Wet And Wacky Monday On The Lafayette Sub – Part 3 of 3

by Jim on 2011/08/14

[Jimbaux was down in a hole, metaphorically, then physically, but he’s emerged from both.]

This is Part 3 of Jimbaux’s wet and wacky chase of the UP’s Morgan City Local train to and from Morgan City on Monday 8 August 2011, a decade to the day after being atop a narrow gauge boxcar in New Mexico doing some work.  Part 1 can be seen here, and Part 2 can be seen here.

Previously, On Jimbaux’s Journal

It’s the wet and wacky afternoon of Monday 8 August 2011, and Jimbaux has made a real Jimbauxleta by getting the front right part of his truck stuck in a straight-vertical falloff from a road next to a culvert.  All this time, Union Pacific Railway train LLS51 (a.k.a The Morgan City Local, a.k.a. The Chip Local, due to the name of the conductor who has held down the job for what seems like forever) was setting out four loaded gondola cars at the  pipe yard right across the Sunset Route mainline from my position, and some guy we’ll call “Mark” sitting in a Nissan truck was observing the situation from a distance, just past the strip joint, the passage of which reminded of plenty that I despise about humanity.

What in the hell am I going to do?

I need a chain.  I need someone with a truck.  I need a chain and someone with a truck at the same time.

Mark Must Be From Samaria

Well, the Nissan truck moves out of park and approaches me from the east.  Jimbaux had a really big grin across his face as the Nissan truck pulled up to him.

Not Alice In Chains, But . . .

“You got a chain?” a grinning Jimbaux asked the driver of this vehicle, hoping to be only momentarily down in a hole.  As it turns out, his name was indeed Mark, hence my choice of that name toward the end of Part 2!  The great news is that Mark indeed had a chain!

We made an attempt to pull me straight out of there.  Despite burning up my gears, it did not work.  The reason was that my left rear tire was grabbing nothing but air as it was spinning.

Geometry Rules

Mark comes up with a brilliant idea: rather than attempt to pull my truck straight out of there, he’d pull me at about a 45 degree angle.  This would pull my left rear tire to the ground and also therefore move my front right tire up.

It worked!  I thanked Mark profusely; he said that he had done that a few times before. To think, this was someone upon whom I had looked with suspicion as I was taking the last two photos in Part 2.  Apparently, he was some angel sent to help me.  Apparently, once again, fate shined its glorious light on me just like it did 17 days before.

Jimbaux had survived to foam another day, mes amis.

Now What?

The train was gone and headed back east, but surely Chip and his engineer had to have seen me get stuck.  They also were gone by the time I got freed.

Back On The Scene

I raced eastward the few miles to Bayou Boeuf, and I found the train backing into the North Boeuf spur:

As soon as the train cleared, I could cross the tracks to where I could be on the south side.

Well, I’m still not on the south side of the track for the above picture.  Let’s take a few steps across the track to remedy this situation.

“Our Boy Got Himself Unstuck”

That was what the engineer radioed to the conductor when he noted my presence, right at about the time I took this picture of him shoving the train into North Boeuf.

Yes, that’s right, Engineer Ken, indeed Jimbaux has survived to foam another day!  Furthermore, he has survived to immortalize you and Chip!

An Orange Diversion

Chip had shoved into the North Boeuf spur, where he’d be switching for a little while.  This is something difficult to photograph, particularly at this time of the day.  So, I decided to leave the scene for a bit.  Actually, I thought about completely calling it a day, just relieved to have been freed from that dreadful hole.  Afterall, I’ve got enough shots of that lease yellow thing and its cars, don’t I?

Comint had revealed that Chip needed to clear up anyway so that the CSXLAL train could come through.  (That’s a westbound BNSF manifest train originating in CSX’s Gentilly Yard in New Orleans bound for BNSF Lafayette Yard.)  I moved a few miles east of Boeuf to get this shot at West Gibson just east of milepost 70, which, actually, is also a new Jimbaux shot, one that I’ve never taken before in all of my years here.

Well, that’s not too terrible, but it’s probably not a place where I’ll frequently return.

Go Back West And Find Chip

I might as well go back to Boeuf and find Chip; now that the CSXLAL has passed, he has permission to leave, assuming he’s ready to go.  Plus, I’d get to talk to Chip for the first time since January.

It wasn’t too long after I arrived back on the scene that I saw Chip emerging.  Compare the shot below, taken from atop the truck, to the similar one above, which I took while standing straight up on the ground.

Well, that’s pretty neat, isn’t it?  On the front of the locomotive, you can see Chip, who went to work for the Southern Pacific in 1968.  He’s about to climb down from the HLCX 3863 and walk across the crossing to open the switch to let the train back onto the mainline.

Meet Chip

It’s the first time I see Chip since January, and he just saw me get myself stuck in a hole a few minutes before.  Here we see Chip laughing his ass off as he sees me surviving at foaming after all of my stupidity.

