Note: if you see "Livonia" spelled "Lavonia" that's how I say it, so deal with it.
Yesterday I tossed up a few old pictures of the approach to the Melville rail bridge coming from the east, Livonia's big yard. Doing so made me want to go back and comb the area more than I have ever before, take some chances and push the envelope. Since I'm writing this I guess I made it. The lesson is, you can get away with a lot more than you think you can, especially if you are a little on the careful side due to having taken big chances and pushed the envelope a lot in earlier years. Evidently, I still have the knack to get away with stuff and write a confusing sentence.
The story starts like this. Besides the Morganza part of La.10, I wanted to check on the Huron Plantation, McNeely Spur, and the entire rail span between the big yard at Lavonia and the old rail bridge that crosses the Atchafalaya into Melville. That's all. I pulled out of the driveway at 11:30. It had rained hard up until 8:00 this morning. It was somewhat cooler as the sun hadn't gotten up a head of steam, yet, nor had I, to tell the truth.
I brought the DR650 since I knew there would be mud and gravel involved. Indeed there was a great amount of both to the point I was wondering if my semi knobby tires would be enough. A couple of times I felt the old familiar feeling of going sideways in a straight line. That's pretty cool at low speed. It's almost funny unless you fall in the mud that gave you such a chuckle.
I passed Huron and swore I'd be back. I remembered and got a shot there. I tucked in and did the Teche Valley Boogie to 190 and then on to Lottie where I'd get off and start my documentation at the yard off La.181. At Blanks, the old plantation buildings are falling down. The last hurricane tore them up. The owner is irresponsible, unable or unavailable.
I'm going to attempt to get one page out. I'm pretty tired.
At the 181 crossing I, just because, shot into the yard.
It was very quiet. There is a lumber yard there. I was
once told about it, but have forgotten. It is obvious that
a spur was there at one time.
Next picture was up the line headed to Melville. This, at
one time, was the T&P RR's route. It goes through Grosse
Tete, then crosses a swamp and comes into Addis on the
route that follows La.1, another T&P use to be.
Next stop was under US 190 which you can see in the
above shot way off in the distance. This is looking back
toward the yard. If you take that left, you go to the HP
Long Bridge at Baton Rouge.
Looking to the north, where we are headed to River Station
I looked back, there seemed to be a train a coming, but
never did while I was there. I also like doing a little train
photography, have you noticed, and wanted to catch it
coming under 190 from under 190, not one that's commonly
There is a dirt shortcut that goes from 190 up through the
fields past an old Black cemetery. It also follows the rails.
Stuff is growing fast. The rain was good last night and all
was fresh and clean. There was lots of standing water.
It was on this road I got sideways. This is River Station
Road. What station? A train station or a river gauging
station. There isn't a river that would need gauging near,
so I'm saying there was a train station near a small river.
But, I'm a romantic.
I made it to the crossing and the cemetery. It is one of my
Dang, that no good lazy train was coming. All I had to
do was leave and it decided to come. That's "1".
I had time to shoot a few local shots.
Here she comes.
She was headed to the Melville bridge and on up to
Pametto, Bunkie, and into Alexandria. From that rail hub,
I reached La.77 and went on into Fordoche, immediately
finding Railroad Ave N. and S. This was where the depot
That's where we came from.
This is looking across the tracks at the big church and
and N. Railroad from S. Railroad.
I crossed 77 and went up Viola which dead ends. This
is a pretty town and area.
Here's looking across the trestle above going north, where
we are headed.
Next, off 77, was McNeeley Spur. I still have no idea what
was there and just missed talking to the farmer that owns
the land. That's his tractor down there. The gate was open.
He'd probably gone home to eat. Later his truck was there
and no tractor. He knew the story, I'll bet.
This is the trestle across Fordoche Bayou, and across the
highway from McNeeley Spur.
This is looking further down the spur than I have in the
past. I walked the rails back there.
This is looking back to the main line and the tractor to the
Yep, I got a spike. What is the significance of a purple D?
I was huffing and puffing a bit.
I'm guessing this is the McNeeley place and where the farmer
went to eat.
Next, I left 77 and went in to New Ravenswood. The "new"
has been dropped. Not many know that there was an old
Ravenswood, but this trip has proved it. The story goes
this church was moved from the Morganza Floodway because
of obvious reasons which included the possibility of impromptu
baptisms by the Father of Waters. This church is cement
blocks, it wasn't moved, but the congregation, alive and dead,
were. One thing of interest is that it is protected by the Masons.
It is a Black church. Figure that story out.
Behind it are these numbered graves. They were moved
by the corps from the old church location on the other
side of the levee.
An old lady told it all to me a while back.
