The Parish count would begin. I started off in St. Marin
Parish, moved into Lafayette, and now I was going into
Vermilion. Crossing the bayou is the door way to the
Cajun Prairie. This is an old land and you see old stuff
all the time. Old or not, it represents another time.
La.82 is a heavy duty road. It starts here on the east side
of the bayou and travels down it to Abbeville. From
Abbevile it drops to follow the last land that can support
a road all the way west to the Texas border. 5 years ago,
almost exactly, Hurricane Rita, Katrina's lovely sister,
tore 82, and all attached, to smithereens.
The Vermilion originates at the confluence of Bayou Carencro
and Fusilier and ends at Vermilion Bay and the Intracoastal
Waterway. Lafayette was once known as Vermilionville.
The draw bridges facilitate river traffic. I'd guess what the
main loads were but I'd be wrong.
Moving on to Duson and Rayne.
Seeing this rice field was a sign I was in the right neighborhood
to find he Grain Train. I'd head up to Duson, located on US 90
in western Lafayette Parish.
Duson is named for a couple of famous brothers.
"If there's not much happening, shoot the water tower,"
quote Ray Fagan. As a safety precaution, I now shoot the w/t
first to insure, at least, a mediocre page. Thanks, Ray, for
the commas, great to have them, again, .
See that cement block? There is a sign there with one of
those "W"'s on it. There appears to be spot lights on
Here we are in Rayne. Water tower, check. They do elevate
I've taken pictures of all these buildings before, but not
obscured by the tracks. The tracks are on purpose. They
held all this stuff together. It wouldn't be here if not for
the tracks. No kidding. The whole town was moved 2 miles
to get here. Then the name was changed.
Rayne and Crowley were real competitors. Towns offered
the railroads money, in some cases, to come by. They were
like the interstates, now, or the main highways in the not
too distant past. If you had a transportation artery near,
you prospered. If not, you withered.
Neat house. I know the occupants have seen some history.
Side doors to a ghost siding.
West of Rayne the main line crosses historic US 90. Since
I got the fantastic shots from under US 190 at Lottie, I've
taken to going under rail overpasses. No one takes these
pictures giving me a niche. Pretty hot, huh. You ain't seen
nothing yet. That's looking toward Crowley.
This is looking back toward Rayne. You can see where the
rails have turned south. No you can't. Hope you didn't
look too hard.
Entering Crowley on US 90, "Rice Capital of America".
If I couldn't find a Grain Train here, then I'd go north.
I never give up and I'm persistent on top of that.
I crossed the US90 railroad over pass and then went beneath it.
I'm telling you, I think I've become addicted to being under
overpasses. I'm not going to make any homeless jokes as
being homeless is no joke. Let me be clear on that. But, there
is a possibility that some people like being under overpasses.
Of course, I have the option of going home which makes be-
ing there a frivolous, optional pass time, much like this blog.
I was under there to visit the yellow line, the remnants of a
Texas and Pacific's line that had originated in Melville as
the Opelousas Gulf and North East Railroad back at the
beginning of the last century. It came down through Opelousas,
Churchpoint, Rayne and then made this big loop beneath US
90 and the Louisiana Western, an affiliate of t he Southern
Pacific, and ended up here, servicing the mills of Crowley on the
south side of the SP. The red line is the still working ROW
of the old SP pictured later.
The yellow line is the T&P, now half covered by Mills St.
There goes the SP west, now the Union Pacific. This shot
will go in my "United States Rail Overpasses" book. Check
Amazon in January.
I've wanted to take this next shot for a long time. I'm 63 now and
being so, you never know what the next day will bring. Heck
no one knows, so 63 isn't special. Nevertheless, I wanted this
shot and it was time. I timed the light and then wheelied up
the ramp sliding to the barrier, teetering there for a brief second,
and took 3 shots before I heard the sirens. I dropped the camera
in the tank bag, re wheelied the bike back down the opposite ramp,
spun up the abandoned tracks of the T&P, and waited. After
an hour, the Marines, Coast Guard, Navy, Army, Boy Scouts
Girl Scouts, Acadia Sheriff's Dept, Jennings PD, Fire Dept.,
Water and Sewage, Al and a few others, finally left and
I got back to work. It was worth the hullabaloo.
Upon showing Everett this shot, he reflected in his stock
"Amazing isn't it, just looking at that single track, and knowing
how much rail stuff that used to be there that you uncovered,
Just because he mentioned it, I'll show you a little of it.
Aren't you excited?
Here's the old depot. Can't go to Crowley without shooting
But, I got a one up on the competition. This is the old
freight platform that was part of the depot complex, I'll
betcha. No one takes pictures of freight platforms. Their
importance has never been recognized. Tell me, who has
written a book about old freight platforms. NO ONE, it
is a shameful void. Everyone does the easy stuff over and
over, going to the same well of information. Boring Boring.
