extending from the wharf along the Mississippi River at Vidalia to Concordia (a rural location near the southern tip of Lake Concordia), was oriented primarily toward serving agriculture. In 1878, it was sold to the newly created Natchez, Red River & Texas RR. The new owner completed a 25 mile extension to the Trinity (Black River) in 1886.

{I measured from the tip of Lake Concordia to where Black River is marked on my software and only come up with 17 miles. Something is missing}

Residents of the parish came to depend on both the services of this railroad.........
A second railroad, the New Orleans & Northwestern Railway, completed a 77 mile route between Natchez, MS and Rayville, LA in 1890. This standard gauge carrier laid its tracks through the heart of Ferriday's plantation and depended on ferries to move freight and passenger cars across the Missippi River.

With rail service now available on a pair of routes, the economy of Concordia Parish flouished. In 1894 the New Orleans & Northwestern Railroad extended its line north to Bastrop, Louisiana, making it part of a new long distance route. These tracks shouldered an even heavier traffic burden after representatives of the Iron Mountain bought the carrier eight years later.
{Here you have the MP's heritage}

These developments laid the groundwork for an ambitious plan prepared by the Iron Mountain in conjunction with the Texas & Pacific Railway to create an entirely new community serving both existing and proposed rail lines. This railroad town, to be built on the Ferriday plantation, would support a system of routes linking both Natchez and New Orleans with Little Rock, Memphis, and other cities. Proponents of the plan believed that such a system would be able to effectively compete with the Illinois Central RR and the various steamboat companies, the dominent transportation providers between the lower Mississippi River Delta and Memphis at the time.

The plan moved forward on an expeditious timetable. By the end of 1903, the Texas and Pacific had laid its tracks north from Addis, Louisiana, to the newly created town of Ferriday. The Memphis, Helena & Louisiana RR (an Iron Mountain sub) simultaneously extended its rote south from the Arkansas boundary to Clayton {remember the bridge I mentioned}, a junction on the Iron Mountain, 5 miles north of the town site. For the first time, freight could move by rail over a direct route on the western side of the Mississippi River, the entire distance from Memphis to New Orleans.

These and other improvements pushed the old narrow gauge line {to Black River, probably the Jonesville vicinity} rapidly toward obsolescence. The Iron Mountain began operating this line through a subsidiary (Natchez and Western?) and converted the tracks west of Concordia Junction (one mile south of Ferriday) to standard gauge in 1906. It abandoned the remaining narrow gauge segment east to Vidalia the following year, operating trains instead over the parallel Iron Mountain route and then leased the segment west of Concordia Junction to the Louisiana and Arkansas Railway in 1913.

{Bingo!!!!!. The L&A had trackage rights clear to Concordia Junction. That mystery has caused sleepless nights}

By the time the Iron Mountain became part of teh Missouri Pacific system in 1917, Ferriday was a mature community with a downtown several blocks long. It had a hotel, dry goods store and cotton compress establishing Ferriday as a prominent center for the cotton trade.

The MP freight yard was a particularly busy place. The carrier interchanged cars with the T&P in Ferriday and with the L&A at Concordia Junction. Northbound trains shared a common track to Clayton where some trains diverged toward Winnborro and Collinston (on the former New Orleans and Northwestern) while others headed toward Lake Providence (on the former Memphis, Helena & Louisiana). At Vidalia, southbound trains on the MP, as well as those of the L&A, turned freight cars over to the Natchez and Louisiana Railway Transfer Company, a subsidiary that transferred them across the Mississippi to Natchez.

The routes through Ferriday apparently never handled a significant amount of Memphis to New Orleans business as originally conceived, but they did become important transportaion thoroughfares. In 1928, passengers could depart the Ferriday vicinity on any ofo eleven trains each day except Sunday . MP's passenger trains operated to Memphis daily by way of both Helena (via Tallulah) and Little Rock, (via Winnsboro). Travelers heading to Memphis via Little Rock had the advantage of Pullman sleeping car service. Passengers could also book passage from Concordia Junction on the Louisiana & Arkansas, which was by now a prominent route linking eastern Arkansas to the Mississippi River.

Operating rail lines in the Mississippi Delta had long been a problem for the railroads of Concordia Parish. Not only was ferrying rail cars across the river a heavy financial burden, but chronic flood damage added greatly to the maintenance of way expenses. In 1940, Texas and Pacific abandoned its flood prone route to Ferriday. {That route parallels our ride back on La.15}

During the summer of 1988, the MP (MoPac) received approval to abandon the entire route between Vidalia and McGehee, AR, a distance of more than 170 miles. The townspeople felt a sense of loss when their spirited campaign to save the former MoPac depot from demolition failed.

