The Statesman St. Yard is nestled in a west Opelousas neighborhood. The local residents have gotten use to me. I'm the crazy old white guy that takes pictures of trains. And, I ride a motorcycle, a funny looking one that is very quiet, sorta like me.
I was going to Crowley to catch the Amtrak whizzing between of all those old grain elevators, dryers and what not that make up the historical rail front of that beautiful city. The wind was a factor in my not going. It was gusting to 25 or 30 out on the plains. I needed to be where there was something to block the wind. That meant trees. I'd have to stay near the Basin. US 190 between Opelousas and Courtableau would work nicely.
The Cajun Prairie is to the west, the Atchafalaya Basin Swamp
is to the east. There is an elevation difference of about 25 feet
right off the bat. Click the map below. It is a large one.
The red line defines the track of the train I chased and,
of course, my tracks being I was hot on its heels and
even passing it at times.
This is the pre-race part.
At Statesman, Greenie showed up and left out the west
end to either go to the industrial park or out to Texas Eastern
where she'd deal with cars.
Greenie is so Springie. Sure beats some of the old hounds
that AKDN has.
But, these two were running, hooked together and ready
for something. When they lurk it is usually a matter of
the rails being occupied by some other entity. When it had
passed, they would move out. I think I saw one engine
display a taunting gesture.
I got tired of waiting and rode to downtown Opelousas.
I really like Opelousas like I like New Iberia. I wonder why?
I waited at the previous location of the Missouri Pacific depot.
It is now in the historical park.
I shot down the hill, into the Basin. Drainage and levees
have pushed back the water. In the flood of 1927, this was
the first high ground. Well, Fort Hamilton was really the
first high ground but it may be down the same "shoreline".
This is looking west toward the Statesman St. yard.
The rules in Opelousas state that the local has to stop at
each crossing for a number of minutes. This is stupid. The
"through" trains run through at almost 45 mph. What
happens is that cars keep going across the tracks and the
engineers have to play chicken with the cars to make them stop.
Here they crept through town. Fairly, there could be no
fair race inside the city limits. Once cleared, the engineer
would drop the hammer.
This picture shows the changes in altitude much better. Again,
it is looking east into the Basin. The bridge is Interstate 49,
where I took a few more shots. The trains heading east
use this slope fully to their advantage.
I had this idea that the supports for Interstate 49 might
make a good frame for my train shots. I am disappointed.
I missed it. They don't back up for a retake, usually.
My left handed, one handed, shots, while riding, are getting acceptable.
The race was on.
That's the crossing on Groulee.
Down to the turn east. This bridge is US 190. It will
turn to the left and head to Port Barre.
At La.743, between Opelousas and Port Barre, I caught her.
Approaching Port Barre. I caught her, sorta, again.
I noticed the exposure on the camera hadn't been locked
and I had evidently bumped it. Oh well. Here she's going
over the Teche into the Port Barre yard.
I had thought I'd lost her in Port Barre. No, she was sitting
out east of the yard waiting on something. I guess it was
half time or pit time or the yellow flag or something.
One light is red, the other is green. Go figure. Reminds
me of Mexico. She was on a side track.
I knew the one real pretty place on this stretch, the Bayou
Courtableau Bridge. I'd go there and if I was lucky, I'd
catch what was coming on the bridge, then I'd catch her.
In all honesty, if she hadn't been sidetracked, I'd have
nothing to write about. Instead, I have all of this.
Looking east. Is that a light down there? Probably a mirage?
It was gone.
After 20 minutes, here came the AKDN train.
It was headed to either Krotz Spring or ultimately, the huge
yard at Livonia.
I guess you had to be there. It was a fine afternoon of train
chasing on US190, definitely a change from the Marais and
US 90, or urban warfare in Lafayette. For a train chaser,
this area is Nirvana. We have BNSF and Union Pacific trains.
We have AKDN and Louisiana & Delta trains. We have sugarcane
trains, carbon black trains, grain trains, you name it. Plan
your next vacation here just for those reasons.