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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 Red Sand Hill Railroad Part 1

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Passages found in brackets ([]) are my words.
Weight them lightly.

I've got this old mapping software that shouldn't have been for sale since it was so out of date. For a normal person, it would have been a ripoff. I have found it a gold mind which may reflect on my condition. I suspected it pictures how things were in the 1970's. I may have to roll that assumption back a few years after seeing what I have on this last outing. Since it is dated, it does not differentiate between what is still there and what is long gone, obviously. To find out is the game I play. I could research what I see on the map prior to traveling the required two 300 miles round trips it took, but that would be too logical and boring. I need a spur in the side to bolt me forth down the investigative trail. The thought of looking into a dark tunnel of an overgrown track right of way and imagining all that was associated with its disappearing history was motivation enough for what will follow here. I haven't investigated a ride to this extent since I found the roadside historic marker at Peason. This will take a while and it will probably get boring to most "normal" people. Here goes. I'll show you what got me started, first, a logical beginning, then proceed as the dominoes fell. Like always, the maps and pictures you see here are small versions of the actual pictures, "thumbs". If this size is insufficient to view easily, I suggest right clicking them and choosing to open them in a new window. Practice on the one below. You can see the two railroads leaving DeRidder at the top of the shot and going south to Lake Charles. I saw this and though that it was perfect for investigation since it was in a contained, symmetrical configuration in an area that I was somewhat inexperienced.

The 2 railroads dropped down from DeRidder and connected beneath the Calacacieu River in Lake Charles. I've never explored Lake Charles and this phenomenon was just what I needed to get me over there. After investigating the rail setup, where I had mistakenly perceived wharfs and petrochemical installations, I'd follow the eastern rails (or abandoned Right of Way?) up to DeRidder. Honestly, at first, Longville would be all I was interested in since I'd recently been there. As usual, my needs expanded when on the first ride I was unable to quite make it to Longville. I'd go back, do Longville right, and head north to DeRidder, a town which I was somewhat familiar since I'd followed the Jasper and Eastern Railroad from Oakdale, though it and into Texas to the town of Kirbyville.

I'm leaving out the shots taken on the ride to Lake Charles, a ride I accomplished without touching US 90, 190, or I-10.


This would be an urban adventure with all the frills. A railroad right of way in an urban area is usually not the high rent district today. In the beginning they were the center of commerce and transportation. Now, they sometimes offer up a little history. I was ready to chance whatever the present situation. I had to take a look and ignore any adversity.

I entered Lake Charles from the north on US 171 after crossing Southwest Louisiana. The Premium Members got to see those photos in an earlier email post ride mailing. You can apply by using the guest book.

Here is a map of how I continued into Lake Charles. I have just found out that I was in Goosport. Get ready to learn about Goosport.

Urban exploration is best done during school hours, Rule 1.

I was there about noon, I had a couple of hours to check it out.
I came to the first crossing of a long gone railroad where you
see CR1. Even this old map does not show the rails there. It must
have come from the north. I noticed that after it crossed the street
it bent eastward. The X says "2 Tracks". From the map I have
I can't make sense of it. Let's don't get bogged down. It was either
a spur or a connector. That covers it.

I made a bee line to the main line. The ride down through
the neighborhood had seemed endless. I enjoyed the openness
and relative emptiness of N.Railroad Ave. Knowing that
I was in a historic place, I began looking around for some
historic architecture.

A few old stores and warehouse were all I could find. I
think the area had fallen into such poor repair it had been
cleaned out. Hurricane Rita might have done some of the
work. What was there was marred with graffiti. I felt
sorry for the residents who actually had any pride in their

I moved west on North Railroad Ave toward where I saw
my railroad of interest meet the main line (UP).

That was it ahead. To the right was a robot engine.

Pretty freaky, eh? That was a first for me. Who blows
the horn?

I crossed the tracks (are you following along on the map?)
But, first I took a good shot of the wye set up for my rails going north.
Seeing that there were rails here made me believe I'd be following a live
line. That, in some way, took a little of the romance out of the hunt. But,
hope was alive since I'd found a crossing with no rails. But, it was off track.
I didn't linger thinking about that, not wanting to get off track, also.
I wanted to get this urban part over with.
School busses would be stopping soon.

Another old market was across the main line. I knew this
was old Lake Charles. I saw Ryan Street which was the
historic "main street", if I'm not mistaken.

After a second or third look at this picture, I am either
seeing railroad tracks, or street car tracks (I've seen old
shot of the streetcar lines) or shadows from the power lines.
I'm going with "streetcar" or "rail". Please place your vote.