Prospective rail operators considered acquiring portions of both the MP and Louisiana Midland lines. The Dixie River Railroad sought to buy the MoPac route from McGehee, AR, to Ferriday and even purchased locomotives, but it could not obtain financing. The Delta Southern Railroad, a short line, purchased and resumed service over the portion of this line north of Quimby, a small town near Tallulah, in 1989. It could not be persuaded, however, to purchase the more southerly portion.

The tracks were pulled up leaving a scar across the town. The area where the freight yard, roundhouse, and other railroad facilities once stood remains vacant.

Portions of the former freight yard area have been developed into the Ferriday Depot Park.
Visitors will find little more in Ferriday except vacant property to remind them of the towns heritage as a railroad center. A strip of track encrusted in concrete at the former Louisiana Railway facility and a dilapidated former MoPac building near the old roundhouse site offer a shadowy reminder of transportation years ago.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
That was almost completely copied from HERE Please consider this an ad Joe:
When the Railroad Leaves Town: American Communities in the Age of Rail Line ......
By Joseph P. Schwieterman seems to be a pretty good book. There ya go.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Now, on with more of our ride around Ferriday. My last visit here netted some great pictures of the warehouse district as I've already said, but, they are not the most important to this L&A write. The lumber mill south of town, which was on the L&A's leased tracks, is what I had missed last time. It blew me away.

The minute I saw the water tower I knew I was on the trail. Joe, in the article above, must have missed it as a remnant of "railroading times". It's a knack, Joe.


Flashes of Long Leaf hit me. (Southern Forest Heritage Museum)


That's the best shot. The rails ran out there somewhere,
or possibly they were behind me at this point as they crossed
the road at some point.


Now the sad shots.


I was surprised to see lumber just laying about. Al though
some work might be going on. Who knows, maybe ghost?


Here's an old picture that could have been taken right here.
The car is full of lumber.


Here's a few shots from the last time I was here. I really
did not understand the layout and completely missed Mill Rd.
But, I did catch the warehouse district pretty well, as he repeats himself.
The railroad which headed north was a sub of the Iron Mountain, later the MP.
By the way, there is a swing bridge at Clayton, 5 miles north, I need to visit.


Ferriday today or in May, rather. I've been there often it seems. It's a blur:

Looks like the Arcade Theater, reported as closed by Joe, may be reopened for some use.


Here's a warehouse on the north end of what I believe was the exchange area between the Texas & Pacific and Iron Mountain/ MP. That's a complete guess. There will absolutely be no further research concerning this subject, ever.




Was this a large cotton warehouse? Your turn.


And, to close it out, here's the shrine to the 3 cousins, Jimmy Swaggart, Jerry Lee Lewis and Mickey Gilley. They are the other big 3 here that are no longer with us. They are only a sampling of our diverse music and personality. (La.Tourist Bureau)


Here's a quote from the Ferriday Chamber of Commerce :

The Delta Music Museum is presently the home of exhibitions and Hall of Fame for fifteen Delta musicians and two non-musical celebrities born in Ferriday, news commentator Howard K. Smith and Hollywood's legendary hostess Ann Boyer Warner. Celebrity musicians include Ferriday native cousins Jerry Lee Lewis, Mickey Gilley and Rev. Jimmy Swaggart, along with Conway Twitty, Percy Sledge, Aaron Neville, Irma Thomas, Gov. Jimmie Davis, Pee Wee Whittaker, Clarence "Frogman Henry," Johnny Horton, Al Harris, Dale Houston with Grace Broussard, John Fred Gourrier & The Playboys, and Fats Domino. For more information, the website for The Delta Music Museum is http://www.sos.louisiana.gov/delta.

More later. The ride home was awing. My camera held together for the grand finale. It had been on for 10 hours, then quit for the final 2 hours. Stay tuned for that great page which will be written somewhere in the purple haze. Wait, it's not over yet.

As an added treat, here's a discussion of the Natchez rail ferry.

This is from a public forum or Google was a member and told it all. I will cut the last names of the speakers as a courtesy and I will correct their spelling. Tank yew. None of what you read on this site can be considered the truth, speaking for myself and them too. Take it away boyz:

He's addressing someone. That's the last help I'm offering. Remember, who knows what these guys are saying is true. Right off the bat the first guy gets shot down.

