The Southern Pacific #745 (SP 745) holds a unique place in history as the sole surviving Louisiana-built steam locomotive. Born in the Southern Pacific’s Algiers shop in 1921, #745 was a stalwart, tirelessly hauling freight through the heartlands of Texas and Louisiana and even pulling the occasional troop train during World War II.

745 at the Southern Pacific yards in Houston, Tx

However, the post-war era brought about a downturn and a shifted demand towards the new diesel locomotives, which unfortunately cut short the service life of most steam locomotives, including # 745. In 1954, after a service of just over thirty years, she was retired to a display track in Aubudon Park, marking the end of a glorious era. But this was not the end of her story.

After 28 years on static display in the park, in 1984, Audubon’s plan to expand its zoo necessitated the removal of the engine. A group called the Old Kenner Railroad Association (OKRA) managed to get the engine donated to its care and removed it from the park.

Sept 1969 – SP 745 at Audubon Park (Robert Scorsone photo)

Bringing back to life a neglected 70-year-old steam engine was no small feat. With the support of public and private grants, a community of passionate volunteers, and a team of skilled rebuilders, this monumental task was undertaken. Their collective efforts finally set the wheels in motion.

2004 Rebuild

In December 2004, 745 embarked on its first main-line operations in 48 years, journeying to Reserve, LA and back over the Kansas City Southern Railway. Since then, SP 745 has embarked on tours across Louisiana, southwest Mississippi, and even made a long trip to Kansas City.

December 2004 Break-in Run

For the next 15 years, SP 745 operated in and around New Orleans and was featured in several motion pictures. In 2019, the locomotive was taken out of service for a boiler rebuild, which is required every 15 years or after 1472 operating days. Recently, we secured grant funds that will cover most of the costs, and we expect the rebuild to commence in late 2024.

Meanwhile, LASTA’s committed volunteers are diligently working on a new permanent location for their operations, where the historic 745 locomotive can be publicly displayed and operated on a regular schedule.

News

Orton Crane

On June 8, 2024, the crew relocated our Orton crane to begin the necessary preparations for an upcoming track maintenance project. This 160-ton Wrecker crane was built in December 1957 by the Orton Crane and Read more…

Train Rides with Santa

IMPORTANT WEATHER UPDATE: Our event will remain as scheduled this Saturday, December 16th. We may see some light rain in the late afternoon; however, his is not expected to cancel or postpone our event. We Read more…

Operations Officer and Chief Mechanical Officer

We are pleased to announce the appointment of Robert Riley as LASTA’s next Chief Operations Officer/Chief Mechanical Officer. Mr. Riley will oversee day-to-day operations, implementing the organization’s strategic plans. In addition, working closely with our Read more…