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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

The Ferriday Route w/ big pictures

This was the last page of the Packton to Ferriday Ride
It has been broken off in order to add more information. 

I'll jump right into it and then back off so you can read another description.
First a map. There will be many and probably repeats to keep you sharp.
Al & I  wandered into town on US 84, not shown. The yellow line is our route.
The pictures had been  posted in their original size. Now, through the use of modern technology,
they are larger.

We more or less ended up here:

Please remember it was 104 degrees F. The brain damage suffered
has not subsided.  Honestly, any ride with Al causes similar effects.

This is a picture of Concordia Junction (above). Al and I just happened
to happen upon it. A few blocks after passing through it, he said,
"I saw some rail ties in the dirt back there. We were then in a
place we needed to leave and I couldn't chance going back.
You can venture into danger, but don't linger and don't back pedal.
This is where, if I remember correctly, the L&A had trackage rights
into Ferriday. And, this is where the Texas & Pacific came into town.

This train was coming in from in from Vidalia / Natchez, I'm guessing.
The Natchez and Western tracks went to Vidalia.

The progression of our ride through Ferriday simulated what
you'd expect of a couple burned out geriatrics after 300 miles
of riding in the 100F sun. Few pictures were taken as I think I forgot
why I was there.

These tank supports were in that area. For some reason I
felt compelled to shoot them. I can offer no other explanation.
They usually signify the historical presence of fuel tanks.
Was this a railroad filling station?

The following comes from a write on Ferriday's history, credited below.
I"m going to hand copy it because I want even the lazies to read it.
This is not all of it, but the part that applies to where I want it to. At this
point I am as write fatigued as I was "ride fatigued" in Ferriday, so it
ought to be authentic.

Here we go, several questions asked along the way are answered here
which is pretty cool. I guess I could have read it earlier but I didn't, so
here it is, and we can read it together.
I'm really flashing hard on a old Rolling Stones song.
I'll spare you.

Below is copied.

The railroad era in Concordia began when the Vidalia & Lake Concordia Railroad & Steamboat Company reached the vicinity of Ferriday's plantation in 1876. The narrow-gauge route, extending from the wharf along the Mississippi River at Vidalia to Concordia (a rural location near the southern tip of Lake Concordia), was oriented primarily toward serving agriculture. In 1878, it was sold to the newly created Natchez, Red River & Texas RR. The new owner completed a 25 mile extension to the Trinity (Black River) in 1886.

{I measured from the tip of Lake Concordia to where Black River is marked on my software and only come up with 17 miles. Something is missing}

Residents of the parish came to depend on both the services of this railroad.........
A second railroad, the New Orleans & Northwestern Railway, completed a 77 mile route between Natchez, MS and Rayville, LA in 1890. This standard gauge carrier laid its tracks through the heart of Ferriday's plantation and depended on ferries to move freight and passenger cars across the Missippi River.

In my notes I told myself to insert pictures of Rayville.

Note the railroad.

With rail service now available on a pair of routes, the economy of Concordia Parish flourished. In 1894 the New Orleans & Northwestern Railroad extended its line north to Bastrop, Louisiana, making it part of a new long distance route.

Me: Finding information on the New Orleans & Northwestern  RR is tough.
It would become part of the Missouri Pacific by way of the St.Louis , Iron Mountain & Southern Railway.
It was around long enough to get into trouble.


ex New Orleans & Northwestern
ex New Orleans & Northwestern
20.3 Collinston
27.5 Oak Ridge
30.4 Brodenax  1919t
32.2 Bardel [Bardell]
34.5 Jonesburg
37.8 Rayville
42.6 Burke
43.4 Dehlco [Delco?]
46.7 Archibald
49.5 Mangham
51.1 Big Creek
53.6 Baskin[Baskins]
60.4 Winnsboro
65.5 Chase
69.4 Gilbert
74.4 Wisner[Bryan City]
76.2 Elam
78.2 Peck
83.5 Sicily Islan[Florence]
86.1 Well's Lake
88.2 Foules[Copeland]
90.1 Greenville
92.7 Lee Bayou
97.4 Clayton Junction
99.3 Red Gum   1928t   [Junks Spur][Junks]
100.2 Panola
102.8 Ferriday[Helena]
103.4 Concordia Junction
103.7 Concordia  1919t
104.7 Sycamore
108.0 Minorca
109.3 Taconey
112.2 Vidalia

 Here's the route. Garmin includes many of the obscure names above.