Who will step forward. I challenge YOU. I'm busy.
Down the rails, there is a spur to a mill. I was hoping
to find an AKDN train there. I've seen pictures of one
getting loaded up. I missed it, but it does come around.
That information was gleamed while I was being
interrogated by an employee of Cleco who asked who I was.
I told him I was a stock holder and what was his name.
Remember that one. You might add "large" to "stockholder".
"Large" is a subjective adjective in my book. Some don't
realize it and all you can do is hope that "large" is their "large".
He might have asked, "How large?" Then I'd have to come
up with a number I thought was large enough. Maybe
just hold that thought as using it might take you to places
that could have been avoided.
The rice cars were there, waiting. The AKDN tug was not
in Crowley. I'd struck out.
North of the main SP line was what I figured was where
the Missouri Pacific's rails were. The MP was an owner
of the rails from Crowley to Eunice, where I'd go next looking.
All of this was covered in the "The Lost Loop of the OGNE",
a classic novelette depicting the layers of intrigue which
are the historic rails of Crowley.
Below is mentioned later, so remember it.
This is a very large map right off my Garmin GPS.
It shows what I see when I go to Crowley. The one
bare line running down the middle of the mills is what
most see. Click it to expand and download if you want.
Then, when in Crowley, next, you can see what I see.
This is where you see "rails end" on the map. They didn't
use to end here. They continued and met the T&P's rails
coming in from Rayne. They were on the south side of the
mills and still visible in places.
This grain car filler still hangs there and may still be used.
But doubtful. I think trucks probably line up here.
Next, I went out on US 90 and back up under the rails.
I found this switch. It was the MP connector to the LW/SP.
Or, now, AKDN's connecor to the UP. If you went straight
you'd angle up to the next street north and then proceed
in front of the depot. It was the depot's spur or sidetrack,
still visible in places, like between the buildings and bushes,
seen earlier. Do you remember?
Click this map to understand. I am guessing at the
"MP Territory" and the "T&P Territory". I've been told
that all the rails might have been jointly owned or rented
from a "Mills Co Op".
These cars, below, were on the AKDN upper bend. There is
a small yard north of US 90. This was a horrible junk yard.
It's been cleaned up, very nicely.
The next page will only be partially this, well, mostly. When
you find these bald spots next to the tracks and near a road,
there was something important there, maybe a freight platform?
The Cajun Prairie is like below. You know that a train crossing
the fields could be seen and heard from miles away. You know it
stirred the minds of those that saw and heard it. Each time I
crossed the rails it was like going into a museum. I'd think about
the horse drawn wagons, the Model A's, the farm machinery,
the hot rods and all the rest of the stuff that slowed, or didn't,
to cross those tracks, their drivers looking down them to the
point where they met, imagining some golden pot at the end of
I just did 5 more pages quickly. So here at 4:55 in the
morning I'm checking them and adding/subtracting as
I feel is needed. No telling what will be the outcome.
Venturing north from the Union Pacific main line (red),
I more or less wandered away from the railroad visiting
a housing project and a sewer plant. Then I got back
on track and shot location C1. (below this map). As
you can see, Crowley does not really reach the interstate,
though very closely with the assembled mass of filling
stations and truck stops. I went out La.1111 which is
a service road for I-10 and shot another rail overpass
shot for my upcoming book, check Amazon in January.
Now on with what I'd written earlier without any coffee
and in a rather foul mood.
I was glad to be free of Crowley. Crowley is addictive.
I keep finding new stuff and forgetting old stuff. That
of course creates a spinning effect much like a whirlpool
which sucks you down into the depths of confusion.
This is near the sanitation department and housing project
The rails above Crowley are not confusing. They are, for the
most part, straight as an arrow. For the non rail head, these
pictures are probably boring. For my fellow photographers,
they are probably stunning. For the photographer rail head,
they are probably euphoric. If in that category, just calm
down and do a little self evaluation.
I-10 lies on Crowley's northern border. I have taken this
picture before but still like taking it. By the way, all the
dates are wrong. Does it matter? Maybe so. September
is a hot month, January isn't. Blend the two and you should
This is possibly my best overpass picture.
Above I-10, the Cajun Prairie stretches out.
Check out the ties. Whoa.
At the base of this map is La.1111 which sits right above
I-10. This is German country. As you can see I visited
each crossing. Next time I'll check out the German Lutheran
Cemetery. There's not one of those on every block.
Look maw, I found another railroad. Rice on the left.
Rice on the right.
And, another one. This one has a trestle.
