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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

Out On A Swamp Road Again

Sunday afternoon was rainy.
Cabin fever was settling in.
Back "in the day" such an atmosphere was an excuse for us guys to load up one of the old cars
 and ride around Spanish Lake where you couldn't get busted for erratic driving.
Those days went away long ago but the enjoyment of riding through a swamp lingered.
Lake Martin can satisfy that need easily.
You'll have to settle on pictures as I'm not increasing the traffic out there.
The shots were taken through a rain enhanced car window just the way it was.
Possibly they are a little less blurred than  in the past.

The quality is what I call fittingly, "water color".

 That's it. Are you yawning?

A Central Louisiana Road Story

I once featured US 71 in a ride report.
It was a grand idea that fell flat as it should have been "more".
I'll leave it at that.
This one doesn't have to be more as this blog is more about less than more.
It will be about riding and the simplicity of that joy.
The map below  reflects a simple day's outing. 
The weather was perfect. Nowhere in the world was it better.

I actually got away before 11:00.  I needed to escape South Louisiana.
South Louisiana stops north of US 190. Some say I-10. Take my word for it.
I  have nothing against South Louisiana, but I needed out.
I don't think I ever escaped sugarcane so my thesis on S.La.'s location may be debunked. 
I took the 2004 DL650 which is fast and will go over 260 miles on a tank of gas.
Not stopping makes it faster. I'd cover a huge area within my stamina limits and come home
ready to do it again.
On US 71, south of Port Barre, there stands a an island in the sea of fields where vehicles are saved.
It may be a Pickers paradise, also, if picking parts is your thing.
It's next to Ray's. Here the store/home combination is once again seen.
How did the store owners live next to their businesses?
They were honest and their customers were honest.
The store/home format would not work today.
Farm stuff. It's harvest season.
All pictures were taken with the "deck of cards" camera.
I never know what will be pulled out. They are taken on the fly and it has its limitations.
At Lebeau I was headed to Melville.
Just before the big rail turn ( a high speed one) this big boy came right at me.
I blew the shot fumbling with the camera and vowed that he would not get away.
I turned in chase as he tooted at my juggling hysterics.
I'd been challenged.

I tossed about 20 en route shots as they all looked the same but weren't. I kept only the really great ones.
Never believe what you see and never take me seriously.
BNSF? I had tried to get away from them.
I'm just noticing those engines are different.
Some think that heavy thinking occurs on the road.
Stuff is happening too quickly.
There are too many systems  running at once and prioritization has to be addressed. 
I knew there would be periods when he slowed. I also heard 3 hot box detectors go off, each with the
nice lady giving the weather report. It was 82F. Perfect.
I was out of South Louisiana and should probably work out a little.
What was once an iron hard bicep  now appears to be mash potatoes.
Bet it's packed on Sundays. I can hear the choir.
And the Train Kept a Rollin'.

At Bunkie I took a stand. I wanted the old depot in the background.
Actually, I never stood.
I nailed it.

The little box things are Union Pacific's corporate offices at Bunkie.
UP on the left, Texas & Pacific RR on the right.
Mike Wilson would love my comparison.
The "new" McNabb's, the one on the other side of the tracks, burnt down.
This is the old one.
Pianos were a necessity in the simplest homes.
They were their TVs. I bet your great grandmother played.
Heading north. "Norwood".
The windshield is prominent in most of the shots if you were wondering what that was.
I finally got the brat to sleep.
The Ramones asked, "What Can You Do".
Barn by the Boeuf. (rhymes with "tough).
A historic location.
Another one.  Look at that tool on a table.
If I had sugarcane to unload I was at the right place.
But, this is Central.La.?

The similarity in trees is a natural phenom.
Remember that thesis.
Poor Cheneyville. The words to an old McTell blues song come to mind.

Feel like a broke down engine mama, Lord my driving wheel
Feel like a broken down engine mama, Lord my driving wheel
Got me all tied up and lonesome, you know exactly how it makes a good man feel
{"tied up" is a railroad term meaning "put away" for the time being}

I've been shooting craps and gambling, mama I believe I done got broke
Been shooting craps and gambling, woman I believe I done got broke
Had a poor mean forty four, man I'm already closing so
{in the game 41/31, "41" is a losing hand}

Man I went down to my praying ground and I felt down on my knees
Went down to my praying ground, Lord I fell down on my knees
I ain't trying for no religion, won't you bring me back my good gal please

If you just send me my baby, won't have to worry and cry no more
If you just send up my baby man, Lord I won't have to worry and cry no more
Don't have to bring to my house, Lord won't you leave her up at my door

Of course symbolism is required in connecting Chaneyville to that song.

