Southbound KCS Hattiesburg Turn, CSX at Bay St. Louis – 6 December 2008

by Jim on 2013/12/06

My pal BobE arrived in New Orleans via air on the evening of Friday 5 December 2008 in advance of a work-related conference the next week, just as he had done the same weekend the year before when we met up so that he could see what action KCS had to offer in the New Orleans area.  This time, he recruited me for a plan that would have us trekking into Mississippi to chase the KCS’s local on the Gulfport Subdivision, meeting up with Tuck while there; also, as you will see toward the end of this long post, will have a coastal and CSX bonus that will be appealing even to those of you who have no particular interest in trains.

I actually wasn’t even sure this trip and chase would happen, because I had a hunch that one of the final runs on the ex-SP Lockport Branch would soon be made to Valentine Chemicals, this being almost a year to the day from the last-ever railroad delivery to Valentine Paper (one of my most-soulful posts), and I would have made every effort to be there, but that did not happen until February (and I did make every effort to be there.)  Bob understood that that was more important to me, but it fortunately did not conflict with our plans to chase the Gulfport Sub local.  In plenty of ways, though nearly 200 miles apart, the KCS Gulfport line was the next best thing to the Lockport Branch for me, for it was a mostly-rural railroad with old jointed rail and one train per day, and it has since been upgraded, depriving it of that old rustic, branchline feel.  It’s great that BobE and I got these pictures, only the second time that I had ever visited the line, and the first time I’d travel its entire length.

“I’ll spring for the hotel,” Bob said as we were making plans a few weeks before, asking that I drive.  That sounds like a deal and a plan.  So, early Friday evening, I picked him up at MSY, and we proceeded to Hattiesburg where we checked into a hotel, both dead tired, and needing sleep for a pre-dawn call time at the yard.

Part 1: the KCS’s Gulfport Subdivision

Not only is it part one, but it is the reason for this outing.  What you’ll see in Part 2 is merely a we’re-already-here-and-done-with-our-reason-for-being-here lagniappe.

Good Morning, Train

I remember a confusing and hungry morning as Bob and I debated over where the depot and yards were, and I seem to remember being really hungry, though I don’t remember what breakfast entailed that morning, but we found our train that morning in Hattiesburg, which was great, because we feared that it would get out of town before dawn.

How about that?  This is not really technically a branchline, since it connects with other railroads at both ends, but we have a fairly short train comprised almost entirely of boxcars and centerbeam flatcars, and we have four Geeps, which seems like overkill and may indeed be overkill, but there are some respectable grades on the line, at least for being on the Coastal Plains this close to the Gulf of Mexico.

In these days before the line was rebuilt, the train with a Gulfport crew would work northbound Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, overnight those nights in Hattiesburg, then turn on their rest and go home on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and, as you see here, Saturdays.  More recently, with the line upgraded, the trip from Gulfport to Hattiesburg and back to Gulfport can be made in one day, ending the need for crew accommodations in Hattiesburg, and ending early-morning scenes in town such as what you see here.

Good Morning, Tuck

Not only did we find our train, but we also found our Tuck!  It was good to see you, old pal.  The three of us chatted for awhile as the train began to move, and as it moved, we see the man himself.

That’s a quality human being right there, I tell you, so much so that despite his quality he isn’t afraid that his knowing your humble correspondent is public information!  Imagine that.

The Train Leaves Town

Oh, this is getting exciting.

The milepost tells us that we are 66 miles from Gulfport.  I believe that the old mileposts next to the new mileposts are measured from Jackson.

Where is this gypsum board going?

The Plastics Place

The train stopped to work the plastics place south of town, and the three of us stopped to check that out.

As you’ll soon see, for all of the switching done here, the train left the plant with only one hopper car.

Reconvening at Ralston

Tuck showed us this place called Ralston south of town.  I didn’t much care for the shot here, but I enjoyed hanging with my pals.

