Southern Pacific Locomotive Leading The LLS51 – 30 December 2003

by Jim on 2023/12/30

This set of images was made in the afternoon of Tuesday 30 December 2003, but, first, I must tell you about the train-chasing from the day before that didn’t involve picture-taking.  Please read my December 19 piece previewing these late-December-2003 posts that explains the large quantity of pictures that I historically took late in Decembers and how the Lockport Branch was a specific focus.

First, The Unphotographed Day Before

So, before I get to the pictures taken on the 30th, I will describe the unphotographed events of the 29th.  The Lockport Branch was served on the 29th.  Unfortunately, the sun never came out, and, unfortunately, I was imprisoned by film and stuck in a mentality that I shouldn’t take pictures under such dark conditions, which somewhat made sense if the only film in my possession is slow-speed film good for brighter days.

I ventured southward around noon, and I caught up with the train as it was making its return trip to Raceland. It had two boxcars, and three tank cars, but the three tank cars were almost surely for Raceland Sugar that the crew just brought Valentine so it could run around them.

It was fun to watch the train in the rain, but I took no pictures.

Tom Blackwell had suggested that I shoot black-and-white film in such weather.

Now with digital photography, with RAW capability, and with my Adobe Photoshop skills, I can do great work in such weather conditions, but, back then, such was not the case.  While I had gained considerable skill in composition and lighting by that young age, I was like a fish out of water when there weren’t rays illuminating the subject.

So, I went to the classroom and spent a few hours doing some work.

Earlier, I had heard the BNSF Railway Lafayette Subdivision dispatcher comment that the westbound Sunset Limited was early. Not long after, I heard the Bayou Des Allemands bridge tender, back when there still was such a thing, give a “highball rollby” to the #1 at 13:05.

When I left to go home around, there was a fairly long bare-table train (I didn’t record which direction) parked in Raceland. An eastbound manifest soon passed it.  Another eastbound train, this one relatively short, stopped in Schriever to make a one-car setout.

That’s all for the train reporting for Monday, The 29th.

The Day, With Photographed SP Goodness

Now, we are getting to Tuesday’s pictures, pictures from the 30th.  Unlike the previous day, the sun was out in full force on this day, and a couple of local foamers and I witnessed some action.

Union Pacific Railroad train LLS51, the local train based in Avondale that works its way as far west as Morgan City, came westbound into Schriever at around 14:30ish and set out three or four boxcars for Lockport Branch, which I thought at the time might be served the next day, which was supposed to be sunny!

The train had SP 7133 and UP 244 as power.  As I was doing with the Lockport Branch, I was trying to get as many shots of this set of locomotives as I could. It had a clean, unpatched SP locomotive in the lead, and this was exceedingly rare even on the eve of 2004.  I knew that this would last forever, and it didn’t last much longer than this.

Yes, there is some weird issue with the scans of this set of images.  Maybe I will be able to do better when I get my own film scanner.

In this next image, the train is done its work in Schriever and is leaving town westbound.

I believe that those hopper cars and tank cars were Monsanto cars, because this was the time period in which the Monsanto work was assigned to this train because it was on the verge of being abolished.

Finally (at least for this train), I ended with the sweet shot at Chacahoula.

I like that!

At about 16:43, back at Chacahoula, I photographed a big westbound UP manifest train with eleven locomotives!  This was the MNOHO-30.

The lead locomotive was a blue CEFX 3115, followed by some patched (NYC) Conrail standard-cab GE. I could have sworn I saw a speed-lettered SP B-boat in there too.  At the front of the train were several cars of coiled steel.

The WAFB weatherman that night said that the next day would be a “glorious day”!

We shall see.


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