These tracks shouldered an even heavier traffic burden after representatives of the Iron Mountain bought the carrier eight years later.
{Here you have the Missouri Pacific's heritage}

These developments laid the groundwork for an ambitious plan prepared by the Iron Mountain in conjunction with the Texas & Pacific Railway to create an entirely new community serving both existing and proposed rail lines. This railroad town, to be built on the Ferriday plantation, would support a system of routes linking both Natchez and New Orleans with Little Rock, Memphis, and other cities. Proponents of the plan believed that such a system would be able to effectively compete with the Illinois Central RR and the various steamboat companies, the dominant transportation providers between the lower Mississippi River Delta and Memphis at the time.

The plan moved forward on an expeditious timetable. By the end of 1903, the Texas and Pacific had laid its tracks north from Addis, Louisiana, to the newly created town of Ferriday. The Memphis, Helena & Louisiana RR (an Iron Mountain sub) simultaneously extended its route south from the Arkansas boundary to Clayton {remember the bridge I mentioned}, a junction on the Iron Mountain, 5 miles north of the town site. For the first time, freight could move by rail over a direct route on the western side of the Mississippi River, the entire distance from Memphis to New Orleans.

Clayton RR Bridge

These and other improvements pushed the old narrow gauge line {to Black River, probably the Jonesville vicinity} rapidly toward obsolescence. The Iron Mountain began operating this line through a subsidiary (Natchez and Western?) and converted the tracks west of Concordia Junction (one mile south of Ferriday) to standard gauge in 1906. It abandoned the remaining narrow gauge segment east to Vidalia the following year, operating trains instead over the parallel Iron Mountain route and then leased the segment west of Concordia Junction to the Louisiana and Arkansas Railway in 1913.

 {Bingo!!!!!. The L&A had trackage rights clear to Concordia Junction. That mystery has caused sleepless nights}

By the time the Iron Mountain became part of the Missouri Pacific system in 1917, Ferriday was a mature community with a downtown several blocks long. It had a hotel, dry goods store and cotton compress establishing Ferriday as a prominent center for the cotton trade.


The Missouri Pacific freight yard was a particularly busy place. The carrier interchanged cars with the Texas & Pacific in Ferriday and with the Louisiana & Arkansas at Concordia Junction. Northbound trains shared a common track to Clayton where some trains diverged toward Winnborro and Collinston (on the former New Orleans and Northwestern) while others headed toward Lake Providence (on the former Memphis, Helena & Louisiana). At Vidalia, southbound trains on the Missouri Pacific, as well as those of the Louisiana & Arkansas, turned freight cars over to the Natchez and Louisiana Railway Transfer Company, a subsidiary that transferred them across the Mississippi to Natchez on a ferry.

The routes through Ferriday apparently never handled a significant amount of Memphis to New Orleans business as originally conceived (by the T&P and Iron Mountain), but they did become important transportation thoroughfares. In 1928, passengers could depart the Ferriday vicinity on any of eleven trains each day except Sunday . MP's passenger trains operated to Memphis daily by way of both Helena (via Tallulah) and Little Rock, (via Winnsboro). Travelers heading to Memphis via Little Rock had the advantage of Pullman sleeping car service. Passengers could also book passage from Concordia Junction on the Louisiana & Arkansas, which was by now a prominent route linking eastern Arkansas to the Mississippi River.

Operating rail lines in the Mississippi Delta. ("Miss. Delta" refers to the flat lands adjoining the Miss. R. in north La. and central Mississippi, aka "Delta Blues" music>). Operating there had long been a problem for the railroads of Concordia Parish. Not only was ferrying rail cars across the river a heavy financial burden, but chronic flood damage added greatly to the maintenance of way expenses. In 1940, Texas and Pacific abandoned its flood prone route to Ferriday. {That route parallels our ride back home on La.15}

During the summer of 1988, the MP (MoPac) received approval to abandon the entire route between Vidalia and McGehee, AR, a distance of more than 170 miles. The townspeople felt a sense of loss when their spirited campaign to save the former MoPac depot from demolition failed. (NOT SO, It was saved. Click Here)

The rails connecting Ferriday with McGehee, AR and Ferriday
can be seen in red. Green connects Vidalia, where the ferry was,
to Ferriday.

Prospective rail operators considered acquiring portions of both the MP and Louisiana Midland lines. The Dixie River Railroad sought to buy the MoPac route from McGehee, AR, to Ferriday and even purchased locomotives, but it could not obtain financing. The Delta Southern Railroad, a short line, purchased and resumed service over the portion of this line north of Quimby, a small town near Tallulah, in 1989. It could not be persuaded, however, to purchase the more southerly portion.

The tracks were pulled up leaving a scar across the town. The area where the freight yard, roundhouse, and other railroad facilities once stood remains vacant.

