Weekend Whoadification Too

by Jim on 2014/09/28

[Jimbaux knows that Mom’s going to flush it all away.]

Glory Be

Today, Sunday 28 September 2014, was a glorious and memorable day in New Orleans, a place that continues to stir within me various emotions, many in perpetual states of conflict with each other, as it did to me this weekend.  These pictures are, as promised, better than the pictures that I got yesterday.

A Glorious September Sunday Sermon

There was plenty this morning and this weekend about the themes discussed in my long and revealing “New Orleans Introduces The World” piece from April.  I watched a little bit of CBS Sunday Morning, and then I went out by the track.  The first thing that I recall seeing was a westbound baretable train with CSXT 431 and CSXT 682 – yes, an AC6000CW – for power, but I didn’t get a picture of it.

Something Is Different Here

The first thing to which I pointed my camera this morning was something whose presence surprised me.  Parked at the end of the NS Back Belt at 7.6 was what appeared to be a BNSF train; not only did it have solid BNSF power (BNSF 5199 and BNSF 1004), but the train looked like BNSF train M-BNTNWO with plenty of short two-bay hopper cars and some carbon black cars.  Until about this time last year, BNSF delivered its daily carload interchange block directly to Norfolk Southern, but this changed when the New Orleans Public Belt Railroad won back the interchange business between BNSF and NS, apparently lowering rates; this also allowed one pair of trains to be removed from the Back Belt.

Well, after exchanging a few text messages with someone in-the-know, I learned that BNSF delivered to NS today because the NOPB was just overloaded with work.  Well, this is interesting, and so is that bird flying over the track in the lower right part of the frame!

Well, that was nice.  The second locomotive was a Heritage 1 locomotive, and the train had at least three Ferromex covered gondolas, including FXE 913368.

An Elusive Catch

While I was out in the vicinity, my favorite Yat alerted me at 10:13 to the fact that a unit molten sulfur train was passing her at East City Junction.  Sweet!  I have never really gotten a good picture of this train or its westbound empty counterpart.  The best that I ever did was a (yet-to-be-published) tight shot of the OTYXR in Waggaman in 2009.

At 10:28, I told her, “Thanks! Also, I just heard Preston give instructions to Y105 to come east to Paris Ave, and I suspect that it will be the same locomotimes that you saw WB earlier; please check!”  She had earlier – at 09:13 – told me of light CSX power passing her westbound, which was a really weird thing.

Swindled By My Own Ignorance

At 10:31, K’yat told me that the bare table train was stopping at I-10.  I needed to quickly decide where I would photograph the OTYXR, and I decided to do my new shot at Frenchmen Street.  This is a good shot of northbound/eastbound trains because they will be on the Northbound mainline, meaning that I have a probably empty track over which to shoot, meaning that the shot won’t be too tight.  Well, imagine my disappointment when I get there and see this.

Dammit!  One thing that I am only realizing now is that a new crossover was installed at Paris Avenue, which now explains the new signals there that I first photographed in May 2013.  Since there is no publicly accessible land near that part of the track, and since the track there is several feet higher than the land, the crossover is not something that anyone can see without trespassing.  Google’s satellite view seems to have yet to be updated to show the crossover (not that anyone at Google cares about that), and it is only in the last few days that I have heard trains and Oliver Tower mention the ability to cross over there.

Even without the ability to see the crossover, I’m somewhat surprised that it has taken me nearly a year-and-a-half to figure out that it exists.  Then again, only recently have I started caring about how there is – or, was – no crossover between L&N Junction and East City Junction, in an effort to explain to people why the Middle Belt proposal would alleviate railroad congestions, in attempt to explain why the Back Belt is now clogged; the new crossover alleviates congestion by allowing some trains on to the Back Belt before the Back Belt would have been ready for them had the crossover not been there.  The best example of this is that some northbound NS-bound trains – including our BNSF train seen already – stop at 7.6 at the end of the Back Belt and sit there for awhile, very often with their tail ends hanging over L&N Junction, making the crossover there useless.  This means that northbound trains behind it – especially CSX-bound northbound trains – have to sit and wait, sometimes for hours.  This also means that NS-bound trains coming from the Huey P. Long Bridge could not come off the bridge if the time of Amtrak’s Crescent was soon approaching if there was one westbound train parked at I-10; now, with the crossover at Paris Avenue, NS-bound trains can come off of the bridge, park at 7.6, while Amtrak’s Crescent – in either direction – can get around the trains by using the new crossover.

Well, I am here, and there is nothing that I can do about being on what I now see as the wrong side of the track, and I don’t think that I would have had time to climb the Elysian Fields overpass anyway.  So, here is one more tight and somewhat unimaginative (the train takes up nearly all of the picture) shot from Frenchment Street.

Yeah, I’m not at all impressed.  There is one place where I can get a much better shot of this train, and even better since it will be on the CSX southbound mainline, and I will get there; regular readers have probably already correctly guessed the location.

So, the good news for me is that this train will be on the CSX southbound mainline, atypical of operations.  This puts the train further away from me, allowing me to show more of the side of the train, allowing me to slightly increase the angle between the optical axis and the train, which I had hoped to do at the previous location but could not do.

Just Look The Other Way

So, yes, we are at Alvar Street, but before the OTYXR shows up, let’s see some NOPB action.

We’ll see more of that job soon.

The Prize

For now, here comes the OTYXR!

Yes!  Generally, I don’t care for tank cars that much, and I generally don’t care for unit tank car trains that much, but unit trains have a uniformity that can be well reflected in telephoto images such as these.

This is one of the more useful shots I have ever taken at Alvar Street of the CSX, and it won’t be the last train that I shoot here today, although it will be the last one from the overpass.

The second and third locomotive appear to be the same locomotives that were on the OXRTY that K’Yat and I saw nine nights before, meaning that the train set – or most of the cars – are probably the same too.

Just Keep Looking The Other Way

Oh, there is still some NOPB stuff happening.

Okay.  Here is the OTYXR entering Gentilly Yard.

Well, that was different.

Here is a bit of a different view of the NOPB job, showing more of the yard and more of the crossing.

Yes, I know that I may have disappointed you.  Here are tank cars moving through the “Schwegmann’s Crossover” as we see the end of the OTYXR.

Okay.  Now that that is done, let’s go and get a closer look at what is happening in France Yard.


Our NOPB job had tied up with a five-car ‘train’ to deliver to a nearby transload track, and I got a shot of this interesting car loaded with plate steel.

What’s up with the sawtooth effect on the side edge of this car?

What’s up with that?

Education And Searching

I headed back west to look for the next train.  K’yat had earlier alerted me to the fact that some CSX light power had passed her.  This was really bizarre, I thought.  I eventually theorized that this was the transfer run to the CN that went there without any cars, but it still seemed weird.  I then heard Preston talking to the Y105 coming east, and I theorized that this was the same movement and alerted K’yat to be on the lookout.

On the way east, I photographed this.

This isn’t the first time that I photograph this old school building.

Good Trains

K’yat saw and I soon found the Y105.  It had the same power set from yesterday, with the former GP30 as a road slug leading.  Like the OTYXR, this train was on the southbound mainline once it passed Paris Avenue, meaning that even if I could have gotten to Frenchmen Street in time, I’d have had to settle for that lamely tight shot.  I can’t remember why I didn’t try to bag him at NE Tower, since would have allowed me to have finally gotten a shot of a northbound train on the southbound mainline there, but I ended up back at Alvar Street via France Yard where I got a shot of that little neat NOPB train, the last car of which is the TFM bulkhead flatcar that you have already seen.

Check that out!  That’s a train of five cars, with one boxcar and four load-visible cars!  Now, that’s my kind of train!

Not Much Of A Train

It’s time to get set up for the Y105, and while waiting for that train, we see a yard job switching Gentilly Yard.

Yeah, okay.

Our Second Cool Moving Catch Of The Day

With the routing pattern already used by the OTYXR, today’s CN transfer would, unlike yesterday’s, use the southbound mainline, giving me a rare chance to get a shot taking advantage of the extra space afforded by the train being a few feet to the right, a change that makes a difference by having the shot not be so tight.  I decided to take advantage of this opportunity to stay on the ground, rather than do the overhead shot.

Because the bridge pier would block the view, I can’t really get any further to the left than this; this is why the train being on the southbound mainline makes such a big difference.  Imagine how lame these views would be if the train was on the northbound mainline.

For some reason I don’t understand, this 49-car train was instructed to stay on the southbound mainline into the yard, meaning that the conductor had to line the “Schwegmann’s Crossover” switches.  This seems weird to me, since most of the yard is on the other side of the mainlines, and since this is a yard job.

