Steam on the Masthead

I thought I’d provide a little explanation about the artwork in the masthead of this Louisiana Central blog. This beautiful painting is by railroader and artist Tony Howe. It is my favorite piece by this gentleman, and a cropped version of it is used here by permission of the artist.

Tony calls this “Wausau Southern Lumber Co. Log Train”, and describes it thusly “A Wausau Southern Lumber Co. log train heads for the company’s sawmill at Laurel, Mississippi, in the 1920’s”. In answer to a recent question by Everett Lueck, Tony explained the “true” identity of the train: “It was based on the W H B Jones photo of RR&G (Red River & Gulf) #106, but I changed it a bit to match the Wausau Southern Lumber Co. Baldwin 2-6-0. Wausau Southern’s log cars were the same basic design as Crowell’s (the Crowell & Spencer Lumber Company based at Long Leaf, Louisiana). The parts in parenthesis are added by me to further the explanation.

And featured below is the full painting . . .

Wausau Southern Sunset

Thanks Tony!

A New Post Notifications “Test”

I have been required to update my Post Notifications plugin to the latest and greatest. The update wasn’t as “simple and easy” as I expected, but I believe it is working correctly.

If you’re a subscriber reading this post, but did NOT receive a notification for it, please advise me so I can try to figure out what went wrong. You can do this by simply leaving a comment on this post.

Thanks for your support, and sorry if this causes any hassles!


Seeing Jack Delano on a Cell Phone?

I recently purchased a new cell telephone, one of these new-fangled “smart” phones. While test driving the device, I logged into this blog site just to see how it looked on one of these things. I have to admit, it was terrible!

The problem is that the photos are so small. Even clicking to enlarge them, they are too small. It becomes obvious to me that if any of the readers of this blog are using a telephone to do so, they are really missing the beauty of Mr. Delano’s photographs. They absolutely must be seen in a larger size to be appreciated, and you need a fair sized computer screen to do that. OK, maybe a large tablet would work also. But the point is size . . . bigger is better!

Give it a try.


Site Improvement

Several things have been going on in the background in recent weeks. You might recall the problem I was having a while back with “Unwelcome Subscribers” to this blog. Happily the fix I implemented seems to have solved that problem, hopefully for good.

Last week I took another step to help provide a bit more security to the site by adding something called Secure Sockets Layer (SSL for short). This is a standard security protocol for establishing encrypted links between a web server and a browser in an online communication. You will likely recognize this by the https prefix on the site web address.

This changes the blog address (as well as the primary Louisiana Central website address) by adding that “s” to the http. If you use your old link to the site, you should be automatically re-directed to the new address. However I’d recommend that you update your link to the new one. I find that the new link will get you there a second or two faster.

In my testing last week I think I got the bugs squashed, but if you happen to encounter something else, please let me know.

In other news, the 7th annual Train Day at the Library event took place yesterday at the Jones Creek Library over in Baton Rouge. I had the privilege of assisting with the organization of the show this year, and we were rewarded with a record attendance. To be sure, nothing that I did caused that . . . I give all that credit to the absolutely gorgeous day we had, plus the reputation that the show has been building on for the six prior years.

Though not aimed at hard-core railfans and model railroaders (the general public is the targeted audience), the show does draw in many of those folks, and that’s good because I think it has helped to entice more actual display participants to the event. The library has also been thrilled with the attendance, and continues to request the show each year. Hopefully, that will continue.

Unwelcome Subscribers

For quite a few months now I’ve had a flurry of “rail fans” registering with the Post Notifications sign-up that shows in the sidebar at right.  Virtually every day I get anywhere from one to a dozen new folks who can’t wait to be notified of new posts.  It’s pretty obvious they’re just some sort of spammers, or otherwise have nefarious intent.  I’ve tried several ideas aimed at thwarting this, but they obviously haven’t worked, and the problem just increases as time goes by.

Therefore, I’ve deleted the post notification sign-up on the sidebar.  It will still show up for folks that wish to leave a comment on a post as a checkbox on the comment form.  Or in your comment you can indicate that you’d like to subscribe and I can manually add you.

We’ll see how this goes for awhile.  Hopefully it’ll solve the problem, though I wish I didn’t have to make it harder for folks by doing this.  But I’m just tired of checking the blog two or three times a day in order to delete these characters.

To my friends and followers out there, I hope you have some wonderful family time during this holiday season, and I appreciate very much your interest in this humble blogging adventure.


