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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

A Presentation of Louisiana Truck Parts, Broussard, La.

Frankly, I needed a sponsor. Gas is getting expensive and there is little reward for my work.
La. Truck Parts came to the rescue.  They are good people. If you need a over drive sensor  for you Peterbuilt, they have it.  

Here goes the first LaTP ride report.

The sky was blue. Did you know it was blue? I'd forgetten.
The container train was on the side at Cade.
The Sunset Limited was on time. 
And I really couldn't have given a damn.
I'd lost it. I wondered why I was here.
I wanted to go home.
I dried my eyes and went to New Iberia.
I did a u-turn and wondered why  I was there.
I rode back to Cade and wondered why.
Then I remembered not wanting to be in New Iberia.
The train was coming. I'd go north and if I caught it, fine. 
If not, fine.
What did it matter?

 The container train did its best to cheer me up.
Most of the time it does.
It reminds me of Easter Eggs on  Mardi Gras floats.
Matson is an old west name.
Bart Matson was a famous gun fighter as was Doc Hollywood.
Western movies are my favorites.
 The new cars at north NI didn't cheer me up.
I knew there was no hope.
My enthusiasm for trains was gone.
 As I sit here I'm giving it one more try. Still, nothing.
No tingle at all.
 On the north side of Broussard I tried taking pictures of power poles.
I did get a little tingle from that.
As I panned down to get the rest of the pole what should appear.
 Here, my new hobby and my old one converged.
I became confused torn by forces out of my control.
 OK, I will grant you that my heart rate did rise a bit when they tooted at me.
I wondered what number the second bore.
Addictions.  They are the Devil's work.
 I stepped back.
 I had to whip around quickly.
Amtrak had sent its Number 1 engine to cheer me up.
 I stepped back.

I posted these pictures on one of those sites where everything that ever rolled on rails has a picture.
I was thinking maybe I had the only shot of AMTK 1 since one is one.
Who should respond but Rufus Jagneaux of La. Truck Parts.
He said he'd pay my gas if I included his sign in each of my pictures.
That's easy and for free gas, that's a gas.

While I was on that site with all the pictures I did find that No. 1, if the same one, has been around a while and that these guys beat me to it. But still, those are their shots and I  have my own. Not everyone can say that.
Remember, you can click the pictures and hope your screen doesn't blow  up because they are really really big.
Seems like Rufus and these guys have a deal going too.

A Good Buzz Off a 45

"A 45" at one time was short for a Colt 45 Malt Liquor.  They came in 16 or 24 ounce  chilled cans at times hidden  in humidity soaked brown paper bag as if that was going to conceal the fact that you were getting loaded on the most powerfully  intoxicating beer known to man. It might make your day but more likely it  would make you pay.

In the very early 70's two friends and I were out for a putt. We found ourselves on north Moss St. Moss St., at that time was "the country" and it was one 90 degree turn after another. It was hot and being us we each got a 24 oz can of the above mentioned beverage. Ah, instantly we joined the great riders of the era. Throwing our cans in the trash we mounted our steeds. The hot dog of the bunch, Warren Jackson, was on his highly tweaked Yamaha RD 350, a version of which had or was about to win the Daytona 200. Warren was a great amateur rider and for us to keep up with him, Ronnie on his Norton 750 and I on my 650 Triumph,  was senseless, though we probably tried, senses be damned.  Warren took off in a blaze touching his knee to the ground in the first left turn and  then he straightened up and did the same thing in the next right-hander.  Then, he and the bike went 10 feet into the air and I do believe I heard screaming.  He had hit a patch of gravel and then caught traction which resulted in what we motorcycle riders refer to as a "high side", and he and it sure went high. It would not be the last time I would think him dead. Finally, he, at 60, did die, leading the pack.

A "45" had one saving grace. It really didn't taste good  and your conscious drinking time got over quickly so it was not a good party drink unless the parties you went to were on the order of Animal House. It may still be the poor man's tequila as the result of drinking it is similar. I've done a study.

