Saturday was evaporating into more humidity. Summer was here. It would not retreat again as it has, thrown back by an enduring Spring. Now her time was gone. I moped around like an abandoned child left at the station as the train pulled away, two lights on behind (Rolling Stones). Could I leave the dogs for a few hours? Did I really want to go? Maybe I'd take a nap. Maybe I'll take a nap, now.
Stop that, get back to work.
The process of preparation commenced. At least I'd be ready if I decided to go. Food, water, camera, oil, a light t-shirt, sun screen, helmet, rain coat, leave, go one mile, and ride back because I didn't have the GPS. I almost continued without it, but, I know better. I would not be writing this if I'd blown it off. It is the only thing that sustains my interest in local riding. Without it, I'd just park the bikes, believing I'd seen it all. It is my microscope and my telescope. It suggest points of interest it doesn't even realize its doing. That is what it did today, saving an early return with nothing gained.
I finally broke lose from preparation hell. Again I was headed up the same old route out of Sub-190 Louisiana. I melded with the dull haze of the silver sky. No matter, I knew I was doing the right thing as sitting at home is terminal. I just didn't have any enthusiasm. Then I noticed my route was following the old rail line, long gone and disappearing quickly. I would investigate and photograph every bit of evidence I could in the short stretch north to US 190, the location of the existing main line. I was already above Cecelia so I had missed some of the bed north from I-10, but not much, and it would be easy to catch it later as that is my neighborhood. At least I had a mission and a game, a well worn game.
I don't expect you to be interested in this report or the pictures or my bizarre attraction to invisible trains or rails. If you decide it's a good time to go bathe Fideaux, that's fine with me. You can go your own way, (Fleetwood Mac, urg) Come along if you want. Here's a big old map of the first section of track tracking. It gets big if you click it. The yellow line is me. The purple line is the tracks, or close.
Viewing the following pictures of humps in the road, bare places in the fields, weeds, trash trees and broken down houses, remember, they are only a bit of what is to be seen down yet another Louisiana yellow brick road (Wizard of Oz). Ray, the beds passed no churches. Gotcha, yes they did! But, you'll have to wait until Part 2. I don't want to lead you on, LIKE YOU HAVE ME. Mobile Zoo, bad.
I'm not going to tell you, "this is the rail bed at Beknell Road", unless I find that bump or hump or dark tunnel extremely interesting. Here's A bunch of pictures:
One day some jerk running for Parish President will put into his platform a promise to level all humps, an equivalency to burning books.
First, I snap the hump and then I try to shoot from its apex up and down the line. Some humps only got one shot as shooting a mass of green tangle doesn't say much. Try to think of the humps as Indian Mounds. All right. Are you with me that far? No, go back to where you were.
The rails now bordered a wheat field. I bet they weren't ready for that.
Some guy was using the old bed as his dive way. This is all taking place between Cecelia and Arnaudville. Here are the names of the communities that were visited by the tracks between I-10 and 190. Two are just south of I-10, but I'll include them anyway. This is going north. Right click that map and choose "open in new window" or something so you can follow along. If you want to sing along, use Johnny Cash's "I've Been Everywhere" for the music part.
Cecelia, also known in the old days as Grand Point
Bushville, I wonder if Tina Turner lived there?
and Chiasson, our first landlord.
Back to the pictures.
Here's just one worthless picture to give you an idea. I won't do that again.
Now the peripheral looking beyond shots.
Well, pickins were slim.
Here's a picture with a message. (Canned Heat)
Telephone lines follow railroads. Telegraph line did.
Arriving in Arnaudville, the hump is on 347 going into town. Look at the creosote planks. Had there been a bridge here or a station or platform of some sort?
I followed the bed into Arnaudville. The train ran between the trees. I'm not saying the trees were there. I think they've been planted since the bed was abandoned.
North of town, a peripheral appeared.
Back on track, better move, I hear that train a comin'. (JC again).
Sorry, I'll make it up to you (Dick and Dee Dee?) Here's a bunch.
Now we're getting into the Pecaniere area.
Here's the old school house in Pecaniere. It's a pretty nice home, now.
If there had been a station in Peaniere, it would have been here.
Almost to La.471, there's another hump just before the highway.
The next shot is along 741 between Pecaniere and 190.
I could see where the wye had been connecting this line to the main at 190. I turned toward Opelousas and then crossed back over and pulled over. I was going to jump the ditch to see if anything remained of the connection. Then, duh, a train came along. I couldn't have anyway, the ditch was full of water and way too big. I had to give up on that one. It hurt. Below is how it was set up. Remember, I'm yellow, the old bed is purple and I was on La.741.
That's it for tonight. Opelousas to Cheneyville tomorrow. It will have some surprises. Have you ever wondered why there is no train station in historic Washington, Louisiana?
And, yes, the Saturday doldrums were gone. I was on a roll. If Indiana Jones could pull it together another time, I knew I could.
It's been a rough day. Still I don't like to leave stuff undone. That said, you'll understand that I'm just throwing this together. Sorry, no artsy intro tonight.
I was looking for the ghost railroad I wanted to follow next, the Opelousas to Cheneyville route used by the Southern Pacific since 1870 something.
I had whipped up La.473 and crossed under I-49 and hit La.182 going into Washington. This old tree was near where the line had run.
I could see where the tracks went through Washington. I was looking for the likely location of the depot. That area was not accessible due to this.
I almost forgot the map.
Click it for the large version.
Remember I'm following the rails that follow 182. I know there's one going from Opelousas to Ville Platte to Bunkie, that's another time. The gps tracks on I-49 is my return trip. Zoom.
I guess we should get Johnny Cash's Been There travel song over with. These are some of the communities on the route to Cheneyville.
I gave up on the Washington depot because I need to do some research, I left town.
I'm quitting for the night. I have another hard one tomorrow.
And, a hard one it was, but I made it and I'm now set to continue.
I continued on 182, going east from Washington, watching the ghost tracks. At Beggs the line swung north. On the way out of town, I stopped at the old store that now has a new owner. These will not be his gas prices. Ah, the good old days.
A side road revealed a gentle hump. I'm a sensitive person.
See the line just on the other side of that oak tree?
The line turned just behind Soileau's Grocery at Beggs. I've been there when it was still the place to be in Beggs.
You know, I worry about losing my interest in these ride reports. But, when I get into them I start reliving the ride. That's spooky. I hope it's working for you. Man, this is powerful stuff. Here's a catch up map so I don't have to be so descriptive.
Near Dubuisson, the tracks cross 182 affording a look at where they came from (s) to where they went (n). The line is listed here as owned by Acadiana Railroad. They must have been the last owners. I know it was the Southern Pacific through Washingotn.
Shortly after (N), this is looking back south. My heart is racing.
Another Johnny Cash moment. "I can hear that train a coming, coming round the bend..."
Nearing Whiteville, the tracks left 182. I ventured down the Bayou Boeuf Road when I saw the tracks veer off. The church is listed as White's Chapel, United Methodist Church. I feel that might be wrong?? OK Ray, here's your church. I expect a thank you.
I arrived at what is now called Whiteville. You cannot pass up a picture of Whiteville Falls when there. There is no nature trail. I would go out CCC Road to meet the tracks.
Beyond this point, going east, is weird to me. The falls at Whiteville are on the Boeuf. The next bayou out is the Wauksha. I met a nice lady fishing there one day. I think she was a ghost.
I wouldn't be going that far this time, just to the ghost tracks. The bed is elevated here. These bayous flood and the tracks were lying between two of them.
You see Whiteville? OK where you see 43 is where I turned toward the old community of Saint Louis.
Looking toward St.Louis down the tracks.
The barrier was where the rails would have crossed the Boeuf.
This is where I crossed the Boeuf.
My pulse quickened when I saw this. It is mustard with brown trim. I'm going out on a limb and say that's Southern Pacific colors. I say it was owned by the railroad.
I returned to what is now La.29. I tried to ride back on the other side of the bayou but that wasn't going to work. I didn't realize where I'd check out next. The place is actually called Barbeck Station. I went a bit past the rails for theses shots.
This is shooting toward the rail line.
Could that be the area where Barbreck Station was?
To learn more CLICK HERE
Don't you hate that. I see on the second page that there is a historical post office there. I just saw the church out past the rails.
I found this place perfect for lunch.
Ice tea and a granola bar. Back to work.
Here's a picture with a message. (Canned Heat)
Old church, new crop, take it from there.
The following is the most exciting moment of the search. It is at Gold Dust, a community hidden off the main road at the apex of a bend in Bayou Boeuf. I stopped and took this one picture hoping it would take. A very bad dog was having a fit. This, what I believe is an old store was right where the tracks had run. It could have been a station.
False alarm, it was a little too far from the tracks, or at least the tracks recorded most recently.
At Milburn there was construction and I had to leave 29. Place names missed were: Kelly, Star, Carboco. I was forced onto I-49. I got off at La.115 and headed to where I thought the line ended, Bunkie. I crossed the rails near a place called Haas. They were headed to Cheneyville. The ghost line from Ville Platte ends in Bunkie.
I got gas in Bunkie, $3.86, bike gets 50/gallon. No longer a cheap date.
This place is gorgeous. I forget its name.
I came into Cheneyville bound to find where the SP had met the main line. I worked and worked and found it, if the GPS was correct.
I know the locals were wondering what I was doing.
The following are pictures from that hunt. This group will climax with the grand crescendo.
I was getting hot. That plant with the white flowers grows well in limestone. Tracks run on limestone. This was one place the line met. It had to be a "Y" to facilitate ease of entrance. There had to be another one.
I kept expecting the police.
I ventured out into a large field.
There were no signs barring me, but I was on farmland, carefully avoiding every baby plant.
I'd found it.
There would be more. Across the tracks was another mustard and brown.
It was once a fine house. Look at the ornate supports neat the roof line. Of course the railroad connection is only a guess. Probably not.
This had been a long hike and getting home to the animals was high priority. I jumped on I-49 and let the dogs out, even edging out the speed limit accidentally on occasion. You do what you have to do. I have to sign off, Bye.