May Day New Shots In New Orleans

by Jim on 2013/05/07

[Jimbaux knows that everything changes.]

Hey, everybody!!  How are you doing?  Jimbaux has been up and down, and Wednesday was his first day in the weight room since January, the first time in the weight room since the back issues were bad.  Rest assured, we are only doing light weight here.  There are some exercises that I don’t need to ever do again and don’t even need to be told to never do again.

Anyway, on the way to the gym (and the grocery store), it was time to get a little bit of train action, which led Jimbaux on a chase to do two entirely new shots.  Sound good?  We shall see, I guess.

I spied in New Orleans Public Belt Railroad’s France Yard the transfer job from CSX preparing to leave to go to Cotton Warehouse Yard; most of this train is the KCS transfer that will become KCS train M-CXSH, and until the middle of 2010, KCS power was frequently seen on this job.  You’ve seen at least one of my pictures of this train before, and you’ve seen its eastbound counterpart.

New Shot #1

Here is the train where I had not heretofore shot a train, passing under the Claiborne Avenue bridge over the Inner Harbor Navigational Canal.

That’s not great, but it’s not bad either, and the fact that it is new is meritorious on its own.

Now what do we do?  I couldn’t beat him to the Poland Avenue crossing and probably still wouldn’t have beat him had I not had the red light at St. Claude Avenue, and I don’t think that there are many shot options before the French Quarter.  I don’t know, as I’ve never really tried this, and I don’t much like going to the French Quarter anyway (and hadn’t been there since January when I had to do a professional photo job.)

New Shot #2

Well, I’ll be gosh dern!  Actually, I parked my truck in the Marigny on Frenchmen Street – the Frenchmen Street that ‘normal’ people, especially those who like music, know, not the Frenchmen Street that railroaders and railroad enthusiasts know – and jogged into position here at the Esplanade Avenue Wharf with a little bit of time to spare.

Well, isn’t that special?  To be technical, we’re at the very eastern corner of the French Quarter here right at the foot of Esplanade Avenue.  I don’t know what is loaded or unloaded there in those hopper cars to the right, and just to the left is NOPB’s “French Market Station” where visiting passenger cars are often parked.

Just behind the photographer is the Regional Transit Authority’s French Market Station, the easternmost place in the city where you can hop on a streetcar.

French Market Stations

Below, you see the gate for the little NOPB track for passenger cars.

I’ve seen Union Pacific cars here, but I believe historically this is where the Southern Railway and later the Norfolk Southern Railway would bring their business cars.

Let’s take a look down Esplanade Avenue while we’re here.

This train had to have exceeded the 100-car mark easily, probably exceeding the 1.5-mile mark too.

These two guys apparently were waiting for the train to pass, but I wasn’t sure why, since there is no business for the general public on the other side of the track, and they didn’t appear to be dock workers.

BNSF cars on this train are oddities, hence the need to record the below scene.

I wonder if those guys are complaining about the train.

Anyway, here’s an old relic from the 1960s, a quite interesting model in my opinion.

Is that a C-10?  I really, really like those things.  Back in the old days, I worked with a guy who had one of these, and I really thought that it was cool.

Going Places And Meeting People

So, after the end of the train passed, as I starting walking towards the French Quarter, I noticed that the two guys who had been standing and apparently waiting for the train were also now walking toward the French Market.  So, they weren’t waiting to cross the track?  Well, that makes sense, since, as I said, there was no reason for Joe Q. Public to do that, but were these guys foamers?  Perhaps I should approach them and ask.  I got a little closer and was able to hear them talk, and what I heard made me think that they might be gay or European.  Well, whatever, I should get over my homophobia and xenophobia and approach them, and that’s what I did.

One was indeed from Europe, Spain to be more specific, and the other was from Chicago.  I approached them and asked them if they were railroad enthusiasts, and they responded in the affirmative.  We talked for a good long time, mostly about trains, and they talked about wanting to hop a train and asked me if I had ever done it.  I told them that it was illegal, and they replied that you aren’t really harming anyone.  I had no response to that and didn’t have the presence of mind to mention that it’s trespassing, etc.  Oh, well.

The Spanish gentleman had some insights on European railroads and speculated some reasons for his country maintaining broad gauge.  I told both of them about the railroads of New Orleans and the significances thereof, gave them both my business card, and told them about my websites.  ‘Twas nice meeting you guys, and I hope you were able to find Jimbaux’s Journal and find it useful or at least entertaining (which is its own form of usefulness.)  I also hope that you enjoyed your time in New Orleans and made it home safely.