Portions of the former freight yard area have been developed into the Ferriday Depot Park.
Visitors will find little more in Ferriday except vacant property to remind them of the towns heritage as a railroad center. A strip of track encrusted in concrete at the former Louisiana Railway facility and a dilapidated former MoPac building near the old roundhouse site offer a shadowy reminder of transportation years ago.
That was almost completely copied from HERE Please consider this an ad Joe:
When the Railroad Leaves Town: American Communities in the Age of Rail Line ......
By Joseph P. Schwieterman seems to be a pretty good book. There ya go.
More on Ferriday from HERE:

FERRIDAY Those who study Ferriday history know the town was once a thriving railroad community, but dig a little further and Ferriday started out as a wedding present.

Citizens of Ferriday have conducted research recently on Ferriday&8217;s history to prepare for the town's 100th anniversary celebration Saturday.

Calvin Smith, son of Presbyterian minister Jedediah Smith of Natchez, was the owner of Retirement Plantation in Kingston and gave his daughter 3,600 acres of land in present day Concordia Parish for her marriage to William Ferriday of Shropshire, England,
in 1827, according to the book by John C. Calhoun, "A History of Concordia Parish". Frogmore Plantation owner Lynette Tanner and her sister, genealogist Kay Ater Goeggle have also researched the history of Ferriday.

The area was called Helena Plantation and was one of the largest plantations in Concordia Parish and had an assessed value of $250,000. The area of the town bordered Panola Plantation, where Ferriday Farm Equipment is now, to the Ferriday Wal-Mart and east toward the old Lakeside Ford building, Tanner said.

Joseph Charles Ferriday, born April 5, 1840, and the eighth child of Calvin and wife, Priscilla was the man for which Ferriday was named,&8221; Tanner stated. According to a census taken by J.C. Ferriday in 1860 the property had 30 cabins for 149 slaves, 35 mules, 28 oxen, 180 sheep, 120 swine, 15 horses, 22 dairy cows and 75 beef cattle, Tanner said.

When J.C. Ferriday died in 1894, he was known as an active member in the parish and the plantation had been a flag stop for shipments of cotton.
After his death, Ferriday and his wife, Annie, moved to Natchez, selling the plantation to the Farm Land Company. One year later, it was sold to the Southern Land Company.

In 1903 the Texas and Pacific Railroad and the Memphis Helena and Louisiana Railroad set up
workshops in the town. And in 1904, the railroad companies, later named Missouri Pacific, asked the Realty Investment Company to survey the land for a town.

Tanner said in the days of Ferriday's train operations, the roundhouse building is what made the
town thrive.The roundhouse was a major switching point, where railcars would come in and hook up to other trains going out of the area with their cargoes.

Tanner said the roundhouse was located next to the depot at the end of Louisiana Avenue and is now called Depot Park.

Ferriday resident and Chamber of Commerce member Liz Brookings said she researched when the town of Ferriday became incorporated in order to find out when Ferriday should hold its Centennial Celebration. According to the Louisiana Secretary of State office, Gov. Newton Blanchard signed a document on Oct. 24, 1906, declaring Ferriday an incorporated town.
The town was renamed Ferriday from Helena to avoid confusion because there was already a Helena, Ark.

Now, on with more of our ride around Ferriday. My last visit here netted some great pictures of the warehouse district as I've already said, but, they are not the most important to this L&A write. The lumber mill south of town, which was on the L&A's leased tracks, is what I had missed last time. It blew me away.

The minute I saw the water tower I knew I was on the trail. Joe, in the article above, must have missed it as a remnant of "railroading times". It's a knack I have, Joe.

Flashes of Long Leaf hit me. (Southern Forest Heritage Museum)

That's the best shot. The rails ran out there somewhere,
or possibly they were behind me at this point as they crossed
the road at some point.

Now the sad shots.

I was surprised to see lumber just laying about. Al though
some work might be going on. Who knows, maybe ghost?

Here's an old picture that could have been taken right here.
The car is full of lumber.

Here's a few shots from the last time I was here. I really
did not understand the layout and completely missed Mill Rd.
But, I did catch the warehouse district pretty well, as he repeats himself.
The railroad which headed north was a sub of the Iron Mountain, later the MP.
By the way, there is a swing bridge at Clayton, 5 miles north, I need to visit.


Attached are two pictures of the locomotive at Ferriday, LA at the old Fisher sawmill. The locomotive is Fisher Lumber Co. number 3. The locomotive had a service pit under it that's caving in that's why she's leaning a bit to the left.