As I can recall, I never did  a buzz inducing "45" again  until today.  When I rolled into the driveway after this ride my trip meter showed exactly 45 miles. That was from the point I saw the  train at Cade to turning the key off while savoring a pretty good chase buzz.  You don't think I do this to take pictures, do you?  The pictures are so I can remember the high. I sure wish I had a pocket sized digital camera in the 70's. But then the shots might hold up in court.

These shots won't. They are sadly just pictures of a train I chased after giving it a 5 mile lead. The one really funny thing on the ride was this race I had with this jerk in a white car. They all look alike so the color is more of a significant description than any other.

Anyway, he'd race ahead and get stopped at the light where I'd choose the lane with fewer cars and putt putt past his stopped self. I don't exceed the speed limit. It is a rule of the game I play.  He did by a lot. That went on between Broussard and Lafayette where I passed him before turning west on US 90.

Driving like an idiot will buy you a few minutes, or possibly eternity or eternity for some other poor person and a jail cell for you which will feel like eternity.

My buzz may be wearing off. Better look at the pictures.

The first 2 shots were taken over my right shoulder as I rolled toward New Iberia.
That is why you see more engines in the second picture.
I knew you were going to ask.

 I should take all my shots over my shoulder. They would be better.
It was going slow.
I wanted to hit New Iberia as I'd heard a train going that way evidently behind the Norfolk.
I did find out it was 3 L&D engines  running light back to NI.
 Along the way there were several instances of BNSF crews working on the signal boxes.
 After flipping around in NI I caught the three amigos headed to the L&D barn. 
 I have no idea what that BNSF crew up ahead in the truck was doing.
In the middle of the big turn west in Lafayette I caught the Norfolks stopped.
 I had to lower my shoulder for this shot.
Doing so caused the throttle to advance which ...
... well .... it wasn't pretty.
 At Cameron / Mudd she sat.
Of interest to me is that those dump cars were "Norfolk & Western".
Now, there's some history.
It is like us seeing Santa Fe or Southern Pacific cars in this area.
The Norfolk and Western Railway (reporting mark NW), was a US class I railroad, formed by more than 200 railroad mergers between 1838 and 1982. It was headquartered in Roanoke, Virginia for most of its 150-year existence. Its motto was "Precision Transportation."

NW was famous for manufacturing steam locomotives in-house at the Roanoke Shops as well as their own hopper cars. Around 1960, NW was the last major American railroad to convert from steam to diesel motive power.

In December 1959 NW merged with long-time rival Virginian Railway (reporting mark VGN) in the Pocahontas coal region. Later it grew larger by merging with other railroads including Nickel Plate Road and Wabash to form a system serving 14 US states and the Canadian province of Ontario. It extended from the Atlantic Ocean to the Mississippi River and Great Lakes. At the end of 1970 N&W operated 7,595 miles (12,223 km) of road on 14,881 miles (23,949 km) of track, including the Pittsburgh & West Virginia Railroad (P&WV) but not including the Akron, Canton and Youngstown Railroad (AC&Y), Chesapeake Western Railway (CHW), the Dereco railroads, Lorain & West Virginia Railroad (L&WV), New Jersey, Indiana and Illinois Railroad (NJI&I) and Norfolk, Franklin and Danville Railway (NF&D). In 1965, the Nickel Plate Road merged with the Wheeling and Lake Erie which in 1966 then merged into Norfolk and Western lines. Norfolk and Western by 1970, controlled rail lines from North Carolina North to New York and Virginia West to Illinois.

In 1982 NW merged with the Southern Railway, another profitable carrier, to form the Norfolk Southern Corporation (NS), but it continued paper operations until it was merged into the Norfolk Southern Railway in 1997.
 At the Underpass it was stopped. 
I heard that there was some problem with the signal or switch
which  would not let them into the yard.

 I crossed the tracks near the 902 switch and shot east toward the waiting engines.

 I rolled into the yard and took a few shots of the Easter Eggs.
 A replacement crew waited in the "limo".  Another "limo" waited to take the spent crew back home.
 This area of the yard is called "The Flag Pole" for obvious reasons if you look hard. This was once a 
public road.  It connects with US 90 at what  was the Sunbeam Bakery. 
I spent 8 months incarcerated in that roach dump.
I think it is where I started hating unions.
They struck and closed the business and all those ignorant jerks were out of a job.

