Acadiana and Baton Rouge – Amtrak, L&D, UP, CN, and KCS – 4 January 2009

by Jim on 2014/01/04

[Jimbaux knows that this house is not a home.]

These 21 pictures – nearly all of which were taken of locations heretofore not seen here on Jimbaux’s Journal – were taken on Sunday 4 January 2009, two years to the day after a very memorable day in western Nuevo León.

Something Different

Hello.  A cousin’s wedding brought me to Lafayette on the evening of Saturday 3 January 2009; that meant Acadiana foam the next morning!

First, though, it was time for breakfast with the folks at some retail village in Lafayette.

Okay, that was good.  I think that they went straight home, while I did some “while I am in the area” exploring.

Go West Before Going East – Part 1

I went exploring Crowley and Rayne, places to which I had never been, and I caught the eastbound Sunset Limited in Rayne thus:

The structures in the background are associated with the rice industry.  Now it’s time to head east, work my way back home to New Orleans.

L&D’s Breaux Bridge Branch

I then explored the Louisiana & Delta Railroad’s branchline to Breaux Bridge for the first time, a line that once extended all the way to the Mississippi River and through which the Southern Pacific Railway interchanged traffic via ferry with the Illinois Central Railroad in Baton Rouge, hence its official name as the Baton Rouge Branch.  The Great Flood of 1927 washed out the line through the Atchafalaya Basin, and SP’s really long bridge through the basin was never rebuilt.

At the time that I took these pictures, the branch was being served seven-days-per-week because the customer at the end-of-the-line in Breaux Bridge – Enterprise Products, a natural gas company – was shipping plenty of LPG cars and needed daily service.  Below, we see the “BR Job” – so named for the state’s capital city where this branch once reached – pulling some LPG tank cars from Enterprise.

The lack of a run-around track at the end of the line necessitates the practice of placing a locomotive on each end of the train, and below we see the train leaving Breaux Bridge and heading back to Lafayette.

Yes, that is the LDRR 2009, a former Utah Railway locomotive retaining that railroad’s paint scheme, and, yes, at this point, the LDRR 1508 that you saw in the prior picture is now on the rear of the train.

Being a branchline, the train was going plenty slow enough for me to cross the track and get this shot.

Well, Breaux Bridge, it was nice to meet you, even if briefly and barely.

Go West Before Going East – Part 2

Well, while I am working my way eastward back home, it is again time to turn around and go west.  Since this is a branchline, since I love branchlines, since I have never been here before, and since I have a train, I decided to chase the train to the Cargill salt facility, even though that facility is served when the train is on the way to Breaux Bridge, but I was planning on chasing this train all the way back to the yard in Lafayette.

The Salt Plant

Now, I set up at what I think, railroad-wise, is a more interesting customer, since it has boxcars and hoppers, none of which we will see today, unfortunately.

I had a little bit of time before the train showed up.

Now, here is the train, and you can see that there is indeed a run-around track here, though I am not sure how often it gets used for that purpose.

Okay, let’s go back to Lafayette.

The day after I made these images, my pal the Cajun Porkchop, who helped me learn about the railroads of this area, was farther to the south taking pictures on the Abbeville Branch, a branch that I would later come to learn very well.


Sweet!  I’m going to get shots of this thing rolling through Lafayette!

Wait, what’s this?

Oh, that doesn’t look good.  That is a crew vehicle at left.  The train was tying down here instead of going into BNSF’s Lafayette Yard.  I was told that this was because today was Sunday.  Dammit!

Now What?

I guess there is really only one thing to do at this point.  This Acadiana diversion has been fun, but I need to return to New Orleans.  I guess I’ll need to just head east, and that is what I did.  Crossing the Atchafalaya Basin on I-10 can be a grueling experience, even if it doesn’t last a really long time.  There is just no escape, and when a wreck happens on one of the bridges, other motorists can be stuck for a really long time.

UP’s River Dodger Crossing The River

My timing eventuated to be fortuitous, as I arrived in the Baton Rouge area right as Union Pacific’s transfer to the Canadian National Railway was about to cross the river.  We see it here in Lobdell attacking the grade of the bridge.

This train originates in UP’s Livonia Yard, goes across the river to CN’s North Baton Rouge Yard, swaps cuts, and then crosses the river.  I’m not sure if it does work in Port Allen and Anchorage afterward.  Anyway, in addition to carrying the CN interchange traffic, it also carries interchange traffic for the Kansas City Southern Railway.  The KCS makes a midnight run (or around 01:00) from its yard to the CN yard to perform the interchange between the two carriers in Baton Rouge.

