Thibodaux Junction Meets – 3 April 2004

by Jim on 2014/04/03

These pictures – more scanned 35mm color slides – are not among my best, but they show the westward view from the no-longer-publicly-accessible Thibodaux Junction location that I have recently shown.

On the morning of Saturday 03 April 2004, I got to the track in Schriever (mp 55, Lafayette Subdivision) at around 07:30 and saw three westbound trains stacked on the mainline, apparently awaitng the arrival of an eastbound.  Well, I didn’t actually see the third westbound right away, but we’ll see it shortly, and it is the only of the three westbounds that we will actually see in photograph.  The first train was an intermodal train that appeared to be Union Pacific’s IATCI (the predecessor to the Z-trains of a decade later.)  There were a few Tropicana refrigerator cars at the head end like usual, but strange was the presence of a lone tank car after the first stack well. WTF?

The second westbound train, actually parked at Thibodaux Junction (which, as stated before, is, although the eastern end of the Schriever siding, in Lafourche Parish), was a BNSF manifest-intermodal with three locomotives, the first being BNSF 4046.  Although it wasn’t immediately obvious due to being far away, the third westbound was merely Louisiana & Delta Railroad light power, the Mountain Laurel 13, apparently coming back from Raceland, which seemed rather odd for this early in the morning, and for a Saturday.  Anyway, the eastbound train finally arrived and took the siding, allowing the L&D light power to move forward, as seen in this ditch shot from the southern side of Acadia Road.

As it had eventuated, the crew went on duty at 04:00 today to make a special run to Raceland to spot 11 cement hoppers at MTI, which has not had many cars lately and needed these cars really badly.

There were two boxcars of reject paper in Raceland destined for Valentine Paper, but the Lockport Branch was not served today, nor was it served yesterday, like it had been served on Wednesday.  As I wrote that day:

Apparently, the plant/mill doesn’t need this paper right away and is waiting on about five or six more boxcars to be delivered by the UP (to the L&D) perhaps today. So, it’ll make more sense to consolidate it all in one train. Apparently, there will be a seven-car or eight-car train on the branch Monday.  Rejoice.

Yes, the Lockport Branch meant so much to me.

Anyway, once the three westbound trains cleared past the east siding switch, the eastbound train began to emerge from the siding.

You can see the L&D locomotive sitting on the mainline just past the switch.  Apparently, it had some work to do after the eastbound cleared the switch.

The power for this eastbound BNSF train was solid Warbonnet, though not all that desirable.  BNSF 796 was the lead locomotive, but the second locomotive, which was either BNSF 567 or BNSF 568, looked absolutely awful. The glory had already long faded from this Warbonnet.   ‘Twas very, very crusty and faded.  Yuck!

What was odd about this train was the fact that the intermodal block was spliced between blocks of carload freight, and you can see the intermodal cars in the above picture.

Here is one more view of the train emerging from the siding, this one selected because it shows the milepost 54 that I so often equate with Acadia Road and Thibodaux Junction and because it also much better shows what was the beginning of the Napoleonville Branch that was removed in 1998, leaving that little stub going up to Devil’s Swamp Road.

The beginning of the branch formed the western leg of a wye that was here until a long time ago, and the western leg of the wye went across Acadia Road and connected with the mainline on the eastern side of Acadia Road.  So, since Acadia Road crossed the mainline between the two wye connections, it is easy to equate the Acadia Road crossing of the mainline with Thibodaux Junction, hence that I refer to all of my pictures taken from this part of Acadia Road as being made near – or at – Thibodaux Junction.

In early 2005, Lafourche Parish stopped maintaining Acadia Road, and it was turned over to private hands, depriving me of my favorite railroad photographic location in the area, my favorite partly because the views in either direction and from either side of the track were all good, making it a go-to photo location – especially for westbound trains – at any time of year.  The westward view (normally of eastbound trains) was not that great, as you can see here, but the location afforded me the opportunity to see and learn what was happening at the junction.  That fact combined with the very small amount of automobile traffic on the road – which allowed its closure – is what made it such a great train-watching location in addition to a great photography location.  Yes, there is a difference.  Since so many trains had to slow down or stop here, and since some trains had to stop to do work in the eastern storage track (it is where BNSF sets out cars for the L&D Schriever job), it was a good place to simply watch what has happening, and the very low automobile traffic on the road meant that I could sit here in my truck for hours and read books and magazines and be already in position to be occasionally interrupted by railroad action; that is important, since the sit-in-your-truck-and-read-a-book factor makes the time spent by the track not “wasted” just being in pursuit of trains.

Railroad enthusiasts reading this, do you have a location where you go and sit and occupy yourselves with other activities until a train shows up?  Being a school teacher at the time, I often graded tests as I sat in the truck by the track.

As late as 2007, one could still drive up to the end of the Napoleonville Branch stub, as seen in the last picture in a six-picture posting of July 2007 pictures, but now, that’s not even possible.  The only view that I can really get of Thibodaux Junction anymore is that which I did just before Hurricane Isaac, a view vexed by growing sugar-cane.  At least we have the 2004 pictures.

All for now . . .


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