 I knew she'd be coming so I headed east.
 I know they were glad their time was up.
Mine was too. I was getting hungry.

 Mz Utah was content sitting in her padded bleacher seat on the BR.
She'd just let all those others do ..... and all that jazz.
I think she had a large wet brown paper bag in her hand.
And, I might have heard a dainty burp .....
.... and a Bo Diddley song.
Down by the tracks in McComb, Mississippi.
I'm sure Jerome, his maraca man, and the Duchess,  his gorgeous sister,
are with him.

2010 Ralph Smith Smith and the Red River Railroad

In LeCompte, La.

That's the short story on the railroads temporary demise.
While looking for something else, I found this in "Louisiana:
A Guide to the State", by the Louisiana's Writer's Project.
I was looking for "Natchitoches Railroad", yet another
project. This is part of an explanation of what lead up to
the Battle of Mansfield, a Civil War landmark battle.
Here's is the down and dirty of the RRRR's fate.

I was told that this is the RRRR's depot in LeCompte, La.
It now serves some civic function.

I suppose the railroad was rehabilitated after the CW
since he sold it in 1881. Or possibly it was only a property
sale? Possibly that information will just show up?

The information did just show up. Patrick Jacob sent this in.
This comes from the ICC valuation records:
"On March 6, 1878, the roadbed of the Red River Railroad Company between Alexandria and Le Compte, La., about 16 miles, was purchased for a cash consideration of $5000, conditional upon this company utilizing the roadbed by laying iron upon it. On January 5, 1881, the property, rights, and franchises of the New Orleans, Baton Rouge and Vicksburg Railroad Company were purchased."
I suspect - but don't have evidence to back it up - that they only used the roadbed from Alexandria to LaMourie and at LaMourie laid out a new roadbed to the east of the old.
This comes from the New York Times dated 12/11/1881:
"Shreveport, La., Dec. 11. The last rail on the New-Orleans Pacific Railway between Shreveport and Cheneyville was laid at 1-13 to-day. This gives an all-rail route hence to New-Orleans, by connecting with Morgan's Line at Cheneyville. Forty-two miles of the New-Orelans Pacific remain yet to be completed below Cheneyville."
This comes from a "Caddo Parish" history web site
"Trains also ran from Shreveport to New Orleans. In 1880 Jay Gould, the chairman of the board of Texas & Pacific, along with Thomas A. Scott, the president of the railroad, began negotiating to complete a railroad between Shreveport and New Orleans. On April 3, 1880 they made a proposal to E. B. Wheelock, the president of the New Orleans Pacific Railway, to complete the New Orleans Pacific line from the Texas-Louisiana border to New Orleans. The line then opened from Shreveport to Provencal on May 1, 1881 and to Cheneyville on May 1, 1882, and finally to New Orleans on September 12, 1882. The first train on the tracks was the Louisiana. This wood burning locomotive had a diamond-shaped smokestack and was painted bright red with brass inlays."
This comes from "Alexandria Burns" web site
"Giles Smith also saw a man set fire to the car house of the Ralph Smith-Smith railroad nearby."
This comes from Railway Locomotives & Cars, Vol. 5:
"4. The Atchafalaya railroad is intended to connect Opelousas with the Mississippi and afterward to extend to the Sabine - the lst line being 30 miles and the whole 150. It will have a branch to Cheneyville and thence to Alexandria on the Red River. - The cost will be $500,000.
5. The Red River railroad is an adjunct of the latter for the purpose stated, for which a company has been incorporated with a capital of $500,000. The route has been surveyed and the line is under contract."
I'm not sure if this is one and the same and Ralph Smith-Smith's line - I think probably not and that it refers to the Opelousas to Chenneyville branch that ultimately ended up being part of the Southern Pacific.
This comes from Louisiana - A Guide to the State, page 242 concerning General Banks' damming of the Red River to escape the our boys:
"... Finally the idea of damming the Red River was conceived. Cotton gins, sugar houses, and other structures were demolished to provide materials; and rails, cross ties, bridge timbers, and rolling stock of the Red River Railroad were dismantled and dumped into the river. ..." Damn Yankees!
Then from page 665 concerning LeCompte:
"In the early days slaves poled clumsy barge loads of sugar up Bayou Boeuf, a stream winding lazily through the town. The sugar was then carried by the Ralph Smith-Smith Railroad, built in 1837, one of the earliest railroads in the South. It consisted of a string of small cars drawn by horses over wooden rails and connected Lecompete and Bayou Boeuf with Alexandria and the Red River."
I've got a feeling the railroad improved a bit from this description until it was destroyed during the War of Northern Agression.
See if you can locate these books:
Sugarcane, Cotton Fields, and High Water: Building the Louisiana Branch of the Texas and Pacific Railroad Nathaniel Means
Louisiana History: The Journal of the Louisiana Historical Association
Vol. 45, No. 4 (Autumn, 2004), pp. 445-461
(article consists of 17 pages)
Published by: Louisiana Historical Association