The article you are looking for is called MoPac's Navy and is an in depth article about the car ferry operation between the Missouri Pacific and the Mississippi Central railroad later the (ICG) Illinois Central Gulf. The Photos show the idler cars and the float operation from the MoPac side of river. The locomotive used were GP18 and SW1200 and in Vidalia Mopac also had a small car shop. They also connected with the LOAM Louisiana & Midland railroad (bridge line) which connected with the Louisiana & Arkansas part of KCS. The IC-GMO merger did away with the car ferry along with the Mississippi Central and the Louisiana Midland (abandoned). The traffic was directed over the ICG bridge at Vicksburg and the car ferry operation was also abandoned.
The east side of the river or Mississippi Central side was dangerous due to erosion from the river and a saw back if not mistaken that allowed it to get over the bluffs. The car ferry was an old converted river boat or something it was just another reason for MoPac and ICG to end this little navy operation.
Bill E

The IC-GMO merger had nothing to do with either of these two events. The MP transfer between Vidalia and Natchez operated until the early 1980's about ten to twelve years after the IC-GMO merger. It was the barge built from one of the old river ferry's needing replacement that caused it to be uneconomical to replace. The Louisiana Midland (LOAM) was the fourth operator of the line between Vadilia and Packton. Originally it was a branch of the Louisiana &
Arkansas, then sold to a group of former L&A officals as the original Louisiana Midland (LM). This was operated as the Natchez route offering through service between Hattisburg(?), MS and Dallas Texas over the Mississippi Central (MC), L&M & L&A. When the IC bought the MC, the LM forced the IC to purchase it also. The IC sort of ran the line for several years then sold to a third party. Around 1980, two things happened that killed the LOAM, 1. the MP removed the diamond at Georgetown severing the LOAM main track. 2. The approaches to the bridge over the Black River at Joneville, LA burned making the LOAM into three sections. At the end the track had been allowed to deteriorate that it was hard to get a train across even before it was severed. Actually, the LOAM made more money by leasing its main tracks for the storage of cars during a down turn in business in the early 1980's.

The barge was made from the hull of the Ste. Genevieve that had been operated by the Missouri-Illinois between Thomure, MO and Kellogg, ILL. according to page 288 of "MOPAC Power" by Joe Collias.
George S.
Dry Prong, LA

The railroad barge was the hull of the former Missouri-Illinois transfer ferry St. Genevieve which was stripped down to the hull. The barge/towboat combination replaced the stern wheel steam towboat James Y. Lockwood (blt. 1896) and her barge. If you ever get a chance to see the TV mini series "Centennial" There is a scene in one of the early segments of two of the stars traveling down the river and a "steamboat" passes them. It's the Lockwood. This is the only footage I have seen of this boat. Interestingly, Capt Frederick Way, Jr. in his book Way's Steam Towboat Directory says that upon retirement, the Lockwood traveled under it's own power up the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers to Chicago where it became a restaurant named Sara S. from 1961 until 1970. In 1970 she was towed to Buffalo, NY and named Showboat. About 1985 she
was transported to Lelystan, Netherlands and renamed yet again, this time Mark Twain.
Hope the above is of interest to someone besides me. ;^)
Bill H

It is to me Bill. I never thought of a steamboat directory before.
Interesting history.

Capt Way spent his life on the river as a clerk, steamboat owner and river pilot. His books Piloting Comes Naturally and The Log of the Betsy Ann are good fun reading. He was also in charge of moving the Delta Queen from San Francisco to the Mississippi River when it was purchased by the Greene Line (towed by an ocean going tug.) His last works were the towboat directory mentioned before and Way's Packet directory 1948-1983, a listing of Mississippi
River packets, ferrys and transfer boats. Both include references of MoPac, T&P and M-I boats as well as the Cotton Belt's transfer boats that ran out of Gray's Point, MO.