More on Roundhouse Flooring

Before I get into the subject, I’d like to comment on a couple other blog related things.  Back in March this blog was hacked (apparently an attempt to use the blog to distribute spam).  Fortunately my web host detected that a bunch of files had been changed, so they “froze” the site.  I ended up having to re-install the blog software to get things back to normal.  It really wasn’t hard to do, but it did take some time.  At the same time I took steps to harden the site so hopefully it won’t happen again.

The second item concerns the New Post Notifications that are sent out to subscribers when I pen a new morsel for your consumption.  The plug-in that handles that is several years outdated, and the author apparently isn’t interested in keeping it current.  Therefore I elected to try another plug-in (Mail Poet) and hopefully I have it set up correctly.  If you experience a problem, please drop me a line and I’ll try to get it straight.  Or if you just happened to check the blog and saw this post (but didn’t receive an email notification that it was here), please let me know about that too.

OK, on to the topic at hand: roundhouse floors.  Several years ago I had a post in which I was pondering the different floors used in roundhouses.  That led to a nice discussion, but not on the blog.  Instead it was just a bunch of emails back and forth between me and a few friends.  One of the floor types that I mentioned at the time (and one which I had not heard of prior to then) was a series of wooden blocks set on end to create the floor.  Several of you sent me some photo examples of this.  From what I gather, this type of floor was rather common, not only in railroad facilities, but also in other industrial applications, particularly where heavy and/or bulky material and equipment was being handled.  My impression is that the floor is easy on things laid or dropped upon it, and is easy to repair if necessary.

The photo below was taken by Jack Delano back in the ’40s, and it clearly shows this wood block flooring inside a Chicago and Northwestern roundhouse.  You can click on the photo to get an enlarged view.


Mr. Delano took many photos of railroad subjects back then, and there is currently a book available with a nice selection of his work.

As usual, comments are appreciated.

As another aside, the recovery of my home from the flood last August is finally hitting full stride.  The drywall is up and finished, cabinet work has begun, and I am finally seeing light at the end of the tunnel!


Technology Interference

I’ve had a couple roadblocks thrown in the way of layout progress these past few weeks.  This blog is powered by WordPress software and that’s where my first trouble came.  Several times a year the WordPress folks release an update to the software.  I have dutifully downloaded these updates and completed the upgrades without a hitch . . . rather painlessly, in fact.  The latest release wasn’t so friendly to my installation.  In short order, it trashed the blog site.  If any of you attempted to visit during this time, you were met by a blank page (if anything at all).  Fortunately I had a recent back-up of the site.  But I had never actually done a restore before, and I had quite a learning curve to get it all sorted out.  After many hours spread over a couple of days, I finally got things restored back to the pre-upgrade state.  I think I’ll hold off upgrading the site for a period of time, at least until the next minor upgrade is released.  Hopefully that upgrade will work a bit more smoothly.  At any rate, I’ll make a back-up immediately prior to the upgrade attempt, and if things fail again, at least I’ll have the knowledge and experience to get the site back on line within just a few hours.

Hurdle number 2:  Literally the day after I got the blog restored, my desktop PC went down.  Now, this is the PC that I depend on; all others are mere toys and conveniences (like, for running model railroad software).  I had been experiencing a couple symptoms that something was awry for several weeks, but didn’t expect this.  While not conclusive, the evidence is pointing to a failed hard drive.  And naturally, I haven’t been able to find a new hard drive (of the size, type and style that I wanted) anywhere in town.  So off to the internet, where I found the prize in short order and followed up with a purchase.  It finally arrived this morning, but it’ll be a couple of days before I’ll have a chance to install and format it.  Then I must install the operating system and the jillion programs, data items, photos, etc., etc.  Fortunately here also, I have a fairly recent backup of all data, so once the programs are installed, the data will be there.  The success of this however, depends on my assumption that the problem is indeed the hard drive.  I’m formally requesting all readers to cross their fingers and toes.

Despite all this, some progress still ensued on the layout.  I’ll have an update on that in my next post.


Layout Construction Photos

I’ve completed a major reorganization of the Layout Construction Photos section on the main website.  As the layout has grown (and the number of photos has increased), I found it getting increasingly cumbersome to add material.  I originally started by adding photos in a linear fashion as I worked around the layout.  But as I started jumping back and forth to various layout sections, that approach wasn’t suitable.  I really wanted to keep photos of a given area together, but it was difficult to do that, and navigation through the photos was poor.  Now the photos are grouped, generally by the various areas of the layout that they pertain to.  Hopefully this will make things simpler for all of us.

