Peartree’s Penultimate Day On The Railroad

by Jim on 2022/06/14

Now Jimbaux is here, and he's all alone
Still he knows how it feels
He's alone again

Peartree’s Last Day Working The Ground

Today, Tuesday 14 June 2022, was Peartree’s second-to-last day railroading and his last day working the ground.

Yesterday, I got many pictures on his third-to-last day railroading.

We start by the depot in New Iberia.

I don’t imagine that I’ll be around when it’s time for CV to retire.

So, I got some pictures of him, too, and I hope that he finds them useful.

I had a rather brusque encounter with The Mean Railroad Woman this morning about my tablet computer apparently causing problems with their radios. That’s how she is.

CV walks from the depot across the mainline to get onto the locomotives.

Some time today, I had a good conversation with him about how the problems with the railroads now should not be called a PSR problem.

I guess that the crew will be using the LDRR 1702 and the LDRR 1703 today.

Here comes Peartree!

He worked out of Lafayette and maybe even Lake Charles of Beaumont in his time with SP, but he would have done exactly what he is doing here almost 50 years ago right here.

That’s the old passenger platform from the SP days on which he is walking.

It’s hot.

He knows that I am there photographing him.

The photographer is about to become part of the story.

He is thinking about something.

It’s about to happen.

He is approaching me when the quicker path to the locomotives would have had him crossing the track already.

It’s like he is laughing mildly to himself, perhaps pondering how to say what he is about to say.

Yeah, man, I guess that is kind of funny!

“I can’t thank you enough,” he said to me. I told him that I was merely returning the favor of how kind he had always been to this goofy railroad enthusiast, particularly given how most railroaders treat railroad enthusiasts.

The next four images are cellular-telephone images.

We chatted for about a minute.

I reminded him that to be wired to love this kind of job this much makes him a lucky man, and he said that he knew that.

We will see him working the ground, where he is much easier to photograph than he is when he is in the cab, today.

That was great!

CV is doing his inspection of the locomotives.

Peartree then gets on the locomotives.

That’s the old Midland Branch that still exists to Abbeville on which the locomotives are sitting.

Peartree comes back toward the depot to talk to a young railroader giving him some good retirement wishes.

There were guys talking to Francis this morning about Stories being written about him, about his celebrity status, I guess mainly due to the publicizing all of this.

I think that they saw the widely-shared post that I made last night.

But I have no idea if there are other such posts by other people out there.

If there are, I would like to know!

The work for the day is about to start.

A good handshake between workmen was had, and I imagine that the young man will remember this encounter for a long time.

Have a safe day.

So, it was time to bring the locomotives out onto the siding.

The reactionary stuff really bothers me.

Now, it’s time to close the switch.

Now, it’s time to get onto the locomotive.

Now, they are moving to the east siding switch to get onto the mainline.

Why would they be going to the mainline and not down the siding to the yard?

They are going to the MoP yard.

Here, they are stopped at the switch from the mainline onto the MoP Branch.

He is about to open the switch.

This won’t take long, because it’s just two locomotives.

Now, here is where it gets weird, and this is one of my favorite sets of pictures from this day.

That’s the Lafayette Job approaching eastbound on the mainline.

Both Peartree and I were surprised to see it.

I don’t know what is was doing here with just two cars, except maybe that one of the locomotives was due for an inspection and was about to be swapped for another one.

Peartree is returning to the locomotives after closing the switch.

The train is now on former Missouri Pacific Railroad trackage.

This track was operated by Southern Pacific for a few years before it and other remaining branchlines were sold to the newly-created Louisiana & Delta Railroad in the late 1980s.

MP gave up on this line after the salt mine at Jefferson Island closed after the Lake Peigneur drilling disaster.

Next, we are at the MoP yard, where Peartree is riding the LDRR 1702 into the yard.

He quickly begins working the switches.

My notes indicate that I took a trackside dump somewhere right around here and right at about this time, but I am having trouble imagining where around here I could have done such a thing safe from public view.

I also used the portable toilet here at the MoP yard for the same purpose.