I went to the crest of the levee. I hadn't found a way
to get to the rails since Fordoche. I wanted to take the levee
to where the rails crossed it but there was one of those
scary signs that say private property. But, there is a levee
authority shop right there, so I asked if it was OK. They
gave me a pass and told me to have fun.
Off I went down the limestone crested levee with a bird's
eye view of everything.
I came to the rails and was a little disappointed. I thought
it would be the beginning of the the Stonehenge rail trestle
which I thought went all the way across the floodway to
Red Cross on the Atchafalaya River.
McNeeley Spur is down there.
The Atchafalaya and the floodway are down there. Where
Back to La.10 I flew.
Arriving, I went west into the floodway.
This was bayou Fordoche and the last location of the
Ravenswood Church. It is overgrown now, but I've been
back there with Al and the previous graveyard is clearly
Back in there. But, this is still not Old Ravenswood as shown
on the map above.
I turned where you see Old Ravenswood on the map.
There is a hunting camp there where the community was.
I ran down what is called Lario Road to this section of
Stonehenge which projects eastward from this road, back
toward where I was on the levee. Of course, I climbed it.
That's looking east toward McNeeley.
And west on more fill. Stonehenge is in sections, not a
complete line as I thought from seeing the old pictures.
Those shot are priceless since on this trip sugarcane bared
me from seeing the bridge. These are the old shots.
That's why I call it "Stonehenge"
This is the span that was hidden today by the sugarcane.
This is looking toward that hidden section.
Getting down I took this shot. The snakes must have been
I came to the farm, marked on the map. The old map says
this was once La.10. There's Stonehenge up ahead. Look
on the map. You can see my course did not follow 10 here.
Now that's another mystery.
Heading west down La.10.
This is a Louisiana bridge at its best.
The shade is nice and cool. The bugs like it, too.
I love it when pictures talk.
There's the underpass. I had no inclination to climb it today.
I think I have the best possible pictures of what's up there,
and like everything else, it's gotten grown over, as have I.
The landing is not a very busy area. In fact, if wanting a place
for a perfect picnic, this is it. There may be someone fishing,
but they are usually quiet.
This picture is replicated 1532 times in my collection.
I would be careful with the "demand" part.
Just toot your horn and she'll come running. Sorry
weekenders, you can toot all day and only upset the
That's where the Melville crevasse was in 1927.
Looking from the Melville side before the span loss.
This is the landing area. It's a park.
I took a few parting shots. Who knows when I'll be back?
It is far enough from paved La.10 and La.77 to be considered
remote. It's over 20 miles from Krotz Springs down a gravel
road and 20 miles from Simmesport/Lagonier down a long
paved road. It's not far from Melville, but the trip is iffy,
especially if a combine is your riding partner, or too many
A little bridge, a little underpass.
It takes real faith to cross that one. Back up the levee.
This is about as pretty as a lowland road gets.
Back at New Ravenswood Church
Back to River Station Rd. which had dried out a little.
And the cemetery.
And another train. There was no cover and I'd already
gotten a train shot here, so I moved on to my perch under
US 190 at Lavonia in the shade of the overpass.
Looking into the yard from River Station Road. That's
the US 190 overpass down there.
There, I and the dead opossum waited.
For about 2 hours.
I have 250 shots from here. Most are very artsy. I'll
be publishing a book entitled, "From Under the 190
Overpass", if you'd care to purchase.
This is just a sampling.
I finally left going west on 190. What? My train had been
waiting for this sucker? I did a bat turn and crossed over
and flew back to my perch. The train has to really slow
down to make this curve so I did catch a bit of it. Black
Stallions were pulling. The cars were howling in that
turn . The sound was worth it. It was like they were
talking in screeches. Complain, complain, complain.
You didn't hear anything from the male cars.
It went down there and parked. Now, would my train move?
That was "2".
No, it was waiting for something else.
I gave up and left again. Again, here came another train
from the west. I bat turned and returned, a little late on
this one. I had gotten real practiced at sliding the last
turn in the approach. That was "3".
The parked train was on the right.
The new train was on the left.
I guess my train was in the middle.
I gave up.
I shot the bike and the battery showed dead. The artsy
shots had eaten it. BTW, the sugarcane was really knocked
down by last night's weather. Not just here, but all that
I saw in this area. There must have been some powerful
I left having struck out. It was 4:30, hot and Mr. Opossum
was getting ripe.
I cleaned the batter contacts and hoped for a couple more
shots. This is the Huron Plantation School, now a Head
Start facility. I have a bunch of conflicting info on the
plantation and the railroad that was associated with it.
I may venture into that arena later, but that's later.
More to come.