June 2009 Sampler

by Jim on 2019/06/01

A Deep South Month

Greetings, and welcome to the June 2009 Sampler essay.  As promised at the end of the May 2009 Sampler essay, this essay and the one for the following month will have an increase in both quality and quantity, especially if you determine quality by variations from my usual southern Louisiana subject matter.

On the morning of June 01, I awoke in southeastern Louisiana, but I ended the day in Sping, Texas.  On my way there, I photographed Union Pacific Railroad’s bridge over the Neches River.

Five years to the day prior, I had passed here on my way to Mexico, and, on my way back from Mexico two months later, I photographed some action here

The next day, foaming with my friend whom I was visiting, we saw and photographed a UP yard transfer north of Houston.

I didn’t photograph much else that day, probably because I was unfamiliar with the area, and perhaps because my friend was busy working, but the next day, the 3rd, we had a big foam day, all day, three of us, starting the day at daybreak at Julian’s Starbucks by the track, which was an interesting experience.

I made many photographs of many trains that day, and the one that I choose to show here is of BNSF Railway train M-TEAMCH1-03 at South GH&H Junction.

The “M” means that it is for a “manifest” train, meaning regular mixed freight with carload shipments, the “TEA” is for Teague, Texas, and the “MCH” is for Manchester, which is on the southern side of Houston.

That was a fun, memorable, and exhausting day.

The next day, the 4th, it was time for me to leave Texas and head back to New Orleans; on my way there, about 40 miles from New Orleans, I stopped for pictures at a location dear to me.

That is the SP 745 on the beginning of the Lockport Branch track in Raceland.  It was there for a movie shoot. 

Three days before I took my picture, the Cajun Porkchop got a better-lit shot of the train steamed and in action in the sugarcane field.

Back in New Orleans, two days later, on the 6th, I photographed a Norfolk Southern Railway job returning from Arabi tied down at Louisa Street on the Chalmette Branch.

Of the many pictures in this essay, the above two images are the only ones from the state of Louisiana!

The next day, Sunday 7 June 2009, I would leave northward on a journey that would last for the remainder of the month.  That evening, I visited, for the first time, the Kansas City Southern Railway facilities in Artesia, Mississippi.

This summer mostly away from home was not as intense and memorable as the previous summer that I spent on the Northern Great Plains, based in Fargo, North Dakota, with time spent in the three Prairie Provinces of Canada.  Perhaps it couldn’t be, because this is where I was spending it.

That picture, taken on Tuesday the 9th, shows the lovely campus of Mississippi State University.  It generally looks nicer that the campus of North Dakota State University, but, because I was still in the Deep South (or even deeper into it), less than a day’s drive from home, as interesting as this experience was, it didn’t have the exotic feel that my times in DC, Monterrey, and Fargo did.

Another reason that it wasn’t as great as some of the other experiences was that we weren’t staying in a dorm or with host families; we were staying in a hotel.

That picture was taken on the 11th.  Staying in a hotel for several weeks made healthy eating very difficult.

The next day, Friday 12 June, five years to the day after I visited Grutas de García and then photographed some TFM trains west of Monterrey, we went to Columbus Air Force Base, where we witnessed a demonstration of dogs that the United States Air Force uses in combat situations.

The ladies were impressed.

Now, my first weekend in the “Golden Triangle” area started, and it was time for some foaming!  At 08:54 on Saturday the 13th, I catch WAMX 4117 leading an eastbound train east of Artesia.

I am not exactly sure of the operational arrangement here, but KCS owns the tracks, and two other railroads – a WATCo line and the Columbus & Greenville Railway (CAGY) – operate trains on the line, feeding traffic to and from KCS; I think that the name of the WATCo line is the Alabama Southern Railroad.

I also photographed a CAGY job working the Severcorr steel mill on this same expedition.

The next day, Sunday the 14th, we headed south, individually, because our workshop had some field activities on the coast.  That morning, I went again by the steel mill and took some pictures before heading south to the coast.

On the way to the coast, I poked around in Meridian for a while and got a shot of the locomotive facility of the Meridian & Bigbee Railroad.

I then took some pictures on the beach at Gulfport before heading to wherever we were staying, which I think was Saucier, but I don’t remember now.

Two afternoons later, at 19:11 CDT on Tuesday the 16th, I made some images on the beach again.

There is a weird, embarrassing pain that I feel when I look at that image.  It means something.

The next evening, a fellow workshop participant and I took a trip to Bay Saint Louis.

That was a memorable trip; it could have been more memorable, but someone let Jesus get in the way.

I like Jesus; I just don’t like how some people put Jesus between them and others.

