In The Cab For A Train Trip On The Huey P. Long Bridge – 3 August 2007

by admin on 2017/08/03

These pictures were made on the evening of Friday 3 August 2007, and they show a trip in the cab of the lead locomotive of a freight train traversing the Huey P. Long Bridge just a few miles upriver from New Orleans.

I was granted permission to be aboard the train.  The person who granted me that permission likely did not have the authority to do so, and the only reason that I feel safe publishing these images is that that person is, as I am publicizing these images 10 years to the day after they were taken, no longer in a position to be punished for this.

We start on the New Orleans Public Belt Railroad around East Bridge Tower, as our train, a westbound BNSF manifest train with a road crew from Lafayette, has to make a few switching moves.

It may have simply been that we were positioning the train so that the NOPB carman could get the EOTD on the end of the train and do an air test, as I don’t understand what actual switching, save for a block swap, would be done in this location.

That is East Bridge Tower seen below.

Understanding the function of East Bridge Tower is the key to understanding railroad movements through the New Orleans gateway; maybe one day I’ll explain all of it, but that day will not be today!

The entirety off all of the track connections near the tower is called East Bridge Junction.

The track that comes in from the right frame to connect with the track on which we sit is the track used by trains moving between the Huey P. Long Bridge and either the NS Back Belt or New Orleans Union Passenger Terminal (meaning that the Sunset Limited is the only regular train that doesn’t use the Back Belt that regularly uses this connecting track.)

It looks like we are backing up here.

No, I did not work the controls.

I’m just here for the education, the entertainment, the documentation, and the sharing of that education, entertainment and documented information with the world.

Let’s have a look back toward the east out of the conductor’s side window.

What you see below is fairly close to being the engineer’s view, though he’d have his head about a foot or two to the right.

And below is the engineer’s view if the engineer had telephoto eyes.

Here’s the view just outside on the walkway behind the cab on the engineer’s side.

Twenty-five minutes later, darkness has fallen, which will make photography difficult, and we’re still not moving up the bridge yet.

Another 25 minutes has passed, and we finally are moving; that’s Central Avenue that we are crossing, and the grade of the bridge starts a few feet past the crossing.

Climbing the bridge, we passed a stopped eastbound Union Pacific Railroad train ILBNO.

The since abolished ILBNO carried maritime containers from the port of Long Beach, California, to New Orleans for interchange with the CSX, which would bring the containers to eastern destinations, mostly Atlanta; that traffic now moves via the Memphis gateway as of 2013.

Hey, look, it’s the New Orleans Hamburger & Seafood Company!

This is a view that most of the people living in this area do not get; most of the people in this area don’t ride the Sunset Limited, and even the view from the passenger cars isn’t as good as the view from the cab of the lead locomotive.

I felt fortunate.  I still do.

I like the Hanjin containers, and I like the CHINA SHIPPING containers!

Here’s a wider view, allowed by the fact that there are several consecutive wells on the ILBNO with containers only one-high.

Here’s the view back behind us, out of the rear of the engineer’s back window.

It’s hard to tell, but that’s the Raising Cane’s restaurant at the lower left.

We’re about to make that last curve toward the superstructure.

Looking back down again, we see the Jefferson Highway overpass that has since been removed.

You can’t really see the superstructure here, but you can see the since-replaced highway lanes hanging off of either side of it.

Past the superstructure now, over on the West Bank side in Bridge City, you can see the engineer’s paperwork and his bottle of Barq’s root beer, necessary to keep him awake for that all-night trip to Lafayette.

Here are a few really grainy and barely presentable photographs of the descent.

Looking back here, you can see both the train and the westbound highway lanes.

Nearing the foot of the bridge, we pass another train – presumably, another eastbound train – on the eastbound track.

Next, you can barely see it, but that is West Bridge Tower, and you can see the rails of the old Texas & Pacific Railway mainline cutting across the bridge mainline.

Next, as we work our way through the yard, you can see UP Avondale Tower in the distance at right.

Finally, as I detrain, we see our train, which will soon continue onward to Lafayette.

The track in the right foreground is the lead to the Union Pacific intermodal ramp.

That’s all.  I hope that you have enjoyed this, and please consider contributing to the Jimbaux’s Journal Patreon page, which should be launched soon.


{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Hank August 3, 2017 at 15:07

Thanks for a delightful ride.


2 Bill Knotts August 4, 2017 at 12:06

Very nice, as usual. I rode the U E P a couple times hobo style in the early 90s.


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