1937 Buick Special

Me and Olivia

Me and Olivia
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Me and "The Hell Bitch"

Me and "The Hell Bitch"
My 50th birthday gift to myself a 2004 Harley she is named after Captain Call's horse on Lonesome Dove.

I Want This Bike!

I Want This Bike!
Me On A 1942 Harley

My Favorite TV Show

The Location Of My Visitors!

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Sunday, March 2, 2008

Alllll Aaaaboard!! For A Trip on the 745

I must admit to this being my first steam train experience. But my good friends from Dubberly, Louisiana John Mark Parnell, his wife Melinda and their two children Thomas and Sarah love trains. In fact John is a member of The Louisiana Steam Train Association. April 24, 2005 was an amazing look at history come to life in a BIG way! Walking up to this train is awesome. You don’t realize how big these old trains are until you are up close and personal. This was a unique experience for the public to enjoy a bit of history on a beautiful Sunday in Bossier City, Louisiana.
As you entered the train, a conductor dressed in his conductor cap with his pocket watch punched your ticket. The cars were fixed as rolling museum rooms with each car telling a story about the Louisiana Purchase. The exhibit features an overview of the everyday life of the major cultural groups living in Louisiana at the time of the Louisiana Purchase in 1803: Native American, French, African-American, both enslaved and free, and Spanish. Flags representing each of these groups are displayed on the SP 745 smoke box, with the Chitimacha flag as a symbol for all Native Americans and the Haitian flag symbolizing the African-American groups and their struggle for freedom. The final exhibit is devoted to the explorers sent by Thomas Jefferson to learn about the entire Louisiana Territory. The last car of the train features some of the crew on board to tell a little history of the train and how the trip has been so far. These men and women dressed in their overalls with bandanas tied around their necks and striped railroad caps just toped the experience off.
My favorite part was when they rang the locomotive bell and blew the whistle while a huge cloud of smoke poured out of the smoke stack. While in Bossier City the train rain into a bit of trouble. Dealing with old cars I knew that things do break especially if they are built in 1921 as this train was. Parts are not easy to come by for something like this to say the least. Parts were found and as I was leaving the site I had the chance to talk to one of the crew members that told me a crane was on the way to lift the heavy parts off and back into place. I’m sure that this would have made interesting material but they would be working late into the night to get the train back in running order. I was not going to stay but my friend John Parnell would be there helping get the 745 back on track so to speak!
The Southern Pacific #745 is the only remaining Louisiana-built steam locomotive in existence. It is a 2-8-2 Mikado Oil burner and it was assembled in 1921 at the Southern Pacific rail yard in Algiers. It is 25.91 meters (85.5 feet) in length, 5.08 meters (16.8 feet) in height, and 3.25 meters (10.8 feet) wide. It weighs 129.7 metric tons.
The 745 functioned on both passenger and freight lines, primarily between Louisiana and Texas, until 1956 when it was retired and donated to Audubon Park in New Orleans. In 1983 it was moved to its present home (1403 Jefferson Highway, Jefferson, Louisiana) where it has been preserved by the Louisiana Railway Heritage Trust. In 1997 the Louisiana Steam Train Association (LASTA) began making plans for its restoration which was completed in October, 2004.
Here is a brief history of engine 745:
Southern Pacific steam locomotive 745, restored and operated by members of the Louisiana Steam Train Association, has an interesting history. While this is just a brief overview, more local information on this engine’s home, Algiers, Louisiana, can be obtained in the many books on the history of Algiers written by native Richard Remy Dixon.
In 1919 the dough boys came home from the "war to end all wars." They swelled the work force of America. Here in New Orleans, the Southern Pacific (SP) found that its massive Algiers Shops had an over abundant supply of workers. It employed almost 5,000 skilled laborers, who could repair and rebuild freight and passenger cars, and keep the SP steam locomotive fleet in running order; there was just not enough work to go around. Today corporate America might solve the problem by “right-sizing” the company. But this was 1919, and the Algiers Shops were one BIG family. Work would be found.
The Southern Pacific owned and operated numerous class Mk-5 locomotives. These 2-8-2 locos were built to the Harriman standard, so that full, half, and near sisters of these SP Lines locomotives could be found on rival Union Pacific and the Illinois Central railroads (both roads were at onetime part of the Harriman Empire.) Various nicknames have been ascribed to these locomotives, the most widely accepted name being “mikados”, as some of the first locos of this wheel arrangement were sent to Japan. (Note: during WW II, patriotic railroaders renamed these locos “MacArthurs”, for obvious reasons.) Locomotives always needed repairs, so the Southern Pacific worked up a large order of spare parts from the original builder, the famous Baldwin Locomotive Works.
In came the parts...boilers, fireboxes, driving wheels, pony trucks, tubes, flues... all the parts needed to keep the SP fleet of Mk-5's running.....except.... the SP had no intention of repairing locomotives. The SP consigned most of the parts to New Orleans and a smaller order to the SP shop at Houston, Texas, ostensibly for repairs. The two shops put their boiler makers to work. Over the next two years, the two shops turned out move than a dozen "built in Algiers” (or Houston) Mk-5 steam locomotives. For two years, Algiers was in the steam motive power manufacturing business.
The “mikes”, as they were called, were classic standard motive power. Designed primarily for freight service, the engines served as power for extra passenger and military moves. A quick look under the cab’s foot plate reveals an extra steam line connection for providing steam to passenger cars. Mikes were working class engines, able to handle main and branch line freight with equal skill. They did not strike the mystic chords of Big Boys, Challengers, Daylights, Southern Ps Pacifics, NYC Hudsons and Mohawks. Their world was the fifty car manifest freight train, the troop train extra to an Army base, and the cross town transfer.
745 steaming in the "glory days"
Of the mikes built in Algiers, they received road numbers 738-750. One of Dixon’s books has a “builder’s photo” of a long string of newly built mikes at the Algiers Shops. As part of the SP’s Texas and New Orleans subsidiary ( a direct descendant of Morgan’s Texas & Louisiana, and itself a post War Between the States orphan of the original New Orleans, Opelousas & Great Western), the mikes found most of their working lives east of El Paso and west of the Sabine. Because of Texas railroad law requirements, the distinctive Vanderbilt tenders were recipients of a “dog house”, a small metal out-house looking shed built atop the tender, to provide a station for the head end brakeman.