A Small Contribution: Louisiana's Short Rural Railroads in the Civil War
Lawrence E. Estaville, Jr.
Louisiana History: The Journal of the Louisiana Historical Association
Vol. 18, No. 1 (Winter, 1977), pp. 87-103
(article consists of 17 pages)
Published by: Louisiana Historical Association
There should be some good information in them!
I've got to get back to my day job!

Addis to Alexandria

 I was incorrect. OO-L quickly corrected. I had known that the statement was chancy at best and based on a single reading of factual information he had taken the time to painstakingly explain. His ire came swiftly as if a ruler across the knuckles.  You don't write your version of history in The Agent's classroom.
  I had said that the Avoyelles Sub. which I had heard mentioned on the radio concerning overturned cars had stretched from Addis (Baton Rouge Jct) to Alexandria.
His reply:
The Avoyelles Subdivision never went to Alexandria, but I'll be glad to assist with any historical questions that you might have.
This write is built on my understanding of his contributions.

I have hesitated in writing this one. An explanation of the history behind the stretch of rails between Addis, south of Baton Rouge, La., and Alexandria, La., far north of Baton Rouge, is complicated.  You can tell me stuff until the cows come home, but unless it is visual, I conflate easily.  Colors bleed  colors and I am left overdosed and  prone on a levitating and falling floor strone  with the names and locations of all that is railroading
floating about.

 Writing it out is how I assimilate. That has been forever.
It is the only way to keep my mind from wandering out 
the window and imagining the pleasures beyond.
You may want to copy in long hand what is below
if you are prone to window wandering.

Why should I give a hoot about the rails between Addis and Alexandria?  I'll stop there because I know what your next question is, "Why should I give a  hoot about any rails"?

My answer is that I like history, but that is not enough for me. The academics of railroad history are as dry as the Texas sand. Tracking those tracks breathes life into the history. When you are out there you know that the ghosts and ghost trains are all around. I've heard and seen them  amongst the colors of .....

I have attempted  tracking those KCS rails on several occasions. On both  no trains were met except at the small Kansas City Southern yard south of Alexandria.   Interestingly, there were a couple of Mexican engines there.

  A contributor  had commented that traffic on those rails was meager.  Optimistically, he did gather the preparatory information for a chase, but arriving at Lobdell Jct. at 7:00 AM would require a level of dedication I have not yet achieved.  First, I would have to awake .... and then .... and then ....

Oops, my concentration was interrupted by domestic duties. Can I regain focus?

Addis to Alexandria

The easiest way of doing this is to present the facts if I have them right.

