Colorful Mardi Gras Parade At Chacahoula

by Jim on 2012/02/21

[Trying to stay sober, Jimbaux feels like he’s dying.]

Yeah, here I go again making a post with pictures on the day I took them.  Happy Mardi Gras.  You’d think that today is Sunday, but since I just drove from Bayouland to Woadieville this evening, it does feel like Sunday.  Here’s what I did right before I left.

The Sugar Mill Foamer and I were at Schriever doing a little foaming of the Louisiana & Delta Railway’s Schriever job, particularly because it has been going on duty much later than usual lately due to the big tie replacement project that BNSF is doing on the Lafayette Subdivision.  Normally, the job goes on duty at 06:00, but with the tie gang working a 05:00-11:00 window, the job is going on duty at 12:00.  This fact is significant to this story because it alters the shot possibilities.  You’ve likely seen my shots at Chacahoula on this site many times, and I’ve even photographed the L&D train there once six months ago, but the lighting usually isn’t good for it, since he normally passes there westbound in the morning.

New Iberia?

The crew of this train, per its instructions, was to go and switch the industries at North Boeuf, then proceed to New Iberia to grab eastbound UP interchange traffic, and drag that tonnage back to the east, perhaps to Morgan City.  Since it got delayed so badly getting out of Schriever, I doubt that the train made it to New Iberia.  Anyway, that allowed The Sugar Mill Foamer and I to banter for awhile while waiting, and I even got a telephone call from a friend who called and asked me for what train I was waiting when she drove by and saw me parked there.  Here’s the train finally crossing over the Main Project Road and preparing to exit the siding.

We’re about a third of a mile from the train and a little bit more than one mile from the overpass seen in the far background.

The Classic Tele-Wedge Chacahoula Shot, Like It Hasn’t Been Done In A Long Time

Let me take even more of your time to explain the significance (to me) of the below image.  I started shooting this tele-wedge shot at Chachahoula in 2003 when I got my first telephoto lens (even though I had used some before in the service of another news organization) back when I was shooting on that ancient medium known as film and when I was plagued with the brain slug that said that railroad photography shouldn’t even be attempted unless the skies are clear and sunny.  I started liberating myself of this foolish way of thinking about in early 2006, but prior to that, the Chacahoula shot was a frequent place that I photographed westbound trains in late afternoons in late fall and early winter, but only on sunny days.

Those of you who have paid close attention to my work for the last few years, but particularly for the last seven months, have probably noticed that I’ve shot several shots at this location in recent years, essentially all of which are either cloudy shots or are during high-sun, like the posts linked in the second paragraph of this post.  The shot below actually make me think of the old, foamy, film days of 2003 and 2004.

Chacahoula is not only a great cloudy-day shot for westbound trains, but I actually usually prefer it be cloudy since that prevents dark-side-of-the-train views if the sun has already swung over to the northern side of the track, which is already a problem now in late February.  It was almost a problem this afternoon, but, just before it was too late, I managed to nail this traditionally-lit view of this Mardi Gras parade of nine railroad cars behind one L&D locomotive blasting through Chacahoula.

How’s that?  Do you see what I mean?  If you’re going to do this shot on a sunny day, there’s only a small window of time between when tree shadows from the south side of the track are too long from the early afternoon sun and when the sun swings over to the north side of the track.  This shot would have looked better about 20-30 minutes earlier, but, particularly since it would be a rare catch even if I was at this spot every day, I’m satisfied with the results.  Are you?

Oh, and can you believe that the LDRR 1709 is the former LDRR 1851 that I photographed on the Lockport Branch in August 2006?  I liked it the old way better!

New Iberia?

Yes, The Sugar Mill Foamer and I doubted that the crew made it to New Iberia.  The Lafayette Sub is full of slow orders from the new tie installations right now anyway!

What’s funny about that is that I just got asked to do a photo job in New Iberia this weekend.  I still need time and date and other details before I can give a price, but I’ll admit that I am excited about the possibility of having an excuse to spend at least a little time in place that is foam-central, especially for the same shortline railroad seen in this post!

I Could Be Like Almost Everyone Else, But . . . .

These may not be my best shots, but I think that it was time better spent than what many people did around here today.  Right now, Facebook and Twitter are lighting up with people around here posting pictures of themselves drunk and/or in costumes downtown or in the French Quarter.  Are we supposed to think that they’re cool?



1 Randy G. February 23, 2012 at 09:24

Sunlight and shadows… Yeah, know what you mean. With our Amtrak station on the north side of the tracks – AND the tracks actually going northeast / southwest – we wind up with the sun “in our face” most of the time. The again – pix of trains was more of an accident for us – all started when KCS 1 & 2 were parked in our back yard several years ago (haloween 2007). It wasn’t until then I recalled taking pix them several years earlier at the station ( scroll down to pix 4 – 7) – and yup sun right in our face – and yes – those earlier shots were indeed film… not NEAR as forgiving as our digitals today… Though I do miss the time in the darkroom (not!).
Nice pix – thanks for sharing!

2 PPA (Mid-City Marine) February 27, 2012 at 11:06

Actually, you should think we are cool because we ARE! Costuming, drinking adult beverages and people watching while roaming around the city was alot of fun. It sounds like you have not done this with the right people.
Don’t knock the local Mardi Gras traditions – when you live in a culturless hole like we do (Atlanta), it is a real pleasure each year to go back home and partake in traditional activities that have so many happy and positive memories for us, going back to childhood.

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: