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I headed down through eastern New Iberia thinking what a breeze this was going to be.
More on the breeze later.
As soon as I thought how easy it was going to be, two of my required roads were closed for construction or something. I jumped on old US 90, now 182, and made my way using the back road, La.87, in places to avoid towns. I wanted to trace the railroad from Adeline to where Mike's uncle had tended the bridge at Oaklawn. I knew that there wasn't much evidence left, but I'm the eternal optimist until proven wrong. This time I just wasn't smart enough as I had to deal with people and my interrogation skills are not practiced.
From that I guess you know that this will not be a report on a victorious find, but one of a dern good try only wanting in the negotiating field. No, it was a failure.
Be warned, this will probably only appeal to the grass people, ie, those that can see old rail beds going through fields where there are none. To help the more sane, I now have a red marker. I love it.
This page will have one good picture, that of the bayou. I promise.
I'll make it fast to lessen your pain. Here's the map again so you can see the rails that start on the west at Adeline, then go to Charenton where they cross Bayou Teche, traverse the swamp below Grand Lake, hit Oaklawn (present residence of X Govenernor Mike Foster), recross the Teche, where Mike's uncle lived and tended the bridge and then head back to the main line at Franklin. My theory is that the line serviced the sugarcane plantations there. In fact, I saw a spur running to one.
At Charenton, I had to shoot down the long backyard of a private home for this picture of the swing bridge turntable support. Yes, I know, it's just a hunk of cement in the bayou. But it has a story. A locomotive failed to stop when the bridge was opened and went into the bayou. According to Jacques, it was retrieved, a miracle it seems to me.
This one is from the road:
This one is from the Teche Bridge:
I found Jacques' priceless story about the engine that went into the bayou.
Concerning my question about the old railroad tracks that crossed Irish Bend from Franklin and continued across the Teche to recross the Teche at Charenton and return to the main line, Jacques'reply was this. "The only thing that I think is still there is a hump in the road about a half mile from Medrick Martin's store, heading towards Adeline. That must be where the track crossed. It's been a long time since I was in the bayou in Charenton but I think the approaches for the rail bridge and maybe the foundation for the turntable in the bayou are still there. When I was in school in the early or mid seventies an engine went into the bayou at that bridge. The bridge was open. Papa told me he had heard that the engineer had been drinking. A classmate who lived near the M.P. & S.P. tracks in Jeanerette told me that he saw what must have been that engine being pulled through town by another engine. He said that it sounded like something was dragging and hitting the cross ties as the engines passed and that the engine was covered in mud. I didn't believe him since he used to like to spin a few tales pretty often. A little later on we were walking along the track and we saw that on every cross tie there was a big fresh gouge almost in the center of the ties. My friend said, "That's where that thing that was hanging from the bottom of that engine must have been hitting". We looked at each other and started running down the track to see where the gouges ended. After a while, not seeing an end to the marks on the crossties we stopped running, all out of breath and sat down and started laughing. I told him that I believed him...now. We walked back to town and got a pop at Miss Lu Lu's store right by the track and sat on the store steps and watched another train go by".
Next, I'd ride into Baldwin and cross the canal on the high US 90 bridge. I think that bridge is in the old movie, "Easy Rider".
We have a tropical storm off the coast and the breeze was picking up. I would be batted around a bunch from this point on. I opted not to cross that bridge on the way home. Learned options served me well on this ride.
After the bridge, it is a short ways to Irish Bend Road. That is where I saw the spur to the plantation immediately on the left as you begin the road. There is an old store that I should have shot once again but I was in a feeding frenzy to see the uncle's place.
I passed Foster's place, Oaklawn Manor, and then looked for the bump.
On top of the hump, I shot toward the bayou in hopes of catching some evidence. Why didn't I zoom in? I guess I was nervous about sitting in the middle of the road? Blunder One, Blunder On. Here's what I supposed was the target.
I should have shot inline with the power poles. That would make sense once on the other side. Power lines occupy right of ways, often the same as the rails had.
I went back to the bridge and crossed over.
I took a shot in the opposite direction of the old train bridge. This is the good shot. From here on it's all down hill.
I was now on La.87 where it turns to gravel.
The GPS told me where the rails were. I shot down the right of way, appropriately supporting a power line, a sure sign.
Of course, they are the same lines that are on the other side.
After careful inspection, I think I see a roof line and something shinny.
I hadn't seen that from the road. I'd given up and went to look for a land owner. There was a farm shop at the intersection and I mozied in. The young fella said there was no old house back there and nothing in the water but, maybe a few old "sticks". And I accepted that and left. I'm loosing it. I should have simply asked to walk back there. Period. Instead, I gave him a menu of stuff to deny. He'd never looked for the old bridge and the house was located next to the water away from his plowing area. He was leasing the property, he had no family connection to the land. I am berserk with my failure. You've never seen me mad like I get with myself.
I went back to the bridge to see if I could get a long shot to the shore where the line had cut through the woods along the bayou. I did. It was 9:30 sun time. The light was shining from the east, (left) down the cut that the line had made into the water.
I knew I'd lost it but didn't want to bother the guy again. I'd rather check it out in the winter anyway, I rationalize.
Heading home, I found where the old train yard had been. Yes there was still a bit of evidence. Red marker!!
I was back opposite Charenton hoping for a shot at the old bridge turntable from a closer vantage. No, there was none, but I did see where the tracks crossed 87 headed across the Teche.
Not all was lost, I am now going to draw on all my pictures with my new toy.
Yes, I will return, this one is not over yet.