I like this view, with the conductor – who waved at me – walking back to the locomotive.  I really can’t decide what shots are better, this set of the CN transfer pictures with the ex-GP30 leader, or the OTYXR at this same location.  I guess that this is a great problem to have, and I guess it means that I got some great shots today.  I hope that they are of use to you too.

Except for yesterday, I really can’t remember the last time that I have seen a GP30 body in action (or at all.)

There is something about this picture – and this weekend – that is somewhat spiritual, that is emotional, and I can not describe it, at least not in words; the picture itself is the description, hence its status as art, but so much of my photography is logical, meaning that, here, emotion boils through logic.  New Orleans is loved by many, and I love it in my own unique way, much different than many of its many lovers.


Let’s have a look at this former GP30 as it rolls by France Street.

Note that all of the intakes and fans have been removed and that area where they were has been sealed.

Now what?  The QLIHL was approaching from the west, and I figured that I might be able to get him at Frenchmen Street, especially as it was told to go past Paris Avenue on the Northbound mainline.

The Previous Great Shots Are A Sign That I Need To Quit

I arrived at my new shot and was not able to do more than this.

The crew tied the train down here, deprinving me of an opportunity to get a shot of the train moving closer.  This was a clear sign that it was time to end this glorious Sunday Sermon (that, plus the fact that the clouds are getting worse, I’m getting tired and sweaty, and I have other stuff to do anyway), but, since I was in the area, and since I want to do more non-traditional pictures, I did a little bit more.

While We’re Here

Here is the St. Anthony Street crew change spot, the first time that I ever photograph it.

How’s that?  Different enough for you?  Here is another view, while the road crew is still in the cab.

Well, now it is time to get out of here, but not before photographing something quite bizarre.

Singling Someone Out

What in the heck is this?

What?  Ron is being singled out?  There is no parking reserved for Ron?  Why does this need to be said?  Is there parking reserved for anyone else?

Faded And Clouded Old Glory

K’yat informed me of what I interpreted to be an eastbound BNSF train with a Warbonnet leader (she doesn’t really yet know or appreciate what a Warbonnet locomotive is, but I’m trying to change that  🙂 ) passing East City Junction.  I was able to get into position at City Park just in time for this shot.

Yeah, that wasn’t that great, and neither was this.

Well, there is one more train to see while we are out here, and then I really need to quit this.  Not only is it cloudy, making the pictures look stupid, but I need to go, have other things to do.

It Ain’t Just Me

Preston pipes up to ask the UP yard crew on CSX train Q601, “what you got on that train?”  I was confused, but, apparently, I wasn’t the only one who did not understand the question, and being a railroader would not have necessarily helped me understand.

“What do you need to know? length? weight? color?” was the response given by the UP conductor.  Hahahahahahahahahaha!!!!!!  I seriously did laugh out loud at that one.

As it eventuated, the train’s locomotive consist was indeed colorful in an unusual manner, as seen in this image that would be far more impactful if I was not limited to a 934-pixel-width on this site.

KCS locomotives are rare on the NS Back Belt.  The Q601 becomes UP train MCXEW to Englewood Yard in Houston, Texas.  The three KCS locomotives on this train were apparently low on fuel when they were pictured here.  Later this evening, I heard the UP yardmaster at Avondale instruct the crew to bring the lead three locomotives from Avondale all the way through Live Oak, back through Live Oak, and then go to the fuel racks to fuel the locomotives before going back through Live Oak, backing to Avondale, recoupling the train, and departing town.

Well, that really is enough.  It’s time to get the heck out of here and take it back to the house.

When Entertainment Choices Becomes Tribalistic Expectations

Today, for the second time this month, I had someone talk to be about “the game” as if I was supposed to know about which game they were speaking, and both instances needlessly caused confusion and difficulty.  Today, I was supposed to meet with someone, and she suggested meeting “for the game.”  First, she presumed that I knew what “game” she meant in the first place.  Second, she seemed to presume that I wanted to be around or see “the game” at all.  Third, by doing that, she presumed that I even knew when the game was (instead of telling me a time to meet); this conversation happened by text-message, and I did not reply to ask when the game was, partly because I didn’t think that I should have to ask, and partly because the idea of meeting up for an activity in which I had no interest wasn’t appealing anyway – and a person not interested in the activity showing up for it anyway should also not be appealing to those who are interested in that activity.  In other words, if I’m completely disinterested in something about which you are passionate, you probably don’t want me there anyway; that would be like if I dragged someone foaming with me and talked about trains the entire time even if the person was completely uninterested, and then wondered why the experience was not enjoyable for me either!

