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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

Illinois Central RR: Arcola to McComb Mississippi

It was Saturday morning late.
I knew this one was going to be short and probably  under 100 miles.
I only wanted to take a little putt in the cool morning air. I had no plan or mission.
If I encountered a train to chase, that would be fine, if not, no big deal. I'd just take in the scenery.

Once I thought US 51, above Amite, was a boring ride. I've adapted and now enjoy it.
It is a historic route laced with little hamlets, some hanging on, others frayed, having lost their original fabric.

Below is an old map of McComb's Illinois Central RR yard.
Not having a plan I put the bike on auto pilot and let her go up US 51.
I'd turn around there after visiting the beautifully restored depot and the fantastic train exhibit.
I would do more if my energies and enthusiasm permitted.
As it turned out there was never a dull moment. The game I play was attended well.

I headed up US 51 from Arcola.
I always exit the highway at Osyka.
I've been doing that for 14 years. The little town has never failed to amaze as a living history museum.
Lately, I've learned that it is a good bet that a "rabbit" will be waiting there because a southbound train has
been released from McComb's south yard.

The rumble was awing.
I laughed as the American and Mississippi flags had been planted on the Canadian engine.
The Canadian railroad is not a favorite in these parts.  They might as well be Chinese.
Still, if you like to hear 20,000 horsepower grazing, it's a neat experience.
Then, when those horses are asked to pull, the ground shakes.
The train may not be a dragster, but then it's not spent in 1/4 mile.
The old blues song, "Built for Comfort Not for Speed" comes to mind. {often}
Mile Cirrus knows nothing about torquing. These girls could torque here off the stage with a sigh.

One was different. I was just standing around, mostly leaning on that shed out of the sun and noticed that she
lacked the stubby "wings" on the other engines' rear quarters.

The other engines appeared all to be the same which made them uninteresting..  Had I found another MAC?

Possibly, too  many pictures were taken or too many are displayed.
Sorry, they all have a purpose.

I did a little research and found this one belongs to the EMD family.
I  know a little about the the SD-40's.
Read below. "GF-643a", printed on the engine was intriguing but led nowhere, so I Googled the
engines number.  .

Today, you can find any engine on line.

That's SD 75 "I"
I knew it was special. It is one with the rubber sheet isolating the cab and the "I" designation is in the script.
It takes a lot to be special in a mundane diesel world.of long lasting durable machines. Was that redundant?

The EMD SD75I is a diesel-electric locomotive produced by General Motors Electro-Motive Division (EMD).
This unit is the same as the EMD SD75M, with 4,300 horsepower (3,200 kW), HTCR radial trucks and a 72-foot-4-inch (22.05 m) frame. The only difference between the two models is the cab. The "I" in the model designation stands for "Isolated Cab". This type of cab is recognized by a seam separating the nose and cab components. This seam is a rubber lining that dampens vibration and cuts down on noise, because the cab is not attached directly to the frame on the unit. This was the last model that used the "I" designation in the model name; all further units had the isolated cab, but the model designation continued to use the "M". Buyers included Canadian National, the largest buyer with 175 units (now 173), Burlington Northern Santa Fe with 26, and Ontario Northland Railway with 6 (now 5).

Wiki's Engine's Picture
Check out the "GF-643a".
Evidently, at this edit, I had not figured out what the GF thing  is all about.

That's 5638's mo pretty sistah.

Sorry, gotta go, girls.

The City of New Orleans passenger train was entering Osyka from the north.
That is why the Canadians were waiting.

One engine was being used going southbound.
Remember that. It will be an important fact later in this article.
In the picture below, perfectly captured between the two trains, is the Osyka Depot.

Local elections were imminent.
A reminder to Mississippians to "Stand Fast" was included in the yard display..
One definition of  "stand fast" is this, "To ​firmly ​remain in the same ​position or ​keep the same ​opinion":
The definition's  example fit, "The ​rebels are ​standing fast and ​refuse to be ​defeated".
Good luck to us all with "standing fast".

The crewman can be see in green at the head end of the engine
I imagine he offered up a wave unless a smuck.
More than likely he'd have to throw the switch for  his train to proceed north.
Rocket science seems to be gradually encroaching upon the railroads,
but, it seems they still want human verification.
 I would.

I beat the train across the crossing and headed to Chatawa to try a new angle.
It didn't work and I resorted to the old one.  I do have an old picture of Chatawa's main line.
I may verify this location as the depot's.

She was headed for the  trestle that crosses a creek which enters the Tangiaphoa River.
There was once an artesian well here  until the "folks" littered up the place so badly that the railroad shut it
down.  The well had been there forever. More bad blood between the locals and the railroad, but the
railroad was  right. It was their property and the people were warned.  "Some"  take and take with no
responsibility, then make like they are an oppressed minority when the free candy stops.
"The well" is a lesson.
Free enterprise can pull that off.
Politicians seem unable because their greed matches that of their constituency.

Notice the trestle ahead.

Here's the layout.

Next stop was Magnolia. This is looking toward the rail car service business located there.

Magnolia has preserved its depot. I believe, like many, the police station is located within.
I  actually have a movie of the the passenger train passing it.
I have no recollection of taking it.

"New meets Old".

Next stop, Adams Rd.   Adams Rd sits at the southern end of the Canadian yard. There is shade which
invites a lawn chair, barbecue pit and ice chest.  Train watching has become so popular, I suggest a park
at this location. Until then, park without restrictions. Rethinking the "park" suggestion, best leave this location
as is. Anytime the government gets involved you can kiss goodbye to what made a place special.
Mercy, have I seen that happen over and over. Government consists of know nothing low intellect
bureaucrats fixated on their own importance and the power that fable generates. I rest my case.

CN 2323 made her grand entrance.  I got carried away photographing her incremental progress into the yard. I have restrained that temptation and deleted most.

There were 30.
Next up was Fernwood. Actually, Fernwood was before Adams Rd. Consider it a "backstroke". Ready?

Nothing is left of the old lumber mill and the Fernwood, Columbia & Gulf RR location.
I just checked Google Earth and I may be wrong.
Below is one of the old houses there.

The following are taken from "My Location".
Ponds are associated with lumber mills of yore.
Take your pick.
Fernwood Rd. looks like a possible rail route.
Could the sewage treatment plant south of South Yard be the old mill location?
 Probably not.
 I was just being romantic.

My guesses are below.

Here she came.
A better shot would have been on the other side of the tracks but that would have required this maneuver.

These would have to do if I was going to beat the train to Adams Rd.

Into McComb I flew. First up are these large pieces of concrete. Question?
They supported something and were not part of a wall though they appear that way today.

These were the Illinois Central shops.

I noticed 2 engines working below.

They were reverse moving 2 cars piled high with Falstaff Beer.

They cut loose and moved back to the main line where they rejoined their long train.

I moved forward trying to catch some poignant shots.

This is the rear end of the exhibited IC crane with the two alien engines in the background.

The place resembles a scene where some giant has parked his exquisite model steam train set.

The the aliens had to intrude.

I understand.  I've had this one since 1957 or bouts. The cars were added at birthdays.

She was no show train, but a hard working one.

There is some similarity on a different scale.

Now that the 2 aliens are gone you can see the shops in the back.

The mixed train's passenger car. The rear deck car would  foreshadow what was to come.

I think this one looks like the one in the woods off OLD Miss.27, north of  Monticello.

This is such a great place.   I get carried away.

The train that the 2 aliens were pulling, moved out.

The old sander still stands.

There's the Falstaff cars tucked safely, maybe, back in the old yard.
I know a few fellas that ....  forget  it.

Under the overpass were these very Southern chairs cable locked to the concrete. So goes the New South.
There were more.
These were purposely  aimed at the tracks.  I'm bringing my wife next time.
How cool!!

Within view is the old coal tower.

McComb has done it well.

I returned to Osyka.
There was something missing in my day, the northbound City of New Orleans.

Was that it coming?

I believe it is what is referred to as a "Geometry Train".  It checks the rails.
But how cool is this classy combo!! Not bad for a bunch of aliens.

Is that a tilting car under a rock bridge?

ATGMS?  Click here.

Neat old passenger car.

CN stands for  Ca Nook. Everyone knows that one.

Shizam, you could go campaigning from the rear deck of that un.
Imagine Hill Ray. Sorry, I know I ruined your day.

I have no idea why I have another set but I do.
That's the shack I was leaning against when this all started.

You know the rest.


I ducked in at Kentwood just in case the "City" was coming. It wasn't.
Kentwood, well, it ain't Osyka.

I have renewed questions about this artifact.

The ramp is troubling.
I originally thought the deck was the depot's floor.
Now, I don't know.
Possibly the freight portion was up hill from the passenger portion.
I  have an old picture somewhere. I will investigate.

It was open on this Saturday. There were visitors.
"Heritage" might be coming back in the face of so much evil.

In Tangipahoa I went by the large concrete structure I feel was a depot.

Someone had cleaned it all  up.

Whatever, it is interesting.  I need to go into the post office, which is across the street, and ask.

Back at Arcola, I  heard the horns and raced to the location of the Arcola Depot to welcome the northbound "City:". What timing and all that in 2 x 47 miles, round trip.
What was that all about?  You'll see if  you don't already know.

The sun did ruin this one.

OK, you sat through that, Here's some more stuff.
This is looking south toward Grosse Tete on the new passing track. The temporary (originals) rails
can be seen in the distance.

Here's a better shot.
It will all bottle neck to the south unless they double the Grosse Tete Bayou Bridge and the
Morley Bridge tracks.

Back to McComb:

Below is from the back of this  marker.

I first heard this song done by Quicksilver Messenger Service back in the day.
I had to follow it to its roots.

Another surreal character is portrayed in the Rolling Stones' Jumping Jack Flash. 
I see the similarities.
The Stones "followed" Bo.

Arcola to McComb = 47 miles

That's it.