At some point that week, one of our workshop participants had a sad mental-emotional breakdown, but what was even sadder and more troubling was the way in which so many of the other workshop participants made fun of the whole situation, made fun of the poor woman; that was, to me, deeply disturbing, and it seemed to be at least part of the evidence of why the woman who suffered the breakdown had such problems in the first place.

Anyway, two days later, Friday the 19th, five years to the day after I visited La Quemada, the farthest south that I have ever been, was our last day on the coast; we finished at the Northrop-Grumman shipyard at Pascagoula.

Next, satisfied from that experience but disturbed by what I saw from some of my fellow workshop participants, especially since they were school teachers and, as such, should be of better moral character than the average citizen, I went back north to Starkville, and I caught KCS’s northbound Gulfport Turn on the way and photographed it in two locations before leaving it behind because, back then before the line got upgraded in 2010-2011, it moved so slowly.

The next morning, I got one of my favorite pictures from this whole MSU workshop experience (including all of the pictures that I took on my own off-program, like this one), and there is – or was – a neat story behind it, but, more than half of a decade later, that story is no longer as cool, thanks to a rather “deplorable” reason.

First, I should provide some background information.  I really like high-nosed locomotives, and they were very rare even in 2009.  Many railroad enthusiasts like them for that reason, that they remind us of old times.

The Columbus & Greenville Railway had this neat high-nosed locomotive, the CAGY 2011, in the Genesee & Wyoming corporate paint scheme, and I loved it; I thought that it looked so snazzy.  It reminded me both of the high-nosed locomotives that, as a child, I saw, and it also wore a paint scheme that I saw in my youth.

So, I was mightily excited when, on the morning of Saturday the 20th, I saw it and another locomotive leave the Severcorr steel mill, head west to the nearby KCS yard in Artesia, and then return eastward with some mill-bound cars going toward the rising sun!

Man, it was hot that morning!  As the train came back toward the mill, I was able to photograph it a few times.  I stood shirtless and soaking wet with sweat – and I recall that I was wearing a pair of ratty old black cloth shorts – atop my truck to get some images while the heat index was approaching 100ºF, and, for my last shot before the train left the mainline to enter the mill trackage, which you will see here, I stood on the ground; it’s what happened right after I made this image at 09:51 CDT that at first enhanced the memory of this event, only to more recently sour it.

As the locomotive passed me, the engineer tossed something down onto the ground near me.  It was in the shape of a cylinder.  The colors were red and white?

My heavens, what is this?

It was a fusee!

It had a note attached to it; the note had an e-mail address.

This is great!  I love making connections like this one.  This is not the first time that a member of a train crew has tossed something down at me from the locomotive with a note in the hope of seeing the pictures that I am taking of the train.

So, what was the problem?

Nothing, at first.  I sent him the images of his train, we communicated for a while, and he sent me some information about the local railroad operations.

Then, in June 2015, Donald Trump walked down the escalator and officially launched his campaign of the Presidency of the United States of America.

From that point on, many people in my life – and many people in your life – let you and the rest of the world know who they truly are, in a very not-good way.

Sometime around 2017 or 2018, via that medium that seems to be the most common way of demonstrating one’s bigotry (Facebook), we learned that this person was a self-described “deplorable.”

So, you tossed a note to me and wanted to see pictures of your train, but you don’t believe in my humanity, don’t believe in the humanity of my friends, and don’t even believe in your own humanity?  This is so incredibly sad and, indeed, deplorable.

How am I supposed to be friendly or even mildly cordial to someone who wants me and the people I love to just die?

I know that that is not what this picture is to you, but that’s what it is to me.

The next day, Sunday the 21st, we started our journey to Chattanooga.  On our way there, we stopped for fuel and refreshment at Trussville, Alabama, where Wendy grabbed my camera and took some pictures of me.

With the tool back in my hand, I got a shot of the bus, the convenience store, and the lovely flowers there.

So, so far, I have shown scenes from four US states in this essay, but this is the extent of the Alabama images that I got on this trip (and in this month.)

We will, the next day, Monday the 22nd, see images from a fifth US state: Tennessee.

Those are the turbines in the Tennessee Valley Authority facility under Racoon Mountain.

We didn’t stay in Chattanooga long.  ‘Twas a pity, too, as, not only do I think that it is a really neat place, but the hotel in which we stayed, too, was neat.

I really enjoyed my time in Chattanooga.  I really liked visiting the TVA headquarters, including the center in which coal was purchased and other such decisions were made.

I returned to Chattanooga two years and a month later on my way back from DC, and I stayed the night at Yang’s house; the next morning, I got some great pictures in Chattanooga before heading home LINK!!!!

Two days later, Wednesday the 24th, we were back in Mississippi.  We got to visit the big Nissan plant in Canton, which was neat.  Four years earlier, I visit the Ford Rouge plant in Dearborn, Michigan.

