March 2012 Sampler

by Jim on 2022/03/01

Welcome to the March 2012 Sampler essay, which, with 24 images, is the largest-ever (by measure of quantity of photographs) monthly sampler essay that I create, suggesting that March 2012 may have been some month of great consequence for me, which it was, even though I should note that months in which a photographer does not take publication-worthy images on many days can be personally consequential, and taking publication-worthy images on many days of a month is not necessarily a sign that a month is of great personal consequence to the photographer.

A Month Of Profound Change

In this month, I left the job where I had had my best professional success, made the greatest professional name for myself, after fully burning out, and started a job in another field dear to me that also put me next to an interesting railroad line on my home line, where I got to see what by then was my favorite train, The Chip Local, and I started my last big road trip.

These factors, or the confluence of these factors, were a catalyst in launching the second of two phases of the photography renaissance that I experienced in 2011 and 2012 after a lull after thinking in 2009 and 2010 that I had peaked as a photographer. Maybe I had, as I am not sure that my actual skills ever got better after then, but infiniteness of subject matters, including a desire to document changes of the same subject matter over time, led to a flowering, a renaissance, of my photography that would last until late 2012.

Starting in late 2012, I went into another lull that lasted until the beginning of 2014. The second renaissance, which started in 2014, would last until early 2015, a year that I took an astonishingly small number of photographs after January 7. That lull lasted until late 2016, but another lull came in the spring of 2017. The last (as of this writing) renaissance came in the middle of 2019, and I am on the downward slope of that renaissance now.

So, following naturally from scenes from the “February 2012 Sampler” essay, here is a sample of images that I made in March of 2012, all except for the last two made in southeastern Louisiana, the second-to-last made at the tripoint of Louisiana, Texas, and Arkansas, and the last in southeastern Kansas.

Thursday, The 1st

We are in Norco one afternoon at the Bonnet Carré Spillway as this Canadian National Railway train, I don’t know if A419 or L516, crosses the spillway downriverbound.

It’s not my best shot from the Bonnet Carré Spillway for sure.

Friday, The 2nd

Here is a New Orleans & Gulf Coast Railway train moving eastbound, leaving Harvey and entering Gretna.

That’s the other-direction view from my ‘famous’ Subway shot.

Saturday, The 3rd

This was the first time that I did this shot, and, a decade later as I type this, it’s still the only time that I have done this shot. Here is The Chip Local coming eastbound at Barton Avenue in Boutte with four cars from MTI in Raceland, and I remember being proud of finding and executing this new shot in this ‘boring’ part of the railroad.

I was generally pleased with and proud of the pictures that I took that day, even though all were taken as jpegs, meaning that they can’t really be easily improved; they would look so much better had I taken them as RAW images.

By this time, I had accepted a new job to the west, and I would then work one more week at the place where I achieved some amount of glory in better times.

Sunday, The 4th

Here is CSX train Q601 passing L&N Junction Tower in a day when I was getting annoyed by the onset of high sun.

The train is entering the Norfolk Southern Railway “terminal” line westward to the Huey P. Long Bridge, and the trackage off of which the train is coming is the southwestern corner of CSX’s vast empire. At one time, prior to the construction of New Orleans Union Passenger Terminal, the Louisville & Nashville Railroad mainline crossed the Southern Railway mainline here – or about where the I-10 bridge in the background is – and went up Elysian Fields Avenue to the riverfront.

Monday, The 5th

The reason that I never published this picture until now must have been the damn pole shadow on the nose of the lead locomotive.

This train is stopped at Marconi, a crew change location on the NS Back Belt a few miles west of where the previous shot was made.

Friday, The 9th

This was my last day at job where I had the best professional – and, so, even personal – success in my life, the apex of my career as a teacher, an apex that happened long before I finally walked out for good. Unfortunately, out of necessity, I’d find myself back working in very similar ‘roles’ at other nearby schools, but this was the last day of what had been a proud few years of my life.

After I left, appropriately, I found a train, albeit parked, on the NOGC, at Gouldsboro Yard.

And, so, that’s how it ended.

But it should have ended in May 2010, and it would have ended then had I been wealthy enough to walk away.

Saturday, The 10th

Here is a lame shot of Amtrak’s northbound Crescent on the first day of the rest of my life.

The train is passing the Frenchmen Street signals in New Orleans.

Sunday, The 11th

Here is a westbound BNSF Railway train at Marconi, a location that you have seen earlier in this essay in a picture taken six days before.

The reason that I chose this image of the four presentable ones from that day is that, until I reprocessed the original images in early 2022, I didn’t include this image in the original post from this day.

Monday, The 12th

I took a week off to get caught up on some personal matters and get some photography goals done that I wanted to do before I started the new job on the 19th, and, on the Monday, I made this image of the Louisiana & Delta Railroad’s Schriever job westbound at Kraemer Road.

This was a day on which I got many pictures, and a strange combination of pictures at that, what with the Kansas City Southern Railway, the L&D, and the NOGC being the subjects for this day.

Tuesday, The 13th

Here is the eastbound Z Train crossing the Mississippi River, a few miles from being interchanged to CSX.

A decade later, that train was not running anymore either.

Wednesday, The 14th

On this day, I went to Gulfport, Mississippi, to see and photograph action on the KCS Gulfport Subdivision before the rebuild of the line was completed.

This was among the subjects that I wanted to get while I still could before I started this full-time Monday-Friday job that, unlike a teaching jobs, didn’t have breaks throughout the year when I could go foaming, hence the week off that I took before starting the new job. The only times in the decade that followed this day that I foamed the Gulfport Subdivision were a few times in early 2014 and twice in January 2019.

Thursday, The 15th

Here is the Irish Channel block party ahead of Saint Patrick’s Day.

Yeah, I really just don’t care anymore.

Friday, The 16th

Another thing that I wanted to do while I still could, a thing that could be done only on a weekday (and can’t be done at all anymore), is chase the Chip Local all the way from Avondale to Morgan City. By this time, the train was going to Morgan City – the train was going past Raceland – only on Wednesdays and Fridays.

As the full post of that day’s pictures indicates, I didn’t get to see the full Avondale-to-Morgan-City trip that I hoped to see (and I would never see it on any subsequent day), but it was still a good day, as I enjoyed what I saw and photographed at Schriever.

That’s Chip walking back toward his train under the overpass at Schriever, the sacred place, after checking or aligning other switches.

Saturday, The 17th

This is the Irish Channel Saint Patrick’s Day parade.

Yes, a decade later, I didn’t care anymore.

Sunday, The 18th

Here I am in New Orleans on a Sunday, the day before I start a new job 80 miles to the west, and I see some Ferromex locomotives leading a train of new CSX hopper cars at Frenchmen Street.

I got a few other pictures as I was out and about that day.

Monday, The 19th

Returning to what I would, a decade later after the eviction, call “home” after the first day at the new job, I found the MNSEW emerging from the siding at Schriever.

The Lafayette Sub was much more interesting back then.

Tuesday, The 20th

Here is something unusual. You typically don’t see L&D hauling carbon black cars westbound this far east.

Anyway, this is the L&D Schriever Job heading west at Chacahoula in the rain.

Wednesday, The 21st

This is Stephensville.

This is a picture of storm damage that I took in the course of the new job.

Thursday, The 22nd

On my lunch break, now that I had one of those things, where I could leave the premises, like a real white-collar normie, I caught the eastbound Z train coming through Berwick.

I was already getting too ‘fresh’ with the new coworkers.

I got some other pictures that week.

Saturday, The 24th

This is a scene from the MS Walk, and this was one of the last times that I tried to do anything for the NOLA Post.

This was at Audobon Park in New Orleans.

Sunday, The 25th

This is Lockport, and we are looking across Bayou Lafourche to the set of locks that are the source of the city’s name, even though the locks are in Rita.

That’s an old railroad flatcar that functions as a bridge that was public back then but is not publicly-accessible now.

I got some other pictures on this weekend.

Wednesday, The 28th

This is one of the few times that I have taken a photograph at West Gibson, and you can probably see why here.

This is the IAVLB, which I think by this time had become a Wednesday train.

Friday, The 30th

This is the day that the road trip, the last one that I did in at least a decade afterward, started. After I made several photographs at Kansas City Southern Railway’s major yard in Schreveport, or Blanchard, I resumed the northward journey, entering Texas as I passed the southern corner of Arkansas.

Later that day, I’d get some pictures of KCS trains in Arkansas and Oklahoma before going to bed at the Green Country Inn in Heavener, Oklahoma. It was good to be back on Rich Mountain for the first time in almost four years, though, as of this writing a decade later, I have not returned.

Saturday, The 31st

Here is about where things got weird, though that has become clear only in retrospect.

Here is KCS train Q-KCNL – Kansas City to Nuevo Laredo – in Pittsburg, Kansas, after departing southward with a fresh crew.

I got plenty of pictures that day, that morning on Rich Mountain and then late in the day in southeastern Kansas, before I went somewhere and met someone that, let’s just say, what I learned from the Trump Phenomenon would not allow me to go.

Who I am as a photographer and a blogger is heavily influenced by this force, and, in the Trump era, I have had to reckon with that.

I wish to say more about this.

For now, I will just say to stay tuned for more pictures from this memorable trip, as you’ll see them in upcoming full-day posts as well as the “April 2012 Sampler” essay.

That’s all.


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