Election Day On The Lafayette Subdivision

by Jim on 2018/11/06

Jimbaux wants you to tell him what's on your mind.


Hey.  How are?  Let me know.  That comment box at the bottom of this essay is a good way to let me know, but, if you would prefer that your response not be public, I can always be reached at AskJimbax “at” Gmail “dot” com.

I can’t wait.  (Okay, I lie; I can wait.)

Election Day Trains

Yes, just like I was 10 years ago, I am back in Schriever on Election Day because I am back home on Election Day because the system is set up by people with stable lives (i.e., our feudal landlords and, to a lesser degree, their intermediaries and loyalists) so that those who don’t have stable lives can never have stable lives, though, on this very day, I am thrilled to announce that some needed stability has returned to my life.

However, unlike the Election Day of 10 years ago, when all that I photographed on the day that Barack Obama was elected President of the United States were some BNSF Railway maintenance-of-way hopper cars, I photographed some moving trains today!

As you observe these images, I want you to make note of all of the centerbeam flatcars, as there are at least five of them in this image.

We’re looking east down the mainline, with the storage track at left having plenty of cars in it, as a westbound manifest train, apparently the H-NSILAL, approaches.

That atmospheric conditions were changing; it was hot, and, then, clouds came, and, with it, coolness came.

I shalln’t yet go eat.

Return To The Old Standby

I don’t feel like digging in my archive to be sure, but I think that the last time that I did the Chacahoula shot was in 2014, and my days of doing much foaming in this area may soon come to a total end.

Man, I had better watch my speed on the Schriever-Chacahoula highway as I am trying to get ahead of this train!  This place is speeding-ticket central, and, yeah, I shouldn’t need the threat of punishment to get me to do the right thing anyway.

So, I made it in time, without a stop, and here is the Chacahoula shot.

I guess that that is interesting, and I will try to frame and crop the scene in ways that I have not done before.

That tree branch outgrowth from the right is new and somewhat messes with the shot, but I still like it.

I learned my lesson from Friday: don’t be greedy.

And, with some life-saving personal news that I received earlier in the day, I knew now that I no longer needed to be as greedy.

So, I don’t need images of this train from more than these two locations, and it would be a damned long drive before I got to a point at which I would be able to get another good images of this train anyway.

So, it was time to head back east.

What Is Now, What Was Then, And What Might Have Been Today

Remember how I told you to note all of those centerbeam flatcars in the first pictures?  There were at least five of them (three of them empty) in the storage track.

Well, there were also three loaded ones spotted on the old Houma Branch stub, apparently having been put there earlier in the day.

So, that is at least eight centerbeam flatcars in Schriever, at least five of them loaded, at one time.  I have many thoughts about this, as I enjoy the fine scent of the Douglas fir that you see in the nearest car!

First, as I have noted before, this is one of my favorite kinds railroad cars, particularly when it is loaded, because you can see the loads on them!  This is such a welcome sight in an era dominated by tank cars and hopper cars not owned by the railroads.

Second, and more presciently, most if not all (I am nearly certain that it is all) of these cars are for Dufrene Building Materials, building-supply business that originally started down the bayou but now has a large facility in Thibodaux about three miles north of where these cars are being unloaded, and this facility is very close to where the Thibodaux Boiler Works, which had a railroad spur off of my beloved Napoleonville Branch, was.

So, my compulsively imaginative brain cannot help but wonder what might have been, had the branchline, which was removed in 1998, survived a little while longer.  I cannot help but wonder that the old Thibodaux Boiler Works facility could have become a transload site, that Dufrene Building Materials could have offloaded its cars there and maybe found a way to just forklift them across St. Charles Avenue into its own facility, without needing to get a truck involved.

Imagine that!

I definitely imagine it!  And, since DBM also sells bricks, there could have been a platform to unload boxcars in such a facility too, and it could have been a transload place for other businesses, too, including nearby Frost Lumber.

Had the Napoleonville Branch been able to hang on for another few years, another customer today might have been Lafourche Sugars, which stopped shipping molasses probably much more than a decade before the branch was abandoned when oil was cheap and before production increased in mills due both to consolidation and productivity gains.  Also, compared to today’s healthier western railroads and the fact the two of them compete with each other on the Lafayette Subdivision, the Southern Pacific Railway’s service was bad; so, that is another reason that Lafourche Sugars might ship today if it had railroad access, and it is a reason that the Houma Branch would probably have enough traffic to keep it alive if it still existed today.

Also, though I have seen these centerbeam flatcars here (and, until 2010, in Raceland, before the spotting location was moved to Schriever) for years now with loads of lumber, this (or sometime recently) was the first time that I have seen gypsum board being offloaded here!

Okay, all of this is interesting, but it is really time to go home now.  I don’t want to be greedy!

Is This Greed?  Is This Love?  Is This Resignation?  Is It A Death Rattle?

I crossed the track on the overpass to go north because I had some things to do to the north before going home, and, as I looked to the east, I saw a headlight down the track.

