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Following Louisiana's & Mississippi's Historic Railroads

Finding the Lumber Mill Railroads

Following the Historic Rails of Mississippi

Weekend Warriors

The term "Weekend Warriors" has borne a somewhat negative connotation for years.
I believe that term was  originally used to describe National Guard personal who would muster
on the weekends for training and were not considered "real soldiers" by the "regulars".
The term has transcended military usage and crept  into civilian dialect.
It conjures up visions of those that  "want to be this" and "want to be that", all amateurs,
  attempting to morph from Clark Kents into Supermen. Examples are endless.

My title has nothing to do with those  people.

One of my hobbies is to "chase" trains and to take their pictures.
It combines motorcycle riding, photography and a bit of "chess" and "poker".
It is a frivolous pursuit, probably more frivolous than what  most civilian "weekend warrior" do since
I'm not even trying to be something I'm not.
Possibly there is no known previous example of what I do the way I do it.

In any case, my title has nothing to do with me.
That title describes the people who work on the weekends and in this case, railroad people.

Take away their toil and our world would change.
Or economy cannot rest on the weekend.
These are a few shots I caught of them doing the dirty while we play.

I'll start with some of the local people I saw slugging it out in the Louisiana & Delta New Iberia Yard.
I spent 3 hours one afternoon watching cars being shuffled from one track to another. 
It was 100F.  The other extremes, cold, wind and rain dictate "just another day".
I was sitting and I thought I was going to die.
This  dance is a tough gig.

I ran into this crew  headed north to Lafayette.
They were running for cover because the folks of the Sunset Limited passenger train
and all of their guests were on their way west having departed New Orleans at about 9:00 this morning and
they were late.
These freight crews sit and sit to facilitate Amtrak.
There is a monetary agreement which demands this frustrating game.

I would go into New Iberia and then almost to Jeanerette trying to decide on a place to settle in.
I went back to New Iberia. The big curve north (coming from the east) is at Center St.
I'd set up shop leaning against the old store.

This youngster had earphones on and I could hear the music from where I was.
Could he hear the train when it rounded the blind corner behind him?
Weekends, holidays and summers present an added stress.
  I was glad that blood, guts and gore were not going to mess up my 
shots or cause the Amtrak crew to have to take the train to the car wash.

As soon as Madam Sunset exited her lights lit.
Understandably, the crew didn't stay long at the depot. 
A great philosopher once said, "Late trains get later".

 Had Jessee James tried stealing the mail?
That door must work flawlessly.
 Speaking of outlaws, this is a great over the shoulder shot.
Were the Pinkertons eying me?
 The crew stretched her out heading to Lafayette.
Can you imagine what they  have to endure dealing with their varied clientele?
My wife took a trip to San Antonio.
She described the crew as "patient".
Patients is a quality you extend to those who are operating beyond the realm of normal acceptability
in hopes that behavior ceases before your ability to manipulate and guide comes to a judicious response. .
I couldn't do it.  I'd throw the trash of which she spoke off the train in hopes of cleansing the gene pool.
 I caught the crew and guests at the station.
Behind the fence is the old concourse.
I've seen meals delivered here in the afternoon.
Granted, possibly some of this "weekend warrior" stuff isn't so bad.
 Marlene was in the cab. She's an EIT (engineer in training)
I could hear her counting cars in her cheerful chippy voice.
She probably wasn't thinking about this being the weekend,
and if she was, she probably thought it was a great one.
She was probably having a blast. They probably let her honk the horns.
This is a landmark, a good one for the eastbound. Not so good for the westbound.
There they went.
The most common closing I hear between the dispatcher and crew, or between crews, is,
"Have a safe trip".
To quote The Clash, "This ain't no disco, this ain't no fooling around".
In this world if Jessee James was the only threat, "safe" would be a lot more simple.

I was headed home to check if the baseball game was on.
Or, we'd watch a movie.
But, as usual, I'd do one more pass down the rails to New Iberia.
That stretch of rails, to use the popular TV show, "Pickers", lingo,
is a honey hole for train watchers, chasers and other goofy trainiacs.

Earlier, I'd gone by the yard.
I saw these guys waiting.
They wait a lot.
Sometimes their "hours" run out and they are left in the middle of nowhere  where a
driver of unknown ability picks them up and they have to ride for hours back to where they started.
I once saw two competing driers square off. The woman won.
That puts another spin on, "Have a safe trip".
 I was headed back to New Iberia when I reconsidered. 
The weather was nice. Very nice.
Bad weather does not like nice weather
And beats it up profoundly.
I did not want to be in the ring when the bell wrung.
 I headed back north to Broussard.
I think the engineer  knew me or some kid was playing with the horns.
Surprisingly, they don't call the police on me anymore.
 They were headed into it. I was running in the other direction.

That's the difference between us and  them.
They are the Weekend Warriors.

Still Some Go on the GMO

I had no targets, no destination, no requirements.
Then why did I make the beginning of the ride so 
hard by going down the Gravel Road from Hell?
And look at the gps in the upper left hand corner.
 I had that much more to go.
It was a sea of gravel.
Ok, you don't understand not being familiar with motorcycles.
Try this on your bicycle.
Saying  goodbye to that was a celebration.
Then I saw a fella riding a BMW with a sidecar.
I caught him and we talked for a few minutes.
It wasn't a BMW. It was a Ural, a Russian rig.
He offered to trade for my bike. I almost bit. Now I'm sorry I didn't. 
The sidecar alone would have bought my bike.
I should have realized that this outing was going to be different.
 I reverted to my old formula of capturing the countryside before it is gone.

