Exploring – Opelousas Alternative, Acadiana Nonetheless

by Jim on 2022/12/20

Jimbaux hears records in his head everywhere that he goes
He's got records in his head spinning out of control
They go round and around and again
Round and around and again
Round and around and oh yeah
Records in his head

Something Different

Well, today was a good day! I explored places that I had not before explored.

The plan for the day centered around catching the Acadiana Railway train from Eunice to Crowley, as I have done in the past, but, unlike in all past times, I had a solid backup plan in case the train was not to my satisfaction, which I knew was likely, hence the plan.

The specific problem is that these trains usually have at least one car that is badly graffitied.

I crossed the tracks on the track on Riceland Road at 6:54, and I crossed I-10 at 6:56. MAF has definitely been on my mind lately, and I really wish that she wasn’t! Get out of my head!

I arrived at East Magnolia Avenue in Eunice at 7:32, and rain soon began to fall rather steadily though not really heavily. I was hoping that the rain would stop soon! The locomotive was not on.

Here is a view of another locomotive that is just rotting away, sadly.

I have been listening to plenty of Incubus lately, and I listened to the full S.C.I.E.N.C.E. album for the first time yesterday. 

I am about to resume reading the new book from Wray. 

Right as the crew got there, I experienced a problem with the latch on my driver side door. It wouldn’t close!

I got scared!

But I remembered that I had had this problem before and that there had been a relatively simple fix, that I had perhaps looked it up on YouTube. I just realized that I had to pull the door-unlock handle and then move the latch.

Eventually, the locomotive is turned on.

I then went to Burger King, and the woman at the drive-thru talk radio thing greeted me with “what combo can I get for you?” I told her that I didn’t want to combo. She responded by asking me how could she help me, which should have been the first thing that she asked!

So, I got set up to do a new shot from the water treatment plant, where some dudes were lookin’ at me all funny.

Well, I think that I know what is about to happen.

Yeah, there is the dreaded graffiti. This would be a cool-looking train without that graffiti, and I harbor anger at the pathetic jerks who defaced the cars thus.

Well, at least this last shot minimizes the graffiti well.

The train has 10 cars; the first is a boxcar, the next three are hopper cars, and the last six are boxcars. Most of them are badly graffitied on both sides, which is both disappointing and liberating, as I now get to go do something else, although I chased the train a little way southward just to get one or two more shots of it.

So, here we are at the Highway 3116 crossing.

That curvy road makes the shot.

These views are okay, even good, but damn that graffiti.

That bluish boxcar would look great if it had not been vandalized.

To hell with people that do that stupid crap.

I decided that I would go east to Opelousas. In going to Opelousas, from Eunice, I would be traveling the one stretch of US Highway 190 between Baton Rouge and Kinder on which I had yet to ride.

Of course, I would make little diversions, like this one on Willie Young Road.

This is a view southward back toward Highway 190 across a rice field.

We’re right by – just south of – the railroad crossing. Let’s look north and get one more shot of the garbage truck well north of the tracks.

Here is a westward view at the crossing.

Here is the eastward view at the crossing.

I continued eastward, not in a huge hurry because I didn’t have any particular train to catch, even though I was going to try to see some Acadiana Railway action in Opelousas.

There is an old Missouri Pacific Railroad transfer caboose by the side of the road west of Lawtell! No, I didn’t get pictures.

I did stop in Lawtell, though.

At 9:59, east of Lawtell, as I was traveling eastbound, I encountered a westbound train of all hopper cars, mostly Union Pacific family cars, presumably a grain train. A Norfolk Southern Railway locomotive was the lead locomotive. The other locomotives, at least as best as I could tell, were yellow Union Pacific Railroad locomotives. No, I am not going to break off of my nearly-completed journey to Opelousas to chase this train.

When I passed Dominique’s Stockyards, I figured that I was really coming into Opelousas.

I got some pictures with the tablet-computer as I drove into Opelousas.

I was fascinated by the remains of the old Texas & Pacific Railway track and the old Southern Pacific track in the old part of Opelousas, but I quickly crossed the still-active old Gulf Coast Lines mainline and found some Acadiana Railway action on old SP track.

There it is, mes amis. This is the first Acadiana Railway action that I photograph that isn’t on the Eunice-Crowley Branch.

Supposedly, the AKDN 1500 is the last locomotive wearing Gateway Western paint.

This is the Ventura Foods plant.

This was the original mainline of SP predecessor New Orleans, Opelousas & Great Western, from New Orleans to Alexandria.