What do I do?  I decided to turn back to try to catch the train, but I decided to gamble and go to the north side of the track around Main Project Road to try to get the shot there, to get some variety from my earlier scenes.

I got out there and saw no headlight.  I suppose that the train had to stop at the east siding switch, but I couldn’t figure out why, since that H-NSILAL obviously passed through with both switches aligned for the mainline and didn’t stop.

I got back to where I had made my first images of the day and then realized why: the train was out of real estate.  He piped up Lenny to get another warrant, and then he started moving.

While waiting, I took a look the other way and photographed the depot, the Louisiana & Delta Railroad locomotive (which spots those centerbeam flatcars), a string of stored tank cars, and the mainline.

Okay, that westbound train is making plenty of noise for having just fired up from a dead stop.

Here it comes.

Well, it’s a westbound empty unit crude oil train, the kind of train that dampens my enthusiasm for railroads, as, appropriately, the skies darken.

We have to do something about our addiction to this product.  It is killing us and robbing our descendants of a future.  We need plastic, but we use too much of it as it is and could use less.

We have so much productive capacity, and, yet, we waste so much of it!  And then we worry about other people existing on the planet?

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Anyway, I do like the neat uniformness of the tank cars, but, generally speaking, tank cars bore me for plenty of reasons; it would be less bad if they were blue, or something like that.

It reminds me that those loaded lumber cars are one of the few things that I find interesting on railroads anymore.

Ain’t it weird and sad that the photographic highlight of my day was static shots, not action shots?

Yes, I suppose that I should quit this “hobby” for the umpteenth time.

As the train passed me, the spacer gave me a flashback to the Airslide hopper cars of my youth, the genesis of my obsession with railroads and trains.

After that, even though I thought about skipping the weightroom due to all of this foaming, I elected to go afterall, feeling especially confident and sexy given my newfound personal news, and it was at the weightroom that I heard today’s song, an old 1980s song from my youth that I hadn’t heard in ages.

I mean, it’s something different from the usual heavy metal – like trains (!) – here, and we’ll be back to that soon.

The Election

I never really feel good about any of this.  There is so much avoidable stupidity in the world, and too many people seem to not want to avoid it.


Let’s start with what happened “back home.”

Well, I did my part, but, yeah.

The district at the other end of southern Louisiana is full of idiots, as evidenced by the election results.

We also have a US Senator who thinks that most of his constituents are idiots.

Doesn’t it suck that he’s probably right about that?

Those readers, many in the railroad enthusiast world, who stopped reading this blog articles because they didn’t like my “politics” are being, at best, petty, and they’re letting me and everyone else know that they don’t see me or anyone else as fully human.

So, when you tell me, as many have done over the last few years, that you’ve stopped reading my blog for that reason, what you’re really doing is informing me that you not only do not but never really have seen me as fully human.

I am not sad that you stopped reading my blog, but I am sad to learn who you truly are.

As a black friend politely told me the morning after the 2016 election, “I know that you are shocked, but this is the way that it always has been.”

I was in denial for years because I didn’t want to believe that that is who many of you actually are.

If you’re upset at me for pointing all of this out, maybe you shouldn’t support such evil, theft, and oppression?  Maybe you should leave people the heck alone?  Maybe you should demand better policies for all of humanity?

Don’t you want more and better choices?  Don’t you want others to have less power over you?

I am sorry that I spent years defending so many of my white Republican-voting brethren from charges of racism.  They made a fool of me, but at least I know better now, now that they have shown who they truly are.

It’s too obvious to ignore anymore.

“We are a republic, not a democracy,” yeah, I see why you’d be motivated to say something like that.

This just isn’t right.  No person created the Earth.

Tell me, Trumpers, how do you defend this?

I say this to the railroad enthusiasts, a crowd that is made mostly of persons who are, like myself, white, male, and heterosexual, because I have gotten so much pushback from you, but you are railroad enthusiasts afterall!

How do, of all people, railroad enthusiasts, who much of society thinks of as freaks and weirdos and outcasts, go along with this madness?  This is downright horrifying, and it is a big part of why I have come to feel isolated even among railroad enthusiasts in the last few years.

Still, there are a few in the railroad enthusiast community, even many fellow heterosexual white men, who get it, and I appreciate those of you very much.

And I appreciate all of you who read this publication, including, as the authoritarian says, “even the haters and losers,” and I wish you prosperous and happy times ahead.


Until next time,


{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 Tom roise December 23, 2018 at 21:03

I agree with you on watching loads go by. I find the train cars more interesting than the power since they all look the same these days.
I too prefer lumber loads. I love that many boxcars now carry lumber too. Next time you see intermodal catch how many we’ll cars they have? What age and era? Any still owned by the class I’s? I like to watch hoppers as my favorite were air slides like you. They are gone now,
But many outside braced cars are still running? How many in your next manifest train? As for tank cars and coal cars? You are correct. Again I look for the new ones versus the old ones?

And finally, sounds like there is enough business down that branch to reopen it! At least to the old plant to open a trans load center!!!
Nice job Jimbeaux…


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