I took several shots of this scene. The truck never moved. I would find out why.
I crossed La.1 bridge, very slowly. That was not a good thing. The wind was blowing hard. Most of our big rivers run north to south. The wind blows, usually, on that axis. Riding a motorcycle in a crosswind is easier than holding it up while stopped. The bridge was using only one lane and I was stopped a while, using my legs as outriggers as I held the handlebars in a death grip. If my tentative back had given, neither would have done any good. I was glad when our turn came. Down the the ramp I went, soon turning north on La.418. A sad note, the old sharecropper homes are now gone, all except for one that the land owner kept as a camp. I have pictures of when it was a home. That was also very sad.
Climbing back up the levee, I stopped and took this picture of the 3 remaining supports of the long removed Texas and Pacific bridge that carried the rails which had come north from Lettsworth, passed across Torras Junction, and run through Torras at the water's edge.
I have never ridden La.15 aware of the old railroad bed. It is there and extremely visible. Checking it out as I rode along would add yet another facet to this great La. ride.
It was "in use".
Just up the road is the old "Old River Control" structure. It was looking tired and shabby.
Were these vultures getting the same feeling?
I worked my way toward the end of the "low sill" structure. I had noticed some streamlets flowing on the dry side and wondered if the Corps was starting to let water through. This is the wet side.
Looking out on Old Man River is a poignant moment.
Take that moment to hum along with Roger McGuinn:
"The river flows
I dropped down to rail level and shot this at a water crossing.
Next was this. My wife says they are possibly coreopsis, spelling?
The river soon goes one way and 15 the other.
At Deer Park, they would rejoin. Here are a few more pictures from this perch.
Looking north, Wet Side:
Looking south Dry Side:
Soon I was in Deer Park, actually, it was further than "soon".
I had suspected this.
Those are not twin boat launches. They are roads leading to a community that surrounds a commercial campground.
On a past trip, I'd found this old steamboat near the campground. I wonder if it was anchored? Now I know how it got "on shore".
Back up on the levee, I rode north. Nearing the next descent from the levee, watching the old rail bed I saw this farm and some interesting out buildings and tank construction. The tanks reminded me of what I'd seen on the T&P stretch from Melville to Simmesport. There had been a similar tank configuration which Everette had recognized as part of an alien landing zone. I don't know where he gets those ideas from? The grassy looking area is the rail bed. Funny how their mark never goes away. Those rails were ripped up almost 70 years ago.
Soon after leaving the farm, I left La.15 which was headed to Ferriday. I'd catch up with it after visiting Vidalia and Natchez. That will be on the next page which I'll get to, probably, tonight, if I'm not in the hospital with my back. If this writing has seemed more drugged out than usual, there's a reason.
The bell is for those who can't get their kids to come home for supper. Those cement blocks sure do look like they were the base for a tower of some sort. Maybe a water tower? Dr.Baronet?
It reads, "This gin plant equipped with Continental Lint Cleaners". He had pointed out that the gin at Lewisburg used the same equipment. In the future, hopefully I can get him to do an article on LC's. I may not have enough pages left.
Consider yourself lucky to have gotten the last few pictures. The rails to the ferry were just up ahead and I was anxious. I figured the location of the ferry yard would be on private property and be totally inaccessible.
Arriving at the point where the rails cross the highway, I turned into what is now a campground. The driveway was sitting on the rail bed.
I was red lining. I looked at the GPS, then I looked at the surroundings, trying to put the two together. The road curved around and ended pointed toward the bridge up river. I figured I was at the switch where the engine would pull forward and back the cars onto the ferry. That is the yellow post at left.
This is a better shot of the park and back section.
Next I'd try to find anything on this side that looked like it was part of the operation. I saw nothing, but that means nothing since I'm pretty blind. Next, I'd zoom to the other shore, constantly trying to imagine the past. Remember, the river is extremely high and there may be a whole layer of what I was looking at submerged. I think that either its location is underwater or has been destroyed by the excavation that is going on. This may be the last you see of the remnants of the ferry operation near the bridge, where the old software shows the landing point. I'm convinced that the excavation has taken the landing area.
