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Monday, July 18, 2016

The Gulf Mobile & Ohio Railroad Reports

This is all of my old articles on the GMO stacked together. I had one that traced the Franklinton Branch but that got blown up after encountering a rude group of old farts. These trace the railroad from Slidell up to Bogalusa. Other writes on this blog, including the "Returning to Mississippi"  group, have bits and pieces of the old GMO route mentioned and photographed in them.


This is what remains of my GMO collection. I may do the whole thing again some day. RIO: I was out here just saying goodbye for a while or longer. I'd combed Rio looking for GM&O railroad evidence until the cows came home and they shewed me off. "Who's that nut", I'd hear reverberating from the piny woods. They'd be right about the classification of nut.
I'd ridden up from Sun after going to the lock and was going to make a loop home on 1074 from Rio on down to La.16 to Enon, then back to the high place to do the watch thing.
I crossed this little bridge knowing I was shadowing the old railroad bed. I saw the remains of a trestle. That railroad was torn up in 1978 or bouts so you do the math, I have a hard time doing that borrowing thing. In that time much has disappeared. Anything left has graduated to archeological heirloom status, yes, even old trestle pilings. To each his own.
I rode back and forth looking for a good angle for a shot. None was available. I was faced with a decision. I know you just want to look at the pictures, but you are going to have to wade through this first. I had to make a decision. Would I chance getting shot wandering onto another man's land, unfenced or not, or go to the house and ask him if I could take a picture and be again looked at like I was from outer space. I almost went for the chance to get shot and then backed off. That was a great decision. I had heard a 4 wheeler running so I knew someone was around and getting shot was looking likely. There was. I rolled up to Jim's house and he was outside. I told him who I was and asked him not to call the cops. I told him I wanted a shot of his trestle. Jim's about my age, sixtyish. He's lived there all his life and had ridden the train, heard the fast passenger trains pass and knew it all. He just talked and talked and then I asked if there had been a station, which I knew there had been since the town, previously called Jenkinsville was named R 10 or Rio for the station number. Jim's artist aunt had painted the station and a little country store that had been across the street. He also told me about the little school busses that rode on the rails. I forgot their name. Later. What should I show you next?
Ok, here's Jim's trestle. It was pretty much covered with vines but you can make it out. First I want to show you Jim's 1951 M37 Ammunition Carrier It's a Dodge I think he said.
Andy just wrote and said this, "Really liked that PC, Personnel Carrier, what we called them in the Marines. I worked on those things for about a year when in the motor pool. Tough as nails".
I knew I was wrong but the light seemed to say "ammo" to me. Jim gave me so much info on so much I forgot it all, almost. It runs but the battery is bad. It is complete with the red warning light. I remember that.
It's not pink, it's red. Don't get any ideas.
Cool, huh.
Ok, here's the trestle. It is over Sal's Branch, up above Wright's Creek that went through Sun. It's all starting to come together, huh?
This is taken, obviously, from on top. All that is missing is the rails and some other stuff, no doubt.
Here's looking back toward the main line and Jim's house.
These are his aunt's paintings. He gave me a bunch of railroad contact names and offered to take me to another trestle down the road that was real big and in a beautiful setting. Jim's brother was waiting for him and was none to happy he'd been escaping work on the farm by talking to me, so, I told him I'd just use his name as an introduction. It was getting too late to go barging in on someone at the dinner table so I'm saving that until later. Oh, Jim's older brother just got back from riding his bike to Alaska. He said he thought Canada was prettier.
All the news that is news, fair, balanced and unafraid.
And R 10.
I felt that my years of exploring the GMO had ended fruitfully. The sadness of seeing that beauty spot spoiled at the Slidell station had been erased by that little painting.
Next, I'm going to get that other trestle. It ain't over yet. Back to Slidell
I'd just finished a long ride down to Norco and I didn't want to head out on another biggie. I was not feeling creative so I decided to play one of my simple games of Find the Tracks. The GPS actually shows me where they are. It is my part to see if the roads which it says can get me to them, can. Usually, I fail because hunting clubs have seized many an old forest road that once was open. I decided that I'd see if I'd missed any chances at finding the old Gulf Mobile and Ohio bed from Hickory (La.36 near La.41) to Slidell (I-59,I-10 and I-12), Southeast Louisiana, USA. (we are internationally read, some in Texas)
The next pictures won't mean diddly to you. They are the few instances where I did commune with the old bed headed to Slidell. Garmin Topo is the software I use. It is old, so old it doesn't show many Interstates, but it does show historical, real historical, abandoned rail beds, grave yards, churches, trails, and a bunch of off the wall stuff.
