Rice Happens

by admin on 2016/11/23

Jimbaux now knows why a woman is still not safe when she's in her home.

Special thanks goes to Sarah for picking out today’s song; yes, Tracy Chapman is quite different from the usual Metallica and Seether here!

No Way!

Oh my gosh, white America!  What on Earth did you do?  How could you sell the rest of us – including your fellow white people who happened to be repulsed by what you’ve enabled – out to bullying and kleptocracy?  I warned you about this before the election! I don’t want to talk too much about the election and the results in a long post in which the photographic subject is so specific as the one here is, and I’ll save more of it for one of me briefer upcoming typical New Orleans potpourri postings (assuming that I get back out and take pictures anytime soon, which is not assured), but I’ll still mention a few things about it throughout, as it intersects and affects everything (but I will not do such in anniversarial postings, and there are many of them coming up!)

That Which Is Still Good In This World

The Old SP Midland Branch

All of these pictures were taken on Wednesday 23 November 2016, all of them are railroad pictures, and all of them were taken of activity on the Louisiana & Delta Railroad’s branch from New Iberia to Abbeville, the remaining portion of the old Midland Branch of the Southern Pacific Railway; as usual, caption information for each image can be found in the filename, which can be read by positioning your mouse arrow over the image and waiting for the filename to appear.

Regular readers of this site will recall that my last large train-chasing outing was of this line nearly two years ago (and the Cypremort Branch the next day.)  Anymore, with my decreased interest in trains and in photographing them, about the only things that I photography aside from the occasional potpourri of New Orleans railroad activity (which doesn’t require that much effort but which is nonetheless rare for me now too) are these branchlines, the CN Bogalusa Line, and the KCS Gulfport Subdivision.  The Abbeville Branch is the only one of those three that I can build into family visits, and the Bogalusa Line is just a bit far away.

Mission Defined

My original plan was based on the hope that the branchline would be served, as it most typically is, on a Tuesday.  That didn’t happen, but I was conveniently position to make good use of a text message the next morning from the head New Iberia railroad enthusiast that the branch would be served today!  I was told that a train of one locomotive and two cars already staged by the switch to the old branch to Avery Island would eventually make its way west to Abbeville.

My intention, unlike last time, was to be more judicious about picture-taking, for a few reasons.  First, the largest memory card that I had is now corrupted, leaving me with a capacity of only about 100-or-so RAW images on two small SD cards.  Second, as I obliquely mentioned in the “Site News” section of my “Keeping Up Appearances” article, I have grown concerned about the time that I have invested and that it takes to continue to invest in both taking pictures and, perhaps more importantly, processing them; it’s one thing to spend a few hours during a holiday week taking pictures of trains, but it’s another thing to have to spend perhaps even more time afterward processing the many pictures and then composing a blog article about them, which is why you are seeing this more than a week after the pictures were taken.

So, I actually intentionally tried to be late on this outing so that I’d take fewer pictures and, if the train were later than I thought, that I wouldn’t spend so much time waiting for it, even if I had reading material with me (and I did.)  This intention was reflected in my plan to go grab a bite to eat at the Subway in Delcambre, which has a view of the track, and then go east and intercept the train (with, presumably, the food not yet eaten.)


Well, as I arrived in Delcambre under threatening, thickly-cloudy skies kicking up plenty of wind, there I saw a headlight!  There, through the drops, I could see a locomotive and two hopper cars moving west.  So, there’s no time to eat!  There’s time only to do a U-turn and find a good broadside shot of the train entering Erath.

Wow, check out how those seemingly new wheels reflect!  The great thing about having a train this short is that it makes broadside shots of the entire train like this one possible.

The downpour started just as soon as I got back into the truck, and I got ahead of the train across town to get this shot.

I like that.  I presumed now that he was going to stop at Mack to pick up one or both of the tank cars of denatured alcohol that were sitting there, and that’s what he did.

Mack Switch

I’m accustomed to seeing empty cars for the rice mill in Abbeville stored here, but with only six cars at the mill, there is no need for that this week.

The tank cars are bound for a transloading site for Creole Fermentation a little ways north of Abbeville.

The denatured alcohol is used to make vinegar for Creole Fermentation’s products.

I think that we’re taking the farther east – farthest from the camera – tank car.

There is plenty to photograph from this little switching operation.

Also, it’s quite easy to photograph.

Railroading isn’t not yet a lost art; automation hasn’t yet killed the honorable tasks that C.V. is seen doing here.

But how productive railroads have become is indeed truly amazing; this was once a very labor-intensive business, but not anymore.

There is not enough room in Abbeville to store excess Abbeville cars; so, they are left here, but you get a better appreciation of this from my aforelinked 6 January 2015 post, which shows a train arriving at Mack with 21 cars but then proceeding to Abbeville with only 15 cars.

