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Grandpaw's Picture Album

 Grandpaw's been gone for a few years now and we are still cleaning out his junk.
My wife, being the inquisitive one, opened this box of old photos.
Attached to the dry rotted, rubber banned stack of pictures was a yellowed piece
of paper with an explanation.  It was  him
talking to himself, a practice he did verbally most of the time.
It went something like this.

Well it's Saturday night, isn't it. Yipee.
Ain't done nothing all day but look after dogs and do a few domestic trivials. 
If it hadn't been for that radio Mark gave me, the whole day would have gone bust.
But it didn't.
I'd been monitoring the radio from about 2:30 on. I heard about a broke down train
somewhere around Bayou Sale. I had envisioned a smoking engine and possible flames.
I'd considered running down there but my energy level was low and it's a  heck of a ways
in the heat of mid afternoon.
At about 6:30, I heard the dispatcher fusing about how long the Norfolk Southern
train was taking getting off the mainline. It had been 2  hours and he hadn't 
gotten to New Iberia.
I started spinning out of control because I had to check it out.
I planned this part of the search perfectly and found her creeping along at Elks or
"South Lafayette", out by the airport.

 There was no smoke.  A car had some fault and they were being tender with it.
I heard on the scanner that L&D was waiting for the cripple to come into the yard.
I wasn't doing anything so I'd race the slowpoke  over there. At  that point he 
picked up speed and beat me in. You can't beat a train going north through Lafayette.
Going south you might.

 Two orange L&D tugs and Ms Allegheny were going to pull this long train back to Elks or 
New Iberia.  I'd chase them. Traffic was down and it could be done.
They were crawling toward the switch and would leave as soon as  the last car cleared.

 They knew they had competition and pulled the outside wheels off the rails in the 
southbound turn.  Visions of that railroad flick with Denzel in it came to mind.
By the way, my daughter saw him in New Orleans in a restaurant. He was
with some other actor. Yes, she got a picture of  herself with the  other guy.
Denzel saw her coming and had fled.
Those tracks in the foreground are the interchange rails with the historic Alexandria 
Branch of the Southern Pacific. L&D refuels down there on occasion.
 Down the Evangeline Thruway we flew.
 I beat them to Elks where they had business, but not for long. The crew's time was running out.
 They broke the train up and did their thing.

 I ran down to Lady of the Lake and came back toward Broussard  believing that was the
end of this one.
Here they came. I somehow got off a shot while at full speed.
With one hand I got the lens cover off and the camera turned on and blindly aimed.
It was getting toward 7:45.
 I took the Terrace Rd. on  home.

 I stopped on the backside of St. John Sugar Refinery.
 Crossing  Bayou Teche, I stopped on the bridge and took a shot south toward the old
rail bridge that was built in 1895, the year the Cade to Port Barre Branch was opened.
 Zooming on down the bayou, there's the bridge turned with the water.
We crossed it many times. (when it was turned across the water). 
The rails could still be seen in the blacktop.

 Being nostalgic, I stopped in Parks and shot the old drawbridge.
Before the fenced subdivision was put in, you could take a good picture of it from the
south side of this road.
Not any more.
That oak to the left was such a pretty addition to the bridge from that direction.
 I tried to get a shot of the old  house.  It turned out a blur which is how most people  see it.
It is a classic Acadian farmhouse. Falling down is all that is left for it.
 Spirit, the 3 tailed dog, and Penelope, the princess, played in the back yard.
I'm going to bed.

Grandpaw was a weird old fella. 
My wife has just brought me 20 more boxes of what looks like the
the same story over and over with little variation.
Now we know what he was doing on that old motorcycle.
We're still trying to figure out where he went.
He's probably wondering, too. 

New Iberia ... A BNSF Train Stops and Conrad the Rice Mill

I had done a little tuneup on Mz Guzzi. She likes the attention even if it is only psychologically beneficial. After our session, I checked to see if she was carrying all the support equipment she needs as a big boned Italian wench. We hit the road headed south. This was going to be a short putt so I headed to the most scenic stretch closest to the house. I think Section 28 road fills that bill. I was most distraught to find there is clearing going on in the once haunted woods. I hope the the landowners reap their due. It is a travesty. Let's move on.

