Wounded Knee, Don’t Stop Me

by Jim on 2019/10/02

I Still Got It

These pictures were made on Wednesday 1 October 2019, and this was a heck of a day, very memorable – and very long – with an injury, a visit to some friends, a long chase of a train led by a neat locomotive, and a chance drive-by encounter with another southern Louisiana railroad enthusiast.

Two days ago, I returned to New Orleans in preparation for a job interview yesterday, and I got some shots along the way.

The job interview was promising! I feel hopeful!

On the way to the interview, I passed by the Bernadotte Line and saw that there were no cars at Masonry Products; the thrill really is gone.

A Very Bad, Painful Start

This morning at about 01:00, feeling, in my sleep, what my sensitive body interpreted as a cockroach crawling on me, I jolted out of bed and landed knee-first onto the floor. I then screamed loudly in pain.

I was never able to go back to sleep. I also never found a cockroach. It may have just be sweat in this awful crib. Central air conditioning is important. I need it.

My plan for the day was to head back west to the homestead, chasing the UP New Iberia Turn with, hopefully, the UP 1015, a patched Southern Pacific GP60, leading it along the way after getting a needed oil and filter change for the truck.

At 08:19, I got my first catch of the morning, at Terminal Junction on the Norfolk Southern Railway in New Orleans.

That is some manifest train off of the Union Pacific Railroad with a fresh home-bound NS crew aboard it, but I don’t know the names of these trains anymore.

I went and got the oil change, with the knee worsening in pain, but, on the way there, I tried to get a shot of some eastbound train at Metairie Road, but then I realized that it had to use the passing track, which would jack the shot. So, I left.

People Being People

The woman at the CC’s coffee place next to the oil change place kept calling me “baby,” and it kind of annoyed me.

I went south, passing by both Big Lee’s house and the place at which he picked me up when I broke down, which made me think of that incident and of him, make me think about how this malicious predator who picked me up when my truck broke down was shot to death for being a malicious predator and how he supported our malicious predator of a President.

Then, I saw a guy panhandling near the intersection of Airline Highway and Clearview, and I was thinking again about how this system creates so much resentment. 

Flag Desecration By Railroad

On my way out, I used Central Avenue, where I saw the CSX transfer run leaving Mays Yard to go back east, though I couldn’t get in place in time to get a shot of it, and I found this.

Well, there, I have finally found the KCS 4006, and it looks no less gaudy in person than it does in other people’s pictures. I texted someone whom I thought might be interested that the KCS 4006 was here, even though we are on opposite sides of the upcoming civil war. I didn’t hear back.

Yeah, I don’t care for this locomotive, and don’t you dare try that “you hate the US flag” lie, because I actually think that this locomotive is what is making a mockery of the Stars And Stripes.

Crossing The Mississippi

I went across the river, and I saw the westbound Sunset Limited on the Huey P. Long Bridge, but I couldn’t get a picture of it.

I got across the river, noticed that the Union Pacific Railroad’s New Iberia Turn was not ready to go, noticed that there were no pumps working at the Racetrac place in Avondale, and decided to explore eastward a bit after getting more than 17 gallons of gasoline at Brothers.

So, I went on a diversion.

I noticed that the BNSF Railway intermodal yard has shut down. Wow! That’s somewhat sad, I guess.

I went to Gretna and almost photographed an NOGC train but couldn’t get in position in time. There are signs in Gretna by the depot that say “no Railway expansion” in Gretna.

Back at Avondale, at Avondale Garden Road, UP 7680 was on the front end of a train with a whole bunch of pipe at the head end, and BNSF 716 Warbonnet was on the front end of a westbound crude oil train.

People Need People, And I Need Relief

I always think of something that my grandmother told me when I was about 10 years old: “People need people.”

A friend lives right by Avondale Yard, and I texted her and told her I was close and asked if I could get some help with my knee, which was feeling worse. She responded that she, too, was sick, but her husband was home and that he could help me; I went over and chatted with him for a while and got some ice for my knee. I brought the scanner inside so that I could hear the New Iberia Turn getting its track warrant so that I could know when to leave.

Answering The Call

Sure enough, that’s what happened. The dispatcher called the UP 1015 west going to New Iberia while I was talking to Sonny, and, then, I told him goodbye and thanked him for the help.

There It Is!

I got out, and I found my train waiting on the Drill Extension track at Willswood for clear track ahead.

Hey, look, just one locomotive this time!

Almost 20 minutes later, the train starts to move.