In 1903, the Texas & Pacific Railroad's New Orleans Division, in part, operated the rails from Addis, then called Baton Rouge Junction, to Torras Junction.
Lots of maps will follow.
Green to dark green is the route of the New Olerans Division of the T&P RR
north of Addis.
Dark green depicts the abandoned T&P rails from Lettsworth to Torras Junction.
Light green depicts the rails as they are today.
The red line, from the river east, was Edenborn's second LR&N route
across the Torras Peninsula, after the Naples route was abandoned.
The T&P created  Torras Junction.
Actually a "junction" takes at least two and I'm not sure who was there first.
That entity would not be the junction maker as he would be alone.
The second to the party would be the one to consummate the junction.
Employees of both companies worked at Torras Jct.
I did a report on a T&P RR employee and his son.
A memento of the son's  Torras days was a L&A RR calendar.

Since I mentioned the Texas and Pacific's part in this scheme, here is a schedule.

From Here.
 1903 Schedule

It was suggested that it might help to show with colors the historic rail lines
 1. Lettsworth toward Ferriday,
That is done above.
2. Bunkie-Moreauville
 That is done below. 
This area is so deep in railroading history that comprehension should be addressed.
00-L mentioned that I should make sure you understood everything.
I fear he might be trusting a knife in a gun fight.
3. The purple line was the T&P's Avoyelles Branch  (Moreauville-Bunkie). It is now abandoned.
OO-L: states:
 The Moreauville-Bunkie segment and its branch to Marksville undoubtedly
were the origin of the term "Avoyelles Sub".
But ..... OK, let's push on.

The purple line originating on its west end at Bunkie connected with Moreauville.
The rails between Moreauville and Simmesport were owned by the the Texas and Pacific RR.
That is a flaw in the map below. That stretch should be T&P green.
As he states, the Avoyelles Branch had a spur north to Marksville

He continues:
4: LR&N/L&A segments (Moreauville-Naples and Simmesport-Filston).....
The Moreauville to Naples route (Edenborn's first) (brown line) required traversing the Red River, Old River and the Mississippi to reach Angola. That is the brown route.
Simmesport (Legonier) to Filston (Phillipston) (Torras Landing) (Incline) is shown below in red.
You can see that both of Edenborn's attempts sought to achieve an Angola landing though those
landing spots may have been different to coordinate with the routes.

Now that you have an idea of who owned what,  lets go on.
00-L continues:

The Lobdell Junction-Lettsworth (originally Lobdell Junction-Torras) (green) trackage rights were obtained when the Baton Rouge bridge replaced the Filston-Angola Ferry.
Me: that was approximately 1940.

 T&P's original role as landlord has passed down to UP.
Me: that is  because Union Pacific has bought up so many old name railroads.
What may not be common knowledge is that the  Texas & Pacific RR
was owned by the  Missouri Pacific RR.
When they were bought out by UP both entities were absorbed.

The current KCS route between Baton Rouge and Alexandria is a hodgepodge, cobbled together by KCS and its predecessors LR&N and L&A from lines that they built and trackage rights over scraps of various T&P lines as follows:

1. From Baton Rouge to Lobdell Junction,
not shown as I'm not clear on this.
I know KCS controls the rails over the Mississippi River Bridge at Baton Rouge.
2. From Lettsworth to Simmesport, shown below as the direct route between
Legionier and Lettsworth.

3. From Moreauville to Alexandria.
These are original to the KCS family.

The Simmesport-Moreauville trackage rights were obtained FROM THE  T&P RR to allow the  L&A to access the Simmesport bridge and replace LR&N's original Naples-Angola ferry with its Filston-Angola ferry.
Me: That portion is a mix of red and green.
(my previous coloring mistake)
They replaced the Big Bend Route: Moreauville to  Naples to Angola. It is seen in brown.

The T&P's Portion
   From Lobdell Junction to Lettsworth (green below), and from Simmesport to Moreauville (green/red above) were original to the T&P family. 
I am not certain of the current ownership status of the Moreauville-Simmesport segment.
OO-L said that UP could have sold it to KCS at some point, since there would be no obvious reason to keep it. 

History by OO-L

Several decades ago, the route between Lobdell Junction and  Moreauville was a "joint track operation" by MP and KCS.  This means that both ran trains on it, with each exclusively serving customers on its owned segments.
 The KCS used the route (as now) as part of its Shreveport-New Orleans main, with MP locals running Alexandria-Addis to serve its on-line customers (using above Moreauville the now-gone Bunkie-Moreauville segment and the Alexandria-Bunkie segment of the old T&P mainline.