Here's the bed as it crosses the flat coastal plain of southeast LA headed to Slidell which sits at the southeast corner of Lake Pontchartrain. I just uploaded a large map. The thumb is below, click on it. You can see how fruitless most of my attempts were. My tracks are the white dotted line. The rails can be seen angling down.
Here's the disappearing evidence.
I followed the tracks through town toward the station. The track crossing at US190 and US11 was under destruction/construction. I could not get across without fighting through gridlock. Finally, I got to the station and maneuvered to its rear where there is a park. What I saw was sad. The last remnants of the side track to the maintenance/storage area have been pulled up and I'm sure the bed will be leveled. I had originally thought, before the software, that it had been the old GMO/IC line north. No, like I said, it just went to a work area. Again, below is a thumb of a map. Click on it and look for "yard" and "station" down near where "SLIDELL" is written.
This is what the siding looked like a few years back. Very picturesque. It would have been perfect for a caboose or other rail car or engine. They blew it. Remember, this is a park. The exhibit could have rolled to the site.
Not so picturesque anymore.
Entrails lay about.
No spikes were to be seen. "Collectors"?
Here's the back of the station from a couple of angles.
Next, I decided to check out where the old GMO and later, Illinois Central, took off to the north. I could see the branch on the map. More horrible urban maneuvering was to be done. I could have walked it faster. It's located at the 190/11 intersection, viewable from the Rouses Grocery parking lot, where I'd been.
And here's the historic switch. I embellish.
Next, I went north from the parking lot to see if I could get to where the old west bound IC tracks branched from the north route. I first took this picture.
PS: the IC tracks (Illinois Central for those not well endowed in rail talk, such as myself) are now the Tammany Trace, a wonderful hiking and bicycling route. Very nice.
Seeing what looked like an arm of a "Y" (wye in rail talk), I zoomed out. I may have shot the south arm of the "Y" or a side track.
The wavy looking tracks denote that the camera was zoomed way way out (photographer talk).
I ain't claiming nothing, so hold the phone calls. If it's not the wye, make believe, I do. Life ain't that serious.
After doing what I could in that area, or at least doing what I thought I could, I headed back to the station for some frontal shots, just to make the article complete and maybe a little more spicy.
That's the best one. There was a lot of clutter, stop signs, cars and wires, etc.
There's a neat old building across the street. Let's call it a hotel though it probably wasn't.
Next, it was back to Road Wars. I wanted to find that old work area where the ripped rails had gone. This is what I found. I had to turn up the imagination to full.
I crept inside the fence, carefully positioning myself for a better picture. All at once the gate started closing. I'd be trapped inside. An Indiana Jones moment was upon me. I ran, jumped and rolled under the crushing barrier. Picking myself off the ground, I scrambled to the waiting bike and hit the starter, nothing, I hit it again and it roared to life. I slammed her into gear, the dern thing wheelied and I fell off the back, splitting my pants.
Next, while maintaining a rating of G sitting position uponst the motorcycle, I took a picture of these cute little houses that have been the witness to so much railroading.
Again, I was (still gracefully) sitting in traffic at the crossing when a parade of rr (railroad) tools began to roll by. They'd been working on the crossing and I guess they were headed to Motel Trainville for the night.
Here is one I lust for. It looks like a RV Coach. Man, how fun would that be!!!
Yes, and I'd like the orange one, please.
That was a good afternoon, if not a little sad and maddening and of course exciting and embarrassing. What you want, it was just an afternoon?
The next afternoon, after work, I headed back up to Rio or R 10. There I saw an old trestle and decided to ask the land owner if I could go on his property and shoot it. The treasure chest opened. This man knew stuff. He was a local historian and photographer. His aunt had painted the old station and adjoining country store. No, Frank, she's an artist, not a painter painter. I know what you were thinking. You'll have to wait until tomorrow for that. Later, Steve
There was once a ten page article on the GMO. That was trashed when I blew up the website. These parts will be reassembled. Until then consider this a peek.
Thought the Sun Engine was not part of the GMO, but owned by a sand company, it was along their route and much of that are is covered here.
The Little Engine at Sun
Taking a break from the drudge of moving, I looked through my old pile of information printed off the net that I never use. I found a list of a number of old steam engines in Louisiana. Since I've revived my interest in train stuff, I thought it worth rereading. I saw one was listed in Sun,La., a stones throw down one of Louisiana's sweetest roads, actually, two of them, which would make a nice little loop to the envisioned prize and back. The information described the engine as being at "Sand Company" and that it was "stored". Both, no longer true.
