More About the WSLCo. Shays

Last week I posted a photograph taken during my trip to the Georgetown Loop Railroad, one of just a few slides that had been spared in the Great Flood of 2016. I was recalling that there were three of these 3-foot narrow gauge Shays operating on the line at that time. So I dug around a bit and found photographs of all three of these machines, each recorded by Brian Cazel. Unfortunately none of these locomotives are still operating on the line, their last service there occurring in 2004.

However, all of these Shays still exist. I’ve given a little information on each in the photo captions.

West Side Lumber Co. Shay #8
#8 is a 3-truck Shay built in 1922 by the Lima Locomotive Works in Lima, Ohio for the West Side Lumber Company. It weighs 154,400 lbs and has 12” x 15” cylinders and 34” drivers. An oil burner, it operated at a boiler pressure of 200 psi delivering 36,150 lbs tractive effort.

In 1966 she was sold and transported to the Georgetown Loop Railroad, where she operated until 2004, then was displayed until 2008. She then went to the Royal Gorge Route Railroad in Cañon City, Colorado for a period, and finally to the Moffat Road Railroad Museum in Granby, Colorado in October 2021.
West Side Lumber Co. Shay #12
#12 is a 3-truck Shay built in 1927 by the Lima Locomotive Works in Lima, Ohio for the Swayne Lumber Company railway as their #6. It weighs 113,500 lbs and has 11” x 12” cylinders and 32” drivers. An oil burner, it operated at a boiler pressure of 200 psi delivering 25,830 lbs tractive effort.

She was sold to the West Side Lumber Co. in 1940 and renumbered to 12. At some point she went to the West Side & Cherry Valley Railroad as their #12. From there she was sold and moved to the Georgetown Loop Railroad, where she operated until 2004.

Her last stop was at the Colorado Railroad Museum in Golden, Colorado, where she was placed in storage. I understand that she did see brief operations there from 2011-2014, but has since returned to storage.
West Side Lumber Co. Shay #14
#14 is a 3-truck Shay built in 1916 by the Lima Locomotive Works in Lima, Ohio for the Sierra Nevada Wood and Lumber Company as their #10. It has 11” x 12” cylinders and 32” drivers. An oil burner, it operated at a boiler pressure of 200 psi. I haven’t seen other specs for her, but would assume they would be similar to #12 above.

She was sold to the West Side Lumber Co. in 1939 and renumbered to 14. She was again sold to Hal Wilmunder and became Camino, Cable & Northern #4 at Camino, California in 1965. She then went to the Colorado Narrow Gauge Railroad as #14 in Central City, Colorado in 1974, and finally moved to Silver Plume, Colorado to become Georgetown Loop #14 in 1981. She ceased operations there in 2004.

She’s now stored at the Colorado Railroad Museum in Golden, Colorado. A couple years ago volunteers did a cosmetic restoration, painting the locomotive’s exterior and restoring her to the West Side Lumber Co. paint. The latest photograph I’ve seen of her was dated in 2023 and she appears to be in reasonable condition.

WSLCo. Shay #14 at the Georgetown Loop

Back in the summer of the year 2000 I took a trip out to Colorado to ride a few of the narrow gauge railroads there. My first stop was at the Georgetown Loop operation, located adjacent to Interstate 70 near Georgetown, Colorado. At that time the railroad was operating with three of the former West Side Lumber Company Shay locomotives.

Shay #14 had the duty on the day I boarded the train, and she did a splendid job of hauling the equipment up the 4% grades on the line. Pictured below is the view of the train crossing over the famous trestle that is part of the Georgetown Loop itself. I wish I still had the images taken from further back that show the full height of this spindly trestle . . . it’s tall at 95 feet!

WSLCo. Shay #14 on Trestle

A Work Car Residence

The story I was told was that an Illinois Central employee had become injured and was unable to continue working. Through a series of circumstances, he was allowed to use this old work car for his residence. Located in Hammond, Louisiana, the car was parked on the east side of the Chicago to New Orleans mainline on a short piece of unconnected track several hundred yards north of the depot. I remember approaching this car many years ago thinking it was abandoned. I was surprised that someone was still inside!

And many years later I assumed that the man had passed, as during some intensive track right-of-way work, the car was pushed further away from the track and was overturned on its side. Over the years the trees and underbrush have completely enveloped the car, and it is quite difficult to locate now. A few years ago Ron Findley and I did manage to find the car, and we took several photos of what little remains of it. Hardly anything is recognizable beyond the trucks.

The photograph below was taken by Ron in February of 1988 when the car was apparently still the residence of the old railroad worker. If any of you readers have more information about the car you’d like to share, please do so in the comments.

Ex-IC MOW Car, Hammond, La.

A Caboose Deadline

Okay, I said last week that the caboose “series” had ended. But this week I came across this photograph taken by friend Ron Findley of a caboose deadline that I thought was interesting.

