SP Leader On The LLS51 At Kraemer Road – 19 December 2003

by Jim on 2023/12/19

Greetings, and welcome to what is a one-picture beginning to a grand finale for 2003 pictures.  The last two weeks of 2003 is when my habit of making large amounts of railroad pictures, mostly local to my southern Louisiana home, in the two-week period around Christmas and New Year’s Day began.  The pattern started the year before right when I first got a radio scanner but did not become solidified until 2003 when I really had learned the radio lingo.

The reason for the pattern, however, is due to a combination of four factors, the first two of which are very related, because both of them are a function of physical geography and that particular time of year.  The first factor is the all-day-long low-angle sunlight that happens in the weeks on either side of the winter solstice, making good lighting for pictures; the second factor is that, for these very same reasons, being outside is rather pleasant this time of year, particularly in humid southern Louisiana.

The third and fourth reasons are due to factors more specific to me personally.  The first of these two personal factors is my particular interest in local and branchline trains that do not usually run on weekends, but, since such trains run every week, this factor is only relevant due to the final factor: the fact that I was working as a school teacher at the time.

Both the miserable heat and the poor summer midday, late-morning, and early-afternoon lighting are reasons that I don’t have as many train pictures from other parts of the year when school was on break – particularly, summer – as I do for the two weeks around Christmas and New Year’s Day.  I would spend most of those two weeks chasing and photographing trains to the point that the quantity of images that I got in those two weeks might not be matched for another several months.

Another benefit of this pattern of behavior is that dusk around the winter solstice happens so early that you can do a full day of train-watching and photography without missing early-evening social activities and also your bedtime, and you can get a full night’s sleep and still be trackside at the crack of dawn the next morning to do all of it again!  Indeed, several of the posts in the next two weeks make mention of evening libations after a day of railroad photography, followed by early-morning photography the next day; if you try to do that in other parts of the year, you’re not going to be getting much sleep!

This pattern continued, even if often waning, throughout my career as a school teacher, and it’s a habit that I at-least-somewhat retain even now as my days as a school teacher are behind me, I almost never drink alcohol anymore, and I have a mostly different set of friends from back in those days.

So, the one picture in this post was made on Friday 19 December 2003, the last day in the year 2003 in which I was required to show up at a paying job location, and it was made right after official knock-off time.  For the remainder of 2003, the only dates on which there will not be blog posts with pictures are The 24th, The 25th, The 28th, and The 29th; of those four dates, the only one that isn’t Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, or a Sunday (days on which local and branchline trains would not be running) is The 29th, and I actually did chase the Lockport Branch train that day, as I did on The 23rd.  The issue on that day was that the skies were very cloudy, and, still imprisoned by film, I took no pictures on that date.

In some ways, being imprisoned by film – specifically, the way in which I was limited to sunny-sky photography – is a fifth factor in why I early-on settled into the habit or pattern of doing so much of my railroad photography in the two weeks around Christmas and New Year’s Day; now in the digital era, even when the ambient air temperature is high, but, especially, when it’s not high, in other parts of the year, cloudy skies are often quite welcome, now that RAW-file technology enables us to make pleasing images in such conditions.

Anyway, getting out of school – i.e., work – on this afternoon of Friday 19 December 2003, I find a train fairly quickly.

This is Union Pacific Railroad train LLS51, the Morgan City Local train based in Avondale, heading west at Kraemer Road east of Raceland at 14:51 CST, and, look!  It’s got an unpatched Southern Pacific locomotive leading!  That is the SP 7133, and the second locomotive is UP 244, a GE B30-7A.

At 16:20, at Lafourche Crossing, I saw a westbound BNSF Railway light power move, just BNSF 4016, in Heritage 2 paint, and BNSF 711, in Santa Fe Warbonnet paint, moving all alone.  This was the first time that I had ever seen such a thing on the Lafayette Subdivision.  It may have something to do with the imbalance of traffic that BNSF runs in this area, with it sending more eastbound through here than westbound through here, an issue that is usually resolved by sending the surplus locomotives back west in westbound trains, but perhaps there was an urgent need for motive power in Lafayette that couldn’t wait on the next westbound train.

My immediate thought when I saw the train was that it was an extra going to make some pickup along the way. There have been a couple of times when extras have originated in Schriever because of a need to drag excessive freight and Maintenance-Of-Way cars to Lafayette.

I also noticed on or before this date that LDRR 1850 was once again the locomotive for the Louisiana & Delta Railroad’s Schriever Job.

That’s all for this post and this day, but stay tuned for much more content for the rest of 2003!


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