The FQ

Moving on, the French Quarter may be the most-photographed and most-visited part of New Orleans, but I rarely am or photograph there.  So, I grabbed a few obligatory pictures before crossing Esplanade Avenue and reuniting with my truck, you know, because you are ‘supposed to’ photograph the French Quarter.  Those of you who come here for the train pictures, don’t leave yet!  There will be more trains before the day and this post are done!

The recently-deceased Shawn Levy wasn’t a Quarter rat either, as I recall; he worked as the head of security at the Riverside Hilton for awhile (until he was laid off in the fall of 2003), but I don’t think that he otherwise spent much time in the neighborhood also known as the Vieux Carré.

Below, the whitish building toward the left is One Shell Square, the tallest building in New Orleans, and you’ve seen both it and the Capital One building in a view from the other side from the KCS New Orleans Yard.

At left in the above image, you can see part of the French Market.  Today, what is sold there is mostly trinkets and tourist stuff, but a century ago, it was a major trading area for produce.  My great-great-grandfather Edgar Didier Robichaux would bring harvests from his farm on Bayou Lafourche here to sell them to a distributor or retailer.

Just to the right unseen in the above picture is the Louisiana Pizza Kitchen, where I once ate with The Mid-City Marine, his wife, and two of their friends; I drank a ridiculous amount of Dr. Pepper that night.  I wonder if that was during one of the times that I gave up alcohol.

Here’s the view down (or up) Decatur Street toward downtown.

Speaking of The Mid-City Marine, hey, man, when are you going to post some of those shots you’ve been taking recently?  Let’s see some of your work already!

We’re about to cross Esplanade Avenue here.

I’m glad that I don’t care so much about so much of this stuff anymore.

I suppose that means, though, that I never really cared at all; I really don’t know.

Do you care?

Back Belt Check

Anyway, now it’s time to head to the weight room.  First, though, we will check to see if anything is happening on the Norfolk Southern “Back Belt” line along the way.  As I was driving north on Elysian Fields Avenue, Oliver Tower was giving NS 393 his landing instructions.  Sweet!  Now, will I be able to get there in time to get a decent shot.

Not My Thing, As I Don’t Like Big Crowds Herds

Before we find our train, though, let’s look at one example of how in this city, for as much as its people pride themselves on being home to freaks, weirdos, and people who do things their own way, there is plenty of pressure to enjoy certain mass activities, plenty of pressure for conformity within that non-conformity.

Nope.  No, thanks.  Every time I see someone post a picture from JazzFest, it makes me glad I did not go there.  Not only does it look like a big human feedlot, but you have to pay to get into this big human feedlot!  and then pay to eat and drink in it!  Shawn Levy once told me that he didn’t care for Mardi Gras or JazzFest, and the money is not the real issue, since I wouldn’t attend even if you gave me both a ticket to the festival and some meal tickets.  Those events are for some people, and that’s totally cool, but they’re not for me, which should be the end of the discussion, except that there is plenty of pressure to participate in and enjoy certain activities such as these; it happens enough that I find it somewhat repulsive, particularly the idea that if you do not attend or enjoy these things there is something wrong with you.  One year, a DJ on a major local radio station spouted off about how he couldn’t believe that there were people in the New Orleans area who had never been to JazzFest, asking his listeners if they could believe that, as if people have some expectation or obligation to go to JazzFest, or as if everyone desires to go to JazzFest.

What I have recently come to see, though, is that it is largely a misunderstanding of introverts by extroverts, and Beth over at The Introvert Entrepreneur has been really helpful in that realm; if you’re an introvert, you should check out her site and its Facebook page.

I recently saw a little graphic that I found to be really stupid, and I’m almost ashamed to copy the text here given what it seems to suggest about people in other places, but it really shows that how narrow-minded the person who wrote it is.  It read:


Really?  It’s almost embarrassing to read something like that, and that’s why I often feel isolated even when I’m surrounded by people around here, since, unfortunately, many people around here seem to hold this sentiment.  Yes, people in other parts of the country obviously can’t or don’t find any meaningful activities with which to occupy their lives, right?  Yeah, because if it doesn’t involve pulling for and watching the Saints, going to a bunch of Carnival parades, going to JazzFest, going to other big organized festivals that are at specific times, getting drunk, and going to the French Quarter, there really is nothing worth doing, right?  and people who don’t do all those things – meaning anyone who doesn’t live in or can’t or doesn’t visit New Orleans – must have empty, pathetic lives, right?  because nobody is actually capable of creating his own entertainment, right?  What a bunch of repulsive and insulting folks some people in this city are for thinking such foolishness.  They are obviously unimaginative, but they don’t realize it; so, they ‘imagine’ that other people must therefore be unimaginative.

