by EW Lueck
The Longleaf experience is to re-create many of the sights of the 1910-1930 era that can not be experienced any where else in the world. Only at Longleaf, is there the remains of a complete logging and lumbering plant that has all of the components in place. Every lumbering operation from that era consisted of a minimum of 3 components. Those components were, cutting and loading the timber in the woods, transporting the timber to the mill, and cutting timber into lumber and finished products at the mill. Some operations added a fourth component which was transporting the finished lumber to a railroad connection with the outside world. Only at Longleaf, can a visitor see and touch all 4 of these components together. In fact, with the McGiffert Loaders, and the Clyde Rehaul Skidder, along with sawmill, planer mill complex, the museum could consider itself very fortunate with just those components. The rail road parts just make the experience complete.
The railroad has been part of Longleaf, since the town was started in 1892. C.T. Crowell picked the site while passing through on what is now the Union Pacific main line, and in 1895, Crowell and Spencer Lumber Co. Ltd. built their first logging tram into the woods east of Longleaf, to haul logs to the mill. None of the locomotives built for this early operation still survives, although some parts might still be found in the “spare parts piles” north of the engine house. By 1905, there were 3 engines serving the tram lines in the woods, and Longleaf needed a separate connection with the outside world so Crowell and Spencer incorporated the Red River and Gulf RR to build from Longleaf to LeCompte. This was the beginning of a 90 mile railroad that extended not only to LeCompte, but in 1913 to Meridian, southwest of Longleaf, and by 1919, 60 miles west to Hutton, Alco and Kurthwood, northeast of Leesville. What an operation it was! Not only did they have a daily passenger train between Longleaf and Kurthwood, but several daily freight trains hauling inbound freight and outbound finished lumber had to work their way around Crowell log trains bound for the mills at Longleaf, Alco and Meridian.
Not only Crowell log trains, but Cady Lumber, Calcasieu Longleaf Lumber, Vernon Parish Lumber, and Peavy-Wilson Lumber also ran log trains on the RR&G, and the Rock Island ran gravel trains from LeCompte to Forest Hill.
By 1923, the Crowell companies needed at more than 20 steam locomotives to move all of their trains, and all of these engines were maintained at Longleaf. At the time that rail logging shut down in 1954, there were still 11 of these locomotives either running or stored at Longleaf. At the museum, today, we are fortunate in having remaining examples of almost each type of locomotive that was used in each type of service. There were “woods” engines, used in the woods for bringing out the logs to the RR&G main line, there were “main line” engines that belonged to either Crowell, Meridian or ALCO that were used to haul the log trains to the mills on the RR&G main line, and there were the RR&G engines used to haul the regular freight trains.
The Crowell operations used two types of locomotives in the woods, regular rod driven locomotives, like our #202 and Shay patent geared steam locomotives. The Shay patent geared locomotives could go up and down steep grades, around sharp curves and do it all on very light rail and on rough track as well. The only problem was that they were SLOW. All in all, the Crowell Companies owned 7 shay engines, Crowell and Spencer owned 3, Alexandria Lumber owned 3 and Meridian Lumber owned one. Meridian Lumber #112 was the biggest and newest shay that the Crowell’s ever owned. It was also the last steam engine acquired by Crowell when it was purchased second hand in 1935. It was scrapped at Longleaf, along with Crowell shays #1 and #2, in 1955, but it never quite disappeared. When you ride the motor car up the main line, before you get to the Clyde skidder, there are quite a lot of wheels and such off to one side of the track. Six of the wheels have big gears on their sides. Those wheels, and the rest of the pile is what is left of the big Meridian shay #112.
Meridian Shay #112, (engineers side ) November, 1950
John Krause Photo
Meridian Shay #112, (engineers side) October 2007
E. Lueck Photo
Scattered around the area, are also some parts from
Crowell Shays #1 and #2, but very little is left.
The Crowell companies also used regular steam engines in the woods. With the formation of the Alexandria Lumber Company in 1907, Crowell bought the first of these steam engines with the purchase of Alco #3. Number 3 was the oldest engine ever operated by Crowell, being built by Baldwin in 1882 and purchased second hand in 1907.
Alco #3 at Southern Iron & Equipment Co, Altlanta, Ga
being prepared for shipping toAlexandria Lumber Co. in
1907 SFHM Collection
Amazingly enough, #3 lasted almost to the very end of Crowell’s woods operations.
On the other side of the tracks from the remains of shay #112 are its cylinders and
cabbage head stack and out in the middle of the old log pond are its driving wheel centers (the ones with the square end counterweights and hollowed out rims).
ALCO #3 at Longleaf Jct. yard, 1950 H.K. Vollrath photo,
Main driving wheels of ALCO #3 in the pile in the old log
pond June, 2007 E. Lueck Photo
Barely recognizable in the woods, the cylinder block for
ALCO #3 is across the track from remains of Shay #112.
October, 2007 E. Lueck Photo
When Crowell and Spencer formed the Meridian Lumber Company, Ltd. to log new timber in Evangeline parish and set up the new mill and town at Meridian, the performance of ALCO’s old mogul #3 influenced them to order a new mogul for Meridian’s woods engine. Proving that they were correct, Meridian #202 was the last Crowell engine in steam (in 1954) and today is parked in the machine shop at the museum.
Brand new and still in its builders paint job and striping,
Meridian Lumber Co. #202 works at Meridian, LA.
Crowell #202 sits outside the Longleaf enginehouse in May,
1954 as rail operations come to a close. Yes, it is painted
yellow with red lettering! E. Hays photo, SFHM
Summer 1954, Crowell #202 loads logs on the Meridian
Line. E. Hays photo, SFHM
After 43 years stored outdoors, #202 rests in the machine
shop at Longleaf, 1997 E. Lueck
#202 was so successful, that Meridian ordered another almost twin locomotive in 1915. #204 had slightly larger cylinders, but was virtually identical in almost every other dimension. After the Meridian mill burned in 1928, both #202 and #204 were sent to Alco and worked the woods trams from that location. At the end of World War 2, and the shut down at Alco, both were still deemed so valuable by the Crowells, that they were both brought to Longleaf to be used on the Meridian line once again.
Brand new at Baldwin in 1919, Meridian #204 posed for
its official picture. BLCo – SFHM
Now lettered for Crowell Longleaf Lumber, #204 sits in
front of the Longleaf engine house in 1952. A.E. Brown
photo / Louis Saillard Collection
Sometime after 1952, #204’s fire was put out for the last time. Whether the engine was
sold for scrap or scrapped at Longleaf, we do not know, although few if any engine parts
that can be identified as being from the engine have been found at Longleaf. We do know that #204’s tender was saved and for many years was stored in the woods. Now it is kept in the engine house.
Moved in from the woods and parked beside the Longleaf
engine house, #204’s tender basks in the April sun on
Heritage Day, 2007 E. Lueck photo
1918 through 1923 were big years for the Crowell operations. Not only were the Longleaf and Meridian mills running at capacity, the Red River and Gulf Railroad had been extended to Kurthwood and production started at the Alco Mill. The timber around Longleaf and Meridian had been largely cut over, and the timber for these mills now came from spurs off of the Kurthwood line. Because of this longer haul, not only were new engines required for the longer RR&G RR, but engines were required that could haul log trains from the Kurthwood line to the Longleaf and Meridian mills. The workers called these engines the “main line” logging engines. The first of these was the museum’s #400. Stored since 1952, outside behind the Clyde skidder, #400 needs to be put under some sort of protective cover to preserve it.
The Crowell’s first “Mainline” logging engine, #400 poses
for it’s portrait in late 1918 at the Baldwin Works in
Philadelphia. BLW Photo, SFHM
Doing what it was built to do, #400 hauls in logs off of the
Kurthwood line, shortly after it was delivered. Standing
beside the engine, is the engineer with his oil can, and
by the tender stands C.T. Crowell himself. Richard B.
Crowell Coll./ SFHM
Sometime about 1957, #400 stands outside the Longleaf
engine house, never to move again. Crowell Longleaf
lumber repaired this engine in 1955 using parts from
its sister engine #300. The boiler front and smoke box
door and some other parts were used. Believe it or not,
the cab and tender are painted green! SFHM
#400 still stands outside the Longleaf engine house,
November, 2007 E. Lueck photo
The change in the timber source also meant the end of the dominance of the shay locomotives on the woods trams. The longer hauls in the woods meant that the shay locos could no longer get the job done fast enough so in 1920 the newest woods engine for the Crowell and Spencer company would be another Baldwin engine, #200.
Crowell and Spencer #200 poses with its crew, sometime
early in the 1920s as the striping on the engine is still
fresh and new. SFHM Coll.
With the closure of the Kurthwood line, #200 was brought
in from the woods and stored by the enginehouse in Longleaf,
where Charles Clegg photographed the engine in 1945.
Gordon Crowell found #200 stored north of the enginehouse
in 1953, shortly before the end.
#200’s cylinders and cabbage head stack lie beside the
Clyde skidder in 2007 E. Lueck
#200’s drivers are the ones with the elliptical counterweights
and are solid. 2007 E. Lueck
The performance of the Crowell “mainline” logging engines #400 and its almost twin #300, along with the growth of the Red River and Gulf RR main line, meant that when the Crowells went looking for new engines for the RR & G RR, they did not have to look any further than the engines that they already had in service. #300 and #400 were doing such a good job on the daily log trains into Meridian and Longleaf that two “new and improved” copies of them were ordered for the RR&G in 1922 and 1923. #105 did not survive 1946, being used to scrap the Kurthwood line and being scrapped itself shortly thereafter. #106, the 1923 engine, was used almost to the end of the railroad, and hauled the last steam powered RR&G freight trains to Lecompte in 1952. After being stored outside for several years, it was moved into the “car knockers shed” in 1956 and stayed there as the shed slowly collapsed around it.
RR&G #106 poses for its picture at the Baldwin works in
1923 BLW/SFHM coll
RR&G #106 brings in a load of logs loaded on the Meridian
line in the early spring of 1953. C.W. Witbeck photo, from
RR&G #106 switches the yard at Longleaf Jct in the fall
of 1952. A.E.Brown from Louis Saillard
RR&G #106 sits in the collapsing car shed, fall 2004 C.R.
Nov. 2005, RR&G #106 now sits in the restored car shed
where all can see. E.W. Lueck photo
RR&G #106 was the second to last new engine bought by the Crowell companies. Only one new engine, and two used steam engines were added to the final roster after #106.
The largest and newest engine came only a few weeks later, and was Meridian #106. It only saw service until the Meridian mill burned in 1928, and with no more mainline log trains to Meridian, it was sold. In 1926 however, Alexandria Lumber Company was in need of more woods locomotives, so the company bought a 1912 Lima mogul from Wisconsin, and brought it to Alco as #2. After Meridian acquired ALCO in 1928, the engine stayed on the Meridian roster eventually being transferred to Crowell and Spencer as #100 and was used until after World War 2. Again, although the locomotive is gone, parts of it still remain at Longleaf. On the planer mill siding, uphill from the planer mill itself, sits a lonely locomotive tender frame. It is from the tender in the picture below and belonged to C&SL #100.
Crowell and Spencer #100, formerly Meridian Lumber #2,
formerly Alexandria Lumber #2 and formerly Wausau
and Southern #2, sits in the Longleaf yard. H. K Vollrath
C&SL #100’s tender frame rests north of the planer mill
in 2007 E. W. Lueck
That is the story of the Longleaf locomotives. Although we can see the 3 engines that still exist here at the museum, a little more searching can show us the ghostly remains of 8 more of the locomotives that worked here for the Crowell Companies.
No story of Longleaf’s locomotives though, would be complete without the story of the “one that got away”.
When the passenger train was put on between Longleaf and Kurthwood in 1919, the RR&G needed a real passenger engine to haul it. The RR&G bought a beautiful American Standard type engine from Baldwin and numbered it 104.
#104 at the Baldwin works in 1919 BLW/ SFHM
For only eight years, #104 went up and down the line to Kurthwood with the passenger train, but in 1927, the passenger train no longer made money and was taken off.
Sometime during the 1920’s, #104 hauls the “daily
excitement” on the Kurthwood line. SFHM
After 1927, #104 sat in the Longleaf engine house, occasionally being fired up to switch the mill, but mostly it just sat. Not powerful enough to pull any trains on the main line but still to beautiful an engine to send the scrappers during World War 2, it was not until 1950 that another admirer showed up for #104. Paulson Spence was a gravel pit operator in Amite, Louisiana and he loved steam engines. He saw #104 as engine #1 on his Louisiana Eastern Railroad. So in 1950, #104 left Longleaf for the last time. At Amite, #104 became #1 and was fired up for visitors and friends as well as for Spence himself.
Louisiana Eastern #1 rests at Amite, Louisiana in the
1950’s C.W. Witbeck photo
When Spence died in 1961, his heirs saw his collection of steam locomotives as just so much scrap metal, and most of his engines were sold as just that. #1 however, had just as much luck escaping the scrap merchants at Amite, as it had at Longleaf 20 years before, and it was sold to the Stone Mountain Scenic Railroad and backdated to play the General of civil war fame. Finally worn out, the engine was set aside in the late 1990s and in 2008 was acquired by the Southeastern Railway Museum in Duluth, GA.
Most of my "tracking the tracks" rides have been like this. I'd go out on a ride and see a bunch of dashes on my GPS that symbolize rail right of ways. I'd follow them and then find out what I was following. Slowly, I reversed that approach and researched what I was after, before the ride. The transition can be seen in the Torras Adventures. The last one was planned to the "T" and only needed carrying out to put the icing on the cake. I think this next one will be done that way. It will be a long hard ride to find one place, explore it if I can, and ride a long harder ride home.
What wasn't hard was getting the background on the subject of this next adventure, the Vidalia to Natchez train ferry, Mississippi River crossing. Sounds awesome, no? Here's the way it went. VH asked if I'd like to look at a couple of articles he had on the old Mississippi train ferries. I told him, "Why, sure". He cut them up the best he could and emailed them. I was so excited seeing these amazing shots I promised myself I'd post them for you.
If you don't know the river at Natchez, the picture above is not adequate.
The "Old Man" is sleeping in this one. Awakened, he can rock and roll.
First, this is where I want to be in Natchez.
I've done a little enhancement to VH's lines to further clarify the pictures.
Above, is the S.S. James Y. Lockwood and the Baysinger II, the train barge, ready to unload tank cars filled with Texas oil bound for Mobile via the Natchez Route. Ferry service at Natchez continued until 1982, though the steam powered stern wheeler gave way to a diesel towboat in 1961.
He then gave a little historical background on which railroads did what getting the trains to this momentous point, at least from the Louisiana side. Here the same railroad comes into play that crossed down at Naples and Torras Landing, though the Louisiana & Arakansas did not do the ferrying here. I'll have to reread Fair's book to get the exact association with this crossing, that later. To make it all juicier, the Texas and Pacific had a line that came from Torras to Vidalia. What connection did it have to the Natchez crossing? Here's VH's explanation which will take the trains from Big D to the Vidalia shore line.
The Natchez Route began at Dallas, Texas. The trains of the Louisiana & Arkansas RR carried the freight cars to Shreveport, La. That route was actually over the tracks of a subsidiary called the Louisiana, Arkansas & Texas. From Shreveport, The Louisiana and Arkansas trains, officially listed in the timetables as “Texas Fast Freights”, carried the tonnage to the banks of the Mississippi River at Vidalia, La.
At Vidalia, the steam tugs and transfer barges of the Natchez & Louisiana Transfer Co. (a subsidiary of the Missouri Pacific) ferried the cars across the river and handed them over to another MP family member, the Natchez & Southern Ry. The N&S carried the cars from the river’s edge up a 4 percent grade and two switchbacks to the top of the bluffs and its connection with the Natchez Route’s easternmost partner, the Mississippi Central.
The N< Co. and the N&S Ry. built the Natchez tracks and loading dock in 1900. For most of the Natchez Route years, the stern wheel towboat James Y. Lockwood pushed a nine-car capacity barge named Baysinger II. The operation was modernized in 1961, with a new diesel towboat, the Natchez, and in 1962 a higher capacity barge was purchased. These served until ferry service was discontinued in 1982.
The article mentioning the Natchez crossing had a stack of pictures of other ferries. I won't be adding much since I must save my dainty pinkies for for typing up the Natchez Ride Report which will be arduous. Let these psych up your imagination in preparation for that adventure.
This is the Pelican at Helena, AR. The other article he sent is solely about this boat and I might show more of it later. Here are a bunch of miscellaneous pictures.
The Ste.Genevieve 2 being loaded, Genevieve, Missouri. The original sank in 1918.
I'll have to show you a couple of cool pictures taken from the Pelican. Here is an engineer doing his job.
And a couple of guys bolting the thing together.
The Pelican being unloaded at Helena, 1958.
Train coming off Pelican at Helena, AR.
This one, above, is very interesting to me since I've been to Anchorage,La. Anchorage was the west side terminal for the Baton Rouge to Anchorage ferry. This is the Missouri Pacific ferry, George H.Walker. It steamed freight and passenger cars across the Mississippi until September 2, 1947, 7 year after the Huey P.Long train bridge had been opened. The crossing was one and one quarter miles across.
This is a "Russian" Decapod No.941 of the Missouri Pacific subsidiary, New Orleans, Texas, and Mexico, taking cars off the Walker at Baton Rouge, having arrived from Anchorage.
Below is a ferry bringing a Missouri Pacific train to Baton Rouge in 1907. Notice, the whole passenger train is on board.
I understand there were seven ferry operations along the Mississippi in Louisiana. The Vicksburg bridge was the first to replace a ferry across the Mississippi to Louisiana. The Huey P. Long in New Orleans was the second. When the Baton Rouge bridge opened in 1940, the Louisiana and Arkansas abandoned its ferry, but the Missouri Pacific continued using Anchorage until 1947. The last ferry operation to Louisiana was at Natchez, where I'm going. I'll show you what I found when I get back.