This is near the bridge, the approximate location of the landing. You can see that it has been destroyed. The fine black line marks the existing rails that go down to the lumber yard and south. They were the highest level of the operation.
This shows the second tier of rails where the pull out engine would have backed the cars. I think there was a rail configuration where an engine could pull around a line of parked cars. The switchback is seen in front of the lumber yard.
The rails continue south of the lumber yard where the 9 car sections could be reassembled there and drug in either direction. Accept all this as speculation.
Of course, the rails are a drawing. Without an imagination, you can't do this.
I decided to go over to Natchez. I shouldn't have since time was flying. I'll have to go back. Exiting the campground, what should I see? I wonder where they got all those rail ties?
Here's a plug for them since they were nice. Slots run 40 plus bucks per night. Historic Natchez is 5 minutes away, the casino, 2 minutes. Not bad considering the location. Then you can probably hear tugs all night. Or sit out by the river and imagine the past. An evening of river listening and watching would be a hoot.
The way west awaited.
I tried the hardest to get down to the incline level.
I either ran into danger or ominous signs. Here's one last map of the arrangement.
The dotted line is where I was able to go.
I was teased.
The rail goddess was being coy.
I heard the ferry landing.
Here's the ferry on the Louisiana side.
This is from "Trains Magazine" as were the pictures.
Across the bridge he carefully rode, acknowledging the wind and different styles of driving displayed in this no-man's land between the states. These places scream out, "Be yourself!". So if you really want to know a person's personality, ride with them across a bridge between two states. Our hero was the timid person going 40 in the passing lane, away from the rail. He tells me he never understood the finger gesture imitating the letter "I".
Next was to investigate the tracks in Vidalia. Could a station be found? Reflecting, it seems that a station, if there was one, would have been at the ferry landing, for several reasons. One would be that the landing was on high ground and why should there be multiple properties? Nevertheless, an inspection was done, not having thought much in transit.
The rails were seen, but as in most tracking the tracks pursuits, less than interesting pictures were taken.
Better sit down, here come some great ROW shots.
As far as RR stuff goes, that's it for Vidalia. Everett said, suddenly there is an eerie quite, more on what he said later.
Next stop, Ferriday. Ferriday is a mother load of history. Read this.
I have the FAIR book. It is a winner. I got mine for 25 bucks on Amazon. Lately it's running for 35. Demand? On the next page will be my pictures and more on Ferriday. Here's a map of the rail situation. I totally blew it. I missed "Milltown" and a probable depot location. I got turned north, thinking I was following the L&A. I was in the rear of the old downtown which seemed the place to be. I did get some good shots, but, I'll have to go back. (sound familiar, Andy?). Here's the map, yellow line is where I went. More later, the real world is calling.
I forgot to get a shot of the Delta Blues Museum this time around. I wanted to get that out first before I forget to tell you what I forgot. Also, I witnessed some black kids hassling an old one legged black man. Being politically correct, never, Ferriday seems to be the poster child for our failed welfare system. You know the details. The police showed up in a heartbeat. Social comment out of the way, back to railroads.
At the end of Ferriday St is La.568 aka 1st Street. The rails north had run alongside it. All the traditional evidence was there. Gorgeous.
Next was this place. I'm tempted to say it could have been a depot, I'll show you why I say that. It had a huge covered platform. It very much reminded me of the depot at Church Point, La.
These are pictures of the platform. Conscious of the thousands of railroad modelers and architectural historians that read this rag, this Bud's for you, Bud.
Note the wilted ceiling fan blades to the left. There were desk along the right side. Maybe outdoor concerts were held here after the demise of the rails and continued until the fans wilted. Northeast Louisiana gets hot.
I think I'm seeing what might have been where the scales were located?
Here's the first place I showed you from the front, taken from the second place I showed you.
This is a picture of the front of the second place I showed you (the platform building)
Across the highway was this, what I believe was a grocery store.
Zooming inside, these messages were painted on the back wall.
If not a grocery store, these messages might be considered troubling.
