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Monday, July 18, 2016

Virgil's Rail Exploration

 

 Did that get your attention?
The following will be a real history hunt report by Virgil.
 First, a brief synopsis of the trip by him. 5 emails later "a number" of  pictures had been sent.
.

Steve,  Last Saturday, Feb 23 I went with Charlie McCarty, 
Greg Nevels and Trent Lewis on an excursion to Brookhaven.
We met at Charlie's in Summit, then took Hwy 51 to Brookhaven. 
Greg directed us all over the back roads east of Brookhaven and showed us where some of the old logging railroads were. Old ROWs still there in places, just got to know where to look. We also spent a little time at the spot in Brookhaven where the old Mississippi Central had crossed the IC.



Found old telegraph pole insulators and other stuff in a pile of debris on the site of the old crossing interlocking tower. Also walked along CN-IC just north of Brookhaven to where an old wooden water tower is still standing.

We drove Hwy 84 as far as Roxie, stopping along the way for side roads that led
 to sidings on the Natchez Railway.

Stopped at Lucien, there was a siding there with a MOW (maintenance of way) train parked there, tons of railbed repair equipment and piles of ties and rails. We rode down a side road and about a block down, found a closed truss girder bridge (vehicle bridge, not railroad bridge) with the wooden deck on fire. We stopped at a convenience store half a mile down the road and has them call their fire department. Later learned that someone had been stealing metal off the bridge, cutting it with a torch, and apparently set the wood decking on fire.

Stopped at Bude. Old downtown Bude indicates it was an important town back in the day. Ford Dealership, and fine brick buildings, now mostly abandoned. The depot was well preserved and a joy to behold but the vandals have been at work, knocking out windowpanes. Greg said Bude had passenger service at the depot, a local lumber mill, logging lines in surrounding area, and plenty of commerce in days gone by.

Roxie has to be the high point of our trip. We walked almost a mile into the woods north of Roxie, following the old rail line that once ran from Baton Rouge, to Slaughter, and all the way up to Jackson.

 OOPs:
Virgil corrects.
Hi Steve, I apparently misinformed you ... not a glaring mistake, just a slip up.
Trent says the Y & MV did not go to Jackson MS, according to him "The Y&MV Line ran from New Orleans /Baton Rouge/Roxie/Harriston/to Vicksburg all the way to Memphis. It didnt go to Jackson"
That should have been a no-brainer to me... I know about that nice Y & MV depot in Vicksburg.
No problem Virgil, Being 50% right gets an "A" here.
 This was the old Yazoo and Mississippi Valley before the IC absorbed it. Rails had been pulled up years before but they left the cross ties and a lot of tie plates and spikes. Judging from tree growth on the old ROW, rails have been gone at least 20 years. 
This area just north of the Hwy 84 bridges at Roxie had a mainline and 2 sidings.

We walked back to Roxie, then Charlie drove us a couple of miles to an area north of Roxie, where we walked down the Natchez Railway to where the old Y&MV had crossed it. Old abandoned signal equipment everywhere. We followed the Y&MV line, again, about half a mile north, crossing a trestle and finding more abandoned signal equipment. Sun getting low in the sky so we headed back to McComb, ended the day with a cup of McCarty coffee at Charlie's place, plus running trains on his HO scale layout.

All in all it was a great excursion and we are planning more. Charlie talking about McManus next.
Regards,Virg

[Back to me. I'll cut up Virgil's explanations and try to match them to the pictures he sent, some his, some Trent's, and some from the satellite I added. Also, I did "crop" the shots as there are ladies that read this thing.  Back to Virgil].

We walked to this location just north of Brookhaven. The old water tank [above] supplied water to a track side spout (only the concrete base remains now) for steam engines back in the day. A supply pipe ran all the way to a reservoir & pump south of Brookhaven. I know. Boggles the mind. I guess the railroads didn't do anything small. I would have dug the darn well right next to the tank.
Greg said that in the woods behind the water tank are sidewalks running everywhere... remnants of a POW camp from WWII.  Imagine Col. Hogan as the camp commandant, and Klink & Schultz as the prisoners.
 The concrete base behind Trent is where the water pipe for filling steam engines once stood.

 

Pic of pipe & valve in ditch: This was the water line from the tank to the track side spout

Pipe in ditch: This was the supply line from the tank to the pump south of town.


Rails: I always wondered how the real railroads handled transitions from heavier to lighter rail. The blue painted piece is a transition rail joiner. Note the difference in height between the rails on each side. I shot this near the water tank, where the mainline (heavier rail) transitioned to the lighter rail of a siding.


I have more pix of our excursion, and Trent took far more than I did. I'll send a few more in a later email.

We drove Hwy 84 as far as Roxie, stopping along the way for side 
roads that led to sidings on the Natchez Railway.

Stopped at Lucien, there was a siding there with a MOW (maintenance of way) train parked there, tons of rail bed repair equipment and piles of ties and rails. We rode down a side road and about a block down, found a closed truss girder bridge (vehicle bridge, not railroad bridge) with the wooden deck on fire. We stopped at a convenience store half a mile down the road and has them call their fire department. Later learned that someone had been stealing metal off the bridge, cutting it with a torch, and apparently set the wood decking on fire.
{Me:I seem to have misplaced the burning bridge picture so here are over overhead shots of it.}




The map [I had sent V] with Lucien shows the road where the burning bridge was, Stewart Rd, which crosses McCall Creek. Greg said he'd been over that bridge in the past on hayrides, and once in a Chrysler, nearly 20 years ago.


Stopped at Bude. Old downtown Bude indicates it was an important town back in the day. Ford Dealership,
 

and fine brick buildings, now mostly abandoned.
Pic of old Central Business District of Bude, taken from depot area.
 

The depot was well preserved and a joy to behold but the vandals have been at work
 knocking out windowpanes.
Note broken windows. 
[Me: Note the Vandals? Where was my Terminator Cop?]
Jesting of course. 
 

Greg said Bude had passenger service at the depot, a local lumber mill, logging lines in surrounding area, and plenty of commerce in days gone by.

Pic of depot, south side (away from mainline). Vandalism rears its ugly head.


Pic of depot, track side.



Pic of depot, west side, with freight door and freight platform. Love those green glass insulators.


Pic of interior, ticket window


Pic of interior, pot belly stove in waiting room.



Pic of caboose. Landlocked ... tracks removed on each side. 
Back door welded shut, with A/C stuck thru door.
Electric pole and line running to caboose. Looks like somebody's using it for an office.


[Me: On to Roxie. This is my guess as to the location of the depot]
 This guess was correct:

Added by Virgil concerning my guess that the depot was where the rails dipped down to US 84.
Another bit of info from Trent... yep. you were right. That area from your aerial photo is called the Pole Yard and Old Roxie house track, the old Mississippi Central depot (as in the pic from Tony Howe's website I sent you) was located there. Ba-ba-Ding! Louisiana Steve strikes again... Indiana Jones, eat your heart out.
Trent says this area is called East Roxie on his Mississippi Central track charts. It's a little bit east of where the old diamond was. Trent says there were 2 side tracks and there used to be wood chip cars parked there.



[Back to Virgil]
Roxie has to be the high point of our trip. We walked almost a mile into the woods north of Roxie, following the old rail line that once ran from Baton Rouge, to Slaughter, and all the way up to Jackson. This was the old Yazoo and Mississippi Valley before the IC absorbed it. Rails had been pulled up years before but they left the crossties and a lot of tie plates and spikes. Judging from tree growth on the old ROW, rails have been gone at least 20 years. This area just north of the Hwy 84 bridges at Roxie had a mainline and 2 sidings.
 
 We walked a good bit of the old mainline just north of Roxie. I failed to take pics... too busy watching my step. Cross ties badly rotted and spikes sticking up everywhere. But then we rode around and walked to this location. Followed the old abandoned roadbed a little ways north, across a trestle. I got a few pix there. Should have had more but I think my camera "misfired" on some shots.


We walked back to Roxie, then Charlie drove us a couple of miles to an area north of Roxie, where we walked down the Natchez Railway to where the old Y&MV had crossed it.


Old abandoned signal equipment everywhere. 
 Pic of mysterious electromechanical whatzits: We found abandoned obsolete signalling and interlocking equipment. Charlie's dad helped maintain stuff like that on the old GM&O. Charlie probably knew what all the whatzits were. I plead ignorance.

 

We followed the Y&MV line, again, about half a mile north, 
crossing a trestle and finding more abandoned signal equipment. 

 Pic of Trent by a piece of equipment: I think it's a call box (would have had a phone in it for conductor to call dispatcher before engineer makes train move). Railroads used these before radio came into widespread use. May have continued to use them in areas where radio signals were weak or did not reach.

 

Pic of 3 guys on trestle: Trent, obviously the youngest, was running all over the woods like Tarzan. He climbed down the ravine and took pix of the rest of us on the trestle. Greg, Charlie and yours truly smiling for the camera. Trestle just north of the "diamond" that ain't there no more. Photo by Trent.

 

 Charlie drove us to the Hamburg area, and drove along the ROW a ways, we got out and walked the rest of the way to the diamond.
Final Note
Sun getting low in the sky so we headed back to McComb, ended the day with a cup of McCarty coffee at Charlie's place, plus running trains on his HO scale layout.
Me: Charlie's Place?


Had he lost the keys?




OK, I was kidding.
This is  Virgil's explanation of the place in Brookhaven.

I shot the attached pix of the Coffee Pot.  
Addition on back of Coffee Pot looks newer than front. 
Greg said original structure in back was larger and 2 story. 
One of pic shows remnants of slab in the back.
Pic with water tank in background: 
That's Greg looking at the back of the building.

Pic with 2 guys: Trent looking in the window, Greg walking around the corner.
Pic of back: Slab extended a good bit back. Foundation under the newer addition looks fresh, probably poured on top of the old one.
Pic of coffee pot: Some tinsmith did a heck of a job on this thing. 
Looks sturdy enough to actually hold a couple thousand gallons of water. 
Genius using a rooftop ventilator or smokestack for the "knob" on the coffeepot cap.
Your old friend the LEO  never showed up. 
Hot Donuts sign must have been flashing at the local purveyor of fine pastries.
The Coffee Pot is about a block from the CN-IC mainline. I can imagine train crews eating or having a cup of coffee there.
That's it. Thanks to Virgil for sharing the story,  his camera crew  for the pictures, and his guides for not getting him lost again.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Oh, Hep Me.
Here's the first set of augmentations and corrections.
I know there will be more as soon as Charlie is contacted.
{I too am looking forward to that}
Virgil continues.

Steve, thanks for putting that up. Did not expect you to but I think you did a great job
Naw, I just flung it on the wall like my junk but with less involvement.
 Here it comes.
 The only thing {deep breath} I'm not sure of is the exact location of the Roxie depot.
I will check with Charlie on that one.

Ok I was winging it and I knew it. I have used this method to procure legitimate info for years.
I just proclaim something and then some caring person puts on a cape and corrects me, saving the world from the injustice of my  fowl unfounded incorrect spew.
No prob with leaving out the gawking old men. Heck, I scare myself every morning in the mirror.
I had told him it was company policy to keep the site as pretty as possible.
We never went to that area where the Natchez Railway swings close to Hwy 84 near Roxie (as shown in your aerial photo), we just went straight into Roxie.
Then you might  have missed the depot. No? That's a shame.
See the attached satellite view, from googlemaps.
I highlighted the Natchez Railway (former Mississippi Central, then IC) in yellow.
I highlighted the ROW of the old Y&MV in red.
 This is a really big map. If you click it, it's going to get bigger. 



That area that you thought might have been the depot location ( I labeled it "Your aerial photo") looks to be an industrial siding. Again, will check with Charlie.
We visited a local "Fred Sanford" at 3rd St. and East Blvd. He sold Trent a photo purportedly of a depot at the diamond north of Roxie, circa early 1900. We later learned he was wrong, it was the depot at Wanilla. Still a great photo.
Then parked over near West Blvd and 2nd St, right on the old ROW. Got out and walked north, under the Hwy 84 bridges, and on almost a mile (prob about halfway to the diamond). This was the area where there was a mainline and 2 sidings, rails pulled up but cross ties remaining and getting overgrown rapidly.
Walked back to Roxie, then Charlie drove us to Hwy 84, then west, then north on Old Roxie Road to the Hamburg area, then along the NR right of way about halfway, then we walked the rest of the way to the "diamond". We followed the old Y&MV ROW north maybe half a mile, crossing an intact trestle while doing so. (you have pic of us on it)
Apparently there were two depots for Roxie. One was the Y&MV/IC, which should have been right in "downtown" Roxie, where we were, but could find no sign of it.
There also was one on the old Mississippi Central but not sure where. We thought maybe a depot at the diamond, serving both railroads, but it could have been where your aerial photo shot is. I will check with Charlie on that. I attached a photo of the MC Roxie depot from Tony Howe's website.
You really should include Greg's comments on the Coffee Pot. I thought they were priceless.
Let me know when the excursion is open to the public, the others would like to see it.
Regards
V
That's it until Charlie checks in and Virgil sends Greg's comments.

Greg's Comments.

"The Coffee Pot! It used to have an upstairs part attached to the rear with some old spindly looking stairs that came down to ground level. For years a 1957 IH pickup truck sat out behind it. Before the interstate came through this was the main drag. I imagine The Coffee Pot was a swingin place back in the day!
The Illinois Central mainline is about an 8th of a mile behind this little gem. At one time there was some kind of industry right behind here. For years the siding and what was left of the loading dock was still down at the tracks. If Steve would have hung a turn and rode down to the tracks, he would have found the remanants of this plant sitting out beside of an old lady's house. Red brick, looks like an isolated "room" just sitting there by itself. A Sanborn Map might would reveal the company that was here. This is South Brookhaven along Old 84 Hwy. I forget the street name but is is the crossing just south of the Warren St Overhead Bridge.
Steve was in a pretty rough part of town. Little Egypt to be exact. The Chicken Palace was right in the vicinity just up the road a bit. There's been a many of sets of teeth kicked in there! This area is also known as "Ole Brook".
This little building was a roadside cafe. The Chamber of Commerce or the Daily Leader probably has photos of it in original condition. At one time it was probably the commissary for the factory that was behind it. It ended it's useful life as an alternater shop. Then it was given historical value by the chamber.Probably the only reason it's still there.
(I asked Greg if the name was Coffee Pot or something else.) He replied... That's it. "The Coffee Pot". I doubt they had free wi-fi, but the weary traveler good get a good cup of joe!  Legend has it that a man could get other things in that upstairs back room!

I checked googlemaps. The Coffee Pot is located at corner of Manson St. and S. 1st St. NE (Hwy 583). Apparently this was old Hwy 84 before it bypassed downtown Brookhaven.

Regards
V
Me: Recollections like that are PRICELESS and I'm  being serious, something that is on and off.
Thanks Virgil for re-sending that. I do remember it but had lost it in my piles of stuff. 

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