It’s good to have pride in one’s home, and, yes, this place is unique due to its culture, history, and geography, but plenty of people around here take that pride way too far, assuming that every other place must be at best somewhat lame, which, to me, suggests that they (the people around here who think like that) are somewhat lacking in creativity; their zealotry can be as repulsive as that of some religious fundamentalist, and, perhaps, they indeed are their own type of religious fundamentalists.  Perhaps there is some “fundamental attribution error” at work here.  The die-hard New Orleans there-is-no-better-place-on-Earth attitudes that I’ve been describing here are just as common in people who grew up around here as they are in people who have relocated here from other places.  Yes, New Orleans is indeed unique, but uniqueness doesn’t mean superiority.

Your Typical 393 At Your Typical Location

Yeah, this was the best that I could do, a shot of the 393 at a place where you have seen it and other trains before.

In case you’ve forgotten or you’re new here, I will tell you that NS train 393 is a solid run-through train to the Union Pacific in New Orleans, and it becomes train MNSEW – the “EW” destination station code for Englewood Yard in Houston, Tx. – once it is on UP rails.  The 393 originates in Birmingham, Ala.

Now, it’s time to go to the gym, and, as I said before, for the first time since January.  All that I did were some stretching exercises and some pull-ups.

Post-Gym Crescent

Coming out of the gym and the grocery store, it was still daylight, but barely, and I heard Amtrak’s Crescent getting his landing instructions.  Well, that’s convenient, but where am I going to get a shot of him?  There aren’t many options just like there isn’t much light left.  In the meantime, here is Bayou St. John.

The wait was longer than I thought, but I enjoyed the cool wind tinged with a bit of moisture atop my truck.

There were some clouds on the horizon, which was good, since I need there to not be sun rays in the area for this shot of the train to work.

Almost New Shot #3

Actually, I’ve done this shot once before in October 2010 earlier in the day with a freight train.  I’ll present two views here, the first of the train still in the curve, and showing the new signals at St. Bernard Avenue that I mentioned in the previous post.

Actually, those might be the “Paris Avenue” signals.  Earlier, I heard the NO&NE dispatcher talk the 393 by the “Paris Avenue” signals, not thinking anything of it, and I now realize that I had never heard of such a signal before.  Also, it wasn’t until I got home and looked at these two shots that I realized that the old “Dental School” signals, which I showed in the second picture of the posting with pictures from 9 February 2008, are now gone!

I guess, as our song today says, everything indeed changes.

New Signals

So, here is the new signal bridge at St. Bernard Avenue.

Perhaps the signals on the other side of the bridge are the Paris Avenue signals.  In any case, I guess hearing trains call the LSU Dental School signals is now a thing of the past.

That’s all for pictures for today.  I hope that you have enjoyed and have been educated by them.


Why People Make Up Reasons Why Something Happened

You might remember my recent preaching that when you don’t know or understand the reason why something happened you don’t have the right to make up your own reason.  Have the courage, the presence of mind, and the humility to say “I don’t know” when you don’t know the reason why something happened!  I had strongly suspected that there was some psychological and even evolutionary reason why so many people seem to do that, and the recent “Why People Believe In Conspiracy Theories” article from Scientific American seems to address that same problem.  What do you think of the article?  It seems like it found, as I’ve been thinking all along, that people make up reasons why something happened so that they themselves can feel safe, and this is perhaps the same reason for the “blame the victim” practice that is so pervasive, as it allows people to believe in a “just world” so that they themselves don’t have to confront the utterly absurd nature of our existence.

I had plenty more to say here, but I’m just too damned tired and busy, and I don’t want to delay this post any longer, since I started writing it two days before I finished writing it and edited the pictures days before that.  So, I’ll leave you with a link to a C&NW GP7 picture and bid you a fond adieu.



{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 Brennan Petit September 17, 2013 at 01:12

My Dad also talked of the French Quarter having just loads of produce to buy and sell. His family use to sell their produce from there and still do today although now the produce goes to a warehouse.


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