I was now hooked up with the Mississippi lanes. They are all paved.
Heading east I crossed the Bogue Chitto River.
I was approaching MS.Hwy.27, 25 in Louisiana coming out of Covington.
More lanes would follow. This is not gravel. Gravel was sworn off while on the semi crotch rocket.
"Crotch Rocket"?
For this presentation just assume that a gravel road is not its domain.
Then my innards began to scream. I had to get to the old GMO RR route above Bogalusa.
I was in the casino. I had to play the slots.
Could I catch a train on a Friday.
Friday was not a likely day, it seemed.

Cheraw is in the lower right corner. I was headed north to Foxworth.
You will remember some of the places shown  below later on.

Mile Post 102
The route going north is uphill.
US 98 just south of Foxworth
Above Foxworth the tracks have to hug the shore of the Pearl River because the relief
becomes so dramatic as the runoff from the uplift flows east to the Pearl.R.
In Foxworth I talked to two Maintenance of Way workers.
Half joking I asked if the Bogalusa train was running.
They said that it was and would be here about 1:00.
I could not believe my ears.
I told them of my 10 year search.
Their eyes got big as they hurried the process of leaving.

I rode up the rails to Morgantown.
Nothing inspired me about the setting so I turned back south to find a better place.
Besides, busy places make me nervous.
This was the depot area at Morgantown.
I don't think it was recently demolished.

I knew a trestle that had possibilities.
The road name was "Whistle".
Had it been a "whistle stop".
I like to shoot modern shots in historic places.
It would be my chase's start.
I had read that the rails had a slow speed limit. 
My enemy would not be speed but patience on this one, 
and, it was getting warm.
Possibly there would be little traffic to disturb me.
Wrong.  There were cars passing this loitering old man the entire time I was there.
One stopped and asked if I was OK. 
I explained that I was waiting for a train.
He replied, "So , you're not OK", and sped away.
As you can tell, I was bored. I waited an hour.

A complete inspection was done.
I have no idea what that ledge is for.
There have been suggestions but
unless a pool was beneath, those were wrong.
Someone suggested they were escape locations.
I think they are too close to actually escaping if caught on the rails.
The adjoining back swamp was a bug breeder.
I had the Deep Wood Off with me and they fled, also.
Someone had measured only once and then cut. 
That beam was not as tightly fitted as I would like.
Whistle Road was gated. Why? It has been a while since they were closed.
I was preparing to leave when what would appear.
Giving up has paid off in the past.

A CN  led and another Canadian National trailed.  "GTW"  was written on it.
CLICK HERE for an explanation of that. The "GT" on the first engine reflects the same heritage.

CN now owns these rails which were once
the property of the GMO RR, possibly the first railroad of which I had any interest.
It was running much faster that expected.
I thought that "25" would be the limit.
No, she was doing every bit of 30, maybe 32.

The "race" was on. I caught it at the filling station in Foxworth.
Making sure I was on the right road, it is confusing, I shot south to the US 98 overpass.

Back at Mile Post 102 you will notice that
the train is coming out of the Pearl River Valley and climbing to higher ground.
This may be Ten Mile Creek above Cheraw, earlier pictured.
At this point the engineer knew the "game" was on and responded in happy toots.
OK, note that the building part is still on the train.
I waited at Sandy Hook but the wait got long and this was a populated neighborhood.
I don't linger long in such environments.
Old store on the old version of MS 35.

Next would be Angie.
Angie has a living museum I roamed at will while waiting for the slow train.
Was this a "railroad shanty" or "yard office".
And the depot, though locked, is still there.
Within are treasures.
And a caboose.
That's 84 miles to the original GMO depot in New Orleans.

The sign said, "Do not use". You have to tell SOME PEOPLE.

The chair tempted me. With my luck I would have broken it.
It has been there a while.
I did not want to leave a trail of destruction, this time.
I decided to move the bike to the depot.
I could not get a good angle from the store.
I peered into the bay window.
The lamps might only be a hint of what was within.
The light was not right. I was getting more reflection that inner view.
Why didn't I change windows?
Mush brain.

See that the window has slid down? The glass was glazed or dirty.
It was my peek hole. I could not see through it so I shot wildly.
"Conductor's Valve"  and "1994" now catch my eye.
I'll have to compare this picture with other caboose shots I have.
Show time!!

At Angie, the original first car was gone. It is a mystery where it was dropped.
How many times has this scene been repeated?
Not that many with CN cars.
Next stop was Varnardo.

These shots were taken where you see the name of the town.
The only two really old buildings I can find are in these shots.
This has to be the depot area.
Next, finally, thank goodness, I was hot and tired and ready to get it done.
I turned off of La.21 onto Mitch St., the beginning of the Bogalusa Rairoad Tour.
The Tractor Museum is the first POI
The lumber mill and yards are directly below.

The freight depot adjoins it on the north side.
There is no good place on the west side to catch the train crossing the high and  long trestle across
the Boga Lusa Creek. The descent down would have been treacherous.
I was not up for treachery.

I returned to the station and settled on that spot.
It was Plan B but the shots worked out.

But, I would not give up.
I hustled and crossed a parking lot to avoid a red light.
My plan worked and I almost caught the water crossing
but this would do nicely.
It was taken as I sat at a red light just north of the mill.
I'd go straight to the yard.
Could I make it?
No train. Had it gone to another location.
Was this the anticlimactic end?
No. It was the grand finale.
The last of my battery took this parting shot.
I had no idea I'd gotten these last 2 after discovering the next was impossible.
That's it. The GMO from Bogalusa to Whistle Rd is done.