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Following Louisiana's & Mississippi's Historic Railroads

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Finding the Lumber Mill Railroads

Following the Historic Rails of Mississippi

The Lost Loop p.7: South of the SP

When I first came in from Rayne I was intent on following
the OG/T&P. (Yellow Line). I hadn't an idea what I was
doing. I would follow what rails or evidence of rails I
could find.

This is looking back at the OG&NE right of way as it
heads back to Rayne. Everett documented the OG&NE
crossing at Rayne as still in place as late as 1935. A little
bird suggested that the OG rails may have lasted until WWII.

I still can't figure out how to convert these mundane gritty
images of a historical industrial area (I almost used "park")
with old rails sinking into the ground, or preserved in hard top,
into Romance on the Orient Express. It is a tough sell and
my readership reflects that. Maybe if I provided popcorn
I could sell this stuff?

Map alert:

Old maps always wake the drowsy reader whose imagination
has been unfed. Well, it's feeding time. On the last ride
I found an old mill and something very interesting in the
ground next to an invisible set of rails. What I found was
right above where that flag is by "Mill". First we need
to turn off Mill Street onto S. Avenue J.

Looking east, there's the old mill. Everyone I asked knew
what the below it was. Where have I been all my life that
I didn't know what it was?

OK, do you know?

Most answers were like this:

... the round thing with the electric motor named Link Belt is a 'capstain', like on a sail boat or big boat, it's used to pull things, like an anchor with a rope by winding it around the slowly turning round thing, rail cars in this instance....Link Belt is a company that makes all sorts of winch equipment all the way up to cranes and drag lines and the like.

Al added this as he always knows one notch more:
"Hey! that capstain is also called a "Cathead" fyi".
Thanks Al.

Rolling on. I didn't see anything special here, I just felt it was
my duty to get some rhythm going with the documentation.

To slow the process, I took a picture back the other way.
See, when the warning sign said "2 Tracks", it wasn't kidding.
Best I can tell, both of these were OG&NE. For the sake of
continuity with the story line, let's call them that anyhow.
Everett has suggested that I go to the parish courthouse
there in Crowley and pick up a labeled map of the old railroad
district which states which of the 3 rail companies in town
owned what set or rails. I'm sure a new edition was out
just this year. I'm sure I'd get the stare.

Have you ever gotten THE STARE? If not, then you don't
know what it is. THE STARE comes from a person who
cannot imagine anything out of the little box they call their
life. Or possibly it is born of some sort of prejudice.
It is sometimes referred to as "Giving a person a hard time".
That action is usually accompanied by THE STARE.

I think if I went to the courthouse and asked for a fully
documented map of the rail district in 1930, I'd get THE
STARE. I'm thinking maybe the library, where they are
more tolerant of nuts, is a good idea.
Hey, you STARING at me?

Ok, we're going west again. See that 30 mph speed limit

We are now at it.

The rails just keep on coming. See them in that crossing,
but you can't see them in the grass. What if the crossing
is removed? Then you won't see them at all. A whole
century of history will go poof and people will continue to
walk around doing their thing but something will be
bothering them and they won't know what it is. Then they'll
snap and realize what happened and wonder why it happened
and who let it happen and then dismiss it and it'll happen

Next was La. Rice

I don't usually drive into a business. Yea I do. I'd do it again.

Because you never can tell what you''ll find. La. Rice accesses
the Southern Pacific. I count 5 sets of rails. I was wondering
where all the rails were that my Garmin GPS showed.
Yes, back then it connected to the SP, also.

See on the map to the east side (right), the rails merging
into 2 and then one? Look below. Someone just mentioned
"the little things....". Indeed. I was having an Indiana Jones

Zooming out, you can see a train has an easy off and on.

Back on Mill St. We continue on. Evidently, we are at
Ave C. I first saw "avec", which means "with" and thought
"with what"? Thinking of something to have with "with"
I flashed on this, one of my favorite local ads of all times.
It went like this, "Laissez Le Bon Ton Roulet avec Gallo".

Hey Gloria, you remember that? Gallo is, of course, a brand
of wine. Yea buddy, screw top for easy on and off, too.

Right when things started to get boring, a set of rails crossed
the street.

I dismounted and once again got THE STARE from passing
motorist, women, and children.

No trucks, I agree.

The crossing was off a switch. It was still there and seemed
undisturbed and unpreserved. "Unpreserved" is code that
some Indiana Jones types use. I'm sworn to secrecy.

Then a distinguished guest had this to say about what
I called a "OG&NE switch", " The "OGNE Switch" is a standard
SP switch stand made by RACOR. Note that the top of the stand
where the switch target (silver thing with number on it)
has "SP 10" on
it. Interestingly enough, the target I think is an MP target, either that
or the yellow one with 711 is MP and the silver one with 875 is SP or".

He continued for 3 more pages but that's the gist of it.

The "yellow one" is later.

You can't have too many crossing pictures. Of course I
jest, you can have too many. But, this one serves a purpose.
See the brown building down the way on the other side
of the street? See the brown cover?

This one? See the rails in the grass? They went under the cover.

I made up fifty little maps. The only relevance this one
has to where we are is "Switch". So here we are and
it's a SP switch. I was going into hysterics figuring
my OG&NE mission was over and that my thesis was shot
dead in the water. To the rescue came Everett. He told
me to calm down, take a deep breath and relax. He said
one possibility was that the SP, the oldest company in
Crowley, had built the whole complex or part of it and
that.......well he made me feel better, that's what counts.
Ok, look at the map, follow the bottom rails west, left.
The next biggie will be the "Turn" and understanding it.
That locked me up for 2 days until I thought of Google

I had to stop and take a picture, it was time. Up ahead is
Western Ave. There is an Eastern Ave. I believe that they
form part of the border of the original town layout or possibly I'm
only being romantic yet again.