I enjoyed it because Tuck then had to break off for family duty.  Thanks, man; we appreciated the help and hope to see you again.

Anyway, here is the shot.

Yes, it’s just the wrong time of day to do that shot, but, then again, there is only one southbound train per day here.


Now with Tuck departed, it was left to BobE and me to find our own way, find our own shots.  With me driving, he held the map, and he navigated us past Camp Shelby to McLaurin.

It doesn’t quite look like that anymore.  Anyway, after what seemed like a long wait, the train showed up.

I like that.


A crammed island of concrete, steel, and humanity this Brooklyn is not, and we initially set up for a shot at the bridge.

Then, we figured that the light would not work too well here this early in the morning.  So, we relocated to a place nearby.

Brooklyn really has plenty of potential for shots, but with a southbound train early in the morning, we were unable to actualize that potential.  In my subsequent trips to the area, I have had more success in Brooklyn.

Old Rail

Twenty-one minutes later, we are in Bond, where we can see how old this rail really is!

This then-82-year-old rail has since been replaced, along with all of the rail that you’ll see on the line today.

We waited for a really long time here.  In times like this, it is good to be out with another person to chit-chat during these long waits instead of being in long periods of solitude, part of why I really don’t much do this anymore.  Forty-three minutes after the rail picture was taken, the train finally shows up.

Well, that was fun.  Let’s move on now.


Eighteen minutes later, we are in Wiggins, an interesting town that has some railroad customers that wouldn’t be served on this day because their switch arrangements favor work done by northbound trains.

Wiggins has plenty of potential.

Perkinston, And The Old Vertical IC Sign

Unfortunately, the classic Illinois Central Railroad vertical station sign seen in this picture – taken 31 minutes after the previous picture – has since been removed.

That is US Highway 49 in the background, and the main campus of Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College is to the left of the picture.

Light Bending at Ten Mile

This could probably still rightly be called Perkinston, since I think that that’s still MGCCC in the background, but this location is apparently called Ten Mile, and, yes, I’m standing on top of my truck here in this picture taken six minutes after the previous one.

So, yes, the lighting wasn’t totally how I had hoped that it would be, but I think that I benefited from some cirrus being in the sky, decreasing contrasts between the visible side of the train which is in the shade and the more lit areas, so much that it makes this shot one of my favorite from the many from this day.  My film-shooting Canadian-American old-enough-to-be-my-young-uncle pal BobE doesn’t seem to like shooting in anything but full-sun, but I’m really glad that I am far beyond that way of thinking – and photographing.

The Dip At Perry

Nineteen minutes later, we are at Perry, where I’m standing atop my truck to get this neat hogback shot.

That is also one of my favorite shots from the day.  What do you think?

Control Point?  How?

Just six minutes later, we are at McHenry where we see evidence of KCS’s peculiar use of the term “control point.”

How can you have a control point on a line that isn’t even signaled?  Isn’t the definition of control point that a dispatcher actually controls it, not just by authority but by physically controlling it via buttons on his desk?  That’s the way that it is on the Union Pacific and I think other major railroads.

Not Doing Howison Justice

There is more to the little hamlet of Howison than just this picture that at least shows mileposts.

There are, off unseen to the left, what appear to be some war oaks along the highway.

Do You Want This House?

Back when this picture was taken, there was only one train per day past this location.

We thought about doing this shot in Saucier, but the light had turned over too much.


We are now in Lyman, almost in Gulfport, meaning that this is our last shot of this train, and I almost made good use of that old MofW flatcar.

I should have already mentioned, too, that the presence of one of those ex-UP Geeps in the consist really dates these images to a particular era.  How long were those things on the KCS?


Now we are in Gulfport, and it’s time to eat at Whataburger.  I don’t know if Bob could decide whether to be mad or happy with me insisting in the “W” as our only lunch – and a very late one at that – option, but I basically can’t go to Gulfport without eating there.  As soon as a Whataburger opens up in New Orleans, I’ll probably eat there a few times, causing it to cease being exotic for me, causing me even to cease seeking out Whataburger in traditional Whataburger territory.

