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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

Chasing The Thing

Grasping a warm afternoon's opportunity, I jumped aboard the little used Suzukiette.
She sputtered to life as if asking, "What's going on?"
I would hear that again.
I gently explained that we were just going "around the block"
She, understanding the quote and complied, cleared herself as we left on the usual well worn route.
There were cops ahead. I don't do their papers check dance and did a U-turn.
The  route change was a minimal distraction which was probably a better way anyway.
It took us thought the beautiful rolling hills of the university farm.
It is not often that a writer can say "rolling hills" in southwest La.
I will use it again.
More rolling hills would follow as we traversed Lady of the Lake Road across Bayou Tortue (turtle)

Arriving at the north yard in New Iberia  I expected little and little there was.

Expecting little or nothing  can often provide the opposite.
What appeared to be a freshly painted CSX led freight appeared.
OK, here's an honesty check.
I'd heard that this train was headed west on the radio but figured it was long gone since I'd taken my sweet time preparing for the outing vacillating to and fro on  whether I'd go at all. 
If  I'd lazied out and remained a slug  I'd missed what was to come.

Mz.Utah sat at the station, but there was something different. She had her light on and a fluorescent clad gent had left the Louisiana & Delta office headed her way.
I shared in his excitement.
She would push these two to the L&D shop to the west down the old Southern Pacific route to Avery Island and points east and west. They are 1710 and endangered 1500.
I had forgotten the little camera was in zoom mode which fowled this epic shot.
I  raced to the shop and and over shot my shot. 1501 was gone. That  had not registered when I was there but I think her sad carcass had been drug across the street into the immediate yard.
Realigning, I caught the action that was taking place in the distance.
I'll insert a zoom here.
Satisfied that I'd sought them out, I went back and updated the waiting line.
Was it time for the next disectomy?
1503 grimaced.
Mz.Utah returned to the station with 1710.
Had 1500 made her last trip?
This is so sad.
They continued on around the corner.
I had not realize what had happened at the time or my ability to continue would have ended.

They stopped in front of the office.
There would be work to do down at the yard.
That is rather boring to watch so I moved on.
Can I make a "soccer analogy" here?
But first I'd attempt a shot into the sun.
The color version failed but this one didn't.
Mz Utah's lights were on and she was ready for another grueling afternoon.
I have grown to think she is the misnamed flagship of the company which all the engineers love to pilot.
Can you blame them?
I opted to check out the MoP Branch.  It has been a long time since I ventured east on this the old route of the New Iberia and Northern RR which spanned from Sunnyside Plantation and Patterson,  all the way to Port Barre and at one point connected with the Opelousas Gulf which gave it a connection with the Texas and Pacific at Melville, a little known fact realized by intense investigatory persistence.

Please study this historic map. The locations will be important in understanding the following.

Every ride has its special moment which defines the whole experience or at least it did for the moment.
I'd seen The Thing at the mouth of the MoP and chased it to the cemetery.
My attempts to get a good shot failed..
I finally caught up to it on dead ending  Dauphine St. (Thing Sighting on map)
I dismounted, got a beer, and watched.
A burly fellow raced out from beneath a canvass covered structure and ask me in "that voice",
 "What's going on?". I showed him the camera and said I was waiting for something, I knew not what,  to come down the tracks and that he was welcomed to join me if it so pleased him.
He said that he appreciated the offer but stuff comes down the rails here all the  time and that it drove him crazy. I noted that I could see what he meant.  He took that statement, though incorrectly, as my condolences on his situation. He said he had to get back to what he was doing beneath the cover which I suspected as a meth lab, and I wished him well and moved away as fiery explosions are common.
Here it came.

My old friend, Amos, directed the crossing. The procession had included Amos in the L&D truck and whoever had built "The Thing" in another truck. Evidently The Thing is not a L&D possession but the builder's. I can only guess as the whole thing is still a  mystery.
The builder's pursuit truck was a similar blue which legitimizes my presumption.
On La.31 the ritual was repeated.
At the old mill and East Yard the progression came to a halt. Traffic was barred as The Thing descended from the rails.

Then I made the mistake of the moment. I did not pursue The Thing to its lair.
I awoke last night and kicked myself which requires balancing on one leg.
Don't worry, though old, I am practiced and proficient.
But, while on the ride I determined that the action was over and I headed home as I knew darkness was coming.
Back through the ROLLING HILLS  I rode.

Again crossing, but now capturing, Bayou Tortue.

I arrived at the university's farm.

The Quarters
That's the right of way of the old Southern Pacific's route from Cade to Port Barre. 
Well not all of it, just a little.

A Shadow Rider joined me. That you, Mark?
More Rolling Hills.
Below the Terrace lies the abandoned dump. Few know that this was that.
Most think it is an alien landing area.
Why? Because!
That's fodder for another ride.
More later.