The ICG in McComb, Miss. – 1988

My friend Ron Findley and I used to take an occasional day trip simply to check out different places, and to watch whatever trains happened to pass through the area. One of our favorite locations was McComb, Mississippi. We would generally start our trip trackside In Hammond, Louisiana, then head north on U.S. Hwy. 51. That highway largely parallels the former Illinois Central mainline, which runs between New Orleans and Chicago. One passes through a half dozen communities during this trip prior to reaching McComb, and we generally made sure to get trackside at each location just to check the “state of things”.

Then we’ve reached McComb. This was once a bustling railroad town, and right at the edge of the business district was a large locomotive servicing facility. It contained a major roundhouse and turntable, locomotive shops, and a large car building and repair facility. The mainline was double track through here, and the train load was pretty heavy.

But by 1988, things were different. The Illinois Central had merged with the Gulf, Mobile and Ohio, forming the Illinois Central Gulf Railroad, and a very significant portion of this area in McComb had been scaled back.

One of our favorite vantage points was on a street overpass just north of the depot. Some years ago the bridge had been replaced with a new concrete structure with sidewalks, and it made for easy access to this birds-eye viewing point. Here are a couple photographs that Ron recorded during that day in early February of 1988.

ICG Engine Facilities, McComb, Miss.
Looking generally south, just beyond the sand tower was the former roundhouse. If you look carefully, you can make out the turntable pit just right of the tankcar. The turntable bridge has been removed, and is laying upside down just beyond the pit. Virtually every building of this shop complex has been razed in the years since the photograph was taken. The exception is shown more clearly in the photo below.
ICG Depot, McComb, Miss.
Panning a bit to the right, that’s the depot on the right. It was in decrepit condition at this time, but a few years later would receive a full restoration and addition. Part of the building is still in use as the Amtrak station. The two closest tracks are the mainline headed down to New Orleans. The building just left of center in the distance was the car shop. It still exists today, though it has served in various private interests over the years. The McComb business district is just starting at the far right of the view, extending east and north of this view.

The vacant area just south of the depot, and extending all the way through the ground where the automobiles are parked, is now the site of the McComb RR Museum’s outdoor exhibits. Its centerpiece is a former I.C. 4-8-2 steam locomotive. Also displayed are several passenger cars, an experimental aluminum refrigerator car, a caboose, a heavy railroad crane, and various other pieces of equipment, all under a nice roof. The entire exhibit is very nicely done, and well maintained.

As an historical note, just days after these images were taken, the ICG Industries divested themselves of their railroad interests, and a new railroad was created under its former name, the Illinois Central Railroad.

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