The engine's description follows:

Fisher Lumber Co. Heisler - 2 truck
Builder: Heisler Locomotive Works Build Date: 04/1925 Construction No.: 1513
Gauge: Standard Cylinders: 14x12 Drivers: 33
Empty Weight: 84,000 Weight on Drivers: 84,000 Tractive Effort: 22,000
Fuel: Wood Boiler Pressure: 180
Status: Display Location: Rogers Lumber Co

Brian follows:

Upon my inspection the tender had in faded black letters at the top "Angelina Harwood Co" you can find the information at this link .
In the middle was a large "3" engine number 3 at the bottom of three in faded white letters was "Fisher Lumber Co.".

Possibly Angelina was a forerunner of Fisher?

Angelina was a dummy line that ran to Monterey, Louisiana. Now there is a listing for a Angelina Plantation in Monterey. I'm sure it's connected somehow.

There was nothing in the barn other than the sign on the wall.

I did a little detective work and found these picture of the Fisher Lumber Co. in Ferriday where the little Heisler locomotive is. They were taken during the 1927 flood.

Ferriday today or in May, rather. I've been there often it seems. It's a blur:

Looks like the Arcade Theater, reported as closed by Joe, may be reopened for some use.

Here's a warehouse on the north end of what I believe was the exchange area between the Texas & Pacific and Iron Mountain/ MP. That's a complete guess. There will absolutely be no further research concerning this subject, ever.

Was this a large cotton warehouse? Your turn.

And, to close it out, here's the shrine to the 3 cousins, Jimmy Swaggart, Jerry Lee Lewis and Mickey Gilley. They are the other big 3 here that are no longer with us. They are only a sampling of our diverse music and personality. (La.Tourist Bureau)

Here's a quote from the Ferriday Chamber of Commerce :

The Delta Music Museum is presently the home of exhibitions and Hall of Fame for fifteen Delta musicians and two non-musical celebrities born in Ferriday, news commentator Howard K. Smith and Hollywood's legendary hostess Ann Boyer Warner. Celebrity musicians include Ferriday native cousins Jerry Lee Lewis, Mickey Gilley and Rev. Jimmy Swaggart, along with Conway Twitty, Percy Sledge, Aaron Neville, Irma Thomas, Gov. Jimmie Davis, Pee Wee Whittaker, Clarence "Frogman Henry," Johnny Horton, Al Harris, Dale Houston with Grace Broussard, John Fred Gourrier & The Playboys, and Fats Domino. For more information, the website for The Delta Music Museum is

More later. The ride home was awing. My camera held together for the grand finale. It had been on for 10 hours, then quit for the final 2 hours. Stay tuned for that great page which will be written somewhere in the purple haze. Wait, it's not over yet.

As an added treat, here's a discussion of the Natchez rail ferry.

This is from a public forum or Google was a member and told it all. I will cut the last names of the speakers as a courtesy and I will correct their spelling. Tank yew. None of what you read on this site can be considered the truth, speaking for myself and them too. Take it away boyz:

He's addressing someone. That's the last help I'm offering. Remember, who knows what these guys are saying is true. Right off the bat the first guy gets shot down.

The article you are looking for is called MoPac's Navy and is an in depth article about the car ferry operation between the Missouri Pacific and the Mississippi Central railroad later the (ICG) Illinois Central Gulf. The Photos show the idler cars and the float operation from the MoPac side of river. The locomotive used were GP18 and SW1200 and in Vidalia Mopac also had a small car shop. They also connected with the LOAM Louisiana & Midland railroad (bridge line) which connected with the Louisiana & Arkansas part of KCS. The IC-GMO merger did away with the car ferry along with the Mississippi Central and the Louisiana Midland (abandoned). The traffic was directed over the ICG bridge at Vicksburg and the car ferry operation was also abandoned.
The east side of the river or Mississippi Central side was dangerous due to erosion from the river and a saw back if not mistaken that allowed it to get over the bluffs. The car ferry was an old converted river boat or something it was just another reason for MoPac and ICG to end this little navy operation.
Bill E

The IC-GMO merger had nothing to do with either of these two events. The MP transfer between Vidalia and Natchez operated until the early 1980's about ten to twelve years after the IC-GMO merger. It was the barge built from one of the old river ferry's needing replacement that caused it to be uneconomical to replace. The Louisiana Midland (LOAM) was the fourth operator of the line between Vadilia and Packton. Originally it was a branch of the Louisiana &
Arkansas, then sold to a group of former L&A officals as the original Louisiana Midland (LM). This was operated as the Natchez route offering through service between Hattisburg(?), MS and Dallas Texas over the Mississippi Central (MC), L&M & L&A. When the IC bought the MC, the LM forced the IC to purchase it also. The IC sort of ran the line for several years then sold to a third party. Around 1980, two things happened that killed the LOAM, 1. the MP removed the diamond at Georgetown severing the LOAM main track. 2. The approaches to the bridge over the Black River at Joneville, LA burned making the LOAM into three sections. At the end the track had been allowed to deteriorate that it was hard to get a train across even before it was severed. Actually, the LOAM made more money by leasing its main tracks for the storage of cars during a down turn in business in the early 1980's.

