Homecoming Day – Part 3 of 4, KCS In Mississippi

by Jim on 2011/07/26

[Before you accuse Jimbaux, take a look at yourself.]

(This is Part 3 of Jimbaux’s Homecoming Day pictures.  Part 1 in Chattanooga can be seen here, and Part 2 in Alabama can be seen here.)

At 14:52, I entered the Magnolia State on US Hwy 11, and at 15:12, I was in Meridian laying eyes on the Kansas City Southern Railway for the first time in six months.  Oh, KCS, how I have missed you so much!  It would not be long before I laid eyes on KCS locomotives.

Mississippi Foaming

Wasn’t that the title of a movie about racism?  Anyway, Meridian is a place with which I am familiar, having been here and taken pictures several times, and the low-lying fruit below is probably why the 22nd Avenue overpass is a popular photo spot.

Note the trainman on the ground.  When I saw the 1913, I thought to myself that it seemed familiar.  Sure enough, I shot it leading the CSX transfer on the NOPB in New Orleans in June 2006.

Foam Alone

Remember that movie?  For me, it’s overplayed.  With only about two exceptions, in the last six months, all of my foaming has been alone, but many of my times in Meridian have been with others, including standing with others on the 22nd Avenue overpass.

Some Action Happens Almost As Soon As I Get There

Not long after I’m atop the bridge, a job approached from the west.  See it below in the background here.

As it eventuated, this job pulled three cuts out of the yard, put them together as a train, and went north on the Artesia Sub, but not before I got these pictures!

Right By The NS

I had just missed an NS train passing on the NS track at the right.  I think it may have been the 314 out of New Orleans, but I’m not sure.

See the NS train at right?

Yes, the clouds were coming, and they made the experience fun for me, knowing I’d get some good pictures too.

I like how moving a few feet — and therefore a few degrees, once the camera gets pointed down the mainline — alters the perspective, don’t you?

He’ll pull a few cars out of the track to his (your) immediate left in the above picture.

A trainman gets off of the train, but I’m not quite sure why.

Because then he gets back on, this time in the cab of the lead locomotive.

Now, he is shoving to pick up a much longer cut and will eventually shove to pick up the cut (with the centerbeam flatcar)  immediately to the left of the prior cut.

The coupling to the cut is nearly complete.

Ah, KCS, I’ve really missed you!

Now, the job pulls out the first cut.

See the engineer hanging his head out the cab in the above shot?  As it turns out, he was trying to get Jimbaux’s attention!

I guess the engineer realizes that a skinny white boy in a tank top short with Canon gear hanging from is neck is probably not an Al-Qaeda member.

Meridian Has Interesting Architecture

It’s a historic town of railroad importance, and it still is, though railroading is not nearly as labor intensive as it was a century ago.

It would be a good architecture photography project one day, but today is not that day.

Back To The Action

Yeah, notice that now, the last cut is now attached.  The train is motionless in the two pictures below.

See the brakeman in the above picture?  The trainmaster picked him up to bring him to the head end, as seen below.

I think all KCS trainmaster vehicles are Fords, but I’m not sure.

11th Avenue And The Diamond

So, I decided to go east to 11th Avenue to shoot him coming across the Norfolk Southern.

The 22nd Avenue overpass, from which the first 15 pictures in this post were taken, is the second (farthest away) of the two overpasses seen in these pictures.

At right in the below picture, you can see the top of passenger station reaching into the sky.

The train cleared the crossing, including showing a nice Ashley, Drew & Northern boxcar.  I thought about chasing him up north, which meant I could be in Starkville the next morning to shoot any trains serving the steel mill.  Then, this train stopped, and the rain came.  So, I headed south.


Per tradition, I stopped in Hattiesburg to eat at Zaxby’s (after I got gasoline.)  After that, it’s time to make another little detour, this time to check out the KCS in Hattiesburg, and especially to see for myself if the augmentation of the Gulfport Sub was finally happening.

In the meantime, right when I showed up, the power of the Gulfport Turn was moving northward to couple with its cars, possibly after setting out some MofW equipment ahead.

I thought about making these two shots into greyscale, but I didn’t like how it looked in that mode.

This was the first time I’ve ever seen as many as five locomotives on the Gulfport Turn.

Inspecting The Progress

So, as I said, it was now time for me to inspect the progress on the rebuilding of the KCS’s Gulfport Sub, which runs from Gulfport to Hattiesburg and is isolated from the rest of KCS’s system.  The line consists of jointed rail, some as old as the 1920s, with speeds no higher than 25 mph, but really only 10 mph in most places.  Other than occasional military trains into and out of Camp Shelby, the only train on the line is the Gulfport Turn, which goes north on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and south on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.

The port of Gulfport – and, therefore, the state of Mississippi – is hoping to gain plenty of container business from Asia once the new channel of the Panama Canal is open in 2014.  In order for this to really work, Gulfport needs a substantial rail line leaving to the north.  It already has a good railroad line going to the east and northeast, the CSX, but accessing the Upper Midwest is difficult (circuitous) via this line.

Years ago, Gulfport ‘demanded’ that KCS upgrade the line, but KCS’s response was something akin to “Show me the money,” as, with such a short haul before forcing any train onto another railroad (at Hattiesburg), it does not stand to make much money off of such an investment.  However, when the state of Mississippi offered to buy the line, KCS realized that the possibilities were good for the line, and in early 2010, $20 million in federal money was granted to upgrade the line.

However, more than a year later, no work has begun on the upgrade.  That’s understandable for several reasons, one being that it would be largely useless until 2014 anyway.  In June, however, I read about a KCS rail train that was headed south of Jackson to Hattiesburg, presumably to deliver new rail to be installed.

Sure enough, there’s the new 115 CWR (continuous welded rail), on either side of the track, just waiting to be installed.  Note the old jointed rail still on the track, 90 lb rail, some of it, again, as old as the 1920s.

In the above picture, the train you’ve already seen can be seen in the distance.  Note the mileposts.  The old concrete mileposts have miles measured from Jackson, but in KCS’s language, the line starts in Gulfport.  So, that mile 66 is from Gulfport.

Below, the view shown in the other direction, south, shows the track with the old jointed rail with the new ready-to-be-installed rail on either side.

According to some reports, some of the 90lb rail that is removed from the mainline will be used to replace the 75lb rail that is in Gulfport Yard, which is the reason why old, lighter-weight, four-axle Geeps like those you see above are used almost exclusively on this line.  (Camp Shelby military trains, which don’t need to enter the yard, usually have six-axle locomotives.)

Some friends and I have taken some time to document this interesting line over the last few years, with my first visit here with a friend in April 2007.  Its idyllic branchline quality, the fact that it is still run by its Class I operator, combined with our affinity for KCS, have made it a favorite.  When the announcement to upgrade it was made, our efforts at experiencing and documenting this line took on new meaning as we knew that some of what we loved about this line so much would change.  I already posted in April about how a friend and I spent a day tracking the northbound on a Monday in April 2010.

Times are indeed changing for the Gulfport Sub, and I hope to be able to get there again sometime.

I hope that you have enjoyed Part 3, which, as I told you, was overall better than Part 2.  I guess you can now see that each part contains pictures from a particular state, which means you can probably guess which state will be featured in Part 4, which, as I keep promising, will end in a dramatic and soulful fashion; even if you don’t like trains, you will like Part 4.  Stay tuned!

Remember, if you like what you see here, please join the Facebook fan page, the best way to be alerted to site updates.


{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Lee A. Gautreaux July 27, 2011 at 20:19

Nice set of photos, Jimbaux! I’m also glad that you know the correct article to use in front of the word “historic.” Brought back memories of chasing the KCS with you. Also brought back memories of riding the Southern Steam Excursions to Hattiesburg, something I hope to be able to do again soon!


2 louisiana maritime lawyer September 21, 2011 at 20:32

Nice set of photos. I’m also glad that you know the correct article to use in front of the word “historic.”


3 Hank Coolidge March 9, 2012 at 16:19

The KCS Gulfport Branch upgrade project appears to be right on schedule after starting last summer at the Hattiesburg end. Thus far rail replacement, tie replacement (~33%), rail alignment, and ballast addition and shaping are complete south of Saucier to Hovey. The addition of an 8500′ passing siding also is part of the project, but I have no information as to where it will be installed other than somewhere in the southern half of the Branch, i.e. south of Wiggins.

Thank you for all your photo essays, I enjoy reading them.

BTW, I live in Saucier, and have photos of the rail replacement crew when they were operating in my area last November. I would be happy to forward some to you with commentary. You also are welcome to copy and/or extract anything from a Trainboard.com thread I initiated, http://www.trainboard.com/grapevine/showthread.php?131331-Gulfport-(MS)-Branch-Upgrade&highlight=gulfport .


Leave a Comment

{ 3 trackbacks }

Previous post:

Next post: