Jack Shall

About Jack Shall

I've been a model railroader and railfan for well over 50 years now. My interests lie in the steam era and the early diesel era. My modeling has been in HO, but I do have a closet interest in Fn3 :-) It's been a number of years since I've done any layout construction, and the new Louisiana Central pike under construction is by far my most ambitious effort. Follow along with me on this new adventure of the Louisiana Central.

Best Friend of Charleston

Back in the summer of 1973 I attended the NMRA national convention in Atlanta, Georgia, aptly named Peachtree ’73.  It was a fine convention, and in addition to the usual fare, the convention hosted a double-headed steam excursion.

But there was another steam-up that caught my attention as well.  And here it is: a working replica of the Best Friend of Charleston locomotive, along with several coaches.  It was interesting to see it ramble down the street.

Best Friend of Charleston, Atlanta, Ga.

The original locomotive, built in 1830, was said to be the first U.S. built locomotive for actual railroad service.  Unfortunately it suffered a boiler explosion six months after being placed in service.

This replica is one of two that exist.


Steam-up In Jackson, Louisiana

Last Saturday my friend Ron Findley and I drove up to Jackson, Louisiana to watch the steam-up scheduled for the day.  This is the home of the Greater Baton Rouge Model Railroaders, and one of the club features is a nice elevated loop for the live steam buffs in the club.  This day was host to a number of folks from out of state, and we delighted in seeing several new faces at the event.

Just heading out on the mainline after our arrival was this beautiful F scale D&RGW K-36 2-8-2, pulling a short passenger train over the line.  An F scale (1:20.3) steamer is quite large, and the sounds are awesome!

D&RGW K-36 #480

Shortly afterwards, a Great Northern class S-2 4-8-4 took to the rails, seen here hauling a freight train with several perishables in tow.  She had to make speed to arrive at her destination in a timely fashion!

GN S-2 4-8-4 #2584

Perhaps the most interesting thing run yesterday was this Schnabel car.  It appears to be a model of the Westinghouse car, WECX 800, which I believe to be the largest Schnabel car in service.  She sports 36 axles!  These cars are used to transport very large and/or heavy loads.  The car splits in the middle and the load is placed between the halves.  In essence, the load virtually becomes a part of the car.  The model was built with the aid of 3D printing, and is almost complete, with only the need for lettering and perhaps a detail or two.

Schnabel Car

And below we have a tidy little passenger train being hauled by what (I believe) to be a British 2-6-2.  She is running on the portable loop seen in the background of a photo above, and was a sweet running little thing . . . a pleasure to see.  Trevor, if you’re watching, this one’s for you  🙂

British 2-6-2 Loco

These are just a few of the locomotives performing during this day; quite a few others ran as well.  I’ve posted photos previously of others that I’ve seen in earlier years, and a search should yield those posts if you would like to see them.


Southern Pacific #745

It’s February of 2007, and the Southern Pacific #745 is passing through City Park in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. She has just embarked on the return leg of her shake down run following fairly extensive repairs. She is headed for New Orleans, her home terminal.

The locomotive had been restored some years earlier by the Louisiana Steam Train Association in New Orleans. The 745 is a class Mk-5 Mikado (2-8-2), and was built in the Espee’s shop in Algiers, La. back in 1921. She operated on the Texas and New Orleans subsidiary of the Southern Pacific.

S.P. (TN&O) Loco #745

Reader Railroad 2-6-2 #108

In early September of 1970 I visited the Reader Railroad up in Reader, Arkansas.  Even though it was a weekday, the railroad was shut down for the day.  I was able to peruse the railroad’s shop facility though, located maybe a quarter mile from the depot.  Here is a photo taken with my trusty Polaroid camera of their #108.

This locomotive was a product of the Baldwin Locomotive Works in 1920, and she had an extensive list of owners over the years.  The little Prairie first worked for the San Augustine County Lumber Company in east Texas, then later for the Angelina and Neches River Railroad.  In 1954 she was purchased by the Reader, where she was in service until 1976.  From there she went to the Conway Scenic Railroad, but after just a couple of years, was sold to the Blacklands Railroad.  She was moved back to Texas, and was supposed to be overhauled to continue operation.  The last I heard, she was sold yet again to a corporation, but was still stored in a somewhat disassembled state on the Blacklands Railroad.  If any of you folks have any news of it’s present situation, please post a comment about it.

Reader RR 2-6-2 #108

KCS Caboose #376

Digging through my boxes of old photographs, I came across this pic of an old Kansas City Southern caboose, number 376.  The date stamped on the photo’s edge says January, 1972.  The KCS built a bunch of these cabs from old outside braced boxcars, and they were quite common for many years.  I believe (but am not sure) that this image was captured in New Orleans at the yard on Airline Highway.  If you know better, please let me know.

This car falls into the category of it’s so ugly that it has a coolness factor!  I particularly like the Allied Full Cushion trucks beneath it.  This caboose still lives on, and is on display in Amsterdam, Missouri.  It was apparently modernized over the years and has lost those wonderful trucks, but it’s heritage is still obvious.  An internet search for the old girl will yield several pictures of it where she currently resides.

KCS Caboose #376 - Jan 1972

Colorado & Southern 2-8-0 #60

I’ve been going through a lot of old photos that my mother had, and came across this snapshot.  This locomotive is Colorado & Southern 2-8-0 #60, and she’s on display in Idaho Springs, Colorado.  The following is from the display plaque by the engine:

“Was built by the Rhode Island Locomotive Works in 1886.  Number 60 began her career on the Union Pacific-owned narrow gauge Utah and Northern Railroad as No. 263.  In 1890, the Union Pacific transferred U&N Engines No. 260-265 to its Colorado-based Denver, Leadville, and Gunnison Railroad, where the original engine number was retained until the Colorado and Southern assumed operation of all Colorado-based Union Pacific narrow gauge lines.  This included the Clear Creek branch.  At this time, the C&S renumbered all of its narrow gauge engines and No. 263 became No.60.”

That’s my mother posed in the cab, the photo probably taken in the early 1940s by my dad before he departed for England with the Army Air Force.  My mom stayed in Denver until he returned to the States after his tour of duty.

C&S 2-8-0 #60 Early 1940s

Carrollton Station, New Orleans, Louisiana

An intermediate stop in New Orleans, the Carrollton Station was located at Carrollton Avenue, just a very short block from Tulane Avenue.  One could board or disembark from trains here if convenient, rather than go all the way downtown to the Union Passenger Terminal.  As a kid, we sometimes road the rails from New Orleans to either Ponchatoula or Hammond to visit with family, then back a day or so later.  And Carrollton Station is where we usually met the train as we lived just a few miles from here.

Here is a typical view of the station back in the early 1960s.  I believe that before my time, there was actually a small depot building here in addition to a covered platform.  When I made my visits, there was simply a small, narrow glassed in shelter in which people crowded on rainy days.  The large Fontainebleu Motor Hotel was a fairly new landmark at this time, having been constructed on the site of the old Pelican Stadium baseball park.

Seen here is one of the Illinois Central’s beautiful chocolate and orange streamliners stopped to pick up passengers on the outbound portion of it’s journey.  The train is heading west by northwest at this spot, and judging from the sun angle, this was likely late afternoon.  Those bridges in the foreground take the tracks over Carrollton Avenue.

Carrollton Station, New Orleans, LA

Washington & Western #72

Steam locomotive #72 has quite a storied history behind it. A product of the American Locomotive Company in 1914, the 4-6-0 steamer saw it’s first service on the New Orleans Great Northern Railroad as their #72. The line eventually became controlled by the Gulf, Mobile & Northern, which later itself merged with the Mobile & Ohio Railroad to create the Gulf, Mobile & Ohio. She continued to serve as #72 during those years. When the GM&O began dieselizing, the locomotive was sold in 1946 to the Gaylord Container Company in Bogalusa, Louisiana. In 1960, she found her final duty at the Washington & Western, operating in gravel pit service for the Green Brothers at their pit near Franklinton, Louisiana.

Today she rests at the Washington Parish Fairgrounds in Franklinton, where she is displayed under a shed roof wearing her GM&N paint.

The photo below was captured by Rick Boutall probably in early 1964. I understand that she was retired from active service later that year.

W&W 4-6-0 Loco #72

A Mystery Heisler

Here are a couple more photos given to me by Rick Boutall back in the mid sixties.  I need help on these, as I have no information about this locomotive.  This Heisler was likely photographed in 1964 or 1965 (based on the “65” imprinted on the right edge of the photo borders), and the backs are stamped with Rick’s typical property stamp.  But beyond that, nothing!

Mystery Heisler #5 - 1

She’s obviously “hot” as small wisps of steam can be seen around the steam chest.  There are very faint traces of the previous owner’s name above the five on the tank, but I’m not able to discern the markings.  The scene is very typical of southern Louisiana, but of course I have no way of knowing if this is even the general location.

Mystery Heisler #5 - 2

Soooo . . . if you have any idea to whom and where this beautiful beast belongs, I’d love to hear about it.

Edit:  The mystery has been solved!  This is Chicago Mill and Lumber Company #5, and the location is Tallulah, Louisiana.  Thanks, and a hat tip to David Price.


The L&N Humming Bird

At one time the Louisville and Nashville Railroad operated a beautiful, but affordable passenger train between New Orleans and Cincinnati named the Humming Bird.  This famous scene depicts the train as she is crossing the Biloxi Bay in Mississippi.  Similar to the Illinois Central photo from a few posts ago, this image also was widespread, and in my view, became the “image” of the railroad.

L&N Hummingbird

The WSP 0-6-2T #1

The Westfield Sugar Plantation Railroad’s #1 was an 0-6-2T coal burning steamer.  She was used during the fall sugar cane season on the Westfield plantation in Paincourtville, Louisiana.  These images were captured by Rick Boutall on November 1, 1963 as she was chuffing around the fields.

WSP RR #1 0-6-2T Loco - 2

The Westfield plantation was owned by Dugas & LeBlanc, Ltd.  Their little steamer was built by Porter in 1897 as c/n 1791, and she boasted 7″x14″ cylinders, and 24″ drivers.  She ran on 30″ gauge track, used link & pin couplers and had no brakes.

WSP RR #1 0-6-2T Loco - 1

Note the brakeman riding on the footboard.  Scenes like this were common among many of the sugar plantations in Louisiana many years ago.

Collection of Jack Shall