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A Piney Woods Railroad All Pages

During a recent motorcycle ride, I happened upon Peason, Louisiana. There was a new historical marker there commemorating the town. There was, also, a collection of pictures in a glass case. I was fascinated. I began researching all the terms that I could gleam from the display. This page and the next will be expanded as I put what I can find together.




It was the train pictures that grabbed me.

Then I started combing the web for anything pertaining to the trains or the town. I've written several notes to websites asking for information and most have yet to respond. The source of the most informative information on Peason could not respond because the email address is non existent. I am going to copy it word for word here as it is too valuable for the originating site to control. I feel he would have wanted an insurance policy on his information. This was originally posted by a paper in Sabine Parish. That source is listed, below.

Towns & Communities: Peason & The Lumber Industry, Sabine Parish
Source: Sabine Index, Many, La., Apr 21, 1999
Submitted by: Carl Dilbeck

After the large lumber milling operations in New England and the Great Lakes areas "cut out" during the Civil War, lumbering began
to move southward. By the 1900-1920 period, the lumber industry
began to "boom" in the virgin pine forests of Louisiana, and the
vast acres of unsurpassed pines in the western hills of Louisiana
did not escape. Many sawmills were constructed in the "Calcasieu
District," especially in Natchitoches and Sabine Parishes.

In December 1916, A.J. Peavy, a young logger turned lumberman,
acquired a tract of 40,000 acres in the southeastern section of
Sabine Parish, in Wd. 1. A large cash payment was made at the
time of the sale, with the balance to be paid in 88 promissory
notes. Other land was acquired later. Peavy formed the partnership
of Peavy and Wilson with R.J. Wilson, an experienced lumberman and
mill manager, and the town of "Peason" was planned, the name being
coined from a combination of the two surnames.

The mill site was chosen, and in March, 1917, land agent Thomas
Wingate headed up the task of clearing the ground and preparing for
construction. Two-men crosscut saws were used, with horse and mule
teams to drag the cut logs away. Wright Scarborough and F.G. Tarver
were hired by Wingate for this task. By the fall of 1917, the tract
had been cleared and a temporary wood-shed constructed to house
lumber for the construction. Lumber to build the mill was brought
by wagons drawn by mule and oxen from the D.B. Pate sawmill near
the turpentine camp of Shutts, located near the northeastern corner
of what is now Hodges Gardens. Many timbers were handpicked by a
special representative of Peavy-Wilson Lumber Co., usually ranging
from twenty-four inches to thirty inches in diameter, and about
thirty feet long. These were used for the framing of the mill
buildings and larger public service buildings of the town.

Plans for the whole town were laid out in 1917, with most of the
building being completed during 1918, and lumbering operations
beginning in late 1918. A tap line railroad was constructed, the
Christie and Eastern, running from Sandel on the Kansas City
Southern line some twelve miles to the mill site. It was said that
curves made up much of this mileage, as the track was constructed
to surround steep hills and avoid sharp grades. Later the railroad
was extended east to connect with the Red River and Gulf Railroad
at Kurthwood, with connections to Lecompte.

The town, which was wholly company owned, was dominated by
the lumber mill across the southern end of the town. A large
commissary or company store building also housed the company
doctor's office and the post office. Other public buildings
included the "Office Building," a movie theatre, garage, ice
house, hotel, church, and school at the opposite end of town
from the mill. Ten long rows of houses faced each other on five
streets, with small alleys separating the backs of the houses.
The population of the town ranged from 1500 to 2000 during the
years of full production.

The Peason operation was proudly billed as the largest pine
operation west of the Mississippi during its peak from about
1918 to 1929. Its standard production was about 4,000,000 per
month, with a selling price of about $125,000 gross, and
production costs of about $80,000. During the early to
mid-twenties, the mill often ran a double shift and produces
about 7,000,000 feet per month. W.W. Goode, who worked in the
office operations, has estimated that during the time of the
operation at Peason, about six hundred million feet of lumber
was produced. This would have sold for about eighteen million
dollars gross, with production costs of twelve to thirteen
million dollars.

Spur logging roads were constructed to each part of the forest
as harvesting progressed. Two-men crosscut teams felled the
timber, large "skidders," pulled them near the railroad tracks,
and steam loaders loaded the logs on to flat log cars. The
powerful "Shay" engines brought the trains in to the main
tracks, where the faster but less powerful "Rod" engines pulled
them on into the mill and dumped them in the log pond. From here
the logs were transported to the mill to be sawed, then,
according to the kind of lumber designed, it went through the
planer mill, to the steam kilns, and then to huge storage sheds.
The lumber and timbers produced were sold all over the world.