Yeah, while the “Southern Pacific” speed lettering on the engineer’s side still looks good, it’s all, sadly, faded on this side. Furthermore, as you can see here, we have one and only one hopper car for the rice mill in Abbeville, and it’s tagged, dammit!

A Good Supporting Character In This Drama

So, it was time to go to Live Oak, where the Luling Local, the train that was apparently ahead of and blocking the New Iberia Turn, was moving west.

Hey, I’d chase that!

I hadn’t photographed this train in a long time, and, especially if I don’t get this job, I may never again photograph it.

This job possibility is basically my last chance to stay in New Orleans; if I don’t get the job, there isn’t likely to be another one, and I will be out of New Orleans completely, likely permanently, in a few months.

Oh, anyway, the track closer to the river – in the distance – is the former Texas & Pacific Railway and Missouri Pacific Railway line, and the track in the foreground is the former Southern Pacific railroad mainline.

Thanks, Luling Local.

Back To The Main Character

Okay, so, while the lighting is really bad, here comes our train through the crossover that was installed after the UP-SP merger.

I do expect that the pickings will get better as the day goes on.

After that, I really boogied, because, in order to get ahead of this train, I have to go back east a few miles as the train moves west so that I can get onto US Highway 90.

It Was Always There, But I Never Did It Before

I set up for a new shot, yes, a new shot for me in this area, and, if you think that this view is as good as I think that it is, you might wonder why, after all of my years photographing trains in this area, I had never done this Boutte shot until now, after my eviction from my home, 24 minutes after the above image, having hoisted myself atop my truck in intense knee pain.

Below is a cropped version of the above image.

I guess that the reasons that I have not done this shot before are several. For one thing, the west-southwestward orientation of the track means that this is a fall-winter shot only for non-cloudy days, and we are dealing with high-sun issues even now with this shot, as the time is only 14:48 CDT. Another reason is that you more or less have to know that a train is coming and also have to have some other reason to be in this area, which is why it is no coincidence that I am traveling in the same direction in which this train is traveling, as opposed to intercepting a train that is moving in the opposite direction of my travels. This is not really the kind of place at which you come and sit and wait for any train that may or may not be coming, and Highway 90 through Boutte east of here is a traffic mess; so, unless you intercept some radio transmission at the right time, you have to be chasing a train from all the way in Avondale or Waggaman to get this shot.

The shadow over the road and the track is from the bridge carrying the northbound lanes of Interstate Highway 310.

Well, there it is, and you can see that there was a siding, the last remains of which were removed in the BNSF era, here at some point.

My great-grandfather was a station agent or something like that here, probably at a station around the curve in the distance.

Another Day, For You And Me . . .

Next, I get one of my favorite views in this area, in Paradís.

I like this, with the trees hanging over the old highway. I am not sure that I have photographed a train here since 2012, but I know that I did this view then, which also might have been the first time that I did this view.

I’m telling you, man, given all of the “twelve years ago today” and “ten years ago today” and “five years ago today” and even “one year ago today” postings that I’ve been making on social media, given all of this redoing the shots from seven years ago, I really ought to be doing “seven years ago today” postings, maybe not, but so much of what I have photographed lately has been so reminiscent of what I have done seven years ago!

It’s seems like every time I take pictures here is garbage pickup day.

Now, with that location done, here is where things got weird, though I didn’t know it at the time.

We Almost Met

When I drove across the Paradís Canal probably less than a minute after taking the above picture, my mind was, as it normally is in chases like this, intensely focused on the chase itself, including eyeing the train in my rearview mirror and thinking about where I could get another shot, on top of the need to manage a moving automobile on a state highway.

So, nothing about the sight of a thin red-headed young man walking from the highway – and what appeared to be a motorcycle – toward the western bank of the canal registered as noteworthy in my brain, and I just kept chugging along.

But it should have registered in my brain, because, only few or so days before, Donovan had mentioned on one of the foamer forums that he, too, was interested in chasing the New Iberia Turn while the 1015 was its power.

I didn’t realize until he later posted on Flickr long after this chase was over his pictures from this day that he was whom I saw at the canal!

Here is Donovan’s picture of this train at the Paradis Canal.

UP 1015 / Paradis, Louisiana

You should click on both his picture above and his picture below to see them on Flickr. Apparently, he got to Schriever in time to grab this shot at the depot, but I imagine that he had very little time to spare, having come from taking the picture at Paradís.

UP 1015 / Schriever, Louisiana

That is a great shot at a place that is sacred to me, and I love that those little chairs for the passengers are in the picture!

Also, you really should check out Donovan’s pictures on Flickr; he’s really good at this!