The location is McComb, Mississippi and the date is February 18, 1988. Ron and I made a trip to Hammond, Louisiana that day, then followed Hwy. 51 north until we reached McComb. This deadline of Illinois Central Gulf cabooses was sitting in one of the yard tracks just south of the depot and locomotive servicing area. I think you’ll find at least one of every model of steel cabooses that the I.C./ I.C.G. ever ran in this lineup! It was the early days of the demise of these cars and railroads were taking them out of service in droves. Some found a second life as a storage building or a cabin, some in museums . . . most ended up in scrap yards.

It was the end of an era. Folks under the age of 30 years likely have never seen one of these bringing up the rear of a train.

Caboose Deadline, McComb, Miss.

As a side note, just eleven days after this photograph was taken, the parent company of the Illinois Central Gulf spun off their railroad assets, and the railroad reverted back to its original name of Illinois Central.

Yeah, Yet Another Caboose

Several weeks ago I posted photographs of an old Missouri Pacific caboose, the #509, that was designated as a Terminal Cab. In that post I pointed out several differences between that caboose and others that I had commonly seen or ridden in. Today I’m going to feature the T&P Caboose #13146, and I think it’ll be the last caboose in this “series”. 🙂

This cab reverses those differences that I had written about: the end of the roof is open rather than closed in, and the cupola has a sliding side window arrangement, along with wider fixed windows fore and aft. It likely has the single rotating seat at each side. Also note the presence of ribs on the roof.

In studying the two images, I’ve noticed a few other differences: the “nail” radio antenna on the cupola roof as opposed to the “fire cracker” on the MoP roof, differently shaped hand railings/grabs on the end platforms and cupola, and what appears to be a metal reinforcement plate on the first three wall side panels just below the roof on the far end of the TP cab. I remember that plate was common on the TP cabooses. I never found out specifically what it was for.

One thing in common though, as with the MoP cab, the running board on the roof is still in place.

T&P Caboose #13146

This image was scanned from an old Polaroid photograph that I recorded on December 29th of 1971. The location is the T&P yard at Avondale, Louisiana.

The L&N House of Shock

In my early days of “railfanning”, my dad used to drive me to locations where we could see the trains (how wonderful). My dad had no particular love of trains . . . his passion was for boats. So we’d split the day, spending some time hanging around a rail yard, then some time strolling on the docks of the yacht harbor at Lake Pontchartrain in New Orleans. The arrangement worked well.

One weekend day back in the early sixties (likely ’61 or ’62), we found ourselves poking around the rail yards by the warehouses along the Mississippi River. The Louisville & Nashville was one of the railroads with a presence in that area, and we spied this old wooden caboose sitting by itself. Naturally I wanted a picture of it so my dad whipped out his trusty Argus 35mm camera and snapped this view.

The image is a bit blurred, likely due to slight camera shake, but it’s still adequate enough that I enjoy having it. The number 21 is still in reasonable condition despite the weathered paint. And it seems to be “all original”, look closely at its trucks. The title of this post reflects the message chalked onto its side, the “Original House of Shock”. There are a few other scribes by the door, but I’m unable to make them out.

L&N Caboose #21

Unfortunately the valued slide was lost in the Great Flood of 2016 . . . I was fortunate that I had scanned it.

MidSouth Rail Crane #1600

The MidSouth had this 120 ton capacity railroad crane stored at its yard in Vicksburg, Mississippi. I photographed this crane sometime in late 1989, or perhaps in the early 1990s. The original slide, from which this digital copy was scanned, was destroyed in the flood of 2016, hence my uncertainty of its date.

This crane was constructed in 1913 by the Industrial Works of Bay City, Michigan as serial number 2868. According to information posted by Mike Palmieri, it was originally owned by the Chicago & Alton as their #053, then became Alton X-39, then Gulf, Mobile & Ohio #66408 (where it was converted to diesel power), then Illinois Central Gulf #100406, then MidSouth Rail #1600 before being retired and sold. I’m not sure of its disposition after the sale, so please feel free to chime in if you have further information (or corrections).

MSRC Crane #1600

MP Caboose #509

This caboose was running out of the Avondale yard in Avondale, Louisiana back when I caught these views of it. Labeled as a Terminal Cab, I didn’t know exactly what its service was, assuming it was perhaps used for transfers around New Orleans. But I did see it several times just parked around in or near the diesel shop.

I’ve searched for other photographs of this car or others like it, but to no avail. It has several features that stand out as different from other similar cabooses. Note the end of the roof, closed in rather than open. Also note the absence of ribs on the roof. The windows in the cupola are different, a separated pair on the sides rather than a single large, sliding arrangement. The end windows are also narrower. Note that the running board on the roof is still in place, along with the handrail extension of the ladder. And the car number is quite low. I have wondered if this car was originally of wooden construction and later rebuilt with metal siding.