Now, here is where things get weird.

Why is Peartree looking at me when I have nothing to do with the work that he is doing?

He told me something about Marvin wanting me to come to some event and photograph on Thursday. What the hell???!

And, apparently, that was asked of him over the radio just now, hence his turning around and looking at me.


So, the heat was killing me, as I was not made for it, and, so, I went to the gym and took a shower. I couldn’t work on the ground in railroading around here.

Damn, it’s hot!

I was so hot and stinky.

So, I messed up. Showered, I arrived at Jeanerette and got set up a couple of seconds too late to get the train coming south on the Patout Branch without having to cut off the train with the frame.


Anyway, it’s the first time that I do this shot; so, I guess that my performance here should be graded on a curve.

Here is the trailing locomotive, which led the train here to Jeanerette.

This is the first time that I photograph any real action on this branch other than quick grab shots of action at the Enterprise mill, as I did on 2 October 2019 and I am not sure when else ever. So, all shots that you see in this essay until we get back into New Iberia are new shots for me.

So, here is Peartree riding the 1703 into the QLF Jeanerette Loading Facility.

CV is at the other end of the train at the controls of the 1702, shoving.

They are here to pick up loaded tank cars.

See that plant in the background of the picture?

That is sugarcane, and it’s the source of the product in these tank cars.

At this facility, sugar mills that no longer have railroad access truck product – usually if not invariably molasses – to load into tank cars, and I guess that most or all of it becomes animal feed.

Peartree has the brake stick.

I don’t guess that there is anything other than tank cars on this line ever, but, at one time, the Patout mill shipped hopper cars.

Peartree is loosening the brakes on these tank cars.

Do you like Chevelle?

This is Peartree’s last day working the ground!

He started working the ground in 1973!

Railroad tracks are cool.

I guess that that house by the track wouldn’t be a bad place to live, considering that this is just a branchline with one slow train twice or thrice weekly.

It’s hot.

I already need another shower.

It’s a sensitivity thing, I now know.

I like that symmetry of the grab irons on the tank cars.

Okay, so, next, we are at Patout, as the train is about done its work at JeaLo.

This is the first time that I shoot pictures here away from the highway, and I wish that I had done this years ago, back before the L&D locomotive roster got as boring as it now is.

Notice that the LDRR 1703 is between the tank cars that the train just picked up at JeaLo and the tank cars with which it arrived in Jeanerette.

It’s midday near the summer solstice.

So, try to imagine what this place looks like in lower-light times of year.

I hope to return here then.

The first thing that they’re going to do is go grab the outbound loaded cars from the Enterprise mill.

He is not waving at me; that’s a hand signal to the engineer.

I did the best that I could with the colors here.

Railroading is like a religion.

So, too, is railroad photography.

Look at that sugarcane!

Peartree is following in the footsteps of his father, who, too, was a railroader, and also with Southern Pacific!

The sugarcane really makes the shot!

This is an iconic Louisiana & Delta Railroad scene.

And Peartree is the last human, last labor, remnant of the SP working on the L&D.

With the switch back closed, they are going to the loading tracks to grab the outbound tank cars.

It’s a good time to chug some water!

This next image is one of my favorite from the day.

There you go.

There are your sugar-mill shots.

There was some problem here, something, if I correctly recall, about there being one too many tank cars in the inbound cut to be able to spot them in the loading track.

So, here we see Peartree dismounting the trailing tank car as the loaded cars are pulled past the south switch of the runaround track.

Now, he is opening the switch so that the empty cars at right can be shoved into the plant.

Check out the tops of the big pieces of farm equipment in the right background.

Peartree walks back toward the plant.

CV will be shoving the inbound tank cars soon.

This is one of my favorite images of the day.


Well, maybe I like this one better.

I don’t remember what the story behind this gesture here is.

So, now it is time to throw the switch.

I think that the story there might have been about a question about in which track to spot the empty tank cars due to there being too many to fit into the loading track.

That seems about right.

Now, Peartree radios to CV to tell him to begin shoving the inbound tank cars toward him.