Employees ranged up to 450. Life in the town was good, even
luxurious compared to the country life in southern Sabine before
the coming of the mill. The company had its own water purification
system, and its own generating plant for electricity. Therefore
the pyramidal or umbrella style houses were equipped with
electricity and running water. Rent for a six room house would
be $12 monthly, including lights and water. Heat was provided by
mill ends, costing $1 per wagon load delivered. The church was a
"union" church, Baptist and Methodist. The Methodist Conference
assigned a minister to preach two Sundays out of the month, and
a resident Baptist minister preached the other two Sundays.

The mill's run ended in 1935, in the midst of the great
depression. A complete evaluation of the life of the town and
the social changes brought about by its existence would be a major
story. I offer these few facts to indicate the scope of the
operation, and conclude with a nostalgic sketch from my own early
life, which has been printed in the SABINE INDEX before, but which
some new readers might enjoy. Much of the factual data on the
production of the Peason mill given in the foregoing paragraphs
was collected by my nephew, Lavell Cole, during a study he made
at Northwestern State University, and I thank him for this data.
Lavell is presently teaching history at the Quachita Baptist
College in Arkadelphia, Ark., and is an eager student of regional
history. I'm sure it is his hope, as mine, that these lines add a
little to the understanding and appreciation of the history of
Sabine Parish.

OLD PEASON

"Old Peason!" What waves of memories the words bring back! They
take us back-back to THE TWENTIES. It wasn't "old" then; it was a
lusty young sawmill town built shortly before World War I, and now
in its hey-day. Rows and rows of bungalow type, steep-roofed houses
stretched from the schoolhouse at one end of town to the huge mill
at the other Main Street, and Railroad Street and Churchouse
Street, among others. Main Street, which led to the industrial
"end " of the town, was lined with sycamore trees. At the south
end of this street were the hotel, barber shop, garage, moving
picture theater, the company "office," the ice house, and the
long commissary building which housed the company-owned department
store, the postoffice, and the doctor's office.

To a little girl accompanying her father on "peddling" trips, the
commissary was the oasis at the end of the trail. Here was the drug
store with its soda fountain and ice cream counter. Best of all,
here were "grab bags" for a nickel. One actually reached into a
gaping hole in a large pasteboard box and selected the small brown
bag. It contained five pieces of assorted candy and a "prize." If
it happened to be one's lucky day, the prize was a nickel, and that
meant another grab bag.

From the long front porch of the commissary one could watch the
log trains puff in to the mill with their flat cars of logs stacked
like matches or the "local" trains taking box cars of finished lumber
over the old Christie and Eastern Railway to Sandel, on its way to
widely scattered markets. The trains were exciting. They had steam
whistles, and bells that rang and they belched forth clouds of
intensely black smoke, for their fuel was pine knots, rich and
"litered."

Beyond the railroad tracks stretched the "mill," where my farmer
father worked during slack seasons, He had taken us over the mill
on a Sunday. We inspected the saw mill, the "planer" mill, and the
loading sheds. Terms such as the "green Chain" and "dry kill"
(it was years before I knew the word was really "kiln") were
familiar even to elementary school pupils.

Since we lived in the country outside of the mill town, I knew
even more about the early stages of the lumber ring operations. I
knew about the turpentine collections that precede lumbering; we
children often examined the curved cups sitting on pegs in a tree
below a wide V-shaped, grooved cut. Sometimes we even "helped" the
workers by emptying the sap in a barrel nearby. Of course we knew
that the men would be around early each morning to collect the
turpentine, for we could hear their melodious calls long before day
on winter mornings.

I was acquainted with the spur railroads, built up with mule teams
and slips, that might occur unexpectedly in any area of the forest.
After that we might be halted on our walk to school by the cries of
"Timber-rr!" and we would witness the fall of a forest giant. Next,
the skidder would use iron cables to drag the logs near enough for
the loader to stack them neatly in place on the cars of the log
trains. I knew, too, of other fringe projects: the "pine knot crew"
who provided the fuel for the log trains and for other boilers, the
crews who made cross ties for the railroads, or peeled pilings for
the trestles.

Of course, childhood memories would inevitably be bound up with
the two-story lumber school buildings at the north end of town. Not
only was it constructed of pine lumber, but both floors were heavily
oiled for dustless sweeping. It was used for years before wooden
fire escapes were added. School boards had not been made so painfully
safety conscious by school tragedies at that time. The building was
overcrowded, and additions had to be made from time to time.

Even the school was dominated by the whistles that ruled the life
of the town, blowing at measured intervals from the pre-dawn hours
until evening. When the noon whistle blew, the janitor rang the
dinner bell, whether his watch agreed or not. Occasionally, a
whistle would blow off schedule and the whole school would gasp
anxiously and listen. Was it the "fire whistle" signal? (a series
of short quick blasts) Whose house was on fire? Was it the "doctor
call?" (a long, monotonous, sad tone) Whose father was hurt or
killed? Some students would burst into tears at the awful suspense.
If it was a fire, the high school boys would be dismissed to go
help the fire fighters, and the elementary pupils would watch in
awe as they sprinted down the street.

Once, we were all taken outside the school to see what was, for
most of us, our first aeroplane, a stray that passed overhead and
made a forced landing in a field a few miles away. During these
years, one of our teachers impressed upon us the headlines in the
daily paper, "FROM NEW YORK TO PARIS IN ONE HOP." Lindbergh, of
course.

The school and the town flourished and grew. Orders for lumber
poured in. Often, during the summer months, the saw mill and planer
mill "Quartered," working extra hours at night. The workers from
outside the town would walk home late at night by the light of
kerosene lanterns. Those were the days of flapper girls, the
Charleston dance, and the hit song "My Blue Heaven." They were
the days when T-models careening along the narrow roads at 25-30
miles per hour alarmed the cattle, as well as the residents.

Memory drifts on, then to

THE THIRTIES.

Not only had the nation-wide depression hit Peason-with reduced
lumber orders, but a more immediate threat hung over the town. Almost
all of the virgin timber was gone; soon the mill would "cut out;"
already the lumber company was planning a transfer to new territory
in Florida. This was accepted as inevitable, a foregone conclusion,
as the order of the day in the lumbering operations of the time. As
is well known in this area, there were a few notable exceptions to
this policy, such as the Louisiana Long Leaf Lumber Company's
operations at Fisher, but the general rule was the "cut out and out"
policy.

An air of uncertainty and foreboding hung over the whole mill town.
The big question for every family was whether they should pull up
stakes and follow the mill to Florida, or attempt to find new jobs
in Louisiana, already plagued with unemployment. My own family had
been there long before the mill came, and "guessed they could live
without it-they had before it came," Privately, however, my parents
mulled over how they would offset the loss of income from selling
vegetables in the mill town, and from the labor my father did at
the mill at odd times.

Many of our classmates bade us a tearful farewell as their fathers'
jobs ended at Peason, and they made the move to Florida, or to
neighboring mill towns. Rapidly, the population of the town and
school declined, In June, 1934, the last class graduated from
Peason High School. This group, sadly depleted by transfers,
consisted of five members: Velma Leach, Agnes Handley, Reba Coins,
Oliver Geeting, Jr., and Floyd Dowden; Principal, F. E. Salter.

The end was now in sight. Soon the last remaining group of tall
pines were felled on Eagle Hill, a historic landmark near the town.
A few weeks later, the whistles were blown continuously for a long,
long time, until all the steam was exhausted. Many people wept at
the lonely "last whistle," I for one. It seemed such a final thing,
the end to a whole part of my life. The fact that I had just
graduated from high school, and faced many other decisions and
changes made it doubly drastic. My whole world was in a state of
upheaval.

And so ended Old Peason, not abruptly, as it seemed at the final
whistle, but gradually, over a period of years, with adjustments
and changes resulting from the mill's closing continuing for a
long while afterward.
It has been symbolic and encouraging to me that the church house,
once in the middle of the town, but now next to open fields, has
remained standing and is in use at the present. It encourages the
hope that many things that were good, and worthwhile and enduring
in the teeming life of Old Peason have perhaps continued to live,
both here and in many far-flung communities. Who could say how many?

That is a treasure.

My great-grandfather had worked for Bentley above Alexandria. He and his family lived in one of the mill towns, Zimmeraman, I feel sure. I have also visited the living museum of southern forestry at Longleaf, the Southern Forest Heritage Museum. By the way, on Saturday, April 19, 2008, they are having a big party there. Attend and learn a bunch about the history of one of our state's largest industries. The place is, to use an overused term, awesome.

That's it for legitimate explanation of why I'm writing this aricle. The real reason
is that I'm a train nut. I love trains. My heart races when I see an old train bed.
I know I need therapy. Since that ain't happening, I calm down by doing these writes.
Actually, my heart is racing again.

At this point I want you to come this way and read about by previous visit to Longleaf and the SFH Museum. CLICK HERE to go there. It starts off at Fullerton but quickly goes to the museum's grounds. It will save me from posting those pictures here. Please right click the link and choose "Open in a new window", so you won't lose your place here. My old trick doesn't seem to work on this site.

Then you can visit my recently written page showing the Peason pictures.
CLICK HERE to go there.

That will get it for an introduction. The emphasis on the trains is next.

If you are a train nut, take an aspirin as things are getting ready to get emotional. Here I'm going to display everything I've found dealing with the Red River and Gulf Railroad, Peason and Long Leaf. Of course, I am limited by what the search engines have provided from my attempts at baiting them. I am sure there is much more out there and I'll continue fishing and adding if I get a bite. I hope this floats your boat. Alright, I'll quit.

Before I forget, I did find a reference to a book, "Up and Down the Red River and Gulf Railroad" by Troy L. DeRamus; 1989 (HE2771.L8.D47). It is for sale for 150 bucks on Amazon, if interested. This write is free, or maybe, cheap.


A Shay Engine, No.108, later, it was renumbered as No.106, built for Peavy-Wilson Lumber Co.

Quoting Carl Dilbeck, "The powerful "Shay" engines brought the trains in to the main tracks, where the faster but less powerful "Rod" engines pulled
them on into the mill and dumped them in the log pond."


The above rod engine is No.106. Why was the "Shay", renumbered? Was the "Rod" sold, crashed, or....?

Here is a little of the history of the railroad. I felt that I should include it as there is so little RR&G information out there. Gleam what you can for it.


RED RIVER & GULF RAILROAD. FROM HERE


The Red River & Gulf Railroad Company was incorporated in April, 1905, and its capital stock, amounting to $101,000, was delivered to the Crowell & Spencer Lumber Company and distributed by the latter as a dividend to its stockholders. The lumber company constructed the track and deeded the property to the railroad corporation. The two companies are, and have been from their inception, identical in interest, and they have the same officers.

The tap line connects with the Iron Mountain at Long Leaf, La., and with the Rock Island, Texas & Pacific and Southern Pacific at LeCompte, the track between those points being about 13 miles in length. The timber has all been cut away along the main line; but the lumber company has an unincorporated track about 4 miles in length, connecting with the tap line and running into the standing timber. The equipment of the tap line consists of 1 locomotive, a combination passenger and freight car, and 3 flat cars. The lumber company itself owns and operates 3 locomotives and about 50 logging cars.

The mill of the lumber company is at Long Leaf, within a quarter of a mile of the tracks of the Iron Mountain. The lumber company loads the logs on its cars in the woods, and with its engines- hauls them over the unincorporated tracks and thence over the incorporated tap line to the mill under a trackage privilege, for which it pays the tap line 25 cents per 1,000 feet, log scale. In other words, the logs are moved to the mill precisely in the manner that they were before the incorporation of the tap line, with the exception that the lumber company goes through the form of paying a trackage charge. Before the incorporation practically all the lumber moved over the Iron Mountain and no divisions were paid. But at the time of the hearing the bulk of the lumber moved over the tap line to the Rock Island, a distance of over 12 miles, the divisions paid by that company ranging from 2-1/2 cents to 4-1/2 cents per 100 pounds. The allowance of the Iron Mountain is uniformly 3 cents, while the Southern Pacific pays 3 and 4 cents per 100 pounds. The Texas & Pacific grants no divisions.

There is an independent mill on the tap line about 5 miles from LeCompte, with a capacity of about 40,000 feet per day. It hauls its logs to the mill by wagon. The lumber traffic of the tap line for the year 1910 amounted to 37,820 tons, with 1,363 tons of other freight. The revenue from the freight was $29,576.56, in addition to which the lumber company paid $5,191.36 for trackage rights for its log trains, and the Rock Island paid $6,666.75 for the privilege of running trains loaded with gravel over a portion of the tap line. The Red River & Gulf runs one train daily in each direction, on which passengers are carried; and its revenues from passengers amounted to $1,213.40 for the year 1910. These figures are taken from the annual reports to the Commission, which show an accumulated surplus on June 30, 1910, of $6,865.74, after the payment of a 40 per cent dividend during that year, amounting to $40,400. In the year 1907 it paid a 15 per cent dividend, with 40 per cent in 1908, and 20 per cent in 1909, making a total of $116,150 distributed in four years to its stockholders, on a capitalization of $101,000.

The allowances paid here are clearly excessive and amount to a re-bate to the lumber company. The allowance by the Iron Mountain to the tap line for switching the product of the mill to its rails may not lawfully exceed $2 a car; and we fix the division out of the rates that may lawfully be made by the Rock Island and other trunk lines on the products- of the mill of the controlling company at Long Leaf at 2 cents per 100 pounds as a maximum.

There was a little info on a couple of the engines.
First is 104, which has made the rounds. I got this from somewhere:

Historic locomotive to move to Southeastern Railway Museum

August 29, 2007
For Immediate Release (Duluth, Ga.).

"The Southeastern Railway Museum is pleased to announce the donation of "General II," Stone Mountain Railroad's locomotive No. 104.

Originally built in 1919 engine No. 104 for the Red River & Gulf Railroad, the locomotive moved to Gulf Sand & Gravel Co. in 1950 to become Comite Southern No. 1.

The Stone Mountain Scenic Railroad acquired the engine in 1961. It became known as "General II" when it was rebuilt and cosmetically altered to resemble the "General," the locomotive made famous by the Andrews Raid and locomotive chase through northwest Georgia during the Civil War".