MP Caboose #509 at shop in Avondale, LA
Caboose #509 parked at the diesel shop at Avondale yard
MP Caboose #509 in yard at Avondale, LA
Right at dusk, caboose #509 is seen on the end of a train at Avondale yard

I don’t know the dates that I recorded these images . . . they were scanned from slides that unfortunately drowned in a flood in 2016. But they were likely taken either in late 1970 or early 1971.

I didn’t often ride in cabooses back then (mostly rode the locomotives). But I do remember two distinct differences in the cupolas. A few had two seats on each side, with the pairs facing each other. The other cabs (as they were called on the MOP/TP) had a single seat on each side which rotated to face the direction of travel. The windows on this caboose suggest it has the twin seats.

If anyone can fill in any of the blanks, please don’t hesitate to comment.

#4501 Departing Grand Junction

The Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum used to offer several steam powered excursions in the fall to enable folks to view the autumn colors. These were labeled as The Autumn Leaf Specials and were day-long trips originating in Chattanooga, and running down into Georgia and return. The turntable in Summerville didn’t exist at that time, so the train only ran as far as LaFayette or possibly Trion. The return trip had the diesel locomotive hauling the train as the steamer had no way to turn around at the end. I understand that these trips are now offered under the label Summerville Steam, with the train running all the way to Summerville.

If I recall correctly, this photograph was taken in November of 1996 just as the train was departing the museum’s Grand Junction depot in Chattanooga early in the morning. The signal bridge in the background is on a mainline of the Norfolk Southern Railway (formerly the Southern Railway).

Southern Rwy #4501 at Grand Junction

The Grand Junction depot is a great place to watch trains. There is a yard adjacent to the depot where locomotives and cars are on display, and NS freight trains frequently pass by over the aforementioned tracks. The depot itself has a snack bar and rest rooms, and of course a gift shop with railroad oriented merchandise. I’ve visited their facility and ridden several of their trains quite a few times over the years and highly recommend them.

Servicing Some T&P 600s

On a rather mild day in late December of 1971 while waiting in Avondale, Louisiana for my next assignment to begin, I ambled over to the locomotive shop where my assigned locomotive was waiting. Sitting there and receiving service work was a pair of T&P GP35 locomotives, numbers 647 and 645, along with an unidentified F7. Having my Polaroid camera with me that day, I quickly snapped this photograph before hustling over to my locomotive (a well-worn GP7).

The GP35s, usually just referred to as the 600s, were the most powerful locomotives running out of south Louisiana on the T&P at this time. Usually running in trios, I always relished the call for the freights running between New Orleans and Alexandria as they typically had these on the front end. What a change from the usual GP7 or GP9, or even the “powerful” GP18 engines! They rode well, were relatively quiet yet sounded good with their turbo whine, and just felt powerful. Always a treat!

T&P GP35s at Avondale, LA

A Tired Missouri Pacific GP18

The EMD GP18 locomotive wasn’t the best selling model (by far) in the company’s history. Only about 350 of these machines were produced for American railroads, and the MOP was by far the biggest customer for them.

Back in the early sixties, my dad took me for another “railfan” trip on a Saturday morning. We were down by the riverfront in New Orleans, and came across the Missouri Pacific roundhouse at the Race Street yards. And there sat several brand new model GP18 locomotives, almost glowing in their fresh and shiny Jenks Blue paint. Man, they really got my attention! Not only were they brand new, but they were the first locomotives I had seen in person that had the ‘then-new’ low nose.

Scarcely 10 years later I spotted this rather tired looking GP18 sitting by the engine house in Avondale, Louisiana. That blue paint didn’t hold up very well, and she looks like she’s been “rode hard and put away wet”! I snapped a Polaroid photograph of the thing, and I just came across it the other day. So, even though it’s a terrible shot, I scanned it so I could post it here.

MP GP18 #440 at Avondale, LA

I had ridden on these locomotives a number of times back during my (very) short career as a brakeman on the Texas and Pacific. I remember that they had a slight side-to-side sway when at speed, something akin to the ride of the streetcars in New Orleans (though not nearly as rough as them). I suppose it was because they rode on old Alco trucks rather than the usual Blomberg models that EMD normally provided. This wasn’t terribly uncommon, as the Alco trucks were obtained from older locomotives that had been traded in for the new locomotives. I recall an email conversation I had with retired MOP engineer Bob Currie some years ago. I mentioned the ride on those Alco trucks, but he said he didn’t remember that swaying motion as I described it. I suppose he had never ridden those New Orleans street cars . . . the resemblance (to me) was unmistakable.

Amtrak #59 at Hammond, Louisiana

On a spring day earlier this year, I spent the day in Hammond, Louisiana with a few friends. We were gathered at the north end of the Amtrak depot there to shoot the breeze and watch a few trains passing by. Amtrak train #59 arrived at 1:41 PM that day, headed up with one of their new ALC-42 locomotives. The train was there but a few minutes to discharge several passengers, then departed for the last leg of its trip to New Orleans. Photograph recorded on April 29, 2023.

Amtrak #59 at Hammond, La.