We have some decent even if very limited views of the mill complex here.

The cars spotted, Peartree and the 1703 exit the track.

Now, it’s time to close the switch.

This, too, is one of my favorite shots of the day.

I did the best that I could with the harsh lighting here, and I think that it came out okay.

This is one of the last switches that Peartree will throw.

It’s hot.

I mentioned that it’s hot, right?

I wonder if he is thinking about his father.

So, what is happening here is that the 1703 is pulling what I presume is the cars picked up at JeaLo and then putting them onto the cars in the distance that were just pulled from Enterprise, with the 1702 on the other end.

It’s a bit difficult to follow.

Peartree goes across the track to close the switch.

That’s an interesting-looking tank car.

That’s not saying much!

Now we are about to couple the two cuts together, presumably all of loaded cars unless the customers rejected any of the cars.

It’s interesting, but I sure wish that it wasn’t the most interesting thing happening on the L&D anymore.

Come on, Peartree, keep that right foot where it belongs.

He’ll get it right eventually!

Okay, so, now they are back at the mainline, and the train is too long to fit into the runaround track.

The 1703 is going to lead going back to New Iberia.

Here is the westward view.

Peartree is opening the east switch.

Now, the western end of the train – what has just become the front of the train – is now fully onto the runaround track and off of the branch.

I didn’t stick around to see if they backed completely out of the east switch onto the mainline or if they came out of the west switch, because I went south to set up for my shot.

Look at the soybeans growing by sugar-mill smoke stacks.

That stack is from a long-gone sugar mill.

Here comes our train, and, remember, all of these shots are new shots for me.

I like it.

That’s about as good as it gets in the year 2022, my friends.

I like the locomotive disappearing into the sugarcane field.

Here is the tail end of the train, but this would look just as good – because it would look the same, perhaps except for some exhaust – if it were a shot of the locomotive seen in the picture pulling the train in the other direction.

The song “Alone Again” by Dokken played on the radio right after I did the Jeanerette mainline shot, hence the reason that it is today’s song. Then “Breaking The Girl” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers played as I drove westbound to New Iberia.

Okay, now we are back in familiar territory.

This is Albert Street in New Iberia.

I’m not entirely sure that I have never done this shot, and I am not about to go look to verify that.

Yeah, it’s nothing special.

Despite being a dark-side shot, this shot at Jefferson Street is better.

That is the Iberia Parish courthouse in the background.

Peartree opens the east siding switch New Iberia for the last time.

Peartree restores the east siding switch New Iberia to the normal position for the last time.

Well, he is tussling with the lock now.

This is why you have to have a good back to be a railroader.

Maybe he is telling ESS New Iberia goodbye here.

Okay, so, right here, Peartree is letting me know that they are going to shove the train down the Midland Branch.

Had he not told me that, I would not have known to get set up for the next seven pictures.

By the time I would have figured out what was happening, it would have been too late to get set up.

Here, the 1702 is just lighting the way, as the 1703 pushes in the back.

This is pretty cool, I guess.

It ain’t like the good old days, though.

There’s CV at the controls, doing the pushing.

So, that’s that.

Now we are back at the depot.

I hope that Krystal and Brandon and company like the pictures.

Tomorrow, Peartree will cross these tracks by foot some final times, but he won’t have a brake stick in his hand.

This is the old SP passenger depot, probably about a hundred years old, which is now the headquarters of the Louisiana & Delta Railroad.

Amtrak’s Sunset Limited stops here, but passengers have no access to the building itself, except to take cover under its overhangs.

It’s a neat old structure.

Here comes CV.

CV will work the ground tomorrow and has the honor of being the last man to work with Peartree.

‘Merica and the L&D is what’s up.

I’ll get one final look up the brick surface of Railroad Avenue before I get out of here myself.

So ends a very memorable day, and I hope that the community of local railroaders, their families, and local railroad enthusiasts (like all four of us) are satisfied with the images and stories here.



{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 Jeff Guidry June 14, 2023 at 11:24

Great stuff and nice photos 👍


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