The barge was made from the hull of the Ste. Genevieve that had been operated by the Missouri-Illinois between Thomure, MO and Kellogg, ILL. according to page 288 of "MOPAC Power" by Joe Collias.
George S.
Dry Prong, LA

The railroad barge was the hull of the former Missouri-Illinois transfer ferry St. Genevieve which was stripped down to the hull. The barge/towboat combination replaced the stern wheel steam towboat James Y. Lockwood (blt. 1896) and her barge. If you ever get a chance to see the TV mini series "Centennial" There is a scene in one of the early segments of two of the stars traveling down the river and a "steamboat" passes them. It's the Lockwood. This is the only footage I have seen of this boat. Interestingly, Capt Frederick Way, Jr. in his book Way's Steam Towboat Directory says that upon retirement, the Lockwood traveled under it's own power up the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers to Chicago where it became a restaurant named Sara S. from 1961 until 1970. In 1970 she was towed to Buffalo, NY and named Showboat. About 1985 she
was transported to Lelystan, Netherlands and renamed yet again, this time Mark Twain.
Hope the above is of interest to someone besides me. ;^)
Bill H

It is to me Bill. I never thought of a steamboat directory before.
Interesting history.

Capt Way spent his life on the river as a clerk, steamboat owner and river pilot. His books Piloting Comes Naturally and The Log of the Betsy Ann are good fun reading. He was also in charge of moving the Delta Queen from San Francisco to the Mississippi River when it was purchased by the Greene Line (towed by an ocean going tug.) His last works were the towboat directory mentioned before and Way's Packet directory 1948-1983, a listing of Mississippi
River packets, ferrys and transfer boats. Both include references of MoPac, T&P and M-I boats as well as the Cotton Belt's transfer boats that ran out of Gray's Point, MO.

For those who look at the pictures that Greg sent the URL to, the colors on the boat sides were white with a gray wainscot and black hull. Wheel was red - of course. GOT to finish a model of the one of these boats. I have started models of the MoPac's transfer barge Dixie and the towboat Gillespie.
Bill H

The IC/GM&O merger was in 1972; while this pretty much killed the Louisiana Midland, the Natchez branch continued until the early 1980s after which it was embargoed. The rumor was the ferry St. Genevieve had a broken keel after some sort of mishap. The MoPac was in negotiations with Mississippi and Louisiana about a new bridge across the Mississippi at Vidalia that would carry rail and highway traffic. According to a couple of employees I knew on the Louisiana Division, Mississippi wanted the MoPac to shoulder a major amount of the expenses (even though federal funds were being used for a major part of construction). Louisiana was more ready to wheel and deal; perhaps someone in the MoPac hierarchy knew Edwin Edwards.

Maybe George S can fill this in, but I think the IC line south towards Baton Rouge had already been pulled up or had been embargoed circa 1980, but this might have been thought of as an alternate route for petrochemicals through a relatively unpopulated area had a rail bridge been built.
Jim O

Apparently it did the operation no longer is used by the railroads. The MoPac better interchanges with the Illinois Central at Shreveport (Bossier City), New Orleans, Monroe and Baton Rouge then Vidalia. The Mississippi Central side was very treacherous with flooding and erosion caused by the river. The barge had some problems of its own that were a considerable liability to the railroad. By the way you failed to mention that (LOAM) assets were sold at a sheriff sale.
Bill E

The fact that it is no longer has more to do with the condition of the barge than the ICG merger. Yes there are better interchange points and Stagger would have probably made the operation suspect even if the barge had been in good condition. Until Staggers a lot
of marginal operations were maintained due to government beauracy. It didn't hurt that the MOP had a major customer, a papermill, on the Mississippi side that it served as originating road. The LOAM was in my eyes a bad investment. It went from the middle of nowhere, Packton, LA, to a connection not much better located. Unlike the original Louisiana Midland (LM) it had no friendly connections on either end and a poor online traffic base. A friend of mine tells of helping to remove the line and that pea gravel had been used for ballast. The original LM could proudly proclaim itself as part of the "Natchez Route" and boast through service between Hattiesburg, MS and Dallas, TX with partners Mississippi Central and Louisiana & Arkansas.
George S
Dry Prong, LA