745 in Audubon Park
SP 745 will be a living tribute to those thousands of Louisiana citizens who have toiled in the railroad industry along with those now associated with its rebirth, maintenance, and operation.
On March 5 and 6, 2005, SP 745 and her four Louisiana Bicentennial Train passenger cars successfully completed round trips between Metairie and Reserve, Louisiana, on Kansas City Southern line. Along the right of way, thousands of Louisiana residents and hundreds of rail fans were treated to the sights and sounds of the New Orleans built (Algiers Shops 1921) steam locomotive and her historic consist.
As a result, SP 745 looks forward to her next assignment, touring Louisiana with her train in tow. On March 29, 2005, SP 745 departed from the Louisiana Steam Train (LASTA) yard in Jefferson, Louisiana, for a short trip to New Orleans Union Passenger Terminal (NOUPT), where she and her train were on display to the general public for two days, after which SP 745 and crew later headed west bound over the former SP main line to Morgan City, Louisiana (the first leg of her trans-Louisiana trip). It is more than appropriate that her first stop from the city where she was born will be at the city named for the president of the SPRR predecessor, Morgan's Louisiana & Texas.
The following letter is from the LASTA web site:
The President Speaks
Dear Members and Friends of LASTA:
How appropriate it is to be finishing up all the many details of our Louisiana Bicentennial tour for our departure during Easter Week! Easter / Spring is resurrection time! Our first 745 JOURNAL began in the spring of 2001 and talked of SP 745's eventual rebirth. Our first 745 hats hinted at this new life when it proclaimed "745 COMING ALIVE". Sp 745 IS alive and is now ready to spread America's adventurous spirit to all who witness her.
The exhibits of the Louisiana Bicentennial train feature the everyday life of the various ethnic groups living in the Louisiana territory from 1803-1806 and Thomas Jefferson's call for exploring America's vast new territory acquired from the Louisiana Purchase. There was much diversity, hardship, and excitement as the various peoples merged to make our nation strong.
And the same can be said for LASTA. So many diverse influences came together to make SP 745 a reality. Everyday people, professionals, politicians and religious leaders, all did their part to help. Hardship and disappointment became second nature for us. We have learned to laugh at the absurdity of how things can screw up. But we didn't give up! And that's the excitement of it all. We are blessed to have this "can do" spirit and be part of such an historic project.
I'm writing as if we are finished, but we are just beginning. There are many unknowns in our upcoming Bicentennial tour, just as there was when we planned for our recent railroad jamboree. The jamboree was beyond our dreams! We carry this same hope for the future.
LASTA has tripled its membership since (and because of) the railroad jamboree! We welcome our new members and hope you become part of our future. There is so much to be done . . . .but that's for another newsletter.
We are so grateful to God and so grateful for our volunteers and their families for all the help given. Please continue to support us with your donations and prayers. Thank you!
Bruce Brown President Louisiana Steam Train Association
With so many new LASTA members joining recently, just a few words to give you a short history.
Incorporated in 1997, the Louisiana Steam Train Association (LASTA), under the leadership of New Orleans native Bruce Brown, was founded to restore steam locomotive SP 745. This locomotive is the last surviving New Orleans built steam locomotives in the world. Built in 1921 in the Southern Pacific's Algiers Shops, she spent nearly thirty years as a display in Audubon Park, where thousands of children had their first opportunity to "play trains".
The historic steamer was saved by the efforts of the Old Kenner Railway Association and its Louisiana Railway Heritage Trust in 1983. On June 2, 2000, LASTA entered into a long term lease with the Trust to restore and operate SP 745. Working with state and local governmental bodies to obtain funding, and securing financial and in-kind service donations from many local industries, LASTA has achieved the dream of bringing SP 745 to working condition. The locomotive is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
LASTA has a nine member Board of Directors. LASTA has no paid employees, and LASTA members provide the volunteer labor to support LASTA's goals.
For more information on the restoration of the #745 and her trip across the south check out the web site at: http://www.lasta.org/ They will also tell you how to join and support LASTA .