Monday 19 December 2005 was a cloudy damned day in Bayouland, which disappointed me, since this was one of my rare opportunities to photograph action on the Lockport Branch, the 14-mile-long railroad branchline extending from the Sunset Route mainline at Raceland down the eastern bank of Bayou Lafourche below Lockport.
The lighting on this day was very weird, with clouds causing a strange darkness.
We start in Raceland, where the Louisiana & Delta Railroad’s Schriever Job was spotting some hopper cars at the MTI facility.
After that, it pulls out the three boxcars it will be bringing down the branch to Valentine Paper, and our chase commences.
I very much like those Ontario Northland Railway boxcars! Neat boxcars could often be found on the branchline.
Here is the train rounding the curve and getting onto what really is the branch, leaving Raceland proper behind as it approaches Louisiana Highway 182, the former US Highway 90.
The chase is on. Next, we are in Mathews.
Still in Mathews, we are, next, at Sugarmill Road, near where the former Georgia Sugar refinery was, and we see a hi-rail truck preceding the train.
I don’t know what’s up with this lighting.
I also don’t know what’s up with photographing trains; I wish that I understood it.
Past Mathews, and past Lockport proper, we are at what is probably my favorite Lockport Branch location: Myrtle Drive.
This was always an interesting place to see, watch, and photograph the train.
It was also where, many times, I got curious stares from people who lived nearby.
I guess this next shot is my shot of the day.
I like it, despite the messy lighting.
Next, we are in Valentine, site of Valentine Paper, and where the locomotive has run around the boxcars to prepare to shove them into the plant.
The track in the foreground goes to Valentine Chemicals, occupying the former Valentine Sugars facility.
At about this time in late 2005, the paper plant had undergone an ownership change, and I recall that that was part of the reason why I did not see any branch activity in my very foamy Thanksgiving week. We feared, then, that the plant would close, and this new lease on life as I was taking these pictures was a relief to me, as well as to the local economy.
It would not last, though. Two years later, Valentine Paper closed for the final time; on Saturday 8 December 2007, I photographed the last railroad delivery to Valentine Paper, one of my best-ever sets of pictures, and a month later, I photographed the last train from Valentine, as the boxcars brought in December needed to be retrieved.
In better times with better lighting, almost two years to the day before I took these pictures, I got a great set (on film) of Lockport Branch action.
On this day in 2005, this was the last picture that I took on the branch for the day; I vaguely recall that I had some family gathering to attend on this day.
So, three-and-a-half hours later, I am at Schriever photographing, not surprisingly, the westbound Sunset Limited.
Right at this time, a BNSF Railway ballast train or boulder train, apparently for some local maintenance-of-way work, was moving eastward in the siding.
And that, mes amis, is all for today. Stay tuned tomorrow for some never-before-seen (from me) scenes.