I’ve had to rename a ton of files to accomplish all this.  One negative side effect though was that all of the links referring to the renamed pages had to change as well.  Hopefully, I’ve gotten them straight.  But if you find something out of order, please drop a line and point out the error.

I hope you enjoy the new format . . . let me know what you think.

Last Saturday I made the pilgrimage over to Hammond to attend the annual banquet of the Southeast Louisiana Chapter, NRHS.  As usual, I enjoyed visiting with the folks there, and after an excellent meal we had a nice presentation by Rick Pitcher on passenger service back in the “good old days”.  Afterward I spent a few hours over at the depot and managed to catch a few trains going by.  Another great day!

And I’ve installed a few more Tortoise switch machines on the layout.


Comments Made Easier

For every comment posted on this blog, I usually get about three emails from folks who simply reply to the post notification they receive.  There’s nothing wrong with that except that no one gets to read their comment besides myself.

I have suspected that the log-in ritual may be a contributing factor.  Perhaps folks don’t want to bother logging in just to post a comment (and that includes me).  The log-in thing was an attempt to control spammers, and it’s worked wonderfully in that regard.

I’ve decided to open things up a bit by eliminating the need to log in to comment (however, you’ll have to enter your name and email).  We’ll try this for awhile and see how it goes.  Hopefully it’ll make life easier for you folks.

Now keep those cards and letters coming!


A New Look

As I think you’ve noticed, the home page here has a bit of a new look. The beautiful logging railroad scene is by Tony Howe, and is used here with his gracious permission. I think it really adds life to the blog, and I hope y’all enjoy it as well. Tony is a prolific rail artist and his work can be seen (and purchased) at his web site Tony Howe Railroad Art.  He and his cohort David Price also have a nice railroad historical website, Mississippi Rails.  Be sure to check it out (where you’ll also see the full version of the logging scene pictured above).

And as usual, my progress update: the layout is moving right along. The Willis yard peninsula is about 80% complete and the track will soon start going down there. The DCC bus wiring is complete for all areas constructed and those near completion. Wayne and I made another lumber run earlier in the week, and today we ripped enough joist, riser and cleat material to carry me for quite awhile.

I still haven’t posted any new photos on the web site, the last being taken in late May. But I really should take a break and shoot a few more. A good bit of work has been completed since the last pictures were posted.

Edit: some new pics have been posted on the website.  Click the link in the header to go there.


Blog Conversion Complete

As many of you know by now, I’ve been in the process of converting and re-building this blog for the past week.  The original blog was a “canned” application offered by my web hosting site.  It was limited in options, wasn’t powered by the current version of WordPress, and I found out that I couldn’t even back up the site!

Well this last revelation caught me by surprise.  So the solution was to build an entirely new blog by establishing my own database and using the full and current version of WordPress.  It was a lot of work.  The only thing I could pull off the old site were the posts and comments themselves.  Everything else, including the user database, had to be built from scratch.  But what you see here is the result.  I hope y’all are pleased with what you see.

Thanks to those who helped me debug and test things out.  And I apologize for the inconvenience caused to the registered users (by having to re-establish their profile).

Now, let’s get back to railroading!


“How do I comment on a post?”

This is a question I’ve been asked twice in the past week.  And I concede that WordPress (the software that this blog uses) is not particularly intuitive in that regard.

If you wish to comment on a post, click the Comment word at the bottom of the post.  IMHO this is why it isn’t intuitive.  At times the “button” will say No Comments, and at other times it’ll be something like 1 Comment or 2 Comments (or however many comments exist for that post).

Click it and you’ll come to the log in link, or if there are already some comments, go to the bottom and you’ll see the prompt to the log in link there.  Once you get logged in, you can comment to your hearts content.  Also, once logged in, you can comment on any other post without additional hassle.

The reason for all this is to help control idiots, spam and bots.  That’s the way the software is set up and I have no control over that.

So, comment away folks.  Really, it took far more time for you to read this than to log in and comment.


P.S.  I got a chuckle when I was about to post this and the WordPress spell checker kicked in.  The word that was flagged as misspelled was WordPress.      A Big Grrin