I actually tried following the US90 detour as I find all detours
a challenge. I got lost in southeast Crowley. There I got
The STARE big time and split.

Here's a look back to the east. Consider it a refresher on
where you've been and what you've seen. This shot was
taken from the Turn area.

Whipping around you see .....

Walking forward and turning around you see this.........

Turning around and looking, you see this............if you look
through binoculars.

Those tracks are turning toward US 90 and will cross it,
joining the main trunk line of the AKDN which was the
MP and the Friso and the Colorado Southern, the one that
built that lovely depot in 1909. The rails look dead but they
are not. Back in that turn there is a switch which connects
to the next stop.

Yes, I paid them a visit, also.

I thought I was in Texas.

That's looking back at the AKDN rails. I should have picked
up some rice.

This is looking west toward Roller Road.

This is why I said, "Texas". Those border ties didn't come
from the garden supply store.

While I was there I zoomed way down the tracks toward
the AKDN and saw this white thing. I need to know what
that is.

See the junction down there? I told you.
I took another picture for some reason?

Now, for the sake of continuity with the other pages I'll
include this shot. I went on around the west end of South
West Rice Mill and took a picture of their old rail feed
from Roller Road, that's on the map.

The SP main line is to the left. It had serviced this mill.
All of that is in the next edition entitled, "The West Side Story".
I'm holding back on the huge map offering until then.

CLICK HERE to go to the next page.

The Lost Loop p.6: N. Alley to End

The Alley to US 90 and Beyond.
Click the maps to enlarge. Or open in another window.

The Alley waited. I was past Ave. D, maybe that's Ave C?
If I show any confidence in my analysis of the following,
you are misreading me.

The dark alley lay ahead. Was I going where I shouldn't?
See "Alley Start". For the sake of argument, lets assume
that is where the alley started.

There was the usual warning sign and another which folded.
I wondered why.

The position of the "2 Tracks" warning is confusing. I ran
into this in New Iberia. The warning sign is for the rails after you
turn, in this case, to the left. There would be 2 rails there, one
noticeable, one, not so much.

This big one lay ahead. It was obvious that it was served by
the rails. It could have been by the Southern Pacific or the
Frisco. I found something.

I rode down there and walked back. I had seen something
and couldn't U-turn the top heavy bike. Look above the
bike for a pipe hanging down.

That's right, I was riding on the mill's service tracks.
One more rail tie shot.

I'm glad those sand bags were there. They mark where
the connector rails went off to meet the SP mainline . This
all sounds very trivial. But, this small root of information
could grow a tree of information concerning the history
of alliances within the milling community and possibly
spill over to political implications. The world has been
a web forever. The internet did not invent that web,
it only amplified it while broadening its scope.

Actually, the rails to the right of the bike connected to the
rails on the left of the bike, the ones that are under the
gravel. Those rails would turn toward the south and
connect with the SP. Sorry, I couldn't say that with a
straight face.

You see?

My thoughts are that my GPS was off, showing south of the
rails I was on. These rails all merged and run into the
the present day AKDN or what was the MP or the Frisco or before that
the New Orleans, Texas and Mexico RR. Wait, I'm scaring

The north set of rails, not the ones under the road, still
seemed viable. This north spur of the Friso/AKDN could
still reach the mill.

I was now where you see "T-Turn" on the map.

I would have to go north (right). A tank car can be seen in
the far distance.

I mentioned that the alley seemed a likely "hobo jungle".
I should have said that between the alley and he SP could
have served that purpose. On the north side I saw this
large block of cement. I was not inclined to venture back
in there to investigate. I do back off at times. More lately.

There were piles of trash and rails.

This must be looking west?

This, for sure is looking west. Why did I post this picture?
Some one might see something I missed. It's happened before.

When I came to the end of the alley, as I said, I had to
turn north and then back west to follow the rails. I was
now amongst the top tier of rails spurred off the AKDN.

On the map I have labeled, "Angled Building" I noticed it
because Mark had mentioned an angled building in Opelousas.
Both were built to coordinate with an angled spur.

The bushes to the left are where that tank car was. I think.
It is the line that is second closest to the SP rails.

You can see the chicane in the rails to the left of "Angled Building".
I believe that's where Louisiana Bag sits. By the way, the rails
where "Angled Building"is, happens to be the same set that
went to the Frisco Depot. So that spur went across Parkerson,
the main street of Crowley, to the depot. It had to have gone
on the other side of t he big mill, also.

I was moving in on US 90. A bulk plant looking place was
along the way.

Also, closeby was this collection of cement blocks next to the
rails. They are marked "Cement" on the map.

I turned west on US 90 and saw where AKDN crossed over
US 90. The picture below may be what I saw on the
north side of US 90, as the AKDN rails travel north to
meet the trunk line. I've been waiting for a place to plug
this shot in. I think it works here.

I rode west on 90 until I got to Roller Road. There I turned
south, crossing the SP/Up main line. I noticed some old
rails off on the north side. They would open a whole
new can of worms.

This is the end of exploring the rails on the north side
of the SP. There is so much more below that main line.
How it all fits together drove me crazy and there is still
a missing link. Oh, the next page we'll start from where
we started this side, back at La.13, and see if we can get it
figured out.
CLICK HERE to explore the South Side. It will end up
back here.