During the joint-track times, each railway had exclusive rights to serve customers on its owned segments, with the other having only "overhead" trackage rights--meaning for through traffic only.  As local customers dried up, MP scaled back its service and scrapped Bunkie-Moreauville (map above).  For a time, it would run a local turn up to New Roads weekly or as-needed, but those eventually became unneeded and haven't run in years.

I'm certain that the Lettsworth-Lobdell Junction segment still belongs officially to UP.  Absolutely the only reason that UP didn't sell it to KCS years ago is the prospect that the major coal-fired power plant near New Roads (me: and the new bridge) might someday start receiving coal by rail.  (Currently, that coal is railed from Wyoming to St. Louis and barged from there.)  If that were to happen, UP would have exclusive rights to serve it, since the plant is on its rails and KCS's trackage rights are overhead.  Meanwhile, UP undoubtedly bills KCS for its share by use of all costs, taxes, etc. on the segment--which is 100-percent of it!  In reality, UP lets KCS do all maintenance and operation, with even the mileposting being numbered from Kansas City.
He offered up an example of the understanding between Union Pacific and the KCS.
Seems like the one that pays the bills writes the rule book..

Ancillary Information  by 00

KCS also has trackage rights on UP between Beaumont and Rosenberg and between Victoria and Robstown in Texas as part of its vital route to Mexico that's growing in traffic by leaps and bounds.  Conversely, UP has vital trackage rights on KCS between DeQuincy and Beaumont and on the Baton Rouge and Laredo bridges

But, did you notice, I'm still not clear on the location of the present day "Avoyelles Sub".
That out of the way, it will be time for a few pictures maybe tomorrow..

".....the name "Avoyelles Sub" is a UP term that descends from {the}T&P {RR}  It currently refers to the UP-owned track between Addis and Lettsworth, plus the UP transfer runs to CN that go across the KCS rails on the US 190 Mississippi River bridge by trackage rights (which replaced MP's ex-GCL Anchorage-Baton Rouge ferry).
Looking at KCS history, we see that the LR&N line between Shreveport and New Orleans first ran via that company's own rails and its Naples-Angola ferry.  LR&N became L&A, and the Simmesport combo highway-rail bridge came to be, which allowed L&A to get trackage rights on T&P from Moreauville to Simmesport and to move its west-bank ferry landing from Naples to Filston.  L&A became a KCS subsidiary, and when the US 190 bridge came to be, trackage rights were obtained on T&P to reach it from northern Pointe Coupee Parish.
Meanwhile, in the world of UP's predecessors, T&P was shedding itself of the line between Pointe Coupee Parish and Ferriday.  West of the Atchafalaya, it shed itself of the Simmesport-Melville line and made its eastern connection to its little Avoyelles Parish branches (Bunkie-Marksville-Moreauville) via trackage rights over KCS's L&A from Lettsworth.  It was undoubtedly during this time that the name "Avoyelles Sub" became en vogue for the T&P secondary route between Addis and Bunkie; and it has obviously continued to stick, even though MP pulled up its little Avoyelles Parish lines and embargoed its service above Lobdell Junction, leaving the line above that point about 99.44 percent in the hands of KCS.
Meanwhile, over in the KCS world, that railway's route between Latanier and New Orleans (which uses trackage rights over part of UP's Avoyelles Sub) is called the "New Orleans Subdivision."  KCS from Latanier to Shreveport is the Alexandria Subdivision.  KCS never had an Avoyelles Subdivision.
However, UP does use the name "Alexandria Sub" for its ex-T&P main line between Livonia Yard and Willow Glen Yard (in southern Alexandria).  The ex-T&P southeastward from Livonia to greater New Orleans is the Livonia Sub.  UP's ex-GCL/MP line westward from Livonia is the Beaumont Sub, and eastward it's the Anchorage Sub.
The ex-T&P line between Addis and Lobdell Junction does indeed belong to UP, which serves it exclusively.