The display at Peason had this picture. Isn't it ironic that I found No.104, the engine shown in this old photograph.


No.202 at the museum on Long Leaf:


No.400 at the Long Leaf Museum:


Here are some notes I've taken from Carl Dilbeck's masterpiece.

How the mill at Peason was built:

Lumber to build the mill was brought by wagons drawn by mule and oxen from the D.B. Pate sawmill nearthe turpentine camp of Shutts, located near the northeastern corner
of what is now Hodges Gardens.

The line from Peason to Sandel:

A tap line railroad was constructed, the Christie and Eastern, running from Sandel on the Kansas City Southern line some twelve miles to the mill site. It was said that curves made up much of this mileage, as the track was constructed to surround steep hills and avoid sharp grades.


Later, the connection to Longleaf and Lecompte:

Later the railroad was extended east to connect with the Red River and Gulf Railroad
at Kurthwood, with connections to Lecompte.

The RR&G and Peavy-Wilson Lumber Co. connection:

The lumber company constructed the track and deeded the property to the railroad corporation. The two companies are, and have been from their inception, identical in interest, and they have the same officers.

More from HERE.

[To Repeat]The tap line connects with the Iron Mountain at Long Leaf, La., and with the Rock Island, Texas & Pacific and Southern Pacific at LeCompte, the track between those points being about 13 miles in length. The timber has all been cut away along the main line; but the lumber company has an unincorporated track about 4 miles in length, connecting with the tap line and running into the standing timber. The equipment of the tap line consists of 1 locomotive, a combination passenger and freight car, and 3 flat cars. The lumber company itself owns and operates 3 locomotives and about 50 logging cars.

The Red River & Gulf runs one train daily in each direction, on which passengers are carried; and its revenues from passengers amounted to $1,213.40 for the year 1910.

Thankfully I am through with all the educational part of the write. All that I have for now, anyway. The fun part now starts, at least for me. I'm going out there and find all of the bed I can riding the back roads, my personal passion.

Below are the maps as I will work west to east.
A Toonerville Trolly connected Sandel, on US171 with Peason, on La.118. Click the maps and pictures to enlarge. Then hit the back button to return.


Peason to Kurtwood


Kurtwood to Melder:

The names of the places that made this map possible came from Abandoned Rails: The Red River & Gulf Railroad


The next, and last section, is from Elmelhine to Lecompte. I am unsure about this. I've put in a request to the museum to varify it.


Next, I'll supply pictures of the grade that I've found.
This may be a full summer project. Stay tuned.

Armed with the supposed rail route on the bike's GPS, I headed to the area below Lake Cocodrie which was, as my Maps of Louisiana showed, laced with old rail beds left from the hay day of steam engine enabled forestry. The evidence was clear to a believer as I stopped at each intersection of gravel road and dotted line depicting an old route. Amazingly, the map still displayed what I would consider "dummy lines", what I thought were very temporary intrusions into the soon to be leveled forest. The "virgin" forest must have been extremely thick.

Getting exited to see the pictures?

Not quite yet.

As every foray into History Land requires, I did more internet searches trying to find additional information about Peason, the Red River and Gulf Railroad, and by using a new term, "Christie and Eastern Railroad" , gleamed, again, from that roadside display in Peason.

This was last night's catch:


"Peason was established in 1918 by a long time logger, Mr. A.J. Peavy. Later, he met Mr. R.J. Wilson, a lumberman, and a mill manager. Together they started the Peavy-Wilson Lumber Company. Peason was a major logging town known to everyone in the area as, "The Peavy-Wilson Lumber Company." It had a movie theater, hotel, saloon, and a main street that was lined with sycamores. The town was located on Peason Ridge, ten miles west of Florien; Peason was at the end of the Christie and Eastern Railroad. People in the Peason Community were farmers before the mill came. After the mill came all the people started working there for better money. When the mill closed down in 1935 in the middle of the great depression, the people either had to go back to farming or they moved to Florida to try to make a living.

In 1894, the "Pine Grove Baptist Church" was established in Peason. In the early 1900's and late 1800's the Peason High School was established. The last class graduated in 1934. During the years between 1918 and 1929, there were 1,500 to 2,000 people living in Peason.

By 1934 trees were getting scarce. The last trees that ran through the mill were cut off the top of Eagle Hill. Later on Peavy Wilson donated all this land to the Peason Community. Then, the Peason Community donated the land to the United States Government for the military bombing range. The range is the most important thing in Peason now, since the mill is gone except for the people that still live there. People from all over the United States come to practice for war at Peason Ridge.

