History Hunts Blog

Following Louisiana's & Mississippi's Historic Railroads

My Ride Reports

Finding the Lumber Mill Railroads

Monday, July 18, 2016

Mississippi: Brookhaven to McCall

Southeast Louisiana, above the hustle and bustle of the "Northshore", is like this. Move north toward the Mississippi border and you can add pines and hills to this scene.
It is also milk cow country.
Remnants of the past are around every corner.
Preserved and not.
Below: The dashes  are the MS and LA state line. 
I skirted the line and then headed due north.
I wanted to stay on the back roads avoiding the US 51 corridor.
Unfortunately, I did not realize the reach of the corridor westward.
The ride up, in places, resembled a rambling "full spectrum" neighborhood.
That congestion would be above the latitude of McComb.
Progress, MS has been reduced to a crossroads. 
Progress to Fernwood
 I hooked up with Fernwood Rd. and took it to where it met US 51. 
Shortly before 51 was Old Industrial Rd. 
Fernwood had been the home base for a railroad, the Fernwood & Gulf, if I remember.
I crossed the CN  tracks, the tracks crossed a creek.
There was a paper bag plant, rip, across the road.
A fella was busy mowing.
Then, after watching the mowing a while, I turned around.
I was at the south end of a large yard. 
Without the map, I think it was the McComb south yard. The Halloween engine seemed appropriate.
On the back side there was a large pond.
Large, man made ponds in this area say "lumber mill" to me. Was it associated with the Fernwood railroad?
The rails were just beyond the pond.
On the map below you can see the  "in town" McComb Yard
and the South Yard where the CN engine was shot.
I took busy US 98 out of town to the west. 
I got off too soon and was still in outlying Brookhaven.
 Then I approached a covered wagon.
An American and Canadian flag hung from behind. I did not pursue in fear of  stampeding the donkeys.
My road deteriorated or improved, depending on your point of view.  I called it an improvement.
Mississippi is like this.
 I had come up Lower Meadville Rd. I should have stayed on US 98. Oh well. I was not that far from Brookhaven. Possibly Zetus was the first depot west of town. Click for Large Size
 I was now at Zetus, above US 84..
A while back I'd followed this railroad from Brookhaven east. 
I wanted to follow it from Brookhaven west, but my vow never to return to Brookhaven again, kept me away.
My solution was to meet the railroad west of Brookhaven, a strategic decision if wanting to 
go west without being in Brookhaven. Zetus is where I landed.
Like Lawrence of Arabia had, I found the railroad.
I was 100 miles from base camp. I'd have to do a  short track tracking as I wanted home before dark. Dark and deer go together in these parts. Hitting a deer on a motorcycle can be terminal.
I believe the mile marker was 89.
Consider the pictures below all of the Zetus crossing until told otherwise. Here another added map which locates some of the pictures below. Zetus is the best road in from Brookhaven. Like most railroads cutting traversing high ground, it follows the streams (blue dashes and sold blue lines). Notice "Smith Grocery". I missed dropping south and checking out  Cobbs where there was a sidetrack like at Zetus which indicates a possible depot. Click for larger size.
I would realize later that I was on the top of a mountain. Heading south would  involve miles of 
free falling.  My estimate is that I was in excess of 600 ft. above sea level. I can check my
gps later.  I did and "492" seems to be the average along here. "600" was a little high.
Yes, you were right, there was a siding. I'll bet it was the location of the Zetus Depot.
I could see the cars pulled over.
I moved west. This would be a No.4 on the map above.
Smith Store, located west of No. 4. This is where I missed going south to Cobb. I was pretty sloppy after my 100 mile ride.
 Seems I really did blow it. There was definitely a depot at Cobbs.
The road west was gorgeous. This is labelled RIV on the map.
This is Posy or Lofton Road on the map.
This is "No.7". I was now in the McCall Creek Valley.
There was something here, next 2 pictures. This is McCall Cr. Road.
 On the map below, green is the railroad, I'm red.
Downhill on Posy/ Lofton Rd.
This one is hard to figure out, and I've tried.
I was near US 84.  Milepost 97 (On map as "Line MP 97). I'd ridden 20 miles, the tracks had gone 8.
The road from Zetus to here had gone straight down dropping a 100 feet in altitude.
Still at MP 97.
This was such a neat place (same location).
There was this overhead wench and something sitting on the top of a stump. 
There were also gears by the gate.
I didn't think I'd gotten a picture of them. Actually, they look like wheels.
There's the thing on the stump.
 OO-L had this to offer about the machine on the stump.  he contraption sitting on the stump looks like an animal-powered cane mill for grinding sugarcane.  The vertical shaft at the top would have had a long pole attached, the other end of which would be attached to a horse, mule, or ox that would walk in a circle around the mill.  The cane stalks would be fed through the square hole on one side, would be mashed between rollers, and the bagasse would come out a similar hole on the other side.  The arched hole on the near side is lower and seems to have a spout on its bottom edge.  That’s where the cane juice would flow out into a barrel to be moved to where it would be cooked down into syrup. Thanks L. Coming off US 84 was yet another "Dummyline Rd". (on Map)
At one time I thought the name reflected a  less than smart family.
Not so.  It is where there was a temporary rail line for the collection of felled trees located.
The trees would be loaded and taken  to a mill or sorting location, then transferred
by another train elsewhere.
I arrived at McCall.  I saw a road going west on the other side of the tracks. I'd follow it.
But first this caught my attention.
Yes, the camping and singing, but, Burt Jordan was the real  find.
I rode west on the rail side road.
Then I saw it beneath the rails which crossed this stream on a lovely arched trestle.
It was the McCall Waterfall.
I wish I could let you listen in.
Not to top that, but next was Caboose Lane.
I found no caboose, but I knew one was near.
I checked.
Back on US 84, across from the post office, was this place.
I returned to Burt Jordan and enjoyed a wonderful ride south.
I'd made it to 99.67. I'd pick up the ride west later.
I want to leave the railroad enthusiast with this 1930's schedule. If I'd had it I wouldn't have missed Cobbs and Lucien.
At some crossroads along the way.
Grandpa's store was across the road. 
She'd put him out of business.
Still on Jordan.
Jordan turned into ....
The clock was ticking and I was in BF Mississippi.  (Backwoods Forest)
Then I saw a landmark, the Old Swampy Methodist Church.
I was soon in Magnolia where I got a few shots of the rail shop I'd missed before.
And a few of the old downtown.
My daughter wanted cow pictures. Thus...
Shortly afterwards I was back at base camp.
I'll add the maps when I get home.

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