"Quality at a lower price", an idea whose time has passed.
Time to shake the blues.
Myer Discount House?
Feeling badly about not showing you the museum, here it is. Yea, you caught me it's
One more look downtown. The above shot and this one were taken on an earlier visit.
The Concordia Drugstore is gone. Serving out Green Stamps seems not to have worked.
I should have stopped, but the miles and time were adding up and I figured I still had a bunch of miles left and little time. Next trip, yea right.
About this time in the ride I started feeling a little down about the lack of inspiration. I hadn't realized I'm missed so much at Ferriday or I would have been really depressed. At least I could see the dead grass where the rail bed had been and an occasional bump on the few gravel roads leaving US 84. Then, POW! The rail gods knew I was hurting and let a bolt of railroad evidence fly to Earth.
I passed it and alarms went off. I had learned while following the S&P north out of Gueydan that there were instances where these rail fossils were perpetuated, locked in cement, safe from the ripper's crane. There it was, right off US 84. I shot about 20 pictures of it. I figured another angle would be appreciated.
Here's where to stop, bring plenty of film.
I was nearing Jonesville. Here in Louisiana we have Jonesville, Jonesboro, Winnfield, and Winnsborro. I have yet to visit Winnsborro. The similarities confuse me constantly. You know how aggravating it is when a disliked song sticks in your head all day. That's close to the aggravation I have with those names. I know, too much information.
Hey, you still have that crying towel out? (I'd use mine, but....that stinking old stiff thing is still lying on the floor next to the pile of beer cans and empty potato chip bags, yea, the one with the Saints logo on it). It seems I really blew Jonesville just like Ferriday. I ride an old beat you to hell motorcycle almost 150 miles to investigate a couple of tiny towns using high tech equipment which has all the ability I lack, and I didn't think to look at it. I may resign. When you become delusional and can't think straight, like Speechless Pelosi, you should resign.
The rails had come to a wye. What had been in that open space? I'd say a mill, but I have reservations. From the wye the rails had proceeded almost to the Little River. You can see where I went around in circles instead of studying the GPS which has this same map on it. I fear I'm losing it. I don't drink enough water and I was probably dehydrated. Whew, finding excuses is getting hard. I'm stumbling over my words. Where are my notes? Did Barack take them?
I now see the water tower had something else written on it .......lock. Maybe "Last one out of town, lock the door". That was terrible, I will now submit a pre-apology. It's like I'll be sorry if I have to be. Come on, how many times have you done pre's in your mind, just in case?
Foster Walgreen Agency / Prescriptions Filled.......
Not that far off 84, near the library, I found this.
Being that everything around was flat, I believe this is what the vague marker was referring to.
Putting white cemeteries atop Indian mounds seems to have been a practice. I think flooding was a problem and floating caskets are hard to round up, don't we know. The Indian mound near Frogmore has one on top of it. Hope everyone is getting along. There I go. I really don't know if the mounds were burial sites or trash piles. I think they were trash piles. You hear about old broken stuff being found in them all the time.
What's the problem with those pictures? What do you get from them? I'm a little opinionated so I'll cool it. I don't think people who do informative travelogues should rattle off their personal agendas.
This seems to be of the north side of the Little River. My map calls this community "Trinity". Hey, you remember that movie, "They Call Me Trinity"? Pretty funny. I'm just guessing,
I don't remember a thing about it.
This is a picture of where I was. I believe the road going into the river was not a boat launch, but the ferry landing for El Camino Real, US 84.
All of theses pictures were done as if looking from the east bank of the Black River.
Panning south, this is the next group of buildings.
mill and eight years later the Tall Timber mill was added to the fold.