George a friend of mine worked that job off the extra board an upper MoP seniority conductor. Alexandria or Monroe covered the vacancies as outlying points. It would be interesting how they worked the job. Staggers Railway Act was a shot of much needed life for the rail industry. It involved the cost of doing business and what youcould charge for doing business. The standard ICC rate was changed and instead of the government setting the price railroads were able to regain control of this critical factor. Before Staggers your performance was measured by on time performance because everyone charged the same price. Post Stagger is today's railroads which equal no competition, captive customers, capacity problems, and record earnings for the railroads .
Bill E

Links Page
In doing the research for Packton to Ferriday, I found some great links. Before I do the last page, I wanted to look them over to see if there was something I missed. I figured while I was looking them over I might as well post them so you can look them over, too. More will be added. Look below to read the latest.

This one is by Jack Willis, one of my favorite historians. He's right up there with Block, who, in my humble opinion cannot be beat for local history in technicolor. Click Here for that one.

This is a pretty good one on the Rock Island Line. Click here for that one.
Belis, now you have me humming that dern song.

Here's a "hobo" story. Click Here.
Here's another Willis write: Click here.''

More from the book "Talk of the Town". Click here.

This is an unbelievable resource. CLICK HERE

Here are the words to ruin your day. The links go back to Wikipedia, the source of what you see below.

Lead Belly and John and Alan Lomax supposedly first heard it from a prison work gang during their travels in 1934/35. It was sung a cappella. Huddie sang and performed this song, finally settling on a format where he portrayed, in song, a train engineer asking the depot agent to let his train start out on the main line.[1]
The verses tell a humorous story about a train operator who smuggled pig iron through a toll gate by claiming all he had on board was livestock.

Rock Island Line as sung by Johnny Cash. Leadbelly's is below this one.

Now this here’s the story about the Rock Island Line.
Well the Rock Island Line she runs down into New Orleans.
There’s a big toll gate down there and you know if you got certain things on board when you go through the toll gate - Well you don’t have to pay the man no toll.
Well the train driver he pulled up to the toll gate and the man hollered and asked him what all he had on board and he said,
“I got live stock, I got live stock, I got cows I got pigs
I got sheep I got mules I got … all live stock”.
Well he said “you all right boy, you don’t have t’pay no toll.
You can just go right on through”.
So he went on through the toll gate
And as he went through he started pickin up a little bit of speed,
pickin up a little bit of steam.
He got on through he turned he looked back to the man he said
"Well I fooled you, I fooled you I got pig iron I got pig iron I got all pig iron".

Down the Rock Island Line she’s a mighty road
The rock Island Line it’s a road to ride
The rock island line it’s a mighty good road
Well if you ride you got to ride it like you find it
Get your ticket at the station for the Rock Island Line.

Oh cloudy in the west and it looked like rain.
Around the curve come a passenger train,
north bound train on the south bound track.
He did alright leaving but he won’t be back.
Well the Rock Island Line she’s a mighty road
The rock Island Line it’s a road to ride
The rock island line it’s a mighty good road
Well if you ride you got to ride it like you find it
Get your ticket at the station for the Rock Island Line.
Oh I may be right and I may be wrong but you gonna miss me when I’m gone.
Well the engineer said before he died that there where 2 more drinks that he’d like to try Conductor said "what could they be" - A hot cup of coffee and a cold glass'a tea.
Well the Rock Island Line she’s a mighty road
The rock Island Line it’s a road to ride
The rock island line it’s a mighty good road
Well if you ride you got to ride it like you find it
Get your ticket at the station for the Rock Island Line.

Leadbelly's version is below.

Cat's in the cupboard and she can't find me
Oh the Rock Island Line is a mighty fine line
Oh the Rock Island Line is the road to ride
If you want to ride, you gotta ride it like you're flyin'
Get your ticket at the station on the Rock Island Line

Maybe I'm right, maybe I'm wrong
Lawd you gonna miss me when I'm gone
Oh the Rock Island Line is a mighty fine line
Oh the Rock Island Line is the road to ride
If you want to ride, you gotta ride it like you're flyin'
Get your ticket at the station on the Rock Island Line

Jesus died to save our sins
Glory to God I'm gonna see Him again
Oh the Rock Island Line is a mighty fine line
Oh the Rock Island Line is the road to ride
If you want to ride, you gotta ride it like you're flyin'
Get your ticket at the station on the Rock Island Line

Moses stood on the Red Sea shore
Smothin' the water with a two-by-four
Oh the Rock Island Line is a mighty fine line
Oh the Rock Island Line is the road to ride
If you want to ride, you gotta ride it like you're flyin'
Get your ticket at the station on the Rock Island Line

Pictures that didn't make the cut.

