St. Tammany Rails -- Part 1

Prologue: I spent the mid-1960's living in Covington, Louisiana and took a number of pictures of local railroad operations during that period. Most were black and white and of marginal quality. But, it was a fun thing to do and I had a vague notion that some day others might also be interested in railroading around St. Tammany Parish in this era. Chuck Graham, a life-long friend visited me a couple times; he had the good camera and he sent me many of his pictures. The following images are from the tin boxes of photos which originally inspired me to create Larry's Rail Pages. That first attempt at creating a web presence evolved into Alpha Rail Net.

Fast forward to 2012 and the Facebook Era. Scanners have improved, bandwidth has increased, my rudimentary web skills have even grown a tad and friends from the 60's are reconnecting online. The time has come to redo the historic pictures, starting with the following sampling of trains in St. Tammany Parish in the 1960's. As always, you may click on the smaller (500 pixel) image to view a larger (1000 pixel, ~100KB) version.

Covington

The Gulf Mobile & Ohio main line passed the Covington Depot with a Chicago & Northwestern box car spotted at the freight house. The term "main line" might be an overstatement here, since the GM&O branch up from Slidell only went as far as Covington. However, the tracks did continue to Hammond and were used frequently by the Crown Zellerbach pulp wood trains shown below.

Photo: Larry Tuttle - March, 1965

By the 1960's freight traffic to Covington required only a few trains a week to keep up with business, but the GM&O did maintain the line. An ancient truss-rod yellow outfit car graces what I labeled "Burns Siding" at the freight station.

Photo: Larry Tuttle - March, 1964

A load of drywall had arrived on a flat car and was in the process of being unloaded when I happened by.

Photo: Larry Tuttle - March, 1965

Several times a week Crown Zellerbach would dispatch a train of empty pulp wood cars from its paper plant in Bogalusa, La. This movement would first go south on the GM&O to Slidell, hang a right (heading west) on the Covington branch through Mandeville, turn back north up to Abita Springs and then west again on through Covington. An Alco RS-1 would lead this train, shown here at Claiborne Hill just east of downtown Covington.

Photo: Chuck Graham - August, 1965

A going away view of the same train. The paint scheme on the Alco was green with an orange stripe.

Photo: Chuck Graham -- August, 1965

North of downtown Covington the train crosses Tyler St. The fireman returns my wave from the cab.

Photo: Chuck Graham -- August, 1965

The CZ used a variety of cars for its pulp racks. Many, if not all, were converted from flat cars, no doubt by the company shop personnel. This view is intriguing in that the center car is of truss rod construction. By the mid-60's truss rods were outlawed for Interchange service and relegated to work trains and, apparently, pulp trains.

Photo: Chuck Graham -- August, 1965

Bringing up the markers is ancient ancient wooden caboose.

Photo: Chuck Graham -- August, 1965

More photos and a map of this CZ pulp train operation from 1960 and the 1980's are at Hawkinsrails.net.

Florenville

East of Covington and north of Slidell, on Louisiana route 36 is the little community of Florenville, La. This place barely existed in 1965 and doesn't appear on very many maps today. The GM&O serviced a pulp wood loading yard of its own on a spur track at this location. On a couple of occasions, I was fortunate to catch a local train switching here.

An overall view to the south of the pulp wood yard shows a pretty spartan setup. The locomotive is setting out a cut of empties while the rest of the train sits on the main.

I've always assumed that the GM&O hauled this wood up the line to Bogalusa. I hope someone will correct me if this is wrong.

Photo: Larry Tuttle - October, 1965

On another visit, with Chuck and his better camera, we caught the same action, viewed here looking north. At one time the State of Louisiana thought enough of the GM&O to build an overpass for highway 36.

Photo: Chuck Graham - August, 1965

Backing into the siding, this RS-2 just reeks of hot oil.

Photo: Chuck Graham - August, 1965

Roster shot of an Alco road switcher at work in the pine forests of the Delta country.

Photo: Chuck Graham - August, 1965

With the switching completed and the train reassembled, the GM&O local heads north towards Bogalusa.

Photo: Larry Tuttle -- October, 1965

A screen shot of Map Quest's satellite image of the above scene shows not much is left today, though the remains of the wood yard are evident. The rails are gone, however, clicking the "Show Labels" box reveals ownership of the line by the Norfolk Southern. Examination of this right of way continue to show Norfolk Southern up to the St. Tammany-Washington Parish line at which point the label changes to Illinois Central. Following the line as far as Bogalusa reveals track still in use at the paper plant there and a couple of decent sized, active yards.

Credit: Map Quest.com

Continue exploring St. Tammany Rails -- Part 2 with action in Pearl River and St. Joe

Return to Historical Photographs on Alpha Rail Net

Alpha Rail Net Home

All photos copyright by the photographer

Contact the Web Master