Submitted by Jack Willis
When the Louisiana & Arkansas and Missouri Pacific jointly constructed a branch line, which paralleled this proposed route a few miles to the south in 1913, there was no further reason to push T&G tracks toward the east. T&G eventually tied a spur line into the L&A near Georgetown, La. for marketing purposes to the eastern markets. While T&G's tracks stretched in four directions through the woods, Winnfield (which had a population of 3,000 in 1920) was the only real town of any size on the line, the main shops were removed from Eros to Winnfield in 1918. The Eros sawmill closed in 1926. T&G's mileage dropped from 98.5 miles in 1915 to 66.6 by 1920. Thus began the decline of the once grand railroad. The following observation by an unknown author best sums the demise of the logging railroads: "The train passed by one morning; I saw it go out. When it came back it was pulling up the tracks and ties and loading them on the flat cars the engine was pulling. Soon the train was out of sight and the railroad was gone".
T&G Railway connected forestry in region.
This explains the Crowell and Buchanan connection mentioned above. Remember, Buchanan bought out Crowell in the beginning up in Stamps. This is edited from a promised source.
The open road was welcomed. The next point of interest was that the old rail bed would cross US 84 and head north across the Little River and proceed out of the Little River Valley headed for upland Jena. US 84 would have no reason to cross here and would wait until the Little River itself went north. There it was.
This major US highway still has to rise while the ghost of an old railroad crosses its path. There is symbolism here. R-E-S-P-E-C-T, That's what it means to me.
I found the crossing on the levee, but the under under sideways down growth was too thick to press and then there were those Levee Police to worry about.
Soon, US 84 did its turn north and I would have a chance to check out the rails in the high country. I'd look for the double set of rails I saw on the map at Rhinehart (Rhin on the map)
Yes indeed, there they were. Neat gate.
I guess that there are still a few people out there that don't realize that was the L&A Railroad bed? To say the least, I was disappointed. Such is the fate of a bed detective.
I was thinking, "I bet Andy would like this".
I think I forgot to look for the rail bed? Anyway, it wouldn't be the first time on this very disoriented outing I'd bypassed potential historical treasures. I got to "12" on the map and shot the road sign to know where 12 was. I forgot the bed shot but got the meaningless street sign.
Rhinehart and Breithaupt? I was starting suspect Germans in the area.
Then I encountered the down side of these great roads, idiots. Two pickups came flying down the road. Lucky for me it happened on a straight. I had time to pull way to right as they flew by not slowing a bit and well knowing I was there. I'm sure their intention was to rock me. They even yelled something as they went by. I've learned to take a deep breath and not let what I can't change bother me. That's a load of rubbish. Knowing that they probably won't survive 30 satisfies my hopes for them. I was on Greens Creek Road. Be careful, proceed with your gun cocked.
I was skirting the rails and saw a chance to visit.
I'm assuming this road was built on the rail bed or closely followed it.
Turn off 772 onto Cobbs Road and take an immediate left.
(I write these directions right away to save having to answer a hundred emails.)
In Jena, I was hooked up as the rails had entered town. Not exactly.
I took a picture of a meaningless building because it was close to the rails. I just zoomed in on it and look what I found. That green building has rail car level doors on it and that building to the right could have been a shop for the mill's locomotives.
I believe I went back and got the front of the lumber company.
I felt I was getting hot. The piece of rail tie on the cement supported my thesis. Look at the map. I was in the nest of railroading Jena. I say I was near the mill and I'll bet that concrete with the wood on it was the old depot location. I really don't remember if there was a Jena Mill. There was Trout and Good Pine to see in a bit. Jena? I'm bout milled out anyway.
The rails sit in flat Jena. This is US 84 Jena or Up the Hill Jena. I made that up.
I left Jena feeling like I really needed to sit down and study the situation but I couldn't. I pulled into Good Pine, I was feelin' about half past dead. I needed a place where I could see the bed.
Bell Supply was right on the tracks.
It is on the south side of 84 where you see Good Pine written on the map.
Here are the houses:
Next you see 2 of the old augmented pyramid houses. One is saved, the other, not.
I'm sure there is a story here.
This is a strange one.
I was exiting Trout headed to US 84 on Railroad which ran perpendicular to the the L&A bed.
I can't make either of my maps show it. Nevertheless, here's the layout of Trout/Good Pine.
Where you see "Trout-Good Pine Kindergarten" is where I ended up. It, of course was the Trout-Good Pine School. It is a huge rambling building falling into disrepair.
What a shame.