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.
The photos I’ve been showing these past few months are scans of slides, and in a few cases, prints that managed to survive the great flood of 2016 in the town where I live. 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 recorded (to the best of my memory) sometime back in the 1960s.
This locomotive 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!
I’ve been looking through the few photographs that I still have that were taken at the L&N’s Gentilly Yard in New Orleans back in the early 1960s. I spotted this view of a quartet of GE U25B units sitting on the fueling track after servicing. I don’t recall ever showing this image, likely because the lighting wasn’t very good and it’s a bit washed out. But today it comes out for viewing.
I wasn’t a fan of GE locomotives back in those days. I thought EMDs were the king, and ALCOs were okay even though they sounded “weird” (I love their sound now though). But after my tour through these units, I decided that maybe they weren’t so bad. 🙂
Also note the lone EMD GP7 over at the left. I’m assuming it was one of those used in passenger service based on the lighting on it’s hood.
It was late in the day when my dad and I were leaving the L&N’s Gentilly Yard in New Orleans. Much to my delight, this fellow came charging down the main just as we were heading out. At the time of the original post, reader and good friend Mike Walsdorf advised that the motorcar is a Fairmont M-19. These speeders were commonplace when this scene was recorded back in the early ’60s.
Looking today at the image, I notice an interesting mix of boxcars from names lost long ago. The Southern and the L&N cars really stand out, the latter with its relatively new blue paint job. And check out the Linde Air Products (then a division of Union Carbide) boxcars. I wish we could see to whom the tank car and the open hopper belonged.
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?
L&N Railroad Gentilly yard in New Orleans, Louisiana
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.
This view is looking roughly to the east. There wasn’t much around the east and south of this yard back in this time, mostly just marshland. It was speculated that the smoke in the distance might have been a marsh fire (quite common back then in unsettled areas of New Orleans East).
Over the past few weeks we’ve seen a couple photographs of the Standard Gravel Company’s ex-T&NO (SP) 0-6-0 switcher. Today I thought I’d throw in a couple detail images of the #124. In this close-up 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 (most 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.
I haven’t posted a progress report since late December of last year as there really wasn’t much to report on. Lots of small things were taking place, but nothing to post of “milestone” significance. However in this first progress report of 2023, I’m happy to announce that the new shop cabinets have finally been built and installed.
I was able to salvage all of the hardware from the original cabinets, and most of the drawers (those with the white finish). The base board trim and shoe mold need to be applied next. I’ll be painting the new cabinets white as before. The countertops will receive plastic laminate, which worked very well for me in the past. I use a large cutting mat at my work position where the “rough” work occurs.
I’ve also purchased the flooring for the main train room itself. I chose to use LVT planks (each 9″ x 60″ in size) installed over a thin foam moisture barrier mat. These interlocking planks will give me a “floating” floor system. The layout has 52 support legs, so this type of flooring will (hopefully) make the job easier. I can remove a single leg or two at a time to enable sliding in a tile, and will have to plan the work carefully to get the flooring installed. I’ll start putting the flooring down right after getting these cabinets painted.
The light is showing down at the far end of the tunnel! 😁
The Standard Gravel Company, part of the Green Brothers holdings, used a number of steamers up through the 1960s. Here are a couple of old and tired 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 U.P. steam locomotive #3985, a 4-6-6-4 Challenger. At the time it was 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 Union Pacific side lined the locomotive after the 2010 season as it was in need of serious overhaul work. The U.P. instead decided to reacquire and restore one of their famous “Big Boy” 4-8-8-4 locomotives, the #4014. In 1962 it had been donated to the Railway and Locomotive Historical Society, and was on display in Fairplex at the RailGiants Train Museum in Pomona, California. As a result of this decision, the #3985 was officially retired in January 2020.
But there is good news for the steamer, as a deal was made with the Railroading Heritage of Midwest America to acquire the locomotive. It has been moved to the former Rock Island Railroad Silvis, Ill. shops, and its re-building is underway. The Challenger will eventually be back in service!