There is time for one more picture from Lobdell before we have to boogie to get to the other side.

Great!  Now it is time to hurry up and get across the river into Baton Rouge to catch the train descending the bridge.

Shot Of The Day?

I think so!  Here is our River Dodger, descending the “Red Monster” bridge into Baton Rouge, after some intense driving and quickly running up the bluff from the highway below.

Yeeeeeehaaaaawww!!!  That is US Highway 190 and below, and the track on the bridge between the highway and the river bridge is the former Yazoo & Mississippi Valley Railroad mainline to Vicksburg and Memphis, today just a branchline to access some industries north of Baton Rouge that CN serves.


Let’s take a quick look at downtown Baton Rouge, including the state capital building.

This is a place where I have not spent much time; on some levels, that bothers me, and on other levels, I really don’t care.  I just don’t know why, though.  Oh, well.

I guess that part of me feels like I really should know much more than I do know about what happens here, how it happens, who is doing it, the parties involved, and such.

And yet part of me just wants to ignore and reject it all; that just doesn’t seem right, though.  I guess that conflict will exist as long as I do.  I mean, you can’t really pay attention to everything and be as knowledgeable as one can be about government and politics and still succeed in your own varied personal and professional endeavors.

Nearly five years later, David Brooks published a great column on this topic, though five years minus one day after these pictures were taken, he put out a rather terrible and even hypocritical column about drug prohibition, as was rightly rebuked by Matt Welch at Reason.


Let’s make a quick check of what is happening on the KCS, which, since the KCS yard in Baton Rouge is almost completely inaccessible for public viewing, usually means this:

The yard job is shoving these hopper cars into the yard.


Right near the KCS yard is the Governor’s Mansion, seen on the other side of the lake.

So, yes, that is where Jindal lives, at least when he is in Baton Rouge (and when he is governor.)


Let’s make a quick trip back downtown and take a look at CN’s North Baton Rouge Yard on the old Y&MV line.  Like the KCS yard in Baton Rouge, very little of the CN yard is easily seen from public property or public areas such as this view that may now be impossible due to an underpass that was built at this location after these pictures were taken:

Yes, that is the UP River Dodger that you saw crossing the river earlier!  The power has apparently yet to run around the train and pick up the outbound cut.

Let’s Go Home

Yes, it is getting late, and Three Days Grace is playing on my CD player, thanks to my pal TS getting me into Three Days Grace.  So, now you see the reason for today’s musical selection, which is an entire album that I apparently associate with Louisiana Highway 30 south of Baton Rouge!

The sun was setting on this memorable day.  My cousin was beginning a new life with her husband, and I was heading back to New Orleans to start the memorable year known as 2009.

That is all.



{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Tex Collins January 4, 2014 at 07:01

If you are really sincere in wanting to learn about the political machinations that occur in Baton Rouge, then start by reading the U. S. Constitution and your State’s constitution. Then, you will know what the rules actually are. Also, read very carefully the wisdom of King Solomon in the old testament book of the Proverbs. Solomon said it right when he said, “There is a way that feels right to a man, but in the end, it leads to death.” Solomon was right. One has to do what is right, even when it does not feel good to do so.



2 Philip H January 5, 2014 at 21:02


As a Baton Rouge Native, you aren’t missing much in the State Capitol. The view from the observation deck is kinda cool, and if you know where to look in the lobby you can still see bullet nicks from when Huey Long was gunned down by his own body guards.

As to the KCS, there are a couple of places to get some shots of the yard – the parking lot of the DOTD building (from which I think you took the governor’s mansion pic) is usually good for looking at the engine shed and close by yard leads, and you can get to the yard office from the other side on the entrance to Memorial Stadium. There are also some great rail fanning locations south of downtown, so long as you have a scanner and or a good timetable so you can follow car movements. North of the yard there’s often a lot of switching to see out Airline Highway and up Scenic Highway, since both run through/past the North Baton Rouge refineries and chemical plants.


3 Jimbaux January 30, 2014 at 10:33

Thanks, Phil, but I am not a Baton Rouge native; I’m not sure how you got the impression that I was a Baton Rouge native.

I have been on the KCS D-Line north of Baton Rouge; the history of the area is interesting.


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