Well, it’s about time for the train to depart over the jointed-rail track from here to Abbeville.

Suddenly, I have an idea!

A New Shot

This is only the third time that I have photographed action on this line past the Pesson Spur (and I’ve barely published any pictures from the first time); so, there isn’t much of a reason to call this much of a “new shot,” but it’s something that was possible – or more sensible – due to today’s cloudiness, and, after the first two shots from this location, due to the shortness of the train.

How’s that?  I may not take pictures nearly as much as I once did even just a few years ago, I think that I’ve still got it!

Now, things are about to get tighter, and this is where it helps to have a short train like this one.

I like it.  I stood atop my truck to get some of the “Raceland Oil” pictures on April 2, but this appears to be the first time in 2016 that I stand atop the truck to photograph a moving train; apparently, the last time that I stood atop the truck to photograph a moving train was when I shot the CSX y305 at Alvar Street on 5 September 2015, more than one year ago.

I mean, in some ways, it’s a bit boring, but it’s also different in a very good way.

And, for our final image from this location, I’ll give you one that meets the “this isn’t supposed to be good” criteria even more than the above images from this location.

What think you?

Rain, Cane, Mud

Let’s just say that getting these next two shots of the train coming into Abbeville was a real mess.

This was one of those times when I wondered why I do this.

Well, yeah, I’m actually always asking myself that question now.


Now, we’re in a residential area shortly before the mill.

We’re in a part of town in which I worry that the people who see me might guess, based on my complexion, that I helped enable this disgusting monster who was endorsed by the Ku Klux Klan to the Presidency.

I think that in New Orleans, it doesn’t matter as much; non-white people in New Orleans have less reason to assume that the white people whom they see in New Orleans enabled this, but, then again, Lakeview went for Trump.

All of that makes me feel a great sense of shame, and I had trouble, the day after election day, looking at black people in the face; I’m really sorry.

The Mill And A Mystery

Okay, now, we’re at the mill.

While I was at it, too unmotivated – or too scared to damage my equipment in the rain – to swap lenses, I grabbed a cellular telephone photo of where another track once was, but I wonder about this track’s original role.

That old loader at the right was apparently for the loading of rice hulls, but, apparently, this stopped a long time ago; I’d love to know why, but what I’d really love to know is if that track served some other purpose prior to being a loading track.  To get an idea of why I ask that question, notice how the train has to make this turn off of a straight line to come into town on the runaround track.

The train stopped at S. State Street for a little while and blocked the crossing, apparently due to some trouble with the loading of the traction motors, apparently due to a bicycle that was deliberately left on the track a few blocks back.

Note on Google’s satellite view that the hull loading track seems to come straight out of the mainline coming from the east, whereas the mainline bends to the south suddenly there just before S. State Street.  I have a theory about this.  I suspect that the hull loading track was the original branch mainline and that the bridge over the Vermilion River that was dismantled after the line to Kaplan was cut around 1990 was not the original bridge, that it was built alongside the original bridge, as often happens when bridges are replaced.

Anyone know?

The first task after tying down the inbound train is to pull one loaded hopper car from the part of the mill on the other side of S. Main Street, right by the river.

Oh, the rain is pouring down!  Let’s get a closer view of the same image.

I wanted to show both versions, the first with the trackage int he foreground and the Riviana truck, and the latter cropping that out and focusing on the train and the rain.

That’s an old Southern Pacific hopper car!  It would have had, until recently, big “SOUTHERN PACIFIC” lettering on the sides!

The next thing to do is to pull the now-empty Creole Fermentation tank car.

That’s the end of the branch now, but just behind that is the Vermilion River and where the (last) railroad bridge here was before the line got cut in about 1990.

So, here, you see the two cars being pulled from the western side of S. Main Street pulled toward the runaround track, with the inbound train at the right.

Now, it’s time to shove to spot the inbound cars.

This about all of the mill trackage that you can get in one ground-level picture.

I just love how all of this is so easily publicly accessible, a reflection of this line’s quaintness.

So, after spotting those cars, he’ll pull the nearest hopper car from each of those two tracks at left, but you’ll see that soon.

The next thing that I did was relocate my truck; so, I don’t have any pictures of him spotting the tank car, and the next picture was taken eight minutes after the prior picture.

Here, above, our locomotive has pulled up to S. State Street in order to be able to access the nearer mill tracks, which you see him doing below.

First, he pulls only one car out of the near track.

Second, he stops to open the switch to the second track.

Third, he pulls only one car out of the second track.

Both of the cars pulled are SSW hopper cars; they would have, before their most recent paint job, had big “COTTON BELT” lettering on the side.

Above, you see the near-total scene, with the cars being pulled at the left and the cars to which they will be added to make the outbound train at right, and below is a tighter view.

That’s the same former Rock Island locomotive that handled this job when I last photographed it nearly two years ago!

Yes, that’s Cotton Belt and Rock Island on one train in southern Louisiana; mais, what do we make of that, chère?

Now, with all cars pulled, it’s time to get the outbound train together.

Yeah, I didn’t know what to do with the cropping here (and I’m not going back and changing it!)

Now, we have our outbound train built, and you can see the old hull loader at right.

So long, downtown Abbeville!

Leaving Abbeville

Though this is my third time photographing the Abbeville Branch train, this was my first time photographing it going away from Abbeville; the prior time that I chased this train, it was working at the mill when the sun set (as the aforelinked set shows), and the first time that I did this line in January 2012, it was close to dark when the train left Abbeville, I had prior commitments, and, as I recall, it would have been light power anyway.

This is my first picture at S. Airport Road.

Well, that looks okay, I guess.

Fast Foam Food

I suspect that it was the Pavlovian response to chasing a train on a branchline like this that prompted me to, at this point, stop at Dairy Queen on the way out of Abbeville, though remember that that the train was earlier than expected caused me to miss my planned stop at the Subway in Delcambre, and, by this point, I was damned hungry.  I’ve gotten better about not eating fast food and about cooking and days-ahead preparation of meals, but I flunked this time, and maybe that’s okay, with a neat chase like this, especially since I hardly do it anymore and can afford the occasional food strikeouts.  Still, it would help to learn to bring some healthy snacks next time I do this, possibly as early as December, like celery, nuts, carrots, trail mix, etc.

Satisfaction at Erath

I had a shot in mind at Erath, at Mack, really, and I got there quickly to eat my Dairy Queen cheeseburger and wait for the train.  I ate, and then I waited.  I didn’t think that the relatively quick stop at DQ would have caused the train to beat me here over what looks like 10mph track, but I wondered.

Then, I saw a headlight, and, although trying to save room on my memory card (I had about 10 shots left), I decided to pop off an interesting concept shot before my planned picture.

Isn’t that different?  And kind of neat?  Yeah, I could have done better and not got it behind that sign post, and maybe I’ll be able to try this again in the future, but how about the concept of it?

Anyway, you can see there why the train had been taking awhile.  Apparently, it stopped at Coastal Chemicals to pick up that tank car.  That’s another way that this line reminds me of the Lockport Branch, with one major customer and one customer – or two customers – that get a tank car about every week or so.

I hope that this line does not suffer the same fate, but, with such sporadic activity and such short trains, that’s what I fear.

So, anywhere, here’s the shot at West Erath that I actually planned.

And, again, it’s something to think that those first two hopper cars once had big “COTTON BELT” lettering on the side, that third hopper car had big “SOUTHERN PACIFIC” lettering on the side, and the locomotive had Rock Island paint on it.

An Open Closed Road At Emma

For my last act, I headed far to the east to a secluded spot, more secluded now than I realized before.  I had about six shots left on my card.

In order to get there, I had to, due to closed roads, zigzag through some interesting parish roads.  I’ve driven these roads before over the last few years, and I’ve long fantasized about the idea of somehow acquiring some property back here and building a nice house and a small farm, like a huge vegetable garden where I sell the surplus.

This time, however, the affection that I have for this area between Delcambre and Emma waned, as I saw several Trump signs in residential yards, and I remember that a few days after the election, a black friend very politely told me, “I know that you’re shocked, but this is the way that it has always been.”  I asked him what he meant, and he went on to recount all of the instances him and black coworkers making, at various jobs, less than white folks made for doing the same jobs, something that he had never mentioned to me before; I got the impression that he had been all too conditioned by the idea that the victims of racism are whiners who should shut up.

Racism has, in the 21st Century in the United States of America, real, material results, and, as I drove past properties owned by white people, where property was owned by white people – probably, in many cases, the ancestors of the current owners – back when black people were property, I could no longer ignore this, and I could not stomach that those who already had the relative power and privilege voted for a campaign based specifically on the repression and denigration of the less fortunate; the Trump campaign was indeed about the issues, not just about who should have power and who should not, but, worse, what the people who have the power are allowed to do to the people who don’t have power.

The day after the election, I made a trip to the grocery store, and I couldn’t even look the black cashier in the face, especially after I heard her talking, in a tone that seemed to suggest that she was resigned to a bad fate, about wage garnishment.

I drove passed beautiful lots of people who had voted for bullying, and this place now forever looks less beautiful to me.

And they voted for someone who is apparently, even before taking office, already more socialistic than they could ever credibly accuse Barack Obama of being, not that that ever stopped them from making such baseless accusations.  I guess you Trump supporters are cool with “socialism” as long as it is perceived as directly benefiting you, especially at the expense of someone else.