We then visited and had some activities at the nearby Center For Advanced Vehicular Systems, from which I made this image of the Nissan plant.

In the previous August, on my way back from North Dakota, I photographed the railroad on the other side of the plant.

The next day, we were back in Starkville.

I’m startin’ with the man in the mirror!! Where were you when you learned that Michael Jackson had died? I was sitting and eating at a Subway restaurant in Starkville, Mississippi, while attending a month-long conference-workshop thing at Mississippi State University, when I read on my telephone an e-mail alert from MarketWatch that the “King of Pop” had died.

As planned, I then headed out to the track just as the good light was rolling in, and, here just south of the SeverCorr steel mill east of Artesia, I got a rare ghost-white KCS 2027 leading KCS job 111 out of Artesia clearing up into the mill trackage to allow an eastbound Alabama Southern Railroad train to pass.

I'm startin' with the man in the mirror!! Where were you five years ago today when you learned that Michael Jackson had…

Posted by Jimbaux's Journal on Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Here is a picture that I made on the afternoon of Thursday 25 June 2009, a picture that I will always associate with Michael Jackson; I even call it my “KCS Michael Jackson picture”!

That was a good afternoon.

The next day, Friday 26 June, we visited the Red Hills mine at Ackerman, Mississippi.  I took plenty of pictures at the mine, and I will post some of them on social media on 26 June 2019, but the image from the day that I will share here is something that I made after we left the mine, a scene of some condos in Clayton Village.

That’s it.  I have no idea what I did that weekend, and there are no more images from the photographic record for the remainder of June 2009.

All that I do know is that this workshop ended on July 1, and I headed back to New Orleans that day.  The July 2009 Sampler article will include an image from that day, and, then it will have plenty of interesting stuff from places very far from home!  Please stay tuned for that!


Creating the essay that you just read at least a decade after the beginning of the month that these pictures were taken started, to say nothing of creating the images themselves, took plenty out of me. Processing each one of these images took a long time. Writing this essay, even though it doesn’t have many words, took even longer (because it involved plenty of gathering of information.)

For most of the images that you have seen in this essay, they were but one sample of many good images that I took on the dates on which they were taken. There are plenty of good pictures that I took and stories that I have to tell from each one of those days, and I would love to have the time to do all of the work necessary to publish those pictures!

But I don’t.

Ideally, on the 10-year anniversary of each of these images, I’d have published or be publishing a full set of pictures from each day, but that would basically be a 40-hour/week job right there, and I simply lack the resources to do that.

You can help. If I had enough support from patrons that I could make this into a full-time job, devoting most of my time to it, my creative output would greatly increase! You can help me get there by becoming a patron, for as little as $1 per month, via Patreon. It’s very easy to set up an account in which an amount of money of your choosing moves monthly from your account (debit card or credit card) to my Patreon account, and, if I could get my monthly Patreon income up to around $1,500 or so per month (which I realize is very much wishful thinking), I could really focus on my bet work!

Please consider it. I talked more at length about this topic in the “April 2009 Sampler” piece.

Staying In Touch

This seems like a good occasion to remind everyone of a different (and, perhaps, better) way of receiving Jimbaux’s Journal content: the e-mail newsletter!

By signing up for the newsletter, you will get an e-mail message only when new pieces of content are posted, which will rarely be more than twice or thrice weekly. Lately, it’s been only one or two messages per month!

To sign up for e-mail updates, send a blank message to jimbauxsjournal-subscribe@yahoogroups.com and check your inbox and your spam folder (the latter being the more likely to receive the message) for a confirmation message. Follow the instructions in the message, and you’ll be a member! (It’s basically a closed e-mail group where only the moderator can post.) Once you are subscribed, if you decide that you no longer want to get updates, you can send an e-mail to jimbauxsjournal-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com to stop receiving messages.

That’s it!  That’s a good way to keep up with content here if the Facebook page – or this Patreon page – should suddenly disappear for some reason.

Also, while on the subject, please, again, consider supporting Jimbaux’s Journal on Patreon.

The quality of content here is directly proportional to the amount of patronage, as more patronage means less fear of punishment from gatekeepers for being real.

And there is no way that a man can survive off of fewer than $200/month anyway.

Anyway, thanks for at least considering it, and stay tuned for the July 2009 Sampler. It’s going to be lit!

Merci beaucoup. 


{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 D. Howard Bingham June 3, 2019 at 06:45

The bridge over the Neches River at Beaumont, TX. is owned by the KCS, _NOT UP_

The SP used to have a bridge upstream, but was replaced many years ago during realignment of tracks away from most of Beaumont’s business district.

Howard Bingham


2 John Shine August 6, 2019 at 09:55

Great Shortline shots! Dig that high-nose #2011.

Neat Steam engine shot as well.


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