Explaining My Decision To Bypass Sacred Schriever

A problem for chasing trains in this area is that the highway diverges from the railroad from east of Raceland to Chacahoula. This makes trying to get a shot between those two points costly – risky – if you are trying to chase the same train past those two points; you have to know that the train has to stop or slow for some reason.

Chacahoula Is Special

When I was speeding westward from Des Allemands, I heard the conductor say what sounded like he was “losing PTC,” and he appeared to be slowing. I figured that this meant that I could possibly get to Schriever in time, but I didn’t want to take the chance, and I decided to go straight to Chacahoula, which would give me time to stop at Wilson’s Kountry Korner to get some chicken tenders, at least six minutes after which the train showed up while I was still on the ground.

I asked the woman, Lexi, behind the counter at Wilson’s how long it would take to give me some chicken tenders, and she said six minutes. Figuring that I had just enough time, I said yes, to go ahead and make me three chicken tenders. About six minutes later, she handed the cooked chicken tenders to me, and I left out of there and got to the spot where the picture was to be taken with just enough time to take a few test exposures, bracketing, dictate some notes into my tablet, after which I heard the Bells for the crossing gate warning system. I did it!

That was close!

Other than that I obviously resumed my journey westward, I have no memory of and no notes for what transpired over the next hour or so, but something – either one or both of the moveable-span bridges on either side of Tiger Island not being lined for railroad movement and-or a meet at Berwick – must have slowed the train’s progress.

This Is Southern Louisiana

Here is one of the gas plants by a sugarcane field by the Bayou Sale branch.

Man, if that scene doesn’t scream “South Louisiana,” I don’t know what does!

The clouds really were moving in, and the cane farmers were working.

I wish that I were a farmer.

Another Drive-By Encounter With A Reader

So, on the Bayou Sale siding, the Louisiana & Delta Railroad job that serves the North Bend Branch was coming off of the branch and onto the siding.

Let’s see a cropped version of that image.

Below, off in the distance, you can see the headlight of our approaching UP New Iberia Turn.

The LDRR 1703 has a healthy-sized train here, somewhere around 30 cars, but all of them are carbon black cars, which seriously bore me, man.

Unbeknown to me at the time, someone witnessing the spectacle of me recording this spectacle follows me on Facebook.

Farming is interesting. My greatgrandfather was a sugarcane farmer.

I want to be a farmer.

Here comes our train!

Am I being repetitive?

That was fun!

The light is fading, especially with the clouds, and trying to catch up with this train for another shot before it lands in New Iberia would be a major feat.

A Nice Desert

Seven minutes later, at 17:30, as I was determining that maybe I had done all that I could with my target train today, I passed over the Cypremort Branch, on the southside of Baldwin, and I observed the head end of an eastbound BNSF Railway train parked in the siding at Baldwin, and, 17 minutes later, smelling bad, I stopped at the Patout sugar mill and got my first-ever action shots of railroad movements there.

This is supposedly the largest sugar mill in the state of Louisiana, and the large number of tank cars – even though some of them are from a transload facility just north of here – is perhaps reflective of its size and scope.

The job here has two locomotives, I guess both because of the direction of the switch from the mainline and the fact that the runaround track there maybe is a bit too small.

Okay, that, at 17:48, is all for the pictures today. A little bit more than an hour later, I arrived at Food Etc. for a shrimp poboy, very tired and very filthy, due to sweat and from being up since 01:00, sweating.


Oh, here is a picture that I got 12 years ago today.

Twelve years ago today at 17:24 CDT, Amtrak's inbound SUNSET LIMITED is just a few thousand feet from completing its…

Posted by Jimbaux's Journal on Wednesday, October 2, 2019

I like that.

Always Learning

I really like this article about a new focus on repetition and obsession in autism studies.

Imaging studies have shown that the brain’s reward network in people with autism responds to their objects of interest, such as trains or electronic devices, but not to money5.

The trick is figuring out a way to manage restricted and repetitive behaviors, so that rather than interfering with learning, they help promote it, says Wetherby. “Our aim is not to get rid of these behaviors but to exploit them to help the individual to maximize his or her potential.”

That resonates so well with me!


Anyway, this has been a memorable day, indeed! I busted my knee, am on high after a good job interview, visited a friend, chased this neat train with a neat locomotive a long distance, had a drive-by encounter with a railroad enthusiast of whom I have known for a long time, and got some action at the Patout mill.

I need rest!



{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 Robert Quinlan October 3, 2020 at 07:04

and thanks for sharing the photos of the rail traffic some take for granted that keeps the country going.



Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: