History Hunts Blog

Following Louisiana's & Mississippi's Historic Railroads

My Ride Reports

Finding the Lumber Mill Railroads

Monday, July 18, 2016

Mississippi: Wanilla

There is a real turd on the Bookhaven MS Police Department.
His prejudice toward old white people was clearly exhibited. 
I advise being cautious in this place. Isn't that what blacks once said to each other?
He clearly crossed the line in detaining me.
That is explained down the line.
  I've decided to go ahead and fill in between the pictures.
This picture was not taken on the latest foray into the other Magnolia state.
I just kneeded one to begin the story of this outing. My experience in Brookhaven soiled this ride.
For those not familiar with this blog, I follow rivers, bayous, back roads and
railroad tracks, existing and perceived, in search of history.
Lately, as many know and appreciate, they  have been rail related.
Yes, I saw you roll your eyes. There are several "Whys" associated with this outing. My interest in this stretch of railroad, described directly below, is associated with a branch that comes north from Bogalusa, the subject of possibly the last "Into Mississippi" chapter. That stretch, ended at Jackson, MS., originally. Charlie had given me the approximate schedule for the train coming out of and returning to Bogalusa. Those times did not synch with my sleeping habits. Back in 200? I'd met a train in Wanilla, spelled various ways until I get a handle on it. Charlie gave me  a more promising review of where I might catch the train and if I didn't, there would probably be one sitting at Ferguson. Below is how I did it, visiting most of the stops along the way, coming from Brookhaven and working my way across the high country to Wanilla, then across the Pearl River to Ferguson for a great surprise. I had been surprised back in 2005 while following Old MS 27. Wouldn't that alone make  you want to go back?
  BTW: these great fact lists come from HERE.
While reviewing that page, I saw that another RR was in the vicinity.  Many of the names which became familiar on this ride show up below.
Again, I was headed up ancient US 51 into Mississippi. I wouldn't reach the Ferguson Branch until Brookhaven.
I always look around Osyka.
I decided to give the east side of the tracks a better inspection.
It was where the depot had to  have been.
From that vantage point I saw the  historic home that I  had featured, but hadn't shot, 
in the last "Into Mississippi" article. That was a tease to check it out.
I exited Osyka.
Next up was Magnolia.  Did I tell you I once tried to get  married in Magnolia? Now I'm married to a Magnolia, my 100 lb  female  brown Lab, Magnolia May. Yes, Magnolia may or may not depending on her mood.
I think I shot this place a bit south of town. My camera has a pretty good zoomer.
I know this was shooting north.
The mile post is there if you need to calibrate.
While in Magnolia I updated my depot picture.
 South McComb
Canadian National RR  Yard and Sewer Plant.
I've come to notice that many present and past sewer plants were and are adjacent to railroads. I may enlist 00-L, once again, in solving the  mystery of "Why". At the McComb Depot, "Cute" is all I can say about it right now. It was an Illinois Central engine. (switcher). You can google the number and have fun for hours.
 McComb Park I thought the thing might have been a huge train engine turntable at one time. I got down and asked the yard man what it was.  He said they put water in it and people swim there. Winking, he added that it's called a "swimming pool". I realized at that point that I may have a one track mind.
I kept moving north in the park and exited beside this beautiful lake. The mainline
was at the far end.  Any train passing would have made a splendid picture.
 The  Summit, Miss. Depot
I kept thinking that the City of New Orleans would be  coming along.
It's a passenger train made famous by a song if absent in the 60's. Reconsidering that statement, "absent" might be the wrong word.
That overpass looked like a good opportunity.
Looking back at the depot from it.
 Summit The last time I was in Summit, years ago, downtown was empty. I was very depressed thinking it had died.  Not so. It seemed that I was there on Sunday. Friday was all different. Nice new paint on the new blacktop. Looking sharp, Summit.
Summit City Hall and Iberia Parish's courthouses use the same architecture.
It is called, "Foreboding". The cop station next door is similar.
This is my first and last mention of "cops"  in this story. 
Later, I  had an experience in Brookhaven which somewhat soured my outing.
I was accosted for no reason, none, you can't make one up.
I was only sitting on my bike looking at my GPS in a legal parking place out in the open at 
the Brookhaven Amtrak station about the time the train was suppose to arrive. 