Never once did she ask me if I was interested in watching the Saints.  (Yeah, I figured that that is what game she meant.)  Interest in watching the Saints is something that is just assumed far too much, which is a problem because it promotes the idea that one’s disinterest – rather than one’s interest – needs to be expressed, differentiating from the norm; coverage of the Saints already dominates local “news” station reports, which are not really news and which are more like propagators for businesses that advertise with the Saints and the news.  It’s a form of “entertainment” that is almost impossible to ignore, hence my claim that there is an expectation conveyed that you are “supposed to” be interested in it.

During the evening, my friend asked if we wanted to meet, which surprised me.  By this time, I had already made plans.  Why did her asking to meet me surprise me?  Well, since most NFL games are on Sunday afternoons, and since she didn’t bother to tell me the time that she was available to meet, by the time the afternoon ended, I thought that she was unavailable, and I made other plans; I guess I was “supposed to” know that the Saints were playing a Sunday night game tonight.  This is similar to when local television news stations – whom, again, I have mostly quit watching – say something like “clouds will dissipate by kickoff” in their weather reports; that weather forecast is useless to me if I don’t know when kickoff is!

So, given that frustration with meeting a friend today, you can imagine that when I was at the grocery store later that evening – during the Saints game, a great time to go to the grocery store – how frustrated and indignant I was when, when searching for regular flavor Zapp’s potato chips, I saw this.

What the hell?  Seriously?  So, I can’t buy regular flavor Zapp’s without associating some pervasive WHO DAT or LSU logo to myself?  The only reason why I even realized that the bag on the right contained regular flavor was that I was taking a picture of it; I wouldn’t have noticed had I just walked away, and, either way, I walked out of there without any Zapp’s products.  The really sad thing is that this “market signal” will almost certainly never result in a change in marketing; it’s too easy – and too profitable – to appeal to the masses in lieu of appealing to the individual, even in ways that imply some sort of loyalty to something completely unrelated to the product or service being sold.

I understand that mass spectator sports reflect many things – including many positive, or, at least, useful things – about groups, competition, struggle, survival, and real-life conflicts, etc., but they are still not in any way necessary for survival, meaning that people shouldn’t be pressured to like or pay attention to or care about them; if our country was under attack by foreign invaders, and we needed people to fight, then it would make sense to berate, belittle, criticize, ostracize, and even punish me for any lack of loyalty and lack of willingness to fight the enemy and to be loyal to my people, but this is completely inappropriate for things that are completely unnecessary, like spectator sports.

Sports craziness and expected viewership can be found all over the country, but New Orleans is too much like that, too, for things like Carnival and JazzFest; it is unfortunate that a day that started and progressed with so much for which I love about New Orleans (including things and people not mentioned here) ended with reminders of so much that I find ridiculous about New Orleans.  A city whose people often pride themselves on living in a place home to nonconformists has plenty of ridiculous tribalistic conformity about it.

To end, though, I want to focus on the good.  I had a good time being out, I got some good shots, and I did enjoy the growing friendships that I have here.

All for now.


{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Thad H. Carter October 10, 2014 at 10:17

Jim, If you ever travel to N.E. Mo. ,B.N.S.F. is still using at least one GP 30 on local freight service. I lived in Shelbina(Near Hannibal) and would see the unit about once a week. Thad


2 Clarence Fosdick October 10, 2014 at 19:19

Jimbeaux: Good stuff, but I wanted to respond to your post asking about N. Platte, could not make your email address from posting work. All the posts were accurate, there’s an enormous amount of activity in area, and N. Platte yard defies belief. Your neck gets sore trying to watch everything.
Two points to suggest for even more action: First, WEST end of yard has a 5-track grade crossing, often with trains moving on all 5. You can reach it via public street that runs west from area of the main N-South overpass, past EB departure yard, Golden Spike Tower, and the engine shops, ALL of which are readily observed and photographed from parking on grass at edge of street. Second, there is a 3-track at-grade crossing just east of city near the airport, where you can catch trains curving towards you as they cross Platte River. Eastbound also takes you to some unobstructed overpasses, Buttermilk Curve, and to some neat grain elevators with switching activity [ Gothenburg??]. GOOGLE MAPS is pretty useful for finding your way around.
West of N. Platte it’s not terribly far to the junction with the Powder River coal branch, lots of photo ops. I spent 5 days in area couple years ago, could have used 10 days!
Good luck with your trip. Let me know of any other questions.


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