Long story short, I ended up in New Iberia, coming in from the east on 86. I crossed Main and St.Peter and headed west. Let me say right here that I was almost tempted into doing a photo article on NI. It is a magnificently pretty and historical place. That is not true of all its area, but what town is 100% pretty? I knew I'd cross the Union Pacific tracks soon. I was south of the old Southern Pacific depot, an unfamiliar area to me. I came upon this large, rather ugly cement building which looked like it was a product of the post-Civil War, Reconstruction Error or maybe, the obamic novel, "1984". It was the parish courthouse, I think. It should have been painted gray. It was right at the tracks. It was closed for President's Day, I saw no American flags. February must be a happy month for our bureaucratic zombie clones with an attitude. That made viewing what was to come a lot easier. No traffic, no pedestrians, no winos, no screaming baby parades, no knife fights, no guns.

What interested me were the curbs on either side of the tracks and, was this the main line, this one set of rails? Here's looking up and down the tracks. It's the addiction. I was only out for a short ride and here I was looking down the rails again.

Why do people walk down railroad tracks? The obvious answer is that it's the shortest way to get somewhere. A deeper reason is that it gives the home bound a connection with the rest of the world. I remember, as a kid, kneeling down and touching the tracks and knowing I was touching the whole country and, even, other countries. Actually, I probably didn't think about "other countries". Looking down the rails is looking into adventure. Even if you are unable to go on an adventure, you know it's there when you are ready. It's hope. "Hope you can believe in", quote BO. I may vomit.
If you believe his crap, you are being railroaded.

I saw this signal and wondered why it was there. It is for cars that might turn left across the tracks. I looked and looked and there were no tracks ahead of the signals, only to its left. It seemed confusing to a country boy. I now see a deeper message here. There it is America, your warning against turning left. Clarity comes with a second look. Better do that before you cross over. You do see the cemetery on that side, don't you?

I zoomed down to the depot to see if the curbs extended that far.

The rest of this article, which is not much, will require a map. Click on it and it will open up. Open it in a new window and you can keep it handy as we ride on. The rails that you see veering to the left go to Delcambre, seen on the map. New Iberia was a railroad hub. This map will show that.

I rode down to the depot just to ride down to the depot. I was there, why not?

I went to the west side and shot the rails leaving the main line. Notice the old rails stuck in the ground. Need some mystery rails to figure out, there you go. Note the very long ties. Those mystery rails had tied into the active rails not that long ago. At least there has not been a tie change in that period. How long do ties last?

I heard the horns. No, no, no. I'm starting to think I'm a train magnet. I rushed back to the courthouse because I wanted to have the curbs as part of the pictures. I made it.

The train was slowing, really slowing.

Then, the engineer tooted the horn in two quick burst at me.  It was a "Hi". I was reduced to 6 years old.
I continued shooting. See him waving at the window?

The train stopped just short of the far switch that leads to Delcambre. Even in this age of robots, I guess a crewman still has to switch the switch.  This was zoomed way out and I didn't know that I was catching this drama until I saw the shots at home. I had to further enlarge the pictures, the reason they are blurry.

There were a lot of cars waiting on him.

The train was on its way to Lafayette with a great acceleration, was he late? I'm thinking the switch deal was not planned. He had a red light to stop. Had someone forgotten to set the switch back to the main line?

Feeling warm and fuzzy about my good luck, I decided to follow the tracks south and then east through the unfamiliar neighborhoods. I saw a bump.
I looked ahead and what did I see?

It is the Konriko Rice Mill or the Comrad Rice Mill, I'm not real sure on this.

I just found the answer. "Since 1912, the Conrad Rice mill has been making long and medium grain rice under the brand name of Konriko. Visitors to New Iberia can get a first hand look at the fascinating process that goes into producing this important food". I also saw a claim that it was "America's oldest rice mill.

Whoa, this little ride was getting even better. I started circling and taking pot shots.

I got a little more of the street view.

Mz Guzzi was heard complaining about being blocked by the stop sign. I don't mess with her. If she wants something, she gets it.

Here's the Visitors Center. I didn't go in. I rarely do. I may next time. I always say that.

This was around the side. I think this is where the grain was brought into the mill.

Unloaded from these?
Al said, "That elevated shed over the truck, or whatever that was, I think, is a hopper that holds the chaff and hulls left over from the milling, they haul it off and pile it up. The converted sugarcane cart may have been used for a similar purpose, but definitely was not used to haul rice in".

In my opinion, the place seems to be headed for hard times. See it soon. It is marked as "Mill" on the map. That's it for this one.