First of all, this one is so good, Al, now with Blog Critique Magazine, wrote this:
"Steve that is one beautiful ride post!, man, man, man just great, wonderful and even masterful work. You caught so many great shots and the thing was even suspenseful with the build up of waiting and planning for the encounters with 'the little engine that could'. It makes Al proud knowing that he had something to do with inspiring that great session. The reflection aspects are just awesome and catching the same train on two trestles and multiple crossings is a stupendous work of talent and perseverance....how 'bout that, he he".
Did I detect some sarcasm?
It was 2pm. I knew I had light until 7:30. Lucky for me I was wrong. In late April you can eek out a little illumination until almost 8:15. I timed the curtain falling exactly.
Having successfully completed the odd jobs that keep the place going, I hopped on the bike and pointed it north. I could think of only one place to go, the trestle. It was Thursday and the train was probably pulling a load from Ville Platte/ Cabot Carbon Black to Bunkie. This stretch is gorgeous. It skirts the eastern edge of Chicot St. Park and features agrarian Louisiana from rice fields to wheat fields to sugarcane.
At a little after 3:00 I was surveying Cabot. Little 1500 was hard at work humping cars at the plant.
Merle was busy counting cars, switching and telling the engineer where to shove them. There is something majestic about watching a billion pound rail car roll on its own.
They would crash into the standing cars, but oh so gently.
The engineer definitely had a touch.
He would sometimes do two at a time.
Many people think carbon black plants are dark and mysterious.
This one is airy and cheerful. I had to take this shot to prove it.
I anticipated that the little engine would be gathering its
load soon and be heading off to Bunkie to deposit them for
the Union Pacific to pick up.
Besides, I was starting to attract attention. Locals would
pass and stare at me. There were 3 guys, each with "Bubba"
stenciled on their caps, who came by, stopped, stared, and slowly moved on.
You can't make this stuff up, but I can. Actually, there were only 2 Bubbas.
I headed, by way of my short cut, over to the next highway.
I was going to the trestle Al and I had found. No, it's not
the famous Chicot Trestle. This one will remain secret.
I parked and jumped up on the rails.
It was obvious why the stop sign had been placed here.
Peering through the underbrush, I got my first glimpse of
what Al had seen.
Do you see the "bobber" hanging in the tree? I believe that
is actually what Al saw and I'm surprised he didn't insist on
Photographers take a lot of shots to cull out the bad ones.
I couldn't throw many away. The prehistoric appearing forest,
the highland bayou, and the centerpiece railroad icon, zapped me.
The reflection continued to get closer as the sun sank. That
was quite a phenomenon.
A nice young couple walked by with fishing poles over their shoulders.
They offered to show me the trail to the trestle. I'd look for a pose there.
I couldn't make up my mind. The trestle area would be
a sure train shot, but not as good as one from up river. I
decided to go with the gamble.
I worked and worked trying to find a place and not fall in.
I was really worried about the camera focusing on a limb.
I'm not very "up on" how to actually shoot a camera.
I marked where to go when I heard the train horn. There
were several routes down. I marked the spot with a couple
of pieces of wood over the abandoned rails.
The one below is confusing, isn't it. There are 2 sets of rails, one
next to the road where I was parked, and the ones over the
trestle. This is shot from the road rails looking down into the
water at the approaching trestle reflection down in the water.
Then I heard the horn I'd hoped to hear. It was the Cabot
train crossing the dirt road down the way. I think that shot is
the best that could be done. A full engine on the span
might have been overpowering. Of course I'm trying to
rationalize missing it. It was 5:56. If it had not come by 6:00,
I was leaving. I'd been sitting, researching spots to shoot,
twiddling my thumbs, and he hawing for over an hour,
close to two. But, it was well worth it.
Below is your prize for the ride. Click it. It is huge and suitable for framing.
The train kept a coming.
It was a long train which gave me time to play with the new
camera a little.
The next 2 shots feature inverted cars in the water on an inverted trestle.
I had thought about doing that with the engine but it was too chancy.
While in the area, I could not pass up Eola. The train would
be at its trestle soon. Having a fast bike can do wonders for
your train chasing. I had missed this opportunity on the last chase.
The train may travel at 20 to 25 mph. I get up to 45 or 50.
So, I was early which gave me time to record a little history
I knew was there.
Test shot. That's Bayou Boeuf, not the same bayou as in the previous pictures.
The train had just crossed the historic cross tracks of the
Southern Pacific and Texas & Pacific Railroads. The
train is on the old T&P headed to Bunkie.
It was slowing. Was the engineer requesting a copy of my pictures, an autograph?
No, his assistant had to flag the road.
He was preparing to jump back on board.
How about that one for timing. The engine had just cleared the bush.
The large versions are spectacular and available at the site store.
I have to click off "review" between each shot which is a
drag that I've addressed with Kodak. Their response was
unsatisfactory as was their attitude. They did admit their
manual was incorrect. Their manual is featured on line to
prospective buyers, thus it is part of their advertising. I
say that they were misleading the public. But, that's me.
Zooming out the train seems to deflate. Was it a Cajun Accordion train?
Those have been seen on US 190.
Next stop was the La.29 crossing. Off in the distance I heard
a train. Zooming way out, I could see one running south on
US 71 below Bunkie.
Here Pokey came.
I had to cut back on the color in these pictures. The red
sun, quickly sinking, had made it a Mars landscape.
This is the simplicity I like.
From there it was headed into a wooded area. I was out of time.
I passed up numerous great shots in the setting sun, the
best light of the day. It was 8:15 when I came into the
house hoping for food. My wonderful wife had 2 hot sandwiches
waiting for me.
I could not pass up the Whiteville Methodist Church on 29.
There are Confederate graves in that cemetery.
And, we have a correction from our Public Opinion column.
This is a warning. Obey railroad crossing laws or
you could be labeled a pro in an unsolicited,