SP #745 at Hammond, La.

Last weekend I attended a train show over in Ponchatoula, Louisiana. While there I ran across an old friend that I hadn’t seen in perhaps 25 years. He mentioned that he had been checking out the photos that I have posted, and wondered if I’d perhaps post something more local to this area (South Louisiana). I informed him that the vast majority of my slide collection had been lost in the Great Flood of 2016, therefore I had precious little to share. But digging through my “scraps”, I came across this photograph I’d taken of the former Southern Pacific steamer #745.

The #745 is a class Mk-5 Mikado (2-8-2), and was built in the Espee’s shop in Algiers, La. back in 1921. She operated on the Texas and New Orleans subsidiary of the Southern Pacific. She has been restored back to operating condition by the Louisiana Steam Train Association (LASTA) in New Orleans.

In 2005 the #745 and her train were on a tour around the state. It’s the month of May, and the train had been on display in Hammond, Louisiana for the day. In late afternoon I captured this view as the train departed for Baton Rouge, the next leg of it’s trip. Looking north, we see the train backing down the Canadian National’s McComb Subdivision mainline (this is the line between Chicago and New Orleans). The switch in the background is the beginning of the Hammond Subdivision, where she will stop and reverse direction, then head west for Baton Rouge.

SP #745, Hammond, La.

The B.A.R. Depot, Caribou, Maine

Caribou, Maine purported itself to be “the greatest potato shipping point in the world”, and it may well have been in October of 1940 when Jack Delano paid them a visit. This is the small, but stately Bangor and Aroostook Railroad passenger depot in Caribou. And note the line of both single and double sheathed wooden boxcars in the background, at least one of which utilizes truss rods for support. I would imagine that time was certainly short for these well traveled cars.

One detail of this photograph that I really love is the street lamp on the square pole, set prominently up front in this view. It’s the corrugated reflector lamp itself that gets my attention, as I remember their prolific use in small towns of the deep South while in my youth. They were used on poles, and were also suspended from cables stretched across a roadway or drive . . . a nice piece of nostalgia.

BAR Depot, Caribou, Maine

Oiling Up the #403

It’s an overcast day in October of 1940, and we’re paused in the yard near the Bangor and Aroostook freight house in Caribou, Maine. Jack Delano documented the engineer as he was oiling around his locomotive prior to it’s run. The locomotive wasn’t identified in this photograph, but it appears to be the #403 seen from a different vantage point than the view in this prior post. Note the mix of steel and wooden cars in the background.

Oiling Up BAR #403

Preparing the Train

It’s a day with heavy overcast, perhaps made more dramatic by this backlit scene on the Bangor and Aroostook Railroad in Caribou, Maine. The brakeman has lined the switch for the #403 so she can ease up to the water penstock to quench her thirst. Today’s train has but a single passenger car, but it still displays the required markers on it’s rear. The train will next move down to the Caribou depot for boarding.

Locomotive #403 is a 2-8-0 Consolidation built by ALCO’s Schenectady Works in November of 1937, hence was still quite new when Jack Delano recorded this image in October of 1940.

BAR 2-8-0 #403, Terminal at Caribou, Maine

BAR Steamer #191

I thought I’d move away from Chicago for a bit, and go back a little further in time. Jack Delano traveled up to the state of Maine in October of 1940. While there he recorded several images during his visit to the Bangor and Aroostook Railroad.

The BAR became famous as a potato hauler, and eventually had a rather sizeable fleet of refrigerator cars for that service. The railroad created a striking red, white and blue paint scheme for these cars, then later painted quite a few boxcars with an adaptation of this colorful livery. The railroad also did considerable business with the paper industry, hauling pulpwood, wood chips and chemicals to the paper mills, and finished paper products out.

Pictured below is BAR #191, a 2-8-0 steamer, simmering in the freight yard at Caribou, Maine. She was built by ALCO Schenectady in January, 1921. She’s sporting white flags on her prow, indicating that she’s in charge of an extra today. I would guess that the train is at the start of it’s run since the tender appears to be topped off with it’s coal supply.

Note the roundhouse just behind the engine, and the rather crude telegraph pole at right. And of course, the Ford Model A Fordor 3-window sedan front and center. This is a wonderful scene of days gone by.

BAR 2-8-0 #191 at the Freight Yard, Caribou, Maine

The Cattle Train

Back in the day when people thought of the meat industry, they thought of Chicago. The city was considered the hub of the meat packing industry, and boasted a huge conglomeration of stock yards. Naturally the railroads played a huge role in this industry, and seen here is one of a constant stream of “cattle trains” coming into the city.

The location is the Chicago and North Western’s yard in Chicago, and it’s December of 1942. The cattle train is shown entering the receiving tracks of the yard while two outbound freights wait in the distance for their departure time.

Photo by Jack Delano.

C&NW Cattle Train

C&NW 40th St. Locomotive Shops

It certainly looks like a blustery winter day in Chicago when Jack Delano recorded this image in December of 1942. Shown is the Chicago and North Western’s locomotive shop and yard complex located on 40th Street. Several of the road’s streamlined diesel locomotives and passenger cars are seen at right. And if one inspects the photograph closely, a lone steamer is seen working a cut of cars at left.

Mr. Delano was either very lucky or quite patient to snap his shutter just as the sun began to poke it’s rays through the heavy overcast. The dark sky behind the pristine white snow presents an interesting contrast in this composition.

C&NW Yard and Shops, Chicago
C&NW Yard and Shops, Chicago

Going Full Circle: a Roundhouse

The Chicago and North Western Railroad had a massive full circle roundhouse at their Proviso Yard in Chicago, Illinois. Jack Delano visited the facility in December of 1942 and captured this image, along with several others inside the structure. This aerial view shows how large a building such as this is. It obviously takes a mammoth amount of water to quench the thirst of the dozens of locomotives that see this facility each day as evidenced by the presence of three massive steel water tanks in the background.

Despite the heat generated by some of the locomotives under fire while in the building, it was still drafty in the dead of winter. I posted this image a while back of a coal-fed fire burning inside the roundhouse to give a bit of warmth to the workers.

C&NW Roundhouse, Chicago, Ill.

Switching Cars at Night

In January of 1943 Jack Delano spent a night in Calumet City, Illinois observing an Indiana Harbor Belt crew at work in the yard. A cooperative crew member demonstrated a few basic signals for Mr. Delano to document with his camera. The switchman is using a fusee (which most non-railroaders would know as a flare). These produce an intense red light, making it highly visible in the dark, especially during rain or snow.

Fusee Signal - Go Ahead
This first signal means Go Ahead (forward) . . . a simple up and down motion, usually done several times.
Fusee Signal - Back Up
This signal means Back Up . . . a circular motion, usually repeated several times
Fusee Signal - Stop
And this signal means Stop (that’ll do in railroad parlance) . . . a back and forth swinging motion repeated several times.

There are several other signals used, but these are the three basic ones used for movement.

While these fusees are very bright and easy to see, it is perhaps more common for the switchman to use a lantern for his signaling, as it will burn for many hours and is more economical. But the fusee can’t be beat when conditions are really bad.

Coaling Up a “4000”

In December of 1942 Jack Delano spent some time down at the Chicago and North Western’s coaling tower in Chicago, Illinois. While there, he captured this image of one of the road’s class E-4 streamlined 4-6-4 “Hudson” locomotives. These steamers, numbered 4001-4009, were ordered from Alco in 1937 to power the C&NW’s famous “400” express passenger trains.

The story is that management decided, even before delivery, that using steam power for their premier trains wasn’t the direction to head. They instead placed an order for diesel-electric locomotives with EMD. Thus the nine E-4s were used to power other trains.

These modern locomotives lived a rather short life, with all retired by 1956. All were eventually scrapped.

C&NW E-4 Class Loco Coaling Up

South Water Street at Night

Back in March of this year I posted a Jack Delano image of the the Illinois Central freight depot in Chicago, Illinois. Looming in the background of that photograph is the huge Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer neon sign, complete with a clock. Mr. Delano had also visited that location earlier during the night in April of 1943. And on that night he recorded the sign in all of it’s night time glory, resplendent in all of it’s vibrant colors.

Looking closely below the sign we can make out the image of a string of reefers (refrigerator cars) lurking in the dark shadows of the yard.

ICRR S. Water St. Yard at Night