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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.