I was not near the tracks, I was not near the building. My camera was around my neck.
A patrol car appeared. The occupant asked what I was doing. I probably confused him while trying to explain "railfanning" or whatever. The concept was clearly beyond his consumptive limits.
Why did I  have to produce an ID. Why did I have to wait 15 minutes while it was "run" 
thought homeland security's web of  mistaken identities.  I was fearing a cavity search.
 I'm 65 years old, 5 ft.7 in. and frail, sadly ugly and have one foot in the nursing  home door.  I am not a threat, usually, unless provoked.
He muttered, I  haven't seen you around here before". 
I thought, "Dude, it's a railroad depot". 
The sign says, "Amtrak Transportation Center".  There are  out of town people from Chicago to New Orleans getting on and off trains here.
Are they stopped and rudely told to "stand there" while their pictured ID's are questioned?  Probably not.
He was , simply, a Black Gestapo Terminator.
His intention was clear, hassling the old white guy and hoping I'd react where he 
could cuff me and make me join the other hassled old white guys he has in a cage somewhere.
Shame on Brookhaven for allowing this thug to work as a "law enforcement officer".
He had "Black Panther" written all over him.  He was no better than those at that Philadelphia polling place or the Panthers that put out a bounty on George Zimmeram, an innocent man until found guilty, which he will not be.
That's it. Don't stop in Brookhaven. I won't ever again. I was on Amtrak property. I will inform them.
I have an idea who the "city fathers" are now.  I won't waste my time with them.
I was off to Brookhaven for the last time.  Goodbye,  Summit.
Above Summit
I was thinking that might be Charlie.
Some pictures will forever be a mystery.
A line of boxcars sat in the distance.
South of Brookhaven 
Historic passenger Car Roofs? This fella had made a shed out of them  whatevers.
The bay window reminded me of a depot.
This was prior to the "incident".
The coffee pot on the roof was "cute". After the  "incident"  there were no more cute pictures taken.
The color scheme said "RR". The neighborhood said something else.
Below is an old map of the rail arrangement at Brookhaven. I began to get serious about looking around. I'd be riding the historic Mississippi Central RR, east.
But first,  I'd pay homage to the Brookhaven Depot.
Amtrak has moved to its  present location. Reading that is kinda funny. Where else would it be?
I once liked Brookhaven.
Check the map above. There had been a set of rails next to the red brick warehouse (below) that connected to the line we'll follow going to Ferguson.
 The new Amtrak facility (Ex city incinerator) This is where I met the terminator.
This is the new loading platform.
Depot (incinerator) stack. I would imagine it would be a heck of an antenna pole.
This is the CN yard office area north of the depot.  
These are the Ferguson Branch tracks. They are  the ones I came to follow.
But, first  I'd head out to the CN  North Yard. These are the rails coming in from Ferguson and joining the yard.
 Looking north.
The gray line is me. It seems I crossed a few  historic rails and didn't realize it.
I see 4 tracks in the picture below. They must be farther west now.
The overpass will be in the 2nd picture below.
Looking south from north.
Looking from the north,  to the north,  to the overpass.
Returning to just north of the present AMTK facility, I noticed another sewer plant (RIP) near the mainline. My study of sewer plants and rail proximity is gathering momentum. 
Reflecting  back on  Amtrak (incinerator) depot, it seems Amtrak has likewise gravitated to disposal locations. 
It was time to move east.  I'd try to forget about Brookhaven's "best". He was probably an OK guy just doing his job in need of a little public relations tune up, and an attitude adjustment. But, you won't catch me in Brookhaven Mississippi on a Saturday night.
 I headed  east on the Ferguson Branch. I'll repeat the list. I'd try to hit each of these locations.  
Here's a review: Follow the arrows through Brookhaven.
Although set for adventure, I kept rehashing the past.
Had I been reported?  Did I appear to be from a Arab state?
Maybe? OK, I'll let it go.
I crossed the rails and shot back south from Old US 51.
On the way to Friendship. Ah, now I was feeling better.
Old Wesson is Old US 51. I've been to Wesson. Mz Papillon was checking her makeup.
Airport Road is now Heuck's Retreat Road.
Figuring all this out is demanding.
Friendship runs into Heuck's Retreat. 
Looking east at the rails and Heuck's Retreat Road.
I was off to Carlos.
This explains my present state of  mind.
Just up Clark Travis was the location of Carlos.   (30 car siding)
I have no idea why I went  to where you see my tracks meet "Gloster Southern" besides to check on the tracks.
From the pictures below, it was a good decision.