Related Stories

Mr. Otis Westfall, who is now 97 years of age and happens to be Tyler’s great-grandfather, remembers Peason during the booming days. He used to work for the sawmill that was located in Peason. Mr. Westfall and his family also lived there. As a teenage boy he recalls that trains moved the timber into the sawmill town. The trains would carry several hundred trees, called "virgin timber" into the mill. Then the men and young teenagers would unload it and cut it up for lumber. Mr. Westfall, tells that everything that was needed was located in this town. After everyone got paid at the end of the week they would all go to the commissary and spend all their money. The commissary had a long, wooden porch where people would get together and visit each other while they bought their supplies. Mr. Westfall said, "all the money stayed in this town." The men would buy several pounds of supplies that the families needed at home. If other supplies and clothes were needed, they could also buy it there. Everything the people needed was available in the sawmill town. Mr. Westfall also tells that at the Peason Sawmill town he first got a glimpse of his future sweetheart whom later became his wife, Mrs. Sylvia Simmons Westfall. He said, "she wouldn’t pay attention to me at first" but later on they became husband and wife.

Mr. Otis Westfall shared this with our family before he went into the nursing home. He still remembers lots of things that happened in this area. He has always lived in Peason until recently.

Old Peason remembered by Mrs. Exie McInnis, as told to Willie Jones:

The school sat on the front street. Peason School only went to the eleventh grade. The school had many sports including boys and girls basketball. Mrs. Ruby Nicholson was the first principal that Mrs. Exie knew of. Some of the teachers included Mrs. Ivey Jordan, Helen Wiggens who married the postmaster, Mr. Dallas Allen. The primary teacher was Hedi Gardner. The second principal was R.V. Tuck who came from Kentucky and stayed for two years until he moved on. Mrs. Cooper was principal in 1902. Another teacher was Lucy Bolen she taught English. The school also had a home economics class. Mrs. Exie taught sixth grade in 1927-28.

The commissary was a very busy place. It had a long front porch on the front of it. It housed the doctor’s office, drug store, furniture store, butcher’s shop, post office, dry goods and a grocery store. Behind it sat the icehouse. The front street was lined with sycamore trees. There were houses on both sides of the railroad tracks. At one time Peason was the largest town in Sabine Parish. The mill was located by the log pond on the west side of Peason. The mill and town took up about 60 acres. The old pond is still there today; it is located about 13 miles from Florien on Hwy. 118. The large pond covered about five to six acres, it was used to float the logs into the mill. Some of the trees are still standing and if you look close you can even tell where the streets and railroad tracks used to be.

Mrs. Exie continues her discussion about Peason with the following information that was personally handwritten on two sheets of paper. "The first thing Peason had to have was a name so they took the first three letters of Mr. Peavy’s name ‘Pea’ and the last three letters ‘son’ of Wilson and put them together and named it Peason. The company also had an officer that lived in the top store of the pay office to keep order and I’ve forgotten his name but he kept good order. Peason was a quite town.

Peason also gave his people plenty of entertainment. They built a theater for movies every night except Sunday night for the grown ups and a skating rink for the younger set.

It seemed like it was hard to keep a doctor. The first Dr. was E.C. Dillion but he was gone pretty soon nobody knew why. I do not know all their names, but I’ll give you the names I do remember, Dr. Alford, Dr. Ellzey, and Dr. Franklin from Anacoco and he stayed as long as Peason stayed there. Mr. John D. Whittington was the second man to run the drug store and he stayed until they cut out. The railroad called Christie and Eastern is the railroad from Peason to the K.C.S. at what is called Sandel now, but was called Christie before Peason. The motor car was driven twice a day from Peason to Christie to get the mail.

When Peason moved away there was a man and his family Henry Sharp came to sell the houses, railroad steel, and all the things left behind. When the motor car stopped going after the mail Mr. Mack Duggan extended his route and brought Peason mail out to the Peason place until the mail was not very much so they did away with Peason post office and Mr. Duggan had a longer route.

I forgot to tell you that Peason run their railroad from Peason to Kurthwood below Kisatchie so they could ship lumber two ways."

As quoted from a personal letter addressed to Willie on September 17, 1998 by Mrs. Exie McInnis. She also provided a newspaper clipping with additional information.

Information gathered by:

Tyler, Josh, Willie and Cody

[Obviously school kids, way to go, M.History Teacher]

[Ok, a little history and geography of the area]
Florien & The Neutral Strip


"The Village of Florien is located in Sabine Parish in scenic west central Louisiana near Toledo Bend Reservoir. Florien was founded in 1897 and was named for Mr. Florien Giauque. In 1997, the residents of Florien celebrated the centennial of this picturesque village. Florien is the home of the Sabine Free State Festival and beautiful Hodges Gardens. The festival is celebrated every November and commemorates the great historical events leading to the establishment and termination of the "neutral ground" between the territory of the United States and the territory of Spain, west of the Mississippi River.