A few places still retain the grandness that was once Cheneyville.
Things are so bad even the jail left town.
The countryside elevated my spirits.
The Bayou Boeuf Road came next.. Take it and it goes to US 167.
My first ride report was conceived along its curves while atop the curvacious Mz.Guzzi.
No symbolism needed.
I caught  up.
Was this where S.La. met C.La?
Obviously the boundary is gerrymandered.
The 4 lane was coming up. After LeCompte  (50mph) I could light it up to 65 and beat Mr. Tankie Train
 to the Alexandria yard. It's a game. Games make other stuff happen.
Without a game I'd be here with nothing to type.
This old farm house sits in south LeCompte between the n/s lanes.

Cotton Gin.
Cool it!  Don't become a part of the Lecompte budget.
Colonel Lea's red Studebaker is still there. Lunch was not served. I was early.
Time to get it on.
At Smith Smith's LeMourie Locks, I had the engines in sight. What locks?

Just before entering the Alexandria yard.
Above is where you see "David".
Below is where you see "Sugar House".
This was his nest.
More corporate architecture.

A traffic controller stood ready.
My visit was brief. I'd been here before.  I couldn't make a difference, so I left.
I exited Alexandria south. I think this had been Effiie's Restaurant, once a landmark in Alexandria.
or, Effie's is gone and this was a truck stop.
I crossed the US 71 rail  bridge. Those rails are headed to Lake Charles.
Those are headed to Livonia.
The Willow Glen Junction is below the bridge.  We once stayed at the Willow Glen Courts.
I may remember train noises.
That's Eye 49 down there.
At LSU-A, I headed east to La.1.
I wanted to do some Kansas City Southern, Edenborn's route.

Looking into the yard a high tech switch stands ready.
This pictures could be from 1960 or 1860.
Careful observation will render that statement false.
So I started the KCS search at their "yard". OO-L had written an explanation on yard philosophy.
I understood him to say that KCS did not use large yards in their plan.
What I saw was proof of that.  This "yard" had been moved from downtown Alexandria when
the Edenborn bridge was removed.
What follows is a series of track pictures. Their locations are meaningless.
Apply the earlier stated "tree" thesis.
Some of these sidetracks may have been for depots.  They appear presently unused.
I take shots of street signs so I can tell the difference.
My trained eye renders these photos valuable.

I was tempted to shop.
Here's a keeper.
If I hadn't gone down this road to get a rail shot .....
I would have missed the only KCS traffic of the day.

Excited, I'd follow the rails from Echo to La.114........
on this "road". I was committed or should be. The dried dirt road had a very uneven surface.
My bike's quickness and ability to span long distances between fill ups contributed
nothing here. The DR would have laughed at this.
It was grit your teeth time.
This is where stuff happens.
That is some kind of preordained riding law.
I did not reach the appointed speed.
But: Commitment pays.
Things went uphill after the trestle.
Hitting La.114 it was eastward ho.
Then I came to this place.

A sign of what is to come and what  has already come, obviously.

This is one of the most picturesque rail crossings in Louisiana.
It is over Bayou Choctaw.
Catching a train atop it will be a feat.

The Roy Store at Hessmer is gone.
The depot may  have been there.
The old bank is still standing.
Edenborn named the town.
This is not one, but for a while I was behind a truck carrying sweet potatoes.
Try frying sweet potato french fries. They are candy.
At Mansura I didn't recognize the old depot.
At Mansura I got shamefully lost. The town is segmented.
It was a cross tracks town.

This house has seen a lot .......
.... from its side of the tracks.
The tower is what remains of its semaphore.
I continued and chose to go under the La.1 rail bridge.

I would have missed this prize.
Then I saw it. I'd never seen it before. It is the Bayou Des Glaises rail bridge at Moreauville.
It is a turntable type because steamboats once plied the bayou.
There was another one at Big Bend.  Was this one built by Edenborn, also?
I say it was.

It was larger.

 It took Edenborn's rails to Naples where there
was a ferry which crossed the Mississippi River.

Nearing Simmesport a KCS caboose serves as a welcome center.

The Black Monolith.
Hairy arm and the Black Monolith.

That is old La.1 going under the Morganza levee.
It emerges below.

That arm is fanny white.  I lost my bathing suit modeling job and let the tan thing go.
A large amount of property is set aside for flood control.

Morganza High (not in session)
The mystery depot.
I never got any help on its origin. I keep going by to see if someone is there to ask.
I think it came from Morganza.
I'd done a lot of KCS track and not seen a train. I think business is down on those rails.
At Livonia it was quiet, too. Maybe Friday begins the weekend.
LZ was wondering if the Stuckey's was still at Lottie.  Yes, they have not changed locations.
At Krotz Springs I tried a few shots of the old rail bridge.

A little zooming.
  Do 45 mph or contribute to the KS budget.
Looking west from KS.
This was cute. It was a "Rail in Service" sign surrounded by blinking LED lights run off of a solar panel.
It blinks all the time which renders it meaningless to an easily forgetful public.
Or, it will be stolen and end up at some camp with "Rail" replaced with "Bar" or "Husband".
Getting focuses, I moved on.
Fittingly, I finally saw a train trying to make haste home.
This was at Port Barre.
There it went.
And that's it.