For those who look at the pictures that Greg sent the URL to, the colors on the boat sides were white with a gray wainscot and black hull. Wheel was red - of course. GOT to finish a model of the one of these boats. I have started models of the MoPac's transfer barge Dixie and the towboat Gillespie.
Bill H

The IC/GM&O merger was in 1972; while this pretty much killed the Louisiana Midland, the Natchez branch continued until the early 1980s after which it was embargoed. The rumor was the ferry St. Genevieve had a broken keel after some sort of mishap. The MoPac was in negotiations with Mississippi and Louisiana about a new bridge across the Mississippi at Vidalia that would carry rail and highway traffic. According to a couple of employees I knew on the Louisiana Division, Mississippi wanted the MoPac to shoulder a major amount of the expenses (even though federal funds were being used for a major part of construction). Louisiana was more ready to wheel and deal; perhaps someone in the MoPac hierarchy knew Edwin Edwards.

Maybe George S can fill this in, but I think the IC line south towards Baton Rouge had already been pulled up or had been embargoed circa 1980, but this might have been thought of as an alternate route for petrochemicals through a relatively unpopulated area had a rail bridge been built.
Jim O

Apparently it did the operation no longer is used by the railroads. The MoPac better interchanges with the Illinois Central at Shreveport (Bossier City), New Orleans, Monroe and Baton Rouge then Vidalia. The Mississippi Central side was very treacherous with flooding and erosion caused by the river. The barge had some problems of its own that were a considerable liability to the railroad. By the way you failed to mention that (LOAM) assets were sold at a sheriff sale.
Bill E

The fact that it is no longer has more to do with the condition of the barge than the ICG merger. Yes there are better interchange points and Stagger would have probably made the operation suspect even if the barge had been in good condition. Until Staggers a lot
of marginal operations were maintained due to government beauracy. It didn't hurt that the MOP had a major customer, a papermill, on the Mississippi side that it served as originating road. The LOAM was in my eyes a bad investment. It went from the middle of nowhere, Packton, LA, to a connection not much better located. Unlike the original Louisiana Midland (LM) it had no friendly connections on either end and a poor online traffic base. A friend of mine tells of helping to remove the line and that pea gravel had been used for ballast. The original LM could proudly proclaim itself as part of the "Natchez Route" and boast through service between Hattiesburg, MS and Dallas, TX with partners Mississippi Central and Louisiana & Arkansas.
George S
Dry Prong, LA

George a friend of mine worked that job off the extra board an upper MoP seniority conductor. Alexandria or Monroe covered the vacancies as outlying points. It would be interesting how they worked the job. Staggers Railway Act was a shot of much needed life for the rail industry. It involved the cost of doing business and what youcould charge for doing business. The standard ICC rate was changed and instead of the government setting the price railroads were able to regain control of this critical factor. Before Staggers your performance was measured by on time performance because everyone charged the same price. Post Stagger is today's railroads which equal no competition, captive customers, capacity problems, and record earnings for the railroads .
Bill E

Links Page
In doing the research for Packton to Ferriday, I found some great links. Before I do the last page, I wanted to look them over to see if there was something I missed. I figured while I was looking them over I might as well post them so you can look them over, too. More will be added. Look below to read the latest.

This one is by Jack Willis, one of my favorite historians. He's right up there with Block, who, in my humble opinion cannot be beat for local history in technicolor. Click Here for that one.

This is a pretty good one on the Rock Island Line. Click here for that one.
Belis, now you have me humming that dern song.

Here's a "hobo" story. Click Here.
Here's another Willis write: Click here.''

More from the book "Talk of the Town". Click here.

This is an unbelievable resource. CLICK HERE

Here are the words to ruin your day. The links go back to Wikipedia, the source of what you see below.

Lead Belly and John and Alan Lomax supposedly first heard it from a prison work gang during their travels in 1934/35. It was sung a cappella. Huddie sang and performed this song, finally settling on a format where he portrayed, in song, a train engineer asking the depot agent to let his train start out on the main line.[1]
The verses tell a humorous story about a train operator who smuggled pig iron through a toll gate by claiming all he had on board was livestock.

Rock Island Line as sung by Johnny Cash. Leadbelly's is below this one.

Now this here’s the story about the Rock Island Line.
Well the Rock Island Line she runs down into New Orleans.
There’s a big toll gate down there and you know if you got certain things on board when you go through the toll gate - Well you don’t have to pay the man no toll.
Well the train driver he pulled up to the toll gate and the man hollered and asked him what all he had on board and he said,
“I got live stock, I got live stock, I got cows I got pigs
I got sheep I got mules I got … all live stock”.
Well he said “you all right boy, you don’t have t’pay no toll.
You can just go right on through”.
So he went on through the toll gate
And as he went through he started pickin up a little bit of speed,
pickin up a little bit of steam.
He got on through he turned he looked back to the man he said
"Well I fooled you, I fooled you I got pig iron I got pig iron I got all pig iron".

