‘Twas a big, long, wet day of plenty of foaming on Saturday 14 April 2007, as my pal TS was in town, partly because now was a good time to visit because I was rather suddenly unemployed, even though I could see it coming and walked out when I was being abused, as standing up for yourself entails an enormous cost; if only we could get past this everyone-who-isn’t-born-with-money-must-work-a-paid-job-in-order-to-participate-in-civilization mentality, since it really is no longer necessary.
In TS’s truck, we went on an adventure into the Magnolia State to places that I had never foamed.
Our first stop, after leaving my crib in New Orleans, was at a familiar location, but this actually might be the first time that I ever did this shot.
So, yes, if you’ve been following my work for awhile, this view should be familiar. We’re at a place called North Shore, on the northeastern shore of Lake Pontchartrain south of Slidell, and Amtrak’s northbound Crescent is nearing its first station stop after leaving New Orleans, the skyline of which, on a clear day, can be seen here.
However, I vaguely recall telling TS that, on a clear day, the skyline of downtown New Orleans can be seen from here, which suggests that I had at least scouted this location before.
However, subsequently, I came here and took pictures with, on separate occasions, at least two other railroad enthusiasts who weren’t as familiar with the location as I was; so, perhaps I am thinking of one of those times.
Let’s go to the depot to get a shot of it.
Let’s go somewhere north of the depot to get a shot of it after it leaves the depot.
Next, we are, 67 minutes later, in Picayune, where we observe and photograph a Norfolk Southern Railway local train switching some facility or facilities.
I know very little about what is happening here, but this train does operate out of Hattiesburg.
This may be as far as this train went today, but this is likely the train that would work as far south as Slidell.
The locomotive must run around the cars here.
Let’s get a closer view of this six-axle locomotive on a local train.
I’m noticing that I have recently begun to refrain from using the word “local” as a noun. Have you noticed that?
I mean, think about it; can “local” be a thing? The word is an adjective.
I think that this is very much related to my growing refusal to use the words “liberal” and “conservative” and “libertarian” and “racist” and “progressive” as nouns, but I still, for now, think that it’s okay to use the word “socialist” as a noun, since that actually about a very specific policy, rather than a general outlook.
We then got out of there and continued northward, and, some 110 minutes later, we are south of Hattiesburg in the rain where we photograph the 22Q on its way to New Orleans.
That was a grab shot if there ever was one; we got there just in the nick of time, and this shot was the best that we could do of this train that was moving quickly.
Next, we are in Hattiesburg. Likely, this was my first time in Hattiesburg since I was part of a paint crew that did some work on some property owned by someone in bayouland that one of my construction bosses knew. I have, over the years, come to be known for my photographs in various places, but the very first action photographs of trains that I’d make in Mississippi were on this day. (I took some roster pictures of a few parked locomotives on the coast in 2006.)
All of these pictures (until we get to the college campus pictures) were made right in the middle of town where the NS line and the former Illinois Central Railroad line cross.
The rain really soaked the area, and there would be more to come!
This downtown area is neat.
Below is the view northbound – or northwestbound – on the old IC mainline toward Jackson, which today sees probably no more than three pairs of Canadian National Railway trains.
Now, we see a neat CN hopper car in the NS yard.
I love those old hopper cars with the open-air frames at each end.
Let’s look the other way back toward downtown.
This seems like a good place to be for reasons other than trains.
There’s a neat little coffee shop right by the diamond, and that is where we went; you can see the southern end of the NS yard and the Amtrak depot here. and that’s the CN line just in front of the NS yard.
So, while we were inside the coffee shop, that NS local train that we photographed in Picayune three hours earlier comes back to the Hattiesburg yard!
These shots are, of course, not great on their own, but they are valuable as part of the story that I am telling.
I do like shots of trains from inside of buildings.
I have made it a point to stop at this place when I return to Hattiesburg.
Okay, with that, we headed away from the diamond to explore other parts of the city.
We’re visiting the campus of the University of Southern Mississippi.
There was some construction happening right here, and we may have been right off of campus here.
This is a neat place in a neat town.
The whole town got a good soaking, and, again, there would soon be more to come!
I visited this campus in my week painting here.
That was the farthest that I had been from home without my parents at the time.
I realize that these shots are getting repetitive, but, don’t worry, as there will be more trains soon.
There is some reason that made me so interested in this place that I have trouble explaining, but maybe it is a combination of an affinity for academia while trying to find a cool place of it fairly close to home.
We’re not terribly far away from the pancake flat sedimentary land of southern Louisiana, but this urban architecture and topography is different.
A guard gate? This is different.
This ain’t Nicholls State University anymore! That’s something that I saw at ITESM.