“What the f*^&” [where you doing?]” were the first words out of Chip’s mouth to me shortly after I shot this picture, his first words to me since January.  That’s an awfully good question, isn’t it?  We chatted briefly as he walked to the switch to open it.  In the meantime, the train slowly creeps toward the switch across the highway.  (The switch is just east of the highway.)

Shortly, after this picture was taken, as the train crept past my position, the engineer opened the window and asked me if I had lost anything.  Well, “lost” can mean plenty of things depending on the context.  Surely, I’ve lost plenty, and, surely, I’m somewhat lost, but I’ve both gained plenty and been found as well.  Anyway, to most literally answer his question, I did lose the right front fender of the truck, which I didn’t realize until I got to Boeuf.

Anyway, here is a shot of Chip throwing the switch, a shot taken from the same spot as the three that you see above.

And, now, the train comes onto the mainline.  Check this out; even though the locomotive is a lease locomotive, it has the UP website on the cab!

Now, still in the same place, still on top of my truck parked by the crossing, we look as the train passes further, and we can see down the mainline.

Compare that shot, if you will, to the shot at the beginning of this post.

Chip went back to close the North Boeuf derail, and he rode the end of the train back to the switch.

I don’t recall seeing “DO NOT HUMP” sings on simple boxcars before, especially as I thought these things were merely carrying bags of drill mud.

UP is probably eventually going to have to fire Chip!  The man has ants  in his pants, and I don’t think that he’ll ever retire.  He really boogies.

Here, we see him getting back on the locomotive for the trip back east after making his six-car pickup.  The dispatcher gave him a warrant all the way to CTC Live Oak, which I think surprised the crew.  The engineer reminded her that they had about 10 minutes of work in Vallier.

Now what?  It’s time for me to chase him back east to get a shot.

Go East, Young Man

I guess my only option is to do the new Benoit Crossing shot I did for the first time on Friday.  So that’s what I did, and in the process, I learned that it’s not nearly as good of a shot when it’s sunny than it is when it’s cloudy.

Oh, well, I won’t be doing this shot that much anymore.  Then again, I won’t be foaming here for much longer.  (So, enjoy this while it lasts.)  Anyway, we only have time for one more shot, and I have to decide quickly where to shoot it.

The End

I had to decide very quickly if I was going to shoot him at Schriever or at Raceland.  Doing both is impossible if he has no stops between the two, and comint indicated that he didn’t.  Hold your mouse arrow over the picture to see what I chose.

As the train got closer to the crossing, Chip leaned out the window and waved at me.  He was still laughing at me.  Are you?


{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Rita August 14, 2011 at 23:59

“do not hump”? that made me laugh out loud. I really like the first 3.


2 Ray August 16, 2011 at 22:02

Yep, Chip is always ginning, hasn’t aged well for a conductor, either. It appears he is still the same weight he was when he hired out in ’68. The smile is still the same. I cannot get over the way the right of way has grown up since I last rode those rails when Chip was a youngster. I enjoyed the fare…


3 EDITOR - Jimbaux August 16, 2011 at 22:09

Dupe, thanks, as always, for your participation in Jimbaux’s Journal. When did you start and work for SP? When did you leave? And what were your positions in those times?


4 Steve Laser August 16, 2011 at 22:50

Really enjoyed your three part photo story. And, no, I’m not tired of Chip. That’s an interesting operation in a world of generic coal trains and doublestacks. It’s interesting to hear about what’s going on with you as you follow the train.


5 Ray August 16, 2011 at 23:06

Just a quick response to your questions; started my student trips as Brakeman in June 1955, promoted to Conductor worked passenger and freight trains. During that period I was the union rep for the conductors and brakemen. I was promoted to Ass’t Trainmaster in ’78 and rec’d subsequent promotions; Terminal Supt, Division Supt, General Manager of the Rocky Mountain Region, headquarted in Denver, Colo. Retired, Oct 31, 1993. I did consulting work until April 1, 1995 when I went to work for NOPB; retired December 31, 2000. I went to work for one summer to make money for tution at “SLI” fall smester. As it turned out I worked 40 plus years as a “RAILROAD MAN”. One of the first remarks I recall from an old timer when I was breaking in to be a brakeman; he shared some wisdom with me; told me almost anyone can be a Brakeman; but not all will be a “RAILROAD MAN”. It takes a special individual to attain that designation. I found that to be true after a few years.


6 JDH August 17, 2011 at 09:38

Never tired of seeing Chip, Love seeing all the pictures of all the locations..Tell Chip that I miss him…
DS 209


7 Nathan K. February 21, 2012 at 01:11


I understand muddy waters and the quagmires they can put a driver and vehicle into. Especially when foaming. Glad you got out relatively easily and got your pics. I unfortunately had to wait for a tow truck and missed the Missouri Pacific heritage locomotive in the process.

I was attempting a three-point turn in my front-wheel-drive car and my first mistake was nosing first off the road. I tried throwing stuff under my car for my tires to catch and failed. While looking for more material, I noticed a driveway not 50 feet from my precarious perch, further stinging my psyche that night.

And like you, I live to foam another day. Thanks for sharing!



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