I am getting away ahead of myself. Obviously, from the picture at the top of the page, I found it. Finding it was the Holly Grail of a long adventure and hours of research covering this part of Louisiana and a certain GM&O Railroad. The map, below, shows the route of the extinct line in purple and a great touring route in yellow. The sections of the GMO that no longer exist, locally, ran from Bogalusa to Slidel. At Rio (actually "R-10", the station number), a side line went west and then north to Franklinton, LA and Tylertown, MS. I've ridden the whole thing and taken pictures of the bed wherever I could. I know, strange, but bear with me.
Well, you'll have to if you want to see all of the engine.
Right Click the map and choose to open in new window. Fred, the map gets big.
That works with the pictures, also.
Below are pictures of my past exploits up and down and around the GM&O line.
The GMO at La.36, west of Florenville, headed to Slidell and as close to the Pearl River as a line would want to be.
Here's the GMO at La.60. A powerline has used the Right Of Way of the defunct railroad. Next stop going west would have been Zona, and then on to Franklinton and and Tylertown.
Here are a couple of shots from Rio (rye-oh). That's the way the natives pronounce it. As I said, the town was named after station R-10. The natives saw R10 as Rio, not to be confused with rio, "river" in Spanish. No comment.
Mz Guzzi did not understand her location. I told her she was on a rail bed. She, no doubt thinking of a place to recline.
That is looking from Rio towards Bogalusa, just to keep you oriented.
South of Rio, the old bed is now a driveway.
West of Rio, out the branch line, the rails crossed Talley's Creek at Stein. I had a nice conversation with some friendly "older" fellas there. They told me the railroad would take folks to Flanklinton on the weekend to go shopping and, I guess, to have a day on the town, a movie, maybe. Franklinton is the parish seat of Washington Parish, a parish rich in forest from which the lumber industry prospered and for which these rails were laid. The parish fairgrounds houses one of the big GMO engines, well worth the ride. I was told that it was getting a face lift.
I was too late. I believe this is where the Rio station had been.
I have a bunch more, want to see them? Just kidding. I realize those pictures represent the source of the saying, "Well, I guess you needed to be there", to appreciate them. Being there in the sometimes very still quiet, does invoke the imagination. I have seen a flash of light that I knew was an engine coming at me from down a rail-less ROW. That was a moment. Those pictures also represent hours of fun exploring some archeology of a recently gone era. I never expected to find what I have near Sun, Louisiana. I wonder if the person who laid his driveway on the rail bed ever sees the lights or thinks about ghost trains? Not yet, or he'd have moved the driveway.
PS: There are GMO stations still in existence in Slidell and Tylertown. The Franklinton station is recently gone, a hardware store is now there. The Tylertown station is now a garden supply store. It is in a historic part of town on the south side, again, worth the ride.
On the next page, we'll look around Sun and down the "tracks".
Last night, when I wrote the first page, I was on top of the world about finding the old engine. Then I made the mistake of contacting the person who had posted the list to tell him I found one and had pictures for him. He said he had a picture of it already and he knew right where it was. Period. That was it. He offered no praise or congratulations. I was crushed. :)Fred. When I offered my pictures, he said he'd like "some" of them. I looked to the North Star for guidance on which ones to send him. After receiving them all, he sent me some dumb form letter saying he had
posted..................none
posted.................none
posted.................none
And that these were on his site.
That was very personal.
Like I care. I was just trying to enhance his site.
What a twit. Is there something about old __arts with train websites? I've run into this pompous attitude before. Is it contagious? Gee, I hope not.
Sorry, I don't mean to slander the elderly, being one. He may be a young __art. But, honest, he smacked of old [like me]. Rant over, for a while.
Back to the story of finding the little engine that could no longer.
As I said, I was taking an afternoon break. The weather was perfect and it had been dry for a few days. I know one very fine dirt/gravel road that connects La.40 to La.437 just south of the Boga Chitto Bridge at Enon. Some of you oldsters might remember Enon as where the locals strung piano wire across the trails to surprise the enduro riders. Truth or rumor, who knows?
Here's my road, no piano wire.
Soon to be black berries lined the road. Snakes love black berries. I hate snakes.
Oh, for a true enduro motorbike.
The road then plunges into the Bogue Chitto backswamp where there is no telling what you will see. That actually goes for most of Southeast Louisiana. Hell, that goes for all of Louisiana. Then, there's Mississippi. Just be ready.
I parked and looked around. Now I'm parked and looking around for the rest of the swamp pictures.
Found it: ribbitt, ribbitt, croak.
I popped out on 437 and crossed the Bogue Chitto bridge, entering Enon where I turned east toward Sun.
There's a place along the way which features something very different, a split rail fence. I think of them as only being in the Appalachians and the east coast. Not. It seems they were where there were trees and no wire or wire was too expensive or hadn't been invented or...... Just a guess, I'm doing no research. Or, this modern day guy just wanted a split rail fence and made one. Whatever, here it is. I liked it so much I took 20 pictures. I don't abuse the North Star with petty decisions. That place is a loose end I've been meaning to take care of. This area will not be so accessible in the future. Pause for a sad moment.
Did I say that this is on La.16?
One more and then the stone house. Yes, we have a few rocks in La. I didn't know we had enough to build a house.
Not a bad page. What it does need is something red and another old barn.
Perfection:
Shortly, I entered Sun after carefully looking at every gravel pit along the way. Remember, I was looking for the old engine. I know it's been a while since I mentioned that, the rant and all.
I'd done Sun, I thought. Actually, I'd done Mr. Bush. For those who know Mr.Bush, you'll understand I was pretty worn out by the time the 2 hour old tire tour was over. I was there doing an unabridged article on the Gulf Mobile and Ohio Railroad. I was really into trains until........ The article lost its lust and I flushed it.
This was a new day and I wasn't doing this ride with any academic pressure, and certainly not for any traineez.
This time I had a secret weapon, the topographic map. The topo shows old rail lines. It is a priceless addition. All I had to do was line myself up with the dashes.
I knew I was crossing the old rails. I would have anyway being that it was a hump in the road.
I decided to go south on Silica Street and see if there was anything more to see down there. It is a dead end that heads south riding besides the phantom rails. The same old stuff presented itself.
Then I stopped where I saw a clearing crossing the old bed. Mercy. I just had a horrible feeling that if I told you what I'd found, you would steal it, which was at first exactly what I thought of doing. So, I'm not.
I'll show you this since you can't steal it. There was a branch line off the main line. The rails are still in the road.
Look at the rails, not the bike.
There was another hint. There were two sets of rails, one of which I'd missed back in 2006. It's the little things that count. Look at the bottom right of the picture.
There is a creek between Silica Rd. and the main line. A bridge would be needed to cross it. I said, "Steve, look for the bridge".
Mercy, rotten railroad ties. I was getting giddy.
Below is hard to understand. It is the precipice of the bridge before the rails became suspended by the trestle.
I figured I'd done Silica Road, again, probably in a mistaken haste, again. I left looking at the pretty lake that inhabits one of the old gravel and sand pits.
I looked back north toward town and decided to check out the rails on the north side of La.16, what the heck?
That house sits right on the side of the tracks. I know it had something to do with the railroad.
I rode up the street that shadows the rails. A lady was sitting in her front yard which was very close to the street. I asked her......and the little dogs let out a fuss. No one could hear. She left and got her husband who joined me at the bike. He was very interested in the GPS but knew nothing of the engine. He did know where a trestle was. It was the continuation of his street. He pointed the way north. It was more than I could have imagined. The next five or six pictures are of it. You would have done the same, so stop moaning.
It crosses Wright's Creek, which follows the line south and is what the other trestle crossed when it had been intact.
I rode across the limestone covered trestle dragging my feet. I did not want to end up in Wright's Creek because of some unpredictable limestone, one of the worst riding surfaces you can be on.
Next, I headed south on La.21 looking for the engine.
The engine was built in New Orleans for the Navy and sold to a local sand company. It is a small engine. Its number is 2653, the O-4-0 stands for the wheel layout, none in the front, 4 drivers and none under the cab. The ST part was a mystery to me. Steam Train would be too obvious.
Jim Tatum sent this, " You asked about the term ST in connection with the little 0-4-0. That means saddle tank - in other words, the locomotives water tank is over the boiler like a saddle. There was no tender on these tank engines, the water being in the saddle tank and....the guest book space ran out. It ran on standard gauge rails. I think. Looking at the boiler from the front of the engine, you can see the saddlebag shape.
I just like looking at the old engines, mostly. I must admit I like getting into them, also. The picture shows the engine's final demise. Those trees will tear it up.
That's the fire box and boiler. If I'm wrong, let me know.
Here's looking forward on the brakeman's side. (because the brake is there)
And out the front window:
That's the view the brakeman would see. Here's his brake.
And a sun roof, heat rises and letting it out is the thing to do.
That's it and I'm glad this one is over. The thrill is gone and a sense of sadness prevails over this page. No one in the area seems to care. Just keeping the small trees off of it would help preserve it.
It is a bit of history lost.

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