Events leading to the territorial dispute resulting in the "neutral ground" agreement really began with the French establishment of its westernmost settlement and fort in Louisiana at Natchitoches and the eastern boundary of El Camino Real (San Antonio Trace) at Los Adaes, just east of present day Robeline. In 1803, the United States bought Louisiana from France. This vast territory known as the Louisiana Purchase, included all the land drained by the Mississippi River. When the Americans asked the French about the western boundary of this land, the French were very vague. A definite boundary of Louisiana had not been determined. The Spaniards in Texas considered it to be the Red River. The Americans claimed it to be the Sabine River. Finally, a neutral strip was created in 1806 when no decision could be made. General James Wilkinson, representing the United States, met with the Spanish commander at Los Adaes, the first settlement in the Neutral Strip, to make this agreement.

From 1806-1820, this area was often referred to as "The Neutral Strip" or "No Man's Land". During this time, this strip of land between the Sabine River on the west and the Arroyo Hondo and the Calcasieu River on the east, soon attracted people of all kinds. Outlaws often came to take advantage of a land without law enforcement. In 1810, a joint expedition of Spanish and Americans drove them out. Lawlessness continued until 1822, when Colonel Zachary Taylor built Fort Jesup and brought order to the lawless region. The Florida Treaty of 1819 fixed the western boundary of the Territory of Orleans, among others, but not until 1826 did the so-called "Free State of Sabine" really become part of Louisiana."


The Dover House

[NOT IN PEASON, but it is a bridge from Peason to the extended forestry based communities that I am finding so interesting, Florien and Fisher. I'm either not doing something right in my searches or there is a scant information about this society. What I can find will be posted, back to the Dover House.]

The Joe and Elizabeth Dover family home was built soon after the World War I armistice was signed on November 18, 1917. The family moved into the home during the spring of 1920.

The house is built entirely of "heart" lumber that was purchased from the Peavy- Wilson Lumber Company located near Peason, Louisiana. Many of the other materials had to be shipped to Florien pursuant to special orders. These included the outside columns, the beveled oval glass doors, kitchen sink, electric light fixtures and bathroom fixtures.

The house contains three bedrooms, one bath, living room, dining room, kitchen and pantry.

Exterior features that were unique to Florien in 1920 remain intact today. These include the columns across the front, brick flower planters located on either side of the front steps, a covered car port at the side entrance, porches around three sides and a woodshed containing a workbench and covered clotheslines. There was also an outdoor privy, chicken coop and a large henhouse. There was, at one time, a frame house adjoining the "back" pasture that was built for Willie Ed Porter, a handyman employed by the Dovers. Porter was a colorful individual and was every entertaining with his "jig" dances and other antics. Porter remained with the Dovers from 1920 till his death in 1950.

The house was originally heated with a wood stove which was also the cook stove but in 1940 this was replaced by the second gas system to be installed in the village of Florien (the first was installed next door in the home of Marguerite Dover Dupree).

Originally, the plans for the family home included a provision for adding a second floor to the one story building. To accommodate these plans there is a high beamed ceiling and completely floored attic. Today the Joe and Elizabeth Dover home remains in its original state. Family members have kept the home intact however, in the fall of 1997 family members donated the Dover house to the Village of Florien and the Sabine Freestate.

Information gathered by A. Lee.

Thanks to Ms. K. Arthur for her contribution."


Now for the ride through the forest in search for of train beds.
Sorry, that will be on the next page. I have domestica to attend to.


Above is an example of the maze of old railroad beds that lace the woods south of Lake Cocodrie, my recent haunts. They are too many to highlight. If you look closely, you can see the dashed lines. (click the map with your right mouse button and select "open in new window") The white line is my route from La.13 westward. I turned off La.13, just south of Turkey Creek at the brown sign for Crooked Creek Reservoir and campground. I believe it is Cypress Road. That road dead ends at Red Robert which starts on its east near Turkey Creek. I had coordinated each picture with numbers, like that was important. It was at the time, but that importance has subsided. The following will be a number of pictures of what I believed were some of the lumber train routes through the forest. I understand from the previous writings that the Shay gear driven engines were used (at Peason) because of their pulling power. This was Long Leaf's territory. Then the cars were transferred to rod type engines (familiar steam engines) which took the cars quickly to the mill. Here are the pictures of a few of those old beds. Now try to imagine:




And, along the roads:



And, when the routes have been overlaid with present day dirt roads.



After wandering around south of Cocodrie, and almost becoming a wet place in the road under a lumber truck, I headed for the oasis of all local forestry knowledge, The Southern Forest Heritage Museum at Long Leaf. I walked into the old commissary and no one was there. Everyone was out working on preparations for their big weekend coming up on April 19, 2008. Shortly, a lady appeared and I told her of my problem finding the immediate Red River and Gulf exit/entrance to Longleaf from the west. She found a gentleman who claimed not to be the authority, but he immediately found what I needed. They were both devoted to finding the answer to my question. Pay these people a visit. Their place is AWESOME.