Down the Rock Island Line she’s a mighty road
The rock Island Line it’s a road to ride
The rock island line it’s a mighty good road
Well if you ride you got to ride it like you find it
Get your ticket at the station for the Rock Island Line.

Oh cloudy in the west and it looked like rain.
Around the curve come a passenger train,
north bound train on the south bound track.
He did alright leaving but he won’t be back.
Well the Rock Island Line she’s a mighty road
The rock Island Line it’s a road to ride
The rock island line it’s a mighty good road
Well if you ride you got to ride it like you find it
Get your ticket at the station for the Rock Island Line.
Oh I may be right and I may be wrong but you gonna miss me when I’m gone.
Well the engineer said before he died that there where 2 more drinks that he’d like to try Conductor said "what could they be" - A hot cup of coffee and a cold glass'a tea.
Well the Rock Island Line she’s a mighty road
The rock Island Line it’s a road to ride
The rock island line it’s a mighty good road
Well if you ride you got to ride it like you find it
Get your ticket at the station for the Rock Island Line.

Leadbelly's version is below.

Cat's in the cupboard and she can't find me
Oh the Rock Island Line is a mighty fine line
Oh the Rock Island Line is the road to ride
If you want to ride, you gotta ride it like you're flyin'
Get your ticket at the station on the Rock Island Line

Maybe I'm right, maybe I'm wrong
Lawd you gonna miss me when I'm gone
Oh the Rock Island Line is a mighty fine line
Oh the Rock Island Line is the road to ride
If you want to ride, you gotta ride it like you're flyin'
Get your ticket at the station on the Rock Island Line

Jesus died to save our sins
Glory to God I'm gonna see Him again
Oh the Rock Island Line is a mighty fine line
Oh the Rock Island Line is the road to ride
If you want to ride, you gotta ride it like you're flyin'
Get your ticket at the station on the Rock Island Line

Moses stood on the Red Sea shore
Smothin' the water with a two-by-four
Oh the Rock Island Line is a mighty fine line
Oh the Rock Island Line is the road to ride
If you want to ride, you gotta ride it like you're flyin'
Get your ticket at the station on the Rock Island Line

Pictures that didn't make the cut.


No, I didn't "shoot" a snake. It's a brake air line that connects the cars.
It's now on my den wall. I was walking Packton. How much IQ does it take
to stroll around in a full coverage black helmet in 100f temperatures?
You'd think I'd voted for Obama.


Last Page
We were in Ferriday, Louisiana, way on the other side of my normal world and it was five 0'clock in the dimming afternoon. We were starting to get noticed after circling this one area for the sixth time. I knew it was time to drop the hammer and let sparks fly.

I never know if Al senses the gravity of certain situations. I believe he did as he hugged my rear fender as if a child grasping a teddy bear. We flew in tandem well above our normal speed, somewhere approaching the state's ordained limit.

La.15 exits Ferriday in a no frills fall to the Mississippi levee. There it mounts the levee's ridge, riding it to Deer Park where it momentarily dismounts only to mount again. I wildly shot as we wound it up atop that lonesome road. I am surprised the shots were not blurred, I was.


We stopped at Deer Park. I wanted Al to see the old steamboat there.
He was more interested in the landing.




We left noticing the high water marks on the street signs from the Spring floods.

Agriculture proceeded in its yearly dance.



A yellow crop duster joined the party.

Finally, we were on home turf, below the Red River, as we crossed the Old River Control Structure. Each time I go by this place I'm reminded of how this exploring on a motorcycle thing got started. You've heard that story. Hey Lonnie, wherever you are.

All is nice and dry here at the "over bank" relief area.


Old Mama lay ahead. She's been doing her thing, protecting
the people of the Basin, for many years. But, she's old and things
keep changing. How much longer can she hold on?


We exited La.15 at La.418 and went toward Simmesport.
There we rode up ancient La.1 to where it had crossed Edenborn's
other bridge, the one that crosses the Atchafalaya. Remember the other
one at Alexandria near where we started this treck?


With this shot the camera battery went dead. Good, and now I realize how great its timing was.


The ride home was endless and fast. In other words, we went fast endlessly.
Simmesport is 100 miles from my house. It is doable in a weakened condition,
I keep telling myself. Cooler weather is coming. Yes, we made it home before dark.
Just.
See ya out on the road.