The line from Lafayette to Alexandria long ago became a branch.

Sometime in the early 1980s, the line from Opelousas to Alexandria was abandoned.

Sometime in the early 1990s, the line from Lafayette to Opelousas was abandoned.

I went ride northward to see what apparently is a storage yard.

I don’t know if this yard dates from the SP days, if it was built during UP’s brief ownership of this line after SP left the area but before the Acadiana Railway was created, or if it is an Acadiana Railway creation.

Here is a view back southward.

Here is a zoomed in image.

I think that it’s sad that this line stopped being a through route. This would have been great for passenger-train service connecting Lafayette with Alexandria and points farther north, and the BNSF Railway and the Kansas City Southern Railway might have liked access to the Ventura Foods plant, with a way for KCS to have directly interchanged with the Louisiana & Delta Railroad.

I then went westward to the area of the Acadiana Railway shops.

Check out the GP30!

I love GP30s, and this is the first time in years that I see one.

Then, I photographed cars at the Cal Chlor facility.

This is mildly interesting.

It reminds me of an operation with very-similar-looking cars in Raceland.

I wonder if it is carrying the same product.

I wish to know what the product is and what its use is.

This is a bit of a strange area.

We will have a look back toward those locomotives, which are at the Acadiana Railway’s locomotive shops and headquarters.

Wow, it’s almost like a museum.

Look at the other GP30 on the other end of the facility, at the far right of the picture.

Let’s get a better look at it.

Look, there is even a caboose there!

Okay, there was not really anything else to see here; so, I left.

I then went and walked around parts of downtown Opelousas, and the next 40 or so images shared here are from that walk.

This place is very interesting.

To take this walk, I parked my truck in and overflow parking lot for a bank, and I talked to a guy who lived across the street from it, asking him if it was okay that I parked there.

He said it was and that he sometimes Parts there himself during a wind storm to avoid having a tree branches hit his automobile.

He was a nice guy, and he said his mother was from Houma after I told him that I was from Lafourche Parish. His cat came out and let me pet him. I mentioned to him that this town look like it had had some Pizzazz and potential at one time it still has potential, and he said that yes, the opening of I-10 killed the town and at the opening of I-49 breathe a little bit of life back into it but not much.

This area right here is where the main town square, or the courthouse, is.

I’m going to try to find food.

That’s interesting.

I am on the western side of the square here.

Okay, that is where I will eat.

I want something very local, not a chain.

Alone, I sat at the bar.

This kind of experience was once more common for me.

Now, I find it almost alien, and that makes me feel sad.

The meal that I ate, a BLT sandwich and fries, was good, but it really didn’t feel me. I was quite hungry only a couple of hours later.

Still, I would return to this place.

So, there was this old map in the back that really caught my attention.

I had interesting encounters with the waitresses and these elderly ladies who are sitting by a map that I was trying to photograph, a map that looked just like some that I use when I taught geography. My interest in the map caught their attention, and we talked.

I have been thinking about MAF and about how she is an example of someone who is influenced by the geography guy, whereas she went far away and he stayed home.

Okay, so, it’s time to leave.

I leave.

I continue walking downtown and will return to my truck a different way.

So, here is a very interesting building.

This structure was originally a furniture store built in the mid 1940s.

It eventually became part of city hall.

Here is the plaque explaining it all.

There is a music scene here.

I like that this town has an appreciation for its own history.

I was thinking about how we could use some national public currency to open up arts centers in downtowns across the country.

This would help businesses spring up in downtown, and we can rejuvenate downtowns, integrating this with bicycle trails and other public transit options to reduce aggregate resource use.

Maybe I will do this again at some point.

So, I learned some things that could be useful even from a construction business standpoint, and I was pondering that as I was walking downtown Opelousas.

This place is neat.

It has so much potential.

Maybe one day I will go to the museum, but today is not that day.

So, here are northward views of the track, the UP’s ex-GCL mainline, at North Main Street.

So, I think that about here is where the GCL and Missouri Pacific passenger depots were.

So, Opelousas is very difficult to foam due to the tight nature of the track the of the UP mainline track in town, as there’s almost no space between the track and buildings and trees. I had a clue about this when I saw Skip Waters’s imagery of the UP 4014 visiting Opelousas and wondered that was the best shots that people could get over there. As it turns out, I see why! It’s just very tight there, and I more recently got that impression from using Google Satellite View.

So, I do not know what this knowledge portends for future visits there.

This is at milepost 590.6, measured from Brownsville, Texas.

Whatever entity occupies this building today does not seem to have ever been a railroad customer, but I wonder what was delivered or shipped here back in the day.

Here is the library.

Okay, so, finally, this walk ended. I got back into the truck.

I stopped by the “Opelousas Catholic” school.

I remember hearing about this place when I was a teenager.

I assumed then that it was a high school, and maybe it was at one time, but I am not sure that it is a high school.

Oh, well.

Here is the Michael Prudhomme home, supposedly the oldest structure in the area.

That’s neat.

Here is the Mount Olive Missionary Baptist Church.

Then, I went to the area of lumberyards and thought about the potential for railroad service here.

Next, after 13:00, I went and sat in my truck just south of the railroad crossing at Garland Avenue in Opelousas waiting for some potential or possible railroad action to happen here, hopefully, the Union Pacific local train, but maybe the Acadiana Railway, too, as this spot is just east of the interchange yard. This little stretch of track where I was sitting with the jointed rail reminds me of some places on the KCS Gulfport subdivision before it was rebuilt more than a decade ago.

I got a little bit of reading done here by the track before the train that I had photographed earlier showed up.

The AKDN 1500 is shoving four tank cars from the old SP trackage to the interchange yard.

This is not super exciting, but it has satisfied my curiosity.

Something is wrong with my mid-range lens.

It might be difficult to tell in this tiny jpeg.

These next few shots are about some of the best of the day.

The crew is attaching the tank cars to some hopper cars for UP to pick up.

This next shot is the shot of the day.

I like it!

The crew wanted to pose for a shot.

That’s the first time that that has happened to me in a while.

That’s cool.

Now, they’re going to bring the locomotive back to the shop and will be done the work for the day.

He stops to check a handbrake.

That’s all for my time in Opelousas today. The crew told me that the UP local train had already come earlier today. So, satisfied with my walk through town, I didn’t have much of a reason to stay in town.

As I drove southward on Highway 182 at 14:08 and had the radio tuned in to 106.3 FM, I heard the new “I hear records in my head” song by Weezer.

And, yes, I do! I do hear records in my head everywhere that I go! I really can relate to that song.

I passed the intersection with Highway 358 at 14:10.

“What I’ve Done” by Linkin Park played right after. Now, this light them up I’m on fire song” is playing. I don’t know who sings this. Then “Desperately Wanting” by Better Than Ezra played.

I was really hungry as I was approaching Lafayette, and I was thinking about the Raising Cane’s in Lafayette. I haven’t eaten at Raising Cane’s so the time I came back from Thibodaux on November 16th and ate at the one in New Iberia, which I guess isn’t all that long ago, but it’s not likely that I’ll eat there again for a while.

I changed my mind about what I was going to eat. I’m probably going to eat those fried chicken bites in my salad tonight for supper. I had forgotten that this Highway 182 would put me right up on the Whataburger, which is the Whataburger at which I most often eat, but from the other direction.

So, at 1435, here I am waiting in the line at Whataburger. Oh, well. Look, today has been a good day. I learned plenty. It’s also made me want to explore this area more, even though it’s also made this kind of get out of my system. There just is not a good place to hang out in Opelousas and just wait for trains to come by and read actually. Actually, that spot at the Acadiana Railway yard was a good place to sit and read, but there are to be no trains to pass there after the one I saw and photographed today.

At 14:53, and I’m pulling up by Lafayette Yard – there is only one – to eat the burger that I just got from Whataburger. There is a power set moving in the yard with Union Pacific and Norfolk Southern power, which is unusual now!

Even if this thing becomes a train that is about to depart westbound, I’m not inclined to chase it simply because there aren’t any decent shots for a good ways west of here, at least none that I know, not that I’ve really scoped it out thoroughly, but it’s nothing like back home, and I didn’t appreciate how good the shot options were back home or even basically anywhere east of New Iberia until I fully moved out here.

Finally, at 15:45, I am parked alongside American Boulevard about to head back to the homestead.

Appropriately, the sun came out today just as I was photographing the LDRR 1717 and the LDRR 1850 parked at the crossing right here!

That’s all for the pictures for today, and that’s a really good way to end it.

At 16:47, I arrived back at the homestead after stopping at the Dairy Queen to get a blizzard, which I rarely do on any days other than big picture days like this one, which are now quite rare for me.

That’s all, merry Christmas, and happy new year. It’s very, very unlikely that I’ll get out and again to take pictures before 2023.

Peace to all.


{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 Jack Green December 15, 2023 at 09:39

Enjoyed the excellent photos. Thanks for the tour. Merry Christmas


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