What I Had Planned, But Not How I Had Planned It

by admin on 2016/12/21

Jimbaux can't understand what you meant to him . . . when you tied his hands.

Two Withered Branches

Hello!  This is a follow-up to yesterday’s large post of pictures chasing the Louisiana & Delta Railroad’s NI1 job.  My intention and my hope then had been to photograph action on the Abbeville Branch.  As you may have seen from that essay, due to a delay from the day before, the crew had other plans in the morning and was able to bring its Abbeville cars only a few miles down the branch before tying it down for the night.

Can You Remember When We Used To Live Never In Distress?

What, you’re not listening to today’s song?  I arrived this morning, Wednesday 21 December 2016, the winter solstice, well before the crew arrived.

‘Twas a calm morning here on the road to Avery Island.

I just happened to be here the day that the man with the work truck is there doing some kind of work, blocking the view of the train; anybody have any idea what he might be doing? gas line work?

The track in the foreground is the beginning of the Pesson Spur; with no customers on the spur having shipped for awhile, it is being used to store cars.

That’s another example of why I like telephoto lenses so much.

Let’s Get Salty, Baby

Figuring that I had the time to do so, figuring that it would take a little while even once the crew arrived for the train to get started, and figuring that I’d be easily able to catch up with the train if I happened to miss it, I decided to go and inspect what is left of the Salt Mine Branch past I&V Junction to see if I could find the end of it, and I did.

Imagine that, until some time around 1990, plenty of railroad cars loaded with salt mined from Avery Island a few miles south of here moved over these rails; the deregulation of the railroad industry allowed the railroads to charge a high enough rate that they actually make money on all shipments that service to local salt mines that have barge access stopped.

Let’s Get Sandy, Baby

This is what what is left of the branch past I&V Junction does today.

These appear to be stored fracking sand hopper cars, the likes of which are used at nearby Carbo Ceramics in New Iberia.

Confusingly enough, though, there was one BNSF boxcar in the mix of these cars, which I thought an odd car to be stored all by itself among dozens of two-bay hopper cars; I figure that if a boxcar would be parked somewhere in long-term storage, it would be parked next to other boxcars.

Whatever the case, this area is fascinating and worth a visit if you’re ever in the area.

Like Climbing Into A Deer Stand

Now, I’m back at the shot location, and I see that the train hasn’t moved.

So, I sat there and read another chapter of Driven To Distraction, a book that I should have read years ago, and, an hour and 10 minutes later, we have movement.

I like this view, this scene; so, I popped off and will present a few shots here.

It doesn’t all go downhill from here, but the first view of this train moving is one of the best.

Now, we turn in the other direction to get a view of I&V Junction and the cars stored on the part of what’s left of the Salt Mine Branch past the junction.

Yes, it’s a bit fuzzy, but you get the idea.

The next two views, I think, demonstrate both the layout of the junction and the story of what has become of it.

The Iberville & Vermillionville Railroad started here and went west to Abbeville, eventually becoming part of the Southern Pacific’s Midland Branch, while the Salt Mine Branch continued where the stored cars are.

I guess that that is useful.

Now, The Hunt Is On

I then went to set up at Emma proper, and that gave me another view of the stored cars on the old Avery Island line.

I like that; there’s a neat church just up the road to the left.

From here, the cloudiness limited my options.  Few of the shots past here are good in such cloudy conditions; in places where you can get good views of the train, you can’t get the sky away from the train.

The Best That I Could Do Here

I found this shot near Bob Acres.

I think that there are a bunch of Trump voters in this area; I did nothing to make them hate me except maybe merely existing and not behaving the way that they want me to behave, even though that does not in any way harm them, those delicate little snowflakes, them.

Here in Delcambre, despite the problems posed by the sky being brighter than the subject, I got the obligatory shot at the lift bridge over the Delcambre Canal.

You can see the L&D automobile that the third trainman operates, and you’ll see him again shortly.


At about the the spot where Delcambre turns into Erath, the train passes right next to a lumber yard that doesn’t get railroad service, dammit.

The lumberyard is unseen just to the right of the frame.

This Little Town

Here’s the train coming through the main residential area of the middle of Erath.

