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!
Today marks the 6th anniversary of the start of construction of the Louisiana Central Railroad. As many of you know, the railroad suffered a horrific flood in August of 2016. I posted about it here in Flood! and had a short follow up in The Aftermath for new readers that may be unaware.
Unfortunately little progress has been made with the restoration of the train room (which is actually a separate building from my home). After the immediate remediation of the building, it became a warehouse of sorts for things from the house, as well as a place to stage materials needed for reconstruction.
My home restoration is essentially complete, with only minor details needing attention. Indeed, I’ve been back living here since last Thanksgiving. But moving back into the house didn’t mean it was complete, and it has taken much time to finish the restoration. Add to that time taken to “catch up” on things that were left undone for over a year!
However, I’ve started making a wee bit of progress. The first step to the train building restoration is to simply empty it out, leaving only the layout structure itself in the building. I’ve got virtually all of the household stuff out, and I’ve started the process of packing the train room and shop equipment. But then the realization hit that I needed more space in my house (mainly the garage) to store the stuff from the train building. Ugh! So I’ve added more shelving in the garage, and am trying to get it cleared and organized so as to make the necessary space.
But to be honest, the biggest hold up on getting this all done is simply burn out. Next month will see the second anniversary of that flood, and I’m just sick and tired of dealing with the aftermath. I’m not alone in that feeling, as I’ve got many people around me in that same boat. I would never have dreamed I’d still be dealing with flood related issues two years after the fact!
But it will happen. The Louisiana Central is not forgotten or abandoned. I’m hoping the next anniversary will be one of joy and cheer. Wish me luck!
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.
Jim Six has been a model railroader since he was a kid (as have I). Since we’re both the same age, I can tell you, that’s a lot of years! Jim has been a prolific modeler over these years, and many of you have probably come across at least a few of the many modeling articles that he has produced in various model railroading magazines.
Jim recently retired and he has decided to re-think his layout. Part of that thought led him to make the decision to redo (and scale down) what he was in the midst of doing. And another major change was his decision to move to an earlier time frame for his modeling. He decided on the year 1927, and his plan is to model a single town, Sturgis, Michigan.
One of the bi-products of this era decision was the realization that much of his rolling stock was just too modern for his 1927 date. Jim participates in the Model Railroad Hobbyist forum, and has shown photos of several of his inexpensive, but beautifully weathered cars. One of the cars that he has shown is a New York Central gondola. It’s an Accurail kit, and the only modification to it was to substitute metal stirrups on the corners for the stock cast on plastic ones. He also equipped the car with the smaller size Kadee couplers. But the big addition was the weathering job that he did on the car. This is proof of something that I’ve believed for a long time: even an inexpensive plastic car with all it’s cast on grab irons, ladders, etc. can still look wonderful at normal viewing distances if you know how to paint and weather the car. The photo below is that car.
Jim has done quite a few cars like this, and all the photos I’ve seen of them look absolutely wonderful. But here’s the best part (for me). Jim and I have struck up a long distance friendship, and he recently gifted me this “too modern” NYC gondola as a “birthday present”. It arrived early this week and I’m totally elated with it. And I think it looks even better than the photo. I’m proud to be the new owner of this car, and it’ll one day see service on the Louisiana Central.