So your Republican president’s agenda is to balance the protection of noncompetitive domestic businesses with a huge increase in public spending (and let’s not even mention the massive public-works project known as the wall with Mexico). It’s not really socialism—Trump’s government is going to take on the cost of propping up big manufacturers without being rewarded via an ownership stake therein—but it’s just as “socialist” as, to take one example, subsidizing the purchase of private health insurance. And it’s unquestionably Big Government.

Yep.  All of your previous protestations about black people and welfare recipients in general being lazy “moochers” have been shown to be hypocritical and hollow.  You’re demanding that jobs be “created” for you; you’re demanding that work that the free market doesn’t need – or no longer needs human beings to do – be created for you, because you’re either unable or unwilling to get new skills for what the market needs.  You, too, Trump supporters, are asking for a form of welfare; it’s welfare disguised as paid work, but it’s still welfare.

Of course, as I argued in my “Election 2016″ section last time, this is a problem primarily because, even in a world in which one farmer with a quarter-million-dollar harvester combine can feed large numbers of people, in which automation – not human “foreigners” – is replacing so many jobs formerly done by human beings, and in which foraging for food – and, especially, engaging in agriculture – on land that you don’t own is a crime, we continue to insist that a person’s ability to participate in civilization, and be able to purchase all of the new technological gadgets that allow one to to fully participate in civilization, be solely dependent on money earned from paid employment.  It’s beyond time for universal basic income.

“But who pays for it?”

Those who most benefit from all of the spending that it generates; that’s who!

Come on, people.  This isn’t complicated.  Once you realize what it means to live in a market economy, and once you realize that the entire point of technology is to improve the quality of our lives, then both the utility and the necessity of basic income, which simultaneously grows the size of the pie and still ensures that everyone gets a bare minimum slice, are obvious.

As long as you don’t see that, though, then you’re susceptible to thinking that the size of the pie is fixed, and that it’s okay that, in this ever technologizing world, we should intensify competition for every-smaller pieces of the pie (and this is, of course, why the Democrats are, notwithstanding the fact that Hillary Clinton got about two million more votes than Trump got, largely impotent to fight Trumpism; Clinton’s support of Middle Out economics notwithstanding, they’ve largely been doing the the-size-of-the-pie-doesn’t-change thinking for a long time, as evidenced by Bernie Sanders’s embrace of that dumb zero-sum kind of thinking.)  That kind of thinking fosters the racism that Trump voters have enabled.

Why did you do this, people?

After zig-zagging through these parish roads, I got to Emma from the east and was dismayed to find Hayes Road closed right where I needed to access it.  I wasn’t surprised that the bridge there still hasn’t been repaired all these years later (it was out when I came here in early 2015), but now part of the road leading up to that bridge was closed, too; there wasn’t even a “local traffic only” sign.

Dammit!  I came this far, and I was going to have to settle for a shot far from where I wished to set up to get the great broadside shot here.

But, then, something happened.  A pickup truck pulled up behind me.  I figured that I was about to get investigated, but that’s not what happened.

As it eventuated, this was a young farmer coming to work some of the land – this land owned by white people when black people were, too, owned by white people – accessed by the closed road, and he had a key to the gate.  He inquired about what I was doing, I told him that I planned to just photograph the train that was coming and then leave, and he seemed to have no problem with it!

Well, thanks, Mr. Farmer.

In each of the three times that I photographed a train on this part of the branch past the Pesson Spur, I photographed at this location, and I suspect that this will be the last time, sadly.

I fear that that bridge won’t ever get repaired.

That’s sad, because this is about my favorite photo location on this branch, and, in my aforelinked 6 January 2015 posting, you’ll notice that I was able to fit the entirety of a 21-car train in a broadside shot at this same location.

Well, I hope that you have enjoyed this, because this is it.

That’s all.


There is a possibility that I may be able to photograph action on this line again next month, thanks to some time off around Christmas, and I hope to do this again.  With only two cars inbound and only five cars outbound, and with this being the first train on the branch in nine days, I fear for this line’s future.  I wish that the Twin-Parish Port in Delcambre would get a spur with some business, maybe for oil field supplies and perhaps even refrigerator cars of seafood, and I fantasize about other businesses, like a lumberyard getting lumber and cement deliveries, but that’s just what my little train-infected brain imagines.

I’ll see you next time, perhaps with some New Orleans pictures soon.



{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Steve Boyko December 7, 2016 at 21:31

Great documentation of a modern day branch line! I appreciated the detail and the commentary.

About your next president… sigh… the less said, the better for this Canadian.


2 JBX December 7, 2016 at 21:39

Being in Canada won’t shield you – or any American who moves to Canada to escape this madness – from the effects of a global thermonuclear war, and that just got more likely with this dangerous loon taking control!


3 bob December 15, 2016 at 11:49

James; Some really nice stuff in here. Some folks shy away from rainy days but you did well with it.


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