No, I didn't "shoot" a snake. It's a brake air line that connects the cars.
It's now on my den wall. I was walking Packton. How much IQ does it take
to stroll around in a full coverage black helmet in 100f temperatures?
You'd think I'd voted for Obama.

Last Page
We were in Ferriday, Louisiana, way on the other side of my normal world and it was five 0'clock in the dimming afternoon. We were starting to get noticed after circling this one area for the sixth time. I knew it was time to drop the hammer and let sparks fly.

I never know if Al senses the gravity of certain situations. I believe he did as he hugged my rear fender as if a child grasping a teddy bear. We flew in tandem well above our normal speed, somewhere approaching the state's ordained limit.

La.15 exits Ferriday in a no frills fall to the Mississippi levee. There it mounts the levee's ridge, riding it to Deer Park where it momentarily dismounts only to mount again. I wildly shot as we wound it up atop that lonesome road. I am surprised the shots were not blurred, I was.

We stopped at Deer Park. I wanted Al to see the old steamboat there.
He was more interested in the landing.

We left noticing the high water marks on the street signs from the Spring floods.

Agriculture proceeded in its yearly dance.

A yellow crop duster joined the party.

Finally, we were on home turf, below the Red River, as we crossed the Old River Control Structure. Each time I go by this place I'm reminded of how this exploring on a motorcycle thing got started. You've heard that story. Hey Lonnie, wherever you are.

All is nice and dry here at the "over bank" relief area.

Old Mama lay ahead. She's been doing her thing, protecting
the people of the Basin, for many years. But, she's old and things
keep changing. How much longer can she hold on?

We exited La.15 at La.418 and went toward Simmesport.
There we rode up ancient La.1 to where it had crossed Edenborn's
other bridge, the one that crosses the Atchafalaya. Remember the other
one at Alexandria near where we started this treck?

With this shot the camera battery went dead. Good, and now I realize how great its timing was.

The ride home was endless, but fast. In other words, we went fast endlessly.

SW of Iowa Jct. Five Plus a Zee Branch Update

This is another ride report about an adventure west to Lake Charles. I'm including it as a part of the "SW 
 of Iowa Jct." series initially because, simply, I was in the same area, and since that trip I  have  gathered a few donated pictures that make it "History Hunt" relevant.  Maybe that's a stretch?

Actually, I conjured up this reason to get out of the house, "a meet with the Sunset Limited at Lake Charles". Having a purpose camouflaged the true meaning.  At one point I almost turned around because "escape" was psychologically not happening and my sought after en route entertainment, rail traffic, wasn't working out, either.

This ride report was almost named "Miracle at Iowa Junction".
More on that later.

As usual, the entire ride was photographed, probably to the point of exhausting any stray reader that may pass by.

I hadn't been to the Lafayette Yard in a long time.
Usually there is nothing happening there and there is no way to take a good picture if there was something interesting to see, which is seldom.  Of course not knowing what is "interesting" makes my assessment unfounded.

This time, there was.... Mz Utah was there. I can't find words to explain this amazing piece of machinery. I know there is some reason that her people sustain her. She is special. I know they know. I'm not suggesting "mystical", but that term may be a factor.

I remember one afternoon when she was stuck downtown with her brakes locked Then there was the time when one of  her trucks (wheel motors) fried. On each occasion she was not cast off and was back at work is quick order.

Mz Utah is a road warrior and warriors don't stand down.  They've never painted her the generic orange like the rest of the company tugs wear.


They know she would not be the same and might express resentment in some unnatural way. Notice that I use "she" in that explanation. "Unnatural" is a debatable description of "she (s)".

Mz Utah is dressed in her fashion statement red and blue turned to gray.

A line of engines were tied down on the far south dead end track.

I moved west down old US 90. I never tire of it.
I've decided to try to find one new point of interest on each visit just to keep "hunting" fresh.
This time I was one block off the railroad and this old store appeared.
Why didn't I check out the windows.  I will bet it was a "general store", possibly a hardware store.

At Crowley I visited the old Missouri Pacific "alley spur".
A MOW (maintenance of way) machine was there. Its purpose would be revealed down the line.

A few more were on the spur.

I visited First St. The old rails that once went behind the depot were not going anywhere.

I was off to Lacassine.
A new RV park is going up next to the BNSF Yard.

Tour buses are welcomed.

The Miracle of Iowa Junction.
As I said, the ride was just not happening.
I was going to ride north over this bridge, then swing east for home. The rails had given me nothing and I was leaving them in my dust, maybe forever, when what should appear heading toward Lake Charles.
I saw it as a sign, a rejuvenation, a door opening and a message to carry on.
Not everyone can get that from a passing freight train.

