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Following Louisiana's & Mississippi's Historic Railroads

My Ride Reports

Finding the Lumber Mill Railroads

Following the Historic Rails of Mississippi

Manchac Railroading and Back

What I do as hobbies don't get no better.
This will not be a fancy literary effort but a nuts and bolts explanation.
I was again after the City of NO Amtrak fast rabbit. You don't chase them,
you lie in wait.
Chasing them is fruitless unless you know where they have to slow down or rest.

This story begins in my attic.
Convalescing from a resent surgery I stared at the computer screen and watched
all the little Amtrak arrows which represented the company's trains move about
a map of the US.
I saw one leaving New Orleans and crossing Manchac Pass between 2:30 and 3:00 PM.
I love that area and visiting the low swamps between Lake Pontchartrain and Lake Maurepas would be a
 treat, whatever the outcome.  I had no idea that the train would run on Saturday. 
I would go forth with blind faith.
You have to have it with this hobby.
Even historic research has to have a probability aspect.

The ride down from Arcola, La. on US 51 was eventless except that the highway was blocked
 by a street fair and a detour featuring a speed trap.
Ya know what Tickfaw? You get my award for the "Aggravating Bonehead Town of the Year".

Barney Fife shot me with the radar but I ain't no dummy. I was off the bike and pushing it.
Now I've nailed your town as a backwater speed trap and nothing more.
A population which lets the police soil their name should vote the culprits out.
I didn't start shooting until Hammond where I got serious about following the tracks.
I popped out face to face with the Hammond Depot, a place I know.
 I went that-a-way.
 I came in on top of the Ponchatoula Depot.
 I took the appropriate shots.

 I visited the little engine that was featured in my last historical epic.
This engine would spur another "Historic Railroad Adventure".
 Exiting south, I found this.
It was busy on a Saturday proving once again old men and children have a lot in common.
A great hobby.
 Exiting dry land I feared that access to the rails would be limited to Manchac.
Most think that. They don't try on the level I do.
No brag ... Just fact.
Not so.
You can camp here if you want. But you must walk in.
 If you cross the tracks this is what awaits.
There is no road, just wet and prone to gator attack.
 The parking lot is OLD OLD US 51.
 It ran very close to the rails being there isn't much high land.

Next,  I was at the famed eatery at Manchac.
I took the appropriate picture.
I would be back.

 I-55 northbound crosses the pass on the right.
Old US 51 crosses on the left.
Old Old US 51 crossed on its left.

 Taken from across the bridge looking back.
From the left, Old US 51, Old Old US 51, a wharf, and the railroad to the far right.

 More Old Old US 51

 Past Manchac  I found a beauty spot.

 Being the confluence of a passing track it was prime for action.
Action would soon occur.

 He began honking.
The honking turned into a musical
ending with bah bah    bah bah
bah bah.
It was obvious he was a friendly.
The day was going great until I almost fell into the swamp while taking the last shot.
My last encounter with a freight resulted in getting bombed by a water balloon.
That was tasteless.
But, I'm tough water bomber.
You will not detour me from my pursuit.

 Feeling I was again too long in one spot, I retreated back to Manchac.
I needed to date the newer version of US 51 and I think this did.

 I set up shop and told all the loud tourist and urchins to back off or suffer the consequences.
I told them I'd come from afar Egypt and this was my moment.
Someone probably called HLS.
No mater. Soon I'd hear the 200 db horns.

 Wooo ...... Engine 13, how special!

 I did what I never do. I proceeded to race Amtrak.
I hit US 51, tucked in and brought her up to 75mph.
I knew she'd be high balling and it would be close back at Arcola, 40 miles away.
I took up residence in a shady spot at the beginning of the Arcola passing track.
As I said, passing tracks can be interesting.

7 minutes later I saw her nose a shining.

An adrenalin rush caused a premature click. I hate that but nevertheless it cements the fact that 
I was there first.

Big lipped and embarrassed she sped out of town, her 4000 horsepower beaten by 27.

 The conductor stared out the rear window
I saw his lips moving.
I could make out just a little.
I don't think it was "Hi".

 The End.

Last Train to Chatawa

First of all, I like to start these things on a high.
If you think the rest of this mediocre ride report stinks, 
at least give me credit for a fantastic title.
It's downhill from here though much of the ride would 
be uphill, up the road into very Southern SW Mississippi.