The bad news was this. There are no rails from Longleaf to Lecompte as one website had said was proposed. In fact there is less evidence than in the woods because population, nurseries, and farms have covered them. Below is a little evidence I found along La.112 between Forest Hill and Lecompte. Pipelines have assumed old rail beds because the Right of Ways are intact and easy to access. These pipelines and power lines preserve history. Camp on one and you can hear the engines in the warm humid southern pine forest night.


Another road rides the previous rails.



Being a bit depressed at the lack of rotting rail ties, I rode into Lecompte. There were no humps in the road, nothing. I saw where the cross track had been, in the middle of a neighborhood yard. Should I believe the GPS? Then I looked to the right, across the bayou. There were the remains of the old trestle crossing Bayou Bouef. I heard trumpets blare.




My faith restored, suddenly the vision of of an industrial railroad district came into focus. The "rails" followed the bayou south through town, I was clicking away behind an imaginary lumbering steam and smoke belching beast as it made its way to the junction with the long gone Southern Pacific, now the main Union Pacific line at Lecompte. Below are those pictures. Did you see that puff of black smoke? I did.






The locations of the doors on the buildings told me that I was on the rails. It was a moment. Suddenly, I just had a flash of Peter Pan, saying something about "believing". I think he was onto something.

The historical marker is near the old Methodist Church on the south side of town as I exited. It is a reminder that Lecompte is not new to railroading and that the Red River and Gulf was a newcomer in town compared to Mr.Smith's endeavor.


Here's the last vision of what I believe is the confluence of the RR&G and Southern Pacific RR's. Is that switch set?


That's it for now.

The Open Door Ride

Well, I've hiked through the sage brush,
I ran up some rail
I slept on the bench in a few county jails
And they laughed as they knocked all the wind from my sails ....

David Allen's "rail running" and mine are a little different but a lot alike.
They both speak of addiction.

I'd been clean for quite a while.
Too long, really.
And, I have fought the pain.


It was Sunday morning early and I was functioning.
Somewhat.

I left with:

No phone.
No radio.
2 cameras.
2 bottles of water.
1 full tank of gas and I even checked the tires.
The memory of Leonville was all too clear.
At the end of the ride, two or so hours later, 
I had seen two and a bunch tied down.

The Conclusion:
I was home by 11:15 and set to prepare a great barbeque dinner.

She knew I'd "ran up some rail".

But, I'd covered my tracks with a tablecloth.
After a while you learn the secrets of living with  a country girl.

Now most of you don't know what I'm talking about.
The lesson is from an old James Cotton song,
The lyrics:

Otis Spann sings.
Listen and sing along,  Click Here 
The Blues are educational.
Not all genres are.

James Cotton's song.

 You walk around here talkin about your woman that left you
And all that old kinda piano
I don’t know why your woman had to leave you.
Mine ain’t never left me ... yet.
I don’t know how soon
I keeps that woman of mine just as fine and healthy as she wanna be.
I raise hogs, cows, chickens and everything

She better not act like she’s hungry, cause if she do,
It’s a cow dead.

And if she wants some poke chops, I go out and catch one o’them shotes
She’ll have poke chops all the week. Sho’will
See, cause every time she get hungry, she get evil
You can’t blame the girl, cause she’s a country girl


Yea, my baby's a country girl,
And she just can't help herself.
Yea, my baby's a country girl,
And she just can't help herself.
And every time I tell her I'm gonna leave her,
She say daddy, I don't want nobody else.

There ya go.
Learn yourself how to start a bbq fire ... fast.
I have.

Back to this dependency spawned epic.
 Suggestions: 

Start Early.
Don't promise anything.
And don't forget that you have to go home....
and you know ... she gets evil when she's hungry. 

 Maybe a little mood music is in order.
(All links open a separate page you can close)

South Louisiana in mid-June.

 The stillness was broken.
 My first quarry moved slowly.
 I didn't act anxious
 There were others.



I followed.
Her door was open.  
 And, down the line came another.


 I left the two to themselves and moved on.
Four Corners has a certain reputation.
Read Burke's Lieutenant Robicheaux novels.

He doesn't mention UP High Rail Maintenance Vehicles.
Possibly they are too seedy even for him.
 I entered The Yard.
The Usuals were all there.
Each in their place.

Nothing for me.
I'd seen it all a thousand times.
 I headed out of town with no expectations.
But
Up the hill she came..
 




She even winked.
I think I'll see her again.
The addiction ... you know.

Often pictures are enough and have to be.,
Besides you already know the conclusion.
Lunch was especially good.
They always are ....... after a fix.