I got to Mack, which is primarily used to hold industry-bound cars that Abbeville can’t yet take, and I saw the third trainman on the ground; I got confused by what on Earth he could be doing here when there were no cars to pick up here!

Why in the hell is the train going into this siding?

I then noticed that the tank car was dropped off here, a process that took very little time with the man already on the ground and the train not needing to wait for him to realign the switches, and I surmised that the reason for this was that Creole Fermentation had not yet fully unloaded the tank car at its dock, a theory that humint soon thereafter confirmed.


I forewent any of the shots of the train coming into Abbeville, since they aren’t good at this time of day under these lighting and atmospheric conditions, and I got, rather, a new shot of the train coming into Abbeville proper.

I wonder what operation used that hopper system in back.  Is that a gravel operation?

Turning in the other direction, we can see the old hull loader at the rice mill off in the far distance.

Does that make my theory that the hull loader track was part of some original branch mainline, as I suggested back in November, seem plausible to you?

Okay, so, now, our train is arriving at the mill.

The first thing to do is to run around the cars and go to the mill and pull the one and only outbound loaded car, a boxcar.

If and when I chase this job again, I’m going to try and not take so many pictures at the mill.

This post is already long enough, like yesterday’s post, an we have plenty more to go!

Now, the 1712 is pulling the loaded boxcar.

This is your reminder that caption information for each image can be found in the filename, which can be read by positioning your mouse arrow over the images.

Now, it’s time to set out the loaded boxcar and then pull the seven empty cars to then shove and spot them.

After dropping off the loaded car, the locomotive goes to get the empty cars.

Yeah, these shots are getting repetitive, but each shot does tell a uniquely different part of the story; I don’t know how to accurately depict a switching operation such as this without each shot.

Here’s something different.

Also, this probably doesn’t need to be stated, but you know that the pictures here are presented in chronological order.

So, three of the hopper cars are shoved into the out track, and, then, the other hopper car and the three boxcars will be shoved into the close track.

Obviously, the boxcars have to be on the close track, since they are loaded from the sides, as opposed to the hopper cars, which are loaded from the top.

The below image is one of the better from the day, summarizing the story of the day, and that’s why it’s the picture that I chose to share on Facebook as an appetizer.

Now, the 1712 is spotting the other hopper car and the three boxcars.

Okay, with that done, it’s time to grab the one loaded boxcar and get out of here!

In the below image, you can see the switchman walking back to the automobile, and you can catch a thin glimpse of the Creole Fermentation tank car on the old mainline right by the river.

Let’s have one more look at the totality – or as much of the totality as can fit in a picture – of the scene before we leave.

The skies have gotten cloudy, and, now, it’s time to work our way eastward out of town with the train.

About a mile-and-a-half to the east, we are now waiting at milepost 20.

I like this location, and it appears that there was once a second track here, apparently for some industry.

A little bit farther to the east at S. Airport Road, it appears that there was another industry formerly served by rail.

I wonder what was spotted on this track.

I like this shot.

Enjoy the one-locomotive-with-one-boxcar train, since it’s about a thousand feet from stopping at Coastal Chemicals to pick up a tank car.

Next, I’m really leaving Abbeville.


So, just like I did last time, I tried to get these goofy highway scenes with the train coming out of Abbeville and into Erath.

I guess that this is okay, but what do you think?

The location where the train is seen in the above two pictures is right about where Abbeville meets Erath.

Below, the train is getting close to the Mack track.

At about this point, I had two things in mind; a specific shot in Erath that I had never done, and to break off from the chase of the train for a combination of reasons, including the low likelihood of any more good shots given the atmospheric conditions and the time of day, and that I had other things that I wanted to do.

The Last Chapter Of The First Book

Here’s the shot that I had in mind, and you can see, off in the background, the tank car dropped off earlier.

Even though I poked around Delcambre for more shot opportunities afterward, I basically decided after taking the above picture that it would be a good way to end the chase.

A Southern, Marshy, Salty Diversion

My plan now was to travel some roads that I have never before traveled, going past the Port of Iberia (where I had been) to Lydia and then taking Highway 83 to Weeks Island and then up Bayou Cypremort.  I had already been on the part along Bayou Cypremort on 7 January 2015 when I got some pictures there.