BNSF had been using MY PLACE as a storage lot.

Heading The Message, I followed the train on into LC. US 90 is a perfect entrance from the east.
Railroad Ave, once the rough and tumble Bowery of Lake Charles has been gutted.

Its present situation is defined by the wire atop the fences at the yard.
The train is pulling rail laying equipment.
Work is being done simultaneously on the UP and BNSF roads.

There was a lot of standing and sitting around going on.
The passenger train was due which probably stopped all work.

I snapped these shots as I rode west on Railroad headed to the new depot.

The rail laying cars.

Then the vision of the old depot property appeared.

Why are old depot locations usually far above street level?  It floods and the railroad is usually elevated to stay dry, so they built their depots to sustain floods, likewise.

Sadly, BNSF has piled the old depot location high with ballast which made exploring its floor impossible.

Folk Art?  I shot the picture for the street sign as a reference.
This is the old depot location looking south.

Suddenly I was struck with memories of the stepped Mexican pyramids.

The Lake Charles sewage plant is across the street from th new AMTK depot.
I have been struck by presumed marrying of railroads and sewage plants.
Deep thought is not needed to understand the phenomenon.  
Lots of people waited. I wondered why they were so early.
My bike clock was off an hour.
Dads were showing their children how to stand on the rails and get run over.

I left, thinking that I had plenty of time and that the  train would be late, anyway. 
I stood by the Calcasieu River for an hour.
I shot the far away bridge portion 10 times hoping for a lucky shot.


The red line roughly locates the removed KCS rails and bridge.


 I shot the Eye 10 bridge.

Now this is pretty cool. I shot the navigation light, which looks "period authentic".
You can make out the green glass.

I shot the bridge.

I shot the other bridge.

Over ....   Under  .... Sideways Down

This is too painful to write.
But ... 
I tried to go back to the depot and missed my turn and ended up back at the bridge.
I went back to the depot and the train was there.
I had left my perch 1 minute too soon.
And, I knew that would happen.
It was just leaving the depot.

This duo may have have seen woes later on.  Maybe not?

The concourse of the old depot lay vacant, the ghost of fair wishers waving the train goodbye.

Heading home, I had to stop at Mallard Junction, a  place that had drawn me up from the Lake Arthur Branch as it is the beginning of that storied and confusing extension.
This is not the continuation of Railroad Ave (north side of the tracks) near the depot.
The distance is too far.
Across the tracks is Mallard Junction.

Looking down the curve onto the old Lake Arthur / Lacassine Branch.  The main is seen going east.

I should pop a  few Barriger shots here to fulfill my promise of historical content.
Barriger took these photos, which I've reduced in field and size, from the rear of a passing train.
They are priceless. This is the Lake Charles depot as it was. The concourse, pictured above, is placed correctly as a result of reversing the shots, as his were mostly negatives.

If I had climbed the rails from my  perch at the bridge, this is what I'd seen.
The bridge is far in the distance as it is today.


This the Lake Charles Yard where I shot the rail laying train.

I believe this is the east end of the yard. Duh, it says so on the sign. (checked later)

The present, and probably the past, yard's eastern boundary was governed by a stream's presence.
Natural boundaries dominate history.

Barriger didn't take a picture of Mallard Junction. but he did get Iowa Junction where the miracle occurred.
Here, from Mallard Jct., is  the main is seen going west toward the depot and river.

MP 215. Mallard Jct.

A  mile south of  Mallard Jct. WAS  this scene. (pic contributed by LZ)

Iowa Junction, now. That is the US 165 bridge, the new version.

Iowa Junction, or, I might be wrong as it was not labelled as such.


I cannot find a picture of the original US 165 bridge over Iowa Junction.

What's this? 

Suddenly I was in Slaughter, Southeast Louisiana.
This is an update of the railroad refurbishing to the paper plant at Mannheim. 
Careful notice was taken to uncover the slight differences months had made.

               The rails north from Baton Rouge are the ghost of the old Illinois Central.
                Picture taken from the La.412 crossing in Slaughter.

Still looking north from the La.412 crossing.

Flipping around and looking south toward Baton Rouge

Old ties being discarded.

New ties at the ready.

The most significant  evidence of progress is the new crossing signs.

New ballast and probably new ties.

This is the GOGR RWY, a subsidiary of the paper plant at Mannhein.

I have two sets of pictures, one very recent, one not so recent.
There is basically no difference. Progress is snail like on the the GOGR, which I thought was going to be the GOGO, a much better name. I can't wait to see a train on  it.
Back to Lake Charles .... Just kidding.