December 2003 Images

by Jim on 2023/12/31

This is a compilation post compiling links to all of the single-day posts of pictures made in December 2003.  If you are here only for the links and URLs to those day posts, you can just scroll down to them, even though reading the background information here can help you better understand all of that content.

The Background Information

I have a habit of making large quantities of railroad pictures in the two-week period surrounding Christmas and the New Year’s holiday.  This combined with my habit of posting pictures on the anniversaries of them being taken (because I don’t know any way to share my pictures that makes more sense) is why I now (in this case, since this is being written in December 2023, two decades after the images here were made) make a huge amount of social media posts starting a little bit less than a week before Christmas and ending on or a few days after New Year’s Day.

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 at my latitudes 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 southern Louisiana, which is almost always oppressively hot and humid starting in late April and lasting sometimes into October.

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 humidity and the poor summer midday, late-morning, and early-afternoon lighting are reasons that I don’t have as many local 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.  Yes, I have far more local train pictures from the two week period around Christmas and New Year’s Day than I do of the 10 weeks off I had due to the summer break.

I would spend most of the two weeks at the end of a year and beginning of the next one chasing and photographing local trains to the point that the quantity of images that I got in those two weeks might not be matched for another several months.  (The only time that I have traveled far from home and took plenty of pictures during that time of the year was at the end of 2006 and beginning of 2007 when I was in northern Mexico.)

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.

The December 2003 Pictures

With one exception, all of the following blog articles were composed in the very latter part of 2023 and published on the twentieth anniversary of the images being made.  The exception is the December 23 essay, which was published on the tenth anniversary of the images being made, as the story that it tells is of a subject near and dear to me and also part of the point of the habit described in the first several paragraphs of this article.

December 5 – This is just one picture, of a Mountain Laurel locomotive on its way into Raceland Raw Sugar on a Friday afternoon.

December 6 – This was, apparently, the first time that I took action pictures both at either of the Boeuf spurs and at the Port Of Morgan City.

December 7 – This was a heck of a day!  The blog article contains only four pictures, but so much was happening – or would soon happen – there on this Sunday.  A train that I photographed later derailed, and behind it was a train led by a high-nosed locomotive.

December 8 – This is just one picture of an interesting train, Union Pacific Railroad’s QLUCB, and how its lateness was a result of the derailment that happened the day before.

December 19 – This is just one picture of a Southern Pacific railroad locomotive leading the Union Pacific Railroad local train, but, as a picture on the Friday afternoon before Christmas, it is the start of the big holiday, the big grand finale of my pictures for the year, and the essay includes a description of the reasons for this grand finale.

December 20 – This is a relatively insipid quartet of images that shows railroad action in and between the Louisiana communities of Schriever and Morgan City on a Saturday.

December 21 – This is another relatively insipid quartet of images that shows railroad action between the Lafourche Crossing and Morgan City on a Sunday.

December 22 – The story for the set of pictures made on this day, a Monday, is an excellent example of the dynamic described at the beginning of this post.  My big goal on this day was to see, chase, and photograph a train on the Lockport Branch, because this would be the first day in months that I could experience action on this branch that was served only on weekdays, but the railroad had other plans; as a result, given that I had blocked out the entire day for train chasing, that’s what I did, just of trains on the mainline rather than of any train on the branch.

December 23 – This was my soulful rendition, mostly written the next day, Christmas Eve of 2003, of my chase of the Lockport Branch train that day, a Tuesday, published here on 23 December 2013.  I can hear “The Warmth” by Incubus as I view the pictures.

December 26 – This one is brief; it includes a late-afternoon westbound train at Chacahoula and some Friday night shots at Schriever of a train stopped to make a pickup.

December 27 – This was a memorable day!  It was memorable for the neat old locomotives pulling the two trains that were my targets on this Saturday between Christmas and New Year’s Day, some classic second-generation EMD power, all but two of which was wearing a fallen-flag paint scheme.

December 30 – On this day, a Tuesday, I got some shots of the Union Pacific local train led by a clean Southern Pacific locomotive.

December 31 – This is how the year ends, with a rather gentle set of clean and balanced images on a Wednesday, even if the hope had been to chase the Lockport Branch train on this day.

That’s all!


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