Riding back west to the crossing, I came to a scene that I'd
seen before in Jennings when Al and I had visited there.
Andy had sent me a picture of the Jennings spot, also.

Oh my goodness. I looked around.

I knew what I was looking at.

I closed my eyes and what did I see?

The last depot on that spot suddenly appeared.
This Southern Pacific depot had burned in the 1980's.
I'm guessing that it had been built in the late, late 1880's or '90's.
Railroad Ave had previously been named "Battle Row".

This from HERE:
"1960/1970 Ryan Street was the commercial and business hub of the area with continuous storefronts from Mill Street to Clarence Street. There were department stores, specialty shops, diners, theatres, drugstores, professional offices, hotels and government offices in a concentrated area downtown from Front Street (now Lakeshore Drive) to Hodges Street. In the early 30's, Ryan had supplanted Railroad Avenue (once known as Battle Row) as the principal commercial street. In Sulphur, Huntington and Napoleon served the same purposes. Each town had its urban core. As the 50's slid into the 60's and 70's, the growth of the automobile culture began erosion of the urban core".

The writer is noticeably irked as he continues:
"In Lake Charles they tore down the Calcasieu State Bank to build nothing. They tore down the Majestic Hotel (which housed every president from Teddy Roosevelt to John F Kennedy) to build nothing. They tore down the Paramount Theatre, a real movie palace, to build nothing. They tore down the Elks Home, the Weber Building, the Kress Building and Woolworth Building to build nothing. They tore down the Missouri Central Station; they tore down the Kansas City Southern Station. The Arcade Theatre (where Houdini amazed the locals, and where the St Louis Symphony played to sellout crowds) caught fire and then they tore it down. The Southern Pacific Station was torched, then they tore it down. And while they were tearing down most of our visual history, they ripped up the wharves and warehouses on the lake and filled in 64 acres of lake and built 40 acres of parking lots and a marginally attractive Civic Center. And they blocked the major north south road to construct a pedestrian mall and produced a maze of one way streets to nowhere that virtually killed down town Lake Charles".

Sorry, he's not irked, he's pissed. I would be too, in fact I am. I suspected the depot had been torched being in that area. It was a thing of beauty. Some people only have destruction in their hearts. I'm fighting a political rant as I sit here because our government is doing the same thing to our country. That was a great venting. Rants are by crazy people.
You should read his whole write, it is an insight into Lake Charles. I had no idea, but suspected that the town had had a great past, but had self destructed.

I'll continue:

I looked to the right and there were the old baggage wagons.

I blinked again and there was the first engine to come
into Lake Charles. My blinking was getting freaky.

Then a vision of the flood in 1913 appeared . Bet it was wet where I
was now standing, being so close to the lake and bayous.

Below was the first SP depot in Lake Charles. It lasted
from 1880 to 1889 when it was torn down for the one
above, maybe?

Then, a band started up.

I told them thanks but I had to go.
The Mayor, Sheriff and Deputy were not amused.
It wasn't the first party I've ruined.

I mentioned I was in what was known as Goospoint.
"Goospoint" will be mentioned again on up the line. You need to
read some stuff first. There are several articles by the W.T Block
that really make the scene come into focus. CLICK HERE

In that article is the first hint of the railroad I'll be following.
I'm just getting a handle on all the names, so don't let my confusion
slow you down The article puts in chronological order the progression
of lumber mills in Lake Charles. Below are excerpts from that write.
I suggest reading Block's complete story I was only looking for the background
on the rails I wanted to follow which were the ones from LC to Longville to De Ridder
Here, they are first mentioned, I think :

"The Bradley-Ramsey Lumber Company built and chartered its own tram road, the 36-mile long Lake Charles and Leesville Railroad, which ran from Goos Bay to Bannister, north of Longville. In February, 1906, the mills used seven locomotives and 120 tram cars between Lake Charles and the company's "log front" near Longville. In the 1915 railroad map of Louisiana, a line identified as the Lake Charles & Navigation Railroad [had they used a ferry like the LN&R had?] ran northward to Deridder, and it looked suspiciously like the same line".


The next step (from the same article):
Beginning in February, 1906, rumors became rampant that Bradley- Ramsey was selling out to Long-Bell Lumber Company of Kansas City. In fact, W. E. Ramsey was out-of-town, reportedly negotiating the sale and seeking to convince the Bradley stockholders to sell out for the reputed sum of $4,000,000. Lolng-Bel already had two wholly-owned subsidiaries, Hudson River Lumber Company of Deridder and King-Rider Lumber Company of Bon Ami, the latter cutting 350,000 feet (day and night shifts) daily, making it second only to the Fullerton sawmill"

Almost immediately, Long-Bell reorganized the two Lake Charles sawBoldmills as Calcasieu Long Leaf Lumber Company"

[Whoa, I think there is an old building by the tracks with that name on it.
We'll see that later].