So, what else did I have in mind?  It did involve picture-taking.

First, before going southward through marshy land, we stop at Lydia Veterans Memorial Park.

As I stopped to observe this memorial and contemplate its meaning, I contemplated how much the world has changed and how much it has recently revealed the way that it always has been.

As I imagine that the majority of people who live near this memorial either voted for Trump or didn’t vote to stop him, and as I imagine that many of them might find this memorial to have a positive meaning, I am horrified with the idea that it is likely that most of them do not realize that their country’s participation in World War II was a great liberal crusade.

I am beyond horrified that so many of my fellow Americans who are proud of their fathers’, grandfathers’, or great-grandfathers’ risking of their lives to defeat the Axis powers have just voted into office the horribly hateful ideology against which their ancestors – and mine – so proudly fought.

It really doesn’t have to be this way, people.  These fights are largely avoidable, but, apparently, some of you get a real kick out of avoidable, destructive conflicts.

We don’t need war memorials for new wars because we don’t need new wars, but plenty of the descendants of the veterans of those wars have just made that more likely, and it’s all completely avoidable.

What To Do About It

I see Trumpism as driven largely by the Scarcity Mindset that basic income would address.  Thanks to technology and capitalism, we now produce so many more products and services with fewer and fewer labor inputs that it no longer makes sense – and is now downright cruel – that we continue to insist that a person’s ability to participate in civilization depend entirely upon income from a paid job.  We really, really do not need to “bring back jobs.”  Are you having trouble putting your hands on anything that you need at the grocery store or at Wal-Mart or Target?  No.  Are you having trouble paying for them?  Probably so.  We’ve solved the supply problem, but businesses are slowing down today due to lack of demand that used to come from money that people earned in jobs that no longer exist because they are no longer necessary.

The idea that we’d suffer economically debilitating job walkoffs due to basic income – a frequent criticism of the proposal – is just absurd.  Don’t you like having disposable income?  Don’t you like doing at least some work?  Don’t you like being and feeling useful?  If you answered yes to all three questions, why presume that the majority of the population feels differently?

This idea that we need to “create jobs” that obviously don’t need to exist is just insane and harmful, and “full employment” is both no longer possible and no longer necessary. Technological advances mean that not everyone has to work a full-time job anymore.  The real job-killer is technology; that’s a bad thing only if you insist that everyone should have some sort of full-time paid employment.  Why would you insist that?  Why not let people take care of their own children and aging parents?

Also, before you publicly make a fool out of yourself in the comments section with some “socialism” criticism, don’t you think that you should know what socialism is in the first place?  One of the biggest pushbacks that I get on the issue of basic income is “OMG that’s socialism!”  You might as well just say “Hi, my name is [your name here], and, although I don’t actually know what socialism (or communism) is, not knowing won’t stop me from publicly claiming that something is socialism!”

Get a clue!

Our President-Elect is the biggest socialist in modern times!  He’s for bullying private corporations into creating jobs that don’t need to exist and will probably be automated – or reautomated – in a few years anyway. No, he’s not a socialist in the true form, but neither is Bernie Sanders, and it’s mostly the people who have been complaining about “socialism” for the last eight years who elected Trump, and he’s far more socialistic than Obama ever was or even seemed to aspire to be. He’s all about trying to bully private employers to create jobs that the free market obviously no longer needs.

Trump supporters denigrate “welfare leeches,” but they themselves are asking for a form of welfare when they cry about “bringing back jobs”; it’s welfare disguised as paid work, but it’s still welfare, and it costs much more than regular state welfare payments.  People receiving public assistance money are not in any way harming you.  They spend the money, which is how it gets right into your paycheck.

If you want to talk about socialism or communism, the deliberate creation of jobs that don’t need to exist just to give people jobs is something that the Soviet Union did, and that’s a big part of why it collapsed. At grocery stores in the Soviet Union, shoppers had to go through three clerks just to check stuff out because the country just made up pointless jobs to give people something to do.

That’s the socialist mindset (and it is why the Democratic Party, with its Leftist size-of-the-pie-is-fixed mentality, was and remains mostly impotent to stop Trumpism.) It’s about valuing work itself, regardless of whether what is produced from that work has any value. It’s also why Bernie Sanders narrowed his focus to helping “workers,” which means that he doesn’t consider that maybe some of these jobs aren’t necessary, which is a big, important thing to consider in this world of automation.

Trump promises to “bring back jobs”; if they have to be brought back, they don’t need to exist in the first place.  Trump’s supporters are either unable or unwilling to get the skills for the jobs that are available, many of them very well-paying jobs, but they don’t want that. They want to be paid money to do specific things that machines now do. They denigrate other people looking for handouts, but handouts are exactly what Trump supporters seek.

It’s understandable that people want to be paid to do specific things, because specific kinds of work give specific kinds of people identity – or, another way to say that is to say that different personalities fit different types of work, and it’s important to note that one’s personality is mostly fixed well before adulthood.

So, what’s the solution? People need to eat, and technology has helped to solve the supply problem. It’s 2017. Factory workers – the few that are still needed – no longer actually make the products; they mostly just supply the robots with the input materials.

It’s time for basic income. It’s time to hand everyone a small amount of cash every month. If not, either we’re going to have more suffering, or we’re going to have to pay people to dig holes one day and backfill them the next day.

Weeks Island

My next stop was Weeks Island, where it is difficult to get out of the truck to take pictures.  I found this old switch stand at the beginning of what remains of the yard that served the salt mine here.

I think that the track leading up to here was removed no later than late 2006, but I suspect that trains stopped running here years before that.  The deregulation of the railroad industry in the 1980s allowed railroads to charge what it actually cost to move shipments, meaning that unprofitable moves from salt mines that had barge access ended. In the below image, that loader at the far right appears, as best as I can tell, to be a loader for salt into barges.

This yard was, just a few decades ago, very busy with plenty of salt moving by hopper cars, and the salt mine had its own switcher locomotive. Although the track to Weeks Island is gone, you can still see milepost 17 in the swamp!

You can also see how the pancake flat Louisiana land suddenly turns up in the distance at the salt dome. Now, it’s time to head to and up Bayou Cypremort

Those Blacks

My first stop is at the Port of West St. Mary, where we see some carbon black hopper cars on the mainline.

The port is right behind me here, and a quick check of the three (I guess) industries served at the port showed that there were no cars spotted there, and I suspect that this has been true for a couple of years now; so, it appears that the carbon black plant is the only industry on this line receiving railroad service now.

I like the little stalk sticking up in that picture.

Searching And Hoping

After checking out the port, the only thing to do now was to travel up Bayou Cypremort (in my truck, not in a boat, especially since even that really isn’t possible) and hope to see a train as I worked my way back home.  As I searched around Parish Road 86, I saw a trio of headlights and a CF7 cab!  I started laughing out loud!  This would mean that I would have photographs of railroad actions on two Louisiana & Delta Railroad trains on the same day!  I’ve never done that before!  Except that I basically did it yesterday!

Being Set Up To Set Up

It looked from what I saw that the locomotive was running light, and you know how I feel about light-power “trains.”  Regardless, I got set up at the Cote Blanch Crossing road crossing for a shot.

I figured that the train wouldn’t be light power for long, that it would pick up some cars and do some work, but I really wanted to get out of here and get home.

Despite the fact that I was standing outside of my truck, and despite the fact that the dry conditions made it obvious that dust would fly from fast-moving tires, some motorists lack the common courtesy to not slow down on this gravel road as they approach me.

It looks like plenty of people around here don’t have much regard for the property of others or basic human decency in general.

Does working at and-or living near a couple of salt mines cause people to behave this way?  Or are people who are inclined to behave this way inclined to work at and-or live near salt mines?  While I pondered that question, the 1504 showed up.

Apparently, this is one of only three CF7s left on the roster, and you saw one of the other ones in action yesterday.

Now, our colorful locomotive has to do the dirty work of dealing with those shady blacks.

I hoped that he would stop and grab some cars from that cut, and that’s what he did; regardless, it was time to head to the plant to get some shots.


I thought that the train was coming, but it was just switching.

That gave me the time to remove a few obstructions from the shot that I wanted.

Yes, I Hate Them Because They’re Black

No, I won’t hide the fact that the reason that I dislike carbon black cars and the reason that the Cypremort Branch doesn’t excite me is that these cars are black.

I’m sure that this branchline was much more interesting when the salt mine at Weeks Island was still the dominant customer, since those much brighter cars looked much better, but photographing these damned black carbon black hopper cars is like photographing nothing.  They are the darkest things in the photograph, with the overall result being that a picture of carbon black hopper cars is really just a picture of everything that surrounds the cars.

As further evidence that their skin color is the almost-only reason that I dislike them, I should, in theory, like these cars for their shapes, since their shapes – their bodies – are similar to the greyish Airslide hopper cars carrying sugar that I grew up watching.

I mean, I would find these cars to be sooo attractive if I was into black cars, but I’m not, even if they do have some sweet bodies!

Dragging And Shoving Those Blacks

I think that this is one of the sidings that was built after the line between Weeks Island and the port was abandoned.

I figured that this was about my only chance to get a good shot of an actual train on this branch under the kind of lighting that you see here.

So, as I took these pictures, my plan was to get the heck out of here and get home as soon as I took them.

I hope that you liked this brief look at the all-black Cypremort Branch; I mean, this neighborhood went to pot when the blacks took over after the salt mine stopped shipping by rail.

Sugar Cane Burning

On my way back to Highway 90, I stopped to photograph some cane field burnings happening.

The harvest and the accompanying processes are something to behold indeed.

‘Twas nearly five years ago that I had that bad run-in over photographing – from a federal highway, no loess – a burning sugarcane field east of LaPlace, and I’ve gone and reprocessed the pictures for the blog article on that day’s events.

This process can be a pain for people who have to live and work near the fields, but it happens just once per year.

Sugar Cane Harvesting

Here’s how the harvesting process works, or at least inasmuch as can be gleaned from a couple of still photographs.

You can see the harvester, and you can see the trucks behind it that move the cane off of the fields and to the nearby mills.

I think that, at one time, there was a sugar mill – served by rail – at Glencoe, very near to here.

An Old SP Boxcar To End This Really Long Set Of Pictures

I didn’t get a picture of this old boxcar being used as a shed the last time that I was here, but, knowing that it was highly unlikely that I’d take the camera out again today, I figured that this would be a great way to end the picture-taking for today!

The build date on the car is October 1957! That’s all.

Three years ago today, I took some pictures in New Orleans on a personally significant day.

In the meantime, please ponder what value or what need there is to denigrate the less fortunate in a world with so much abundance, and please ponder the harmful effects that doing so has.

Thank you, and happy new year to you.


{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Dan January 30, 2017 at 00:21

I’m glad you included the “obligatory shot” at the Delcambre Canal lift bridge. That’s how I’m used to seeing trains — all the times I’ve been on a towboat and waiting for a train to cross.


2 Kalamakid@yahoo.com January 30, 2017 at 11:23

You know I really liked your pictures in the past, buit PLEASE keep the political pontificating to your self as it really ruins the day for those of us who do not really care how you feel. Please be polite to others as not every one feels like you and afterall this is a railroad forum and not a political debate.


3 JBX January 30, 2017 at 11:38

What “political pontificating”? What in the hell are you even talking about? I discuss humanity on this site!

” as it really ruins the day for those of us who do not really care how you feel. ”

Really? It ruins the day? Seriously? How in the hell does that work?

“Please be polite to others”

I’m responding to threats to humanity, bodily autonomy, and civilization, and you somehow have the nerve to tell me to be polite? What in the hell?

“afterall this is a railroad forum and not a political debate.”

Who in the hell are you to decide what the purpose of someone else‘s personal blog is?

You’ve just proven my point better than I possibly could have. I’m arguing against threats to bodily autonomy and personal freedom, and you’re responding by telling me that you somehow think that it is anyone’s place other than mine to determine what my blog is.

You are part of the problem. You are a threat to humanity and to civilization. Please get help.


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