We went, I am assuming after we ate, by the KCS yard in Gulfport.

I assume that it was after we ate because the yard is south of the Whataburger and on the way to the coast, where we were going.

Part 2: The Coastal and CSX Bonus

Yes, we’re already here, we’re done with our KCS trains since it is done its run, there is still daylight left, and there is no rush to return to Woadieville.  So, we’ll camp out at Bay St. Louis and see what we can get in the few hours of daylight that we have left.

The Bay

Hurricane Katrina devastated this area, but it was already showing sings of a rebirth in late 2008.

We’re looking north over the CSX – formerly Louisville & Nashville Railroad – mainline along Beach Boulevard (which, as you can see, is actually not a boulevard), and we can see the new US Highway 90 bridge in the background.  The bridge – completed in 2007 – replaced a lower one that was knocked out by Katrina’s storm surge.

Here is the bay.

Below, we see the pier for the St. Stanislaus School.

The Shadow Warrior, who graduated from Brother Martin High School in New Orleans, once said that St. Stanislaus was the school where students were threatened to be sent if they behaved too poorly.

The Church

Here, we see the church in front of the school.

Yes, the light is fading fast.  We won’t be here for long.

The Beach

There might be some trains coming, but we’ll shoot the beach again in the meantime, this time up close.

Well, that’s okay.  Actually, I like it plenty.

The Trains

The bay bridge lined up for two eastbound trains.  The first is the Q144, which I often photographed on the Union Pacific as the KCIAT back then, and which evolved into the ZLAAT and the ZLCAT – a Los Angeles to Atlanta domestic intermodal train.

It’s hard to get the entire stack train in one shot, but I got it here on the bridge.

How is that?  Just six minutes later, the Q618 shows up.

That was the best that we could do with trains running away from the setting sun.  It was time to return to Woadieville.

The End

That is all there was to this great day, mes amis.  I hope that you enjoyed it and learned from it.  My pals and I surely did.  What would BobE and I catch the next day?  Stay tuned to see.




1 Herbert R Gamache December 6, 2013 at 06:56

I very much enjoy your postings. Thank you

2 BobE December 6, 2013 at 07:26

Point of order here, young man……..I am the one who insisted on Whataburger! I demanded Whataburger, in fact. You wanted to go to a chicken strips place….Cane’s maybe?

Anyhow, it was a great chase, good company, great photos of a wonderfully obscure line.

And, a heck of a way to celebrate one’s 46th birthday.

3 Jimbaux December 6, 2013 at 07:53

Oh, wow!! I now do seem to remember thinking of Cane’s, perhaps because I wanted you to experience that Louisiana restaurant! It’s hard to believe I’d have suggested something other than Whataburger; what a sacrilege!!

Happy birthday, foamie.

4 Bob December 6, 2013 at 08:53

Nice Stuff James! I really liked the first McLaurin, Perry and Lyman shots. The fact that the power has spartan cabs helps of course! Oh, and I too miss Whataburger, you are right thou, if it shows up here it will loose the exotic appeal.

5 Hank December 6, 2013 at 17:00

Jimbeaux, the silver building in photo #2o was the original G&SI Passenger and Freight Depot serving Saucier, now a private residence. However, as your photo shows, the building is for sale for residential, commercial, or light industrial use. I’m sure that KCS Gulfport Branch marketing personnel would be happy to discuss reinstalling a siding if the new owner projected sufficient annual car loadings.

6 Andy Tucker December 22, 2013 at 20:47

Very much enjoyed the pictures and the story behind them. Glad it was a productive trip for y’all (and me for part of the way)!

7 Tom Holley December 22, 2018 at 09:46

Great photos! I worked for MidSouth/KCS from 1990 to 1998. I spent my last four years in Gulfport on Job 37, the DuPont switcher and pier job. Brought back some great memories.

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