Much modernization went on, and:

" 1906, Long-Bell built its large Longville sawmill, with its 150,000 feet daily capacity. That mill burned in 1920 and was never rebuilt; its planer was converted to an oak flooring plant. In 1913, Long-Bell bought out the big Ludington sawmill, along with its 65,000 acres of timberlands, and 2,000 acres of the Ludington pine trees were transferred to the Calcasieu Long Leaf stumpage reserve. By 1913, the six Long-Bell sawmills in Southwest Louisiana were cutting 1,000,000 feet daily, which leveled the company forests at an unparalleled pace. The Lake Charles Mount Hope sawmill was one of the first to dismantle. The Bon Ami sawmill cut out in 1925 and was dismantled. The Ludington mill cut out in 1928. The Longville oak flooring facility was moved to the Hudson River plant at Deridder in 1927, and Longville became a ghost town. The writer has no further information about the Calcasieu firm's Goosport mill, but he believes that cutover timberlands and the stifling of lumber demand in 1931 by the Great Depression finally forced the closing of the Lake Charles plant".

[I'm going to try to get everyone on board with the railroad history. It is best explained from a court document. CLICK HERE. I've cherry picked what I want from it below].

[The Louisiana & Pacific RR, aka, Lake Charles and Northern RR, looked like this in it's last reincarnation. (click to enlarge)]

[This explains the railroad after it had been given a new name, one the folks from Kansas City had picked. The town of DeRidder came about because of their presence. It was a "company town".]

"The Louisiana & Pacific Railway Company, incorporated under the laws of the state of Louisiana, owns and operates a tap line within that state, including approximately 80 miles of main and branch lines, its main line extending from De Ridder southerly to Lake Charles, approximately 45 miles, crossing and forming a junction with the main line of the New Orleans, Texas, & Mexico at Fulton, which is about 25 miles from De Ridder and 19 miles from Lake Charles".

"The Louisiana & Pacific connects also with the following trunk lines: At De Ridder, with the Gulf, Colorado, & Santa Fe, [aka, Jasper & Eastern RR] and the Kansas City Southern; at Bon Ami (near De Ridder),........" [Continued below].

[The KCS connected DeRidder to the north. It also branched southwest to DeQuincy and then to Lake Charles to the south. It is still in use and is the western part of the loop I saw on the map going to Lake Charles. From DeQuincy, the KCS also goes into Texas and visits Beaumont].

Below, when you see "Paper Mill", think "Lumber Mill".
I get delirious when confronted with confusing information.
The last woods industry owner was International Paper, thus, duh,
"Paper Mill". Marion is rolling at my bungling.

Continuing, from above, with the L&P trunk line connections:

"The Louisiana & Pacific connects also connects with the Kansas City Southern; and at Lake Charles, with the Louisiana & Western (Southern Pacific Company), the Kansas City Southern, and the St. Louis, Iron Mountain, & Southern".

"Located along the line of the Louisiana & Pacific are certain lumber mills, which are called proprietary mills because controlled by the same interests which own the stock of the Louisiana & Pacific".

"Some of these are at De Ridder, Bon Ami, and Longville, all of which points are north of Fulton, while one is at Gossport, near Lake Charles. At Bannister and Ragley, on the line of the Louisiana & Pacific, north of Fulton, there are non-proprietary mills".

The Lawsuit continues. I'll try to break it up a bit:

"The Louisiana & Pacific Railway Company, controlled by the R. A. Long interests,

owning a controlling interest in:

The Hudson River Lumber Company,
The King-Ryder Lumber Company,
Longville Lumber Company, and
The Calcasieu Long Leaf Lumber Company,
It consists of the following tracks, all of which were originally constructed as private logging roads:

(1) A track from De Ridder Junction, Louisiana, to Bundicks, a distance of 8 miles.
The mill of the Hudson River Lumber Company, in whose interest this track is operated, is located at De Ridder, within a few hundred feet of the trunk lines [predecessor to International Paper's owership?, shown on a map as "Paper Mill"].
Bundicks is apparently a logging camp with a company store. [We'll go there]

(2) A track from Lilly Junction to Walla [??], about 7 1/2 miles, the latter being a point in the woods where the King-Ryder Lumber Company has a commissary, and where is located a small independent yellow-pine mill, owned by the Bundick Creek Lumber Company".

[Below, I see an old ROW (green) shown and a road named "Railroad (green). Possibly this is the above mentioned route being it is toward Bundick? With the next statement I'm thinking Lilly Junction is near Bon Amis, so maybe you should ignore my guess, but maybe the 7.5 miles would get it to Walla? Walla Walla, where are you?]

