View Full Version : Short LA Road Trip

07-03-2006, 01:55 AM
Well, went back "home" last week, and finally managed some decent (keep that word in mind) shots of part of the area. I've tried on my last few trips to Slidell, LA to get some shots at the lake, but between family commitments, cloudy afternoons, hazy mornings, and novice camera skills, things haven't worked out.

This is the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain, which Norfolk Southern crosses with a 5.8 mile concrete bridge. It was a wooden trestle, the longest of its kind, until a rebuild a few years ago. In one of the shots of the BNSF units coming over the bridge, you might notice sections of concrete that are a different color. Those are firebreaks that were placed every so often in the original wooden trestle.

The area was of course absolutely devastated by Hurricane Katrina. The railroad on almost the entire 5.8 mile span was washed from the bridge into the lake. NS used cranes on barges to raise the rails, intact, back onto the concrete bed. Their magnificent work can be seen HERE (http://www.nscorp.com/nscorp/application?pageid=NS%20News&category=News&contentId=english/nscorp/news/archived_news_releases.html) (in the 13 Sep 2005 Release). The canal that runs along the tracks into the lake was studded with houses, businesses, and fish "camps." None remained intact, and most were simply demolished. Today, much of the debris piles have been removed, but one can still see cars in bayous, half a house sticking up out of the water, and boats where they have no business. And as you walk along the ROW, you find bits and pieces of peoples homes and lives. Shoes, silverware, clothes, picture frames, toys, etc. By the old NS office, there aren't many traces that it used to be a RR structure. The twisted frame of an old track scooter of some sort is about it. Here's a shot of where the old building used to be:

West Side of Canal (http://lahdpop.rrpicturearchives.net/showPicture.aspx?id=418732) It was about in the middle of the shot, near the two vertical pilings sticking up (across from the switch points).

Here's a shot of the same area, but from the other side of the canal:
East Side of Canal (http://lahdpop.rrpicturearchives.net/showPicture.aspx?id=418750)

Enough history...on to the trains! As much as I'd love to hang out there all day trying different shots, there wasn't time for all-day experiments unless I was willing to risk divorce. I wasn't. So I had to make do with the three trains in my two mornings there.

First train was (of COURSE ) going the wrong way. It was the NS 345, and it was doing a good clip. Track speed for freights on that bridge must be around 50 mph. Since it was coming from the sun, I decided to snug up close to the tracks, use the big lens, and try for some tele effects accentuating the drawbride (btw, I "hid" behind the signal mast housing so I wouldn't scare the Hell out of the crew):


A couple more shots of that train:
The Power (http://lahdpop.rrpicturearchives.net/showPicture.aspx?id=418738)
North Draw (http://lahdpop.rrpicturearchives.net/showPicture.aspx?id=418734)

That was it for that morning. The Crescent was running late, and I had to get going. Two days later, I was able to get out there again. This time the Crescent was on time, and I managed to get way too many pictures of it. I set up farther north along the tracks, and used the big lens again:


And since I couldn't stop presing the button, here's another shot of the Crescent HERE (http://lahdpop.rrpicturearchives.net/showPicture.aspx?id=418746)

Next I heard the dispatcher giving the NS 198 a warrant over the bridge. I repositioned to the other side of the canal (by car, since the wooden foot bridge got washed away). I decided to try some wider shots, to show the lake and the surrounding flavor a little more.


And yes, that shutter kept clicking.
HERE'S (http://lahdpop.rrpicturearchives.net/showPicture.aspx?id=418757) a shot of the train closer in. In the foreground are the remains of the supports for the foot bridge that used to be there. When I was a kid I used to ride my bike out to that spot on occasion to watch the trains cross the lake.
And HERE'S A SHOT (http://lahdpop.rrpicturearchives.net/showPicture.aspx?id=418762) of the 198 coming ashore, past the new signal mast. Before Katrina, there were a pair of old signals guarding the bridge. I found the head of one of them half buried in the debris and ballast near the new signal. It looked oddly sad, and looking back, I can't believe I didn't take a picture of it.

And finally, on the way back to Indiana on the 29th, I made a quick stop by the KCS yard near Jackson, in Pearl, MS. I know it's just a roster shot, but I NEVER get to see any KCS up here, so I was glad to catch a KCS GP40-3 (http://lahdpop.rrpicturearchives.net/showPicture.aspx?id=418853) making an intermodal train.

That's it. Thanks for looking (you did look, didn't you?). Next trip I hope to figure out a way to spend more time track side, and eat more po-boys.

Andrew Blaszczyk (2)
07-03-2006, 04:18 AM
I did look..lol..nice report! Glad everything worked out for you this time and I'd say you came back with more than just decent shots. Looking forward to future reports from you. Awesome stuff.

07-03-2006, 12:19 PM
great report Bret.thanks for sharing and keep up the great work.