The ride across the high country looked really nice.
East Maybe?
The  overpass pictures were taken from Haley as it went north.
I'd continue on Haley east.
This is a big map. Scroll side to side.
It takes you from the Haley overpass to the Rafn.
You can see the relief lines getting closer. 
The terrain was getting steeper.
"Gloster Southern" is what my map says.
The Gloster Southern RR was an arm of the Georgia Pacific Paper Co., if not mistaken.
The mill at Ferguson is a Georgia Pacific installation.  But, I can't get bogged down now.
Getting to Rafn is the important objective right now.
Haley would run into Nola and Nola would take me to Woolworth where I'd go north to Rafn.
Rafn Sorry, dating services don't even list this place.
The shot below is likewise shooting west toward 
Brookhaven, but from the  other side of the tracks. Keeping this straight is a pain.
Nevertheless, it  was exciting terrain which needed displaying.
This is shooting east, the direction we are going.
Elevation neared 500 ft. above sea level in these parts. I'm not going to tell you my ears popped.
Traveling north, then east, then south, I arrived in Woolworth. Woolworth (48 car siding) No department store.
The Siding
Back the other way.
Next,  I'd try to get to Sontag but was blocked.
That was OK, the ride was great. Acy Road was a dead end. The tracks crossed International. I had to backtrack to Sontag Nola.
If I hadn't been alone I would have crossed the creek on the bike.
Next, it was Martin Road to Nola Road to Nola Sontag Road.
Up to Sontag. Sontag was a small community but large in comparison.
I crossed the tracks and came back the other way.
The loading door caught my eye. It was probably for trucks.
I'd ride east, then north and then east on Smith Ferry,  a road I'd hoped would 
take me to the foot of the old rail bridge, the target of this History Hunt.
Here,  Smith Ferry comes in from the west into Wanilla.
I'd try for the bridge but you can see where the two rut road took me. There was no landing.
Back at Wanilla, I took a few shots of the "diamond".
Looking north along the abandoned IC (NOGN) to Jackson.  (passed the parked cars)
You can see the old yard on the map above.
I was north of the east-west rails looking south toward Bogalusa.
I'm fairly sure this is looking back toward Sontag.
Looking south toward Bogalusa, again.
A poor shot of the cross track out beyond the east to north wye arm.
Looking east toward Ferguson.
I'd ride to the stop sign and go north (left) to continue east on Smith Ferry.
It would play out in the underbrush.
Looking west toward Brookhaven form the stop sign area.
Looking  east toward Ferguson.
Looking east from Wanilla.
I was here, I wasn't giving up until I saw it all. I talked to a local and he said if it was up to him, he'd let me take a look at the bridge. But, he'd only seen it by boat. He added that it had a big wheel to turn it. It was last turned in 1906. River traffic has been slow to none since then.
 Going east over the Pearl River. It is gorgeous. Too bad the picture is mostly bridge.
I cruised in the Georgia Pacific Mill front gate off of US 84 and started shooting. Yes, there is a "Visitor's Parking Lot".
I could see no rails from the Visitor's Parking. I went back to US 84 
and went east  to the blinking light, then north to the rails.
I followed my nose and the sign.
The left side looked private, the right side looked public. 
I went public, stopping on the crossing looking back toward the bridge.
I knew my time was limited.  A good shot of the mill presented itself.
I rode west until I saw a guy crossing the yard on a mule. I turned 
and headed back east.
Charlie said there would be an engine there. Sure enough. But...
Catching the Ferguson sign was the hit out of the ballpark.
This is where the above pictures were taken.
Right here.
I called Gildorf.  In 30 minutes we were off in his peddle air mobile, me doing the majority of the effort.
This is south of the mainline.  I would exit going south on that road to the right.
This is as far south as I saw cars at the mill.
Moving north from the location above.
This is the main yard where I came in.
Heading west toward the bridge.
Oh my goodness, I caught the train leaving. 
Heading into Wanilla.
You can see the once complete diamond track formation.
Back at the bridge the train was gone.  I'm not kidding.  I couldn't find it again.
In an anti - climatic mood I stopped in Tylertown. I'd learned a little more about the Fernhill RR.  It's tracks had gone west to just below Brookhaven.  I found  remnants 
next to the redecorated warehouse. The blacktop road is probably the ROW or next to it.
It's called Railroad St.
That's how she went to the depot. 
I'm gone, too.  More later. Update: That is the Fernwood Depot. The NOGN / GMO depot is to the left, not shown.

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