"The mill of the King-Ryder Company is at Bon Ami,
a town of 2,000, located on the Lake Charles & Northern
Railroad Company (owned by SP, built by L&P, the
L&P retained trackage rights)
, a short distance from and
connected by it with Lilly Junction".
[I am now sure Lilly Junction is in the proximity of Bon Ami] (just added)

[Notice the Bon Ami Pond. Log mills had ponds. We'll visit Bon Ami].

"(3) A track of two miles at Longville, a town of 2,000 people,
where the Longville Lumber Company has its mill and a store,
and where also are several independent stores".

"(4) A track of nine miles from Fayette to Camp Curtis (??), a place of 200 population,
where the Calcasieu Long Leaf Lumber Company has a store, its mill being at Lake Charles".

[Fayette, though still shown on the map, is inaccessible. This area is above Fulton, the
junction of the NOT&M aka MoPacRR, We'll visit Magnolia Church, later.]

"(5) A track of one mile from Bridge Junction to Lake Charles station. The towns De Ridder,

"Bon Ami, Lilly Junction, Longville, Fayette, and Lake Charles are connected by the Lake Charles & Northern Railroad, a Southern Pacific Railway Company line, originally
built by the Long interests as a part of the Louisiana & Pacific, and sold to the Lake
Charles & Northern with the reservation of trackage rights advantageous to the Louisiana & Pacific. By means of this arrangement the Louisiana & Pacific connects with the Kansas City Southern and the Santa Fe at De Ridder, with the Frisco at Fulton (a station south of Fayette), and with the Southern Pacific, Iron Mountain, & Kansas City
Southern at Lake Charles. Its equipment consists of 22 locomotives, 6 cabooses, 41 freight cars, and 270 logging cars, and a private car used by its officers, who are connected with the
lumber companies, in traveling around the country. The lumber companies have many
miles of unincorporated logging tracks connecting with the Louisiana & Pacific at various
points. There are a number of other stations on the line, among them Bannister, where the
Brown Lumber Company owns a small independent mill".

[Bannister is above Longville. I rode to the end of the road.
There was a very old house there. There was more, I left w/o a shot
before I was shot]

[Remember the previous paragraph which mentioned Bannister? I'm sure you do.]

"The Bradley-Ramsey Lumber Company built and chartered its own tram road, the 36-mile long Lake Charles and Leesville Railroad, which ran from Goos Bay to Bannister, north of Longville. In February, 1906, the mills used seven locomotives and 120 tram cars between Lake Charles and the company's "log front" near Longville. In the 1915 railroad map of Louisiana, a line identified as the Lake Charles & Navigation Railroad [had they used a ferry like the LN&R had?] ran northward to Deridder, and it looked suspiciously like the same line".
[Bannister had been the orignal "log front", the end of the line].

It continues:

"The operation is this: the lumber companies load the logs and switch them over the logging
spurs to connection with the tap line which hauls them to the mill, an average distance of
30 miles, for which no charge is made. The tap line switches the carloads of lumber from
the mill at Lake Charles, a distance of three quarters of a mile, to the Southern Pacific;

at De Ridder, only a few hundred feet to the trunk lines;

from the Lake Charles mill to the Frisco, a distance of 18 miles [Fulton];

from the Bon Ami mill [down the to the Southern Pacific at Lake Charles, a distance of 40 miles, [I suppose down the Lake Charles & Northern Railroad, where the L&P had
trackage rights]......

and from the Longville mill to the Southern Pacific at Lake Charles, a distance of 24 miles.
The average haul for the controlling companies being nearly 20miles. By written agreement,
50% of the lumber must be routed over the Frisco [at DeRidder] and 40% over the Southern Pacific [Western La. at Lake Charles], but this is not always done. 243,122 tons of lumber, as
against 8,819 tons of merchandise, were shipped in 1910, 98% of the whole tonnage being
supplied by the controlling interests. The passenger receipts for 1910 were $473.77. A logging
train runs daily on each branch, and there is one "mixed" train, loaded chiefly with logs and
lumber, between Lake Charles and De Ridder".

I had to get all that off my chest. Now we can move north through Goosport and start
looking at the L&P's, aka the Southern Pacific's LC&N's Old Rail ROW'S as we travel north.

Here are some shots of logging crews, the first, for sure,
taken in Calcasieu Parish:

That's the first chapter. The next ones will go a bit faster if less humorous.
Check out the J&E (Jasper and Eastern) Ride in the list below.
That will hold you until I do the next page.

CLICK HERE to go to page 2