The marker is hard to read, but it’s something about Hurricane Katrina, which happened less than two years prior.
I think that this is one of the older buildings on campus.
I like this view, with the trees, the sidewalk, and the column.
Well, that was fun. Let’s now head back to the track.
Sixteen minutes later, we’re on the NS mainline south of the depot-and-diamond, and we are apparently waiting for a northbound train.
Some of the local people were standing outside their front doors and staring at us, wondering what in the heck we were doing.
And that was a pretty damned good question, since the skies opened up on us and drenched us.
Well, so much for that idea! We got wet and got out of there.
Now what? TS wanted to explore the KCS Gulfport Subdivision, and we knew nothing about operations on the line. I’ve become known for my documentation of activity on this line over the seven years that followed today’s pictures, but this was my first time here, first time photographing activity on this line.
Here are the others that have been publicized prior to the publication of this article.
- 6 December 2008 – a full chase of the southbound turn
- 26 April 2010 – a chase of the northbound turn from Saucier to Brooklyn
- 22 July 2011 – the last four pictures there showing some scenes at Palmer’s Crossing
- 14 March 2012 – some scenes of the rebuilding of the line plus a few action train shots at Perkinston and Wiggins
- 4 January 2014 – some scenes of action in Gulfport
- 9 January 2014 – some scenes of the KCS Hattiesburg Turn doing the interchange work in Hattiesburg
I think that I was drifting in and out of sleep for much of the ride south of Hattiesburg. We followed the line almost to Gulfport; at Lyman, we spotted a northbound train of empty flatcars, and we went back north looking for a shot of it.
We landed four miles to the north at Wortham and stared for a long time at an empty track.
We thought that the train must have stopped somewhere, since it took so long to show up, and we thought about abandoning our position until we heard a horn.
The track here is rated for 10 miles per hour.
We were standing out here shirtless, trying to dry off from our earlier soaking; I guess that neither of us thought to bring a change of clothes, but this is one of the reasons that I now travel with a spare set of clothes in the truck.
This is an empty military train going to Camp Shelby, which is south of Hattiesburg.
I wanted to get the second locomotive – both of them being lease locomotives – in the old BNSF Heritage 1 paint scheme, my favorite BNSF scheme.
Next, 32 minutes later, we’re at Perkinston.
There is a community college just to the right of here, and I wonder if there are any foamers there.
This set of shots was difficult to process.
I like the little KCS flatcar at left.
Now, with the head end of the train past the parked flatcar, we get a better view of the train itself.
By this point, we figured out that the train’s almost-annoyingly slow speed meant that we didn’t need to put even a mile between us and the train in order to safely get ahead to the next shot in time to take a leak. So, next, we’re somewhere south of Wiggins.
All of that wobbly track got replaced in 2012.
Next, we’re in the southern part of Wiggins proper, where our shirtless and out-of-shape selves got out to get this series of pictures.
Hey, man, don’t do that.
Well, I guess with a train moving at 10mph, a couple hundred feet is enough clearance.
That should have been good enough, but I kept going!
Only once I almost completely stopped taking pictures a decade later did I see how destructive of a ‘hobby’ this is!
Moving to the northern outskirts of town next, both we and, as we came to realize, the train made our final stands for the day.
We could here some kind of pounding noise coming from one of the locomotives, maybe the lead locomotive, and the train was decelerating.
It appeared that there was a breakdown.
The train stopped, and we left.
It was getting very close to dark, and we knew that by the time we got to anywhere that another train might have been moving, it would be very close to dark; there might be another chance to photograph some trains somewhere, but we knew that it wasn’t likely. We took whatever the highway is that goes straight west from Wiggins back to I-59, still a decade later the only time that I have taken that route, to get home. I probably drifted in and out of sleep. I do remember that we still did some sightseeing along the way. I remember passing by a building with the words “Middle School of Poplarville” and wondering why the name of the school didn’t follow the conventional naming pattern and just be “Poplarville Middle School,” but then I realized what the initials of such a school would be.
This was a great and productive day, and it very much fertilized the field and planted the seeds for many more adventures that I’d make to and through southern Mississippi over the next almost decade.
Speaking of fertilizing and planting, 10 years to the day later, I was engaging in the harvesting of something a bit more tangible than train pictures and information about railroad operations.
and, then, today, instead of hunting trains and harvesting pictures, it's an old-fashioned Good Friday potato harvest in Jimbauxland. pic.twitter.com/aW5a87zkK7
— JBX (@JimbauxsJournal) April 14, 2017
Yep, this great-grandson of a potato farmer – after whom I am named – is finally doing some more ‘productive’ activities that he should have been doing years ago when he was experiencing the rush and addictions of hunting and gathering of railroad and geographical information!
Thanks for checking it out.