Kentwood, first up on US 51, is a very sad little town.
As my daughter said, "If your town didn't get interstate
frontage, it is going to die".
Kentwood does have the railroad and a few businesses 
that feed off its connection.
This is the only shot taken this time in Kentwood.
Oh, Kentwood is located atop a sweet water aquifer which 
supplies my house by way of truck as my hometown 
water is toxic.
Next up is the Pike County Space Administration Launch Facility. (PCSALF).
The county is not very rich but they were so embarrassed by President BO's 
depending on and conniving with the Russians that they decided to
initiate their own space program.  The unit is ready for launch. 
The fuel is being stored at the still under lock and key.

 The Trestles of Pike County
That's another pretty good title I may use in the future.
Don't go stealing it and make some movie.
Clint supports me up on that and you, if a liberal
Hollywood type, you don't want to mess with Dirty Harry.
He said he had my back on that and would 
be interested in a minor part if I ever developed a scrip.
How would one create a "minor part" for Mr. Eastwood.
I'm thinking his offer was a riddle.
Very funny, Clint, sir.

Addressing the trestle  below, I noticed it is also 
of Romanesque design similar in all detail to the 
one at Fluker. I am wondering which company
took such a visually pleasing approach to a dang ol' trestle.
I'm thinking it predates the Illinois Central's proprietorship.

 Next up was Osyka.
The old depot is that building.
It has been modified beyond depotic recognition.
I'd push the envelope a bit farther and head south on  the 
tracks to see where the side track diverged from the main.
I've always been a "confluence" junkie. Highways,
waterways, and railroads and even life share in that facet.
They require decisions determined by motivation.
 First I'd shoot the easy shot, north.
The tracks rejoined within sight.

Next I turned around to capture the sleeping OFD (Osyka Fire Department).
I'll have to consult my military expert, but I do believe that is what is referred to as a 
"Deuce and a Half".
My daughter's dog is named Deuce after the Saintly halfback, Mr Deuce McAllister

 Taking this two rut road south from town I found the confluence I had sought.
These are powerful places.
 Looking north, I suddenly clicked that 
the Osyka passing track also occupied this stretch.
The rails on the right are the old rails in which I was interested.
I think that by this time you are realizing this ride was 
all about hunting the Amtrak train, The City of New Orleans,
as it sped northward to Chicago.
 Heading back north into town I realized I'd missed this old building.
It may be the firehouse. 
The paint is the same as the feed mill building's  so 
they may own it or possibly they contributed the paint.
Might be a brother in law?  I know a fella whose 
brother in law is a fire chief.
Being fire chief doesn't make you special.
He is widely known for his dry to mostly burned 
barbeque chicken
I suppose that is "special" since he's in the burning business.

 I couldn't stay in Osyka.
I'd been there too long and I am a presence.
I felt that talk and rumor were running the streets, 
building to building and house to house.
I could not catch the C of NO there.

Heading north again I thought of Chatawa. 
It would be perfect.
I hadn't seen the new bridge and I was optimistic that the
old post office would still be open.
The bridge was open.
From that point a cloud of sadness descended as
an emotional fog upon the landscape.
The landmark home of the USPS was closed and 
early signs of deterioration were in progress.
  My grief was temporarily severed by the ear shattering wale of The C of NO's horns.
My daughter said those horns almost made her wreck one day while driving down US 51.  
When a loud warning type noise from an unknown origin occurs, it is 
very disquieting. Disquieting can be followed by PO'd in some situations.
She expressed that emotion  and I sensed she blamed me in part.
I can understand  and I apologized on behalf of the train.
She complained that it goes too fast, also.
I concurred which seemed to calm her.
 Moments like this require no text.

 Wishing not to look back at the little abandoned building,
home to so much history, I resorted to a few artsy shots.
(I hate that usage of a perfectly good word)

 Alas, I knew this would be the last time I'd come to Chatawa.

 The famous old artesian well was but a wet spot in the limestone.
It had been removed by the railroad in retribution for all the littering.
You can weigh that action in a number of ways.
 I thought I saw an image the wetness had made.
It may be a deer.or a horned devil animal.
 Sadly I left  the river and rails and headed up the hill to St.Mary's Convent.
This is another Pike Co. beauty spot.
 I found my old route down State Line Road.
It starts in a swampy area.

 Then I found a landmark I've monitored since 2003.
 Time is short.
Katrina hastened the inevitable.

 Back into Louisiana, I found the old La.38 store.
I've been inside a long time ago.
 A high hill offered up this pastoral scene which this picture did not translate.

 I made a premature turn and came face to face with this country church.
The minister must be a rock star as the church appears to be in fine health.
 Next and last is this little building.
It made me homesick.
I made haste in that direction.
I'd hit the road again the next day.
That to come.