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.

The Thanksgiving Season at Cass

Several years ago I came across this image of a Cass Scenic Railroad train headed up by one of their Shay locomotives. This is in West Virginia and I can’t think of a better railroading scene to represent the fall season and our time of Thanksgiving here in the United States of America. This photograph was taken by Mr. Walter Scriptunas II. The date is unknown to me, but the scene is timeless.

Thanksgiving Season at Cass

GM&O RS1 #1116 at the Service Area

Another of the slides rescued by my friend Ron Findley, GM&O RS1 #1116 is seen here at rest in the servicing area in Bogalusa, Louisiana. The edge of the turntable is located at the left and the sand tower spanning the track just in front of the unit. Note the bunk car beyond and one of those beautiful GM&O cabooses. Again, I’m not sure of the exact date. Your estimate of time would be appreciated.

GM&O RS1 #1116 at Service Area

GM&O RS1 #1117 at Bogalusa, LA

I’ve mentioned before that I lost my slide collection in the Great Flood of 2016 in South Louisiana. My friend Ron Findley had copies of a few of those images and he sent them to me awhile back. This scan, while a bit poor in its quality, features a Gulf, Mobile and Ohio RS1 locomotive sitting in front of the depot in Bogalusa, Louisiana. I’m not sure of the exact date. I’ve always been rather fond of these locomotives!

GM&O RS1 #1117 at the Depot

The Depot in Hammond, LA

The Illinois Central Railroad built a wonderful depot in Hammond, Louisiana back in 1912. And it is still in use today, though in modified form. The track is now owned by the Canadian National Railway, and the passengers are served by Amtrak. It is still a busy place. The views below were recorded in February of 2004.

IC Train Depot at Hammond, La., Track-side View
Here is the track-side view of the depot. The central building section was the original passenger depot, with the agent and ticket office in the center (where the turret is), and waiting rooms to either side. The two building sections to either side of that were a restaurant at left, and a Railway Express Agency facility at right. One can no longer duplicate this view as several years ago Amtrak added an elevated passenger platform along side the track, so it partially obstructs the view from this side.
IC Train Depot at Hammond, La., Street-side View
And here is the view from the street side of the depot. In its present use, Amtrak is using the building section at left (formally the REA facility). The wall at far left (where the blue/white pavement striping is seen) had an elevated freight door and a small platform for loading the REA trucks. The center section is now the city’s Chamber of Commerce, and the right section is the Clerk of Court office. The giant yellow paw prints on the roadway show support for the Southeastern Louisiana University Lions, the campus being just a few blocks away. Indeed, one can hear the cheers from the football stadium on an otherwise quiet night while lingering around the depot!