This story begins like so many. I make no apologies.
I was at Camp Pratt, it was 11pm and the Sunset Limited,
coming from San Antonio, was late. I had heard she was
not expected at Iowa Junction until 9:45. That gave me time
to eat, read the paper, shave, curse the liberals on tv, and leave
before I bricked the picture tube.
I and the Louisiana & Delta tug, 1707, sat.
I had waited for 30 minutes for a 30 second show, not
an uncommon phenomenon in many arenas.
Some people have all the fun.
She was accelerating, I guess to try to make time. Good luck,
the New Iberia Depot was next.
I rode into New Iberia, but she was leaving. I felt no pull
to follow the cookie cutter L&D trains. Done that. I'd head
back into the Lafayette rail circus. Something different is always
happening there. On the way, at Elks, and the Caterpillar
Dealership crossing, stuff was going on. The ride would make
a full circle back to this scene. These rails create daily stories.
Today would be no different.
At the Budweiser siding in Lafayette, a crane was on the sidetrack.
Evidently this stretch of rail is seeing some work. I have no idea
what that heavy piece is. Possibly a part of a bridge, who knows.
Then I saw something new. Like I said, "new" is always around.
Three Ferromex engines were coupled together and pulling
a train. They are Mexican. They looked freshly refurbished
or new. The light is never good at the yard. Nothing had changed
as far as that goes.
I went across the east end of the yard to the alley near the
recycling business. The dispatcher and the engineer
had just finished doing their dance and here the Mexicans came.
The lady dispatcher had taken charge. She is a nice person.
That does not lessen the sting of her whip.
You do get good photography light in the alley.
They were headed over the University St. underpass on the
way to the south curve that takes trains past the Lafayette Depot
and on to Elks, Broussard, New Iberia, and points east, all the way
to New Orleans. (if you are a passenger) Of course, if you are
a freight, you can do other stuff.
Around the curve she went.
While there, I took a picture of the old boxcar at Mike Baker Brick.
It is on a siding that led to the northbound Alexandria Branch of the
Southern Pacific RR (RIP).
You can see it in the distance. This is where the last crossing
of the Baton Rouge Branch occurred, maybe. I don't believe
the SP ever crossed the BR here, but 10 or 20 yard north.
I, and a knowledgeable associate, have studied old and new
maps until blue in the face. This is what you call "handy archeology".
"Handy" for me, anyway.
Again, my timing was perfect. Here came the L&D train
from Breaux Bridge (once a stop on the Baton Rouge Branch)
It was Frank. Frank was talking to Rick, his chase truck man.
Frank was making sure Rick had the switch aligned to the mainline
and THE DERAILER WAS "IN THE DIRT". I learned a new term
today. The engineer repeated the term and Rick repeated it back to
him. Frank and L&D 2000 were not hesitating while climbing onto
the mainline. He was pulling a load plus another engine.
He was headed to the University St. underpass, to wait.
The Ferromex train was dead on the tracks. Frank needed
to get to Elks, south of the work crew. Well, not that work
crew, another one. One that was working on a crossing and
taking way too much time. So, end story is that Frank had
to wait behind the Mexicans and the slow moving, probably
organized labor rail crew to get his work done. A little political
lesson was being played out right there on the local rails.
Mz, Allegheny brought up the rear. She's not a cookie cutter
L&D tug, she's beautiful. She would lead the train to Elks
when the time finally came. Stay tuned.
Rick put the switch back to normal and got the derailer out of the dirt.
I needed to check on the 3 Mexicans. The next two shots
are from the tail of the train taken at the reptile skinning
parking lot looking toward the Vermillion River bridge.
If you are ever in this position, wave to the tail camera.
Sadly, it replaced the caboose.
I rode over the river to find the 3 amigos. The train stretched over the bridge.
I had to change to my old camera. The new one's batteries
were dead. I can hold the old one in my mouth and take pictures.
I'm not saying how I press the button. I actually took 4 good
shots while crossing the bridge. Now, that's a fast camera and
a fast button pressing.
Over the airport underpass she sat. That's what we called it back when
this was country.
Los Ferros sat at Judge Kaliste Saloom Ave.
I considered the Judge an angry uncle. He considered me
Getting a clear shot across the Judge K. was also a challenge.
I rode all the way down through all the dangerous intersections
to find these guys still tearing it up at the Caterpillar Dealership.
Back in Lafayette, Frank sat over the underpass.
I rode on a street north of the tracks headed toward St.
Antoine St. This is an interesting area. The tracks actually
went straight over north Lafayette and continued on the
Baton Rouge Branch across the Atchafalaya Basin. That
was back in 1911. The evidence is clear. The rails line up.
The ROW is still open field between St. Antoine and
Working my way east on that street, I finally came to Mz. Allegheny.
I was headed home, tiring of the day, when I heard Frank
was on the move. I rushed up Pinhook Rd. to the reptile parking lot
and caught him (and her) coming under steam. He hadn't
let off the horns. He was having a long day and no longer chippy.
The horns didn't have that Happy Frank sound. You can tell.
Yes, sweetie, you are a cutie.
Bringing up the rear was Ole' 2000. I need to check her
history. She may have once been a beauty before she got
her Orange Army uniform.
See y'all later.