At the end of the 1980s the IC Industries spun off their railroad, the Illinois Central Gulf. The railroad decided to take back it’s original name and once again became the Illinois Central Railroad. The orange and white locomotives were quickly repainted back into a simplified version of the original black with white striping, but sans the old green diamond herald.
This scene captures a four unit train struggling up the grade from the east bank of the Mississippi River in Natchez, Mississippi. A mix of a GP38-2 and GP10/11 Paducah rebuilds, all in run 8, were putting on an impressive show. It’s only the mid 90s, but the units are already showing the results of hastily applied paint, with signs of orange and white becoming visible.
I’ve always liked this image of a Santa Fe steam powered passenger train roaring down the high iron. Most of the consist appears to be mail and express (common, especially in the later days of passenger service). This slide was given to me by Andy Sperandeo many years ago (probably the early ’70s). I don’t know if Andy was the photographer, or when and where the shot was taken. But it’s always been one of my favorite pictures, so I thought I’d share it here.
AT&SF 4-6-2 steam locomotive, #3448.
One of the unfortunate casualties of the great flood of 2016 was my slide collection. I lost many thousands of slides to that event. I have about two shoe boxes of slides left (perhaps less than a thousand). But those slides that were spared were generally “seconds” and other “unimportant” slides. Indeed, they were in shoe boxes located on a high shelf in a closet only because there was no room in the drawers that housed my collection.
The photos I’ve been showing these past few months are scans of slides, and in a few cases, prints that managed to survive. Here’s another of those survivors:
The Louisiana Cypress Lumber Company was a fairly extensive operation in the first half of the 20th century. They had a store and mill complex located on Highway 51 south of Ponchatoula, Louisiana. They also had a railroad operation that hauled the cypress timber to the mill. Locomotive #3 is a small 2-8-0 that was retired and put on display in front of the store on Highway 51. This photo was captured (to the best of my memory) sometime back in the 1960s.
This locomotive still survives, and was moved many years ago into the heart of Ponchatoula, located at the intersection of E. Pine Street and SE. Railroad Avenue. It’s right across the street from the former Illinois Central depot. It’s in generally good shape, though it suffers from somewhat “misguided” decoration on occasion. But . . . she still survives!
It was late in the day when my dad and I were leaving the L&N’s Gentilly Yard. Much to my delight, this fellow came charging down the main just as we were heading out.
And there’s more of this 1960s tour: in this view we’ve moved a bit to the right. The trio of GP30s and the lone F unit are sitting on the turntable lead. The turntable is still in use (I even got to take a spin on it). Just a tiny piece of the brick roundhouse can be seen at the extreme right edge.
These photos were taken while I was on an impromptu guided tour by one of the switchmen who was taking a break while the crew was on the spot. We walked through the entire service area, then through each of the units sitting on the turntable lead. How often do railfans get a tour like this today?
Continuing with the L&N’s Gentilly Yard in the early 1960s, here’s a closer view of the locomotive servicing area. The GP30 (at right) is sitting on the lead to the turntable, while GP7 #551 (at left) rests by the fueling spot. The 551 is one of the locomotives equipped with a steam generator, and the “torpedo” style air tanks.
We’ll shift gears again. Here’s a view taken from roughly the center of the L&N Railroad’s Gentilly yard in New Orleans, Louisiana back in the early 1960s. My dad took me here several times to do a little railfanning. In those days the rail crews didn’t seem to mind that you were in the middle of their yard as long as you stayed put in a safe space.
Off to the right you can catch a glimpse of the locomotive servicing area. The arch on the turntable is visible, and just a tad of the brick roundhouse can be seen at the edge of the image. The top of the sand tower is visible just above the blue boxcar.
I thought I’d throw in a couple detail images of the #124. In this closeup of the steamer’s running gear we see the piston rod, and the crosshead and guide, along with the main rod which connects to the number three driver. It’s been a long time since this old girl has seen a steam/hot water bath, much less a paint job!
And here slightly right of center, we see the details of the water injector, along with the upper section of the air pump, below left. At the top right (just in front of the cab) is the dynamo (the steam driven electrical generator). As bad as she looks, she is still functional.
Here’s another image of the Standard Gravel Company’s #124, an ex-T&NO (SP) 0-6-0 steamer, switching cars near the loading hopper. The company hauled the loaded gondolas and hoppers to the GM&O interchange a short distance away.
The Standard Gravel Company used a number of steamers up through the 1960s. Here are a couple tired old ex-T&NO (SP) 0-6-0 switchers still in service at the pit near Franklinton, Louisiana in 1965. Engine #124 on the left has finished its work for the morning and rests patiently while the crew goes to lunch. If you look closely, you’ll notice the tender tank is upside down. The tender was leaking badly and some enterprising soul solved the problem by inverting the tank, modifying it as necessary. The engine #156 on the right has one of the unusual “sausage” tenders that the SP used.
The Union Pacific Railroad ran an excursion special between Houston and College Station, Texas back in the summer of 1995. At the point was steam locomotive No. 3985, a 4-6-6-4 Challenger. It is currently the largest operating steam locomotive in the country. Here she is pulling the train on the return leg of the journey heading toward Houston.
The Texas State Railroad, a Texas State Park, frequently runs steam powered trains on its system. Locomotive No. 500, a 4-6-2 Pacific of AT&SF heritage, is shown here rounding a bend in the late afternoon as she heads toward Palestine, Texas with its train in tow.