And, one of my favorite rice dryers, Mowata being my favorite.
This is on La. 13, north of Crowley, which is convenient because
I was there.
One of my better maps.
If this crossing is on the above road, it will be a miracle.
To impress your friends, you might send them a postcard,
use this photo, and tell them you are vacationing on Bayou
The gold stuff on the left is more rice.
This may be a repeat from a different angle. I could tell
you otherwise, but why?.
Here's a recap. Maxie would be the star of this stretch.
US 98 is also a star. Going west it goes to Iota where the
old Southern Pacific once visited. To the west is Robert's
Cove, a very German place.
Neat stuff can be found by the rails. I always look for little
gifts. I tried to figure a way to bring this stuff home but...
You know the trip to Eunice is no express run, on a
Grain Train or on this motorcycle.
Below is the "Upper Crowley" water tower for lack of a better
subject. The building below it is interesting. It looks like an
old bar or recreational building. Maybe there was a swimming
pool there? Check out all the windows. Windows were for
ventilation and light, not just seeing.
Ok, wake up, we're in Maxie.
There's the La.98 crossing. This road is pretty neat. It
goes places, also.
Whoa hoss. We have an old store just west of the tracks.
Not much was left. The mimosa tree obscured much of the face.
A classic Evangeline Maid Bread sign was mounted on the front.
They usually have the name of the store on them. This one
was in too badly rusted to figure out. Along the bottom
reads "Stays Fresh Longer", the Evangeline Maid moto.
CLICK HERE for more info on EMB.
I went back to the crossing and looked at this bald spot.
I say the station was here or at least a freight platform.
I decided to go back into Maxie. I saw the cemetery from
the road and went back where I found the small church and
the cemetery gate.
I'll lay you money some very surprising names are in there.
I went back to the crossing and did the obligatory rail shot.
And looked at the bald spot again.
Back out to La.13 I took a reading of where I was and how
far I had to go. Road signs are the best. Just seeing the
name "Mowata" gave me a tingle up my leg. (bless
Chris Mathews for main streaming a phrase I commonly
use, but never when talking about President BO)
I remember this one, it's Hwy. 365, another cross prairie
Imagine the open spaces giving way to natural tunnels.
It's a beautiful rail ride. Thought I've never actually ridden
a train down it, I somehow feel that I have. You probably
do by now, also. If so, my job is a success.
Look, way down the rails is Mowata. Don't you know it's
a landmark for the train crews.
La.370 is a good road. That's why I'm showing you this picture.
Nearby is the big gas fed Cleco power plant.
At the crossing going into the plant, I looked down the
tracks and saw a siding. I'd have to investigate. It's
down there. Look beneath the 4 towers.
I took this picture to get the sign.
The sign didn't come out that well so I took another picture.
I didn't see anything special and the rails just ended.
That's when Bubba showed up and asked me who I was
and what I was doing and I told him I was checking on
my business being a stockholder. I think that "Prairie
Habitat" stuff is a crock and a tax write off. I guess that's
good since I'm a stockholder. Hey, I bet there's a lot
more "habitat" stuff we can write off. But, be careful,
that "habitat" stuff can be a slippery slope. I wonder
if you can claim a slippery slope?
Here's going into Eunice. Man, I'm glad.
I'm taking a break. You are on your own.
Down there is LSU at Eunice.
Into St.Landry Parish. I think that was 6 parishes for the day.
I had to shoot the old SP hump. I'm sentimental.
Heading north into town.
The mills of Eunice. That's a big ditch.
Now the rails get snaky. Looking back south. There's
more to this snake deal. I wonder why?
Backing off for a better perspective, but failing to achieve it.
Now north. Don't you know the crews were happy to be
Nearing the main line is where the rails to Eunice merged.
What kind of tank was in that holder?
I heard the horns.
Was it the Grain Train?
Nope. That's the UP main line. Below is the west wye arm
from the AKDN Crowley branch to the UP. It also serviced
the historic SP which went to Midland on US 90, and on
to Gueydan, Abbeville and New Iberia.
An AKDN tug for a possible Grain Train sat next to Coburns.
It once sat by the rice dryer. It sits on what were SP rails.
One day I'll find her gone and then the fun will begin.
Being done with the search, I took the back way to Mark's house.
The Prairie Ronde water tower.
I went by his house and then into Opelousas.
He has an interesting driveway.
A surprise waited for me at the AKDN Statesmen Street
yard in Opelousas.
There were three Union Pacific engines pulling a long line
Then I saw it. On the side of 1962 was "Cotton Belt".
It was the first time I've seen an old Cotton Belt engine.
This is a larger picture, so click it. I asked the engineer
if he was the Grain Train. He said he was. Search Complete.