Engineer’s Journal – April 3, 2005
We backed out of the stub track on time, pulled to the siding and waited the mandatory 5 minutes before pulling out onto the main. Immediately after getting back on the main, we crossed over the Atchafalaya River on a huge lift span bridge. This is the same bridge that is pictured in the “Homeward Bound” prints that show 745 exiting the bridge eastbound. We later ran over another drawbridge and immediately past that took siding at Baldwin, LA which was our “flag stop”. The ramp was set up to allow visitors from the local Indian tribe who had donated to the train to visit. While the train was parked, UP ran a westbound freight around us and a little later an eastbound Amtrak Sunset Limited passed by.
I was on the opposite side of the train helping to keep the public off of the mainline while the trains passed by. A little 6-year-old girl, Deana Mae, had visited me in the cab about an hour before. She came up with a big grin and gave me a vanilla Moon Pie and a Pepsi. She was a real cutie.
We then ran mostly on advanced approach and approach signals as we were following the westbound freight that had passed us earlier, but we were able to maintain our 40 mph maximum allowable speed most of the way. We had an unfortunate incident around mp 116 when someone threw a large rock or brick and broke a window in the side of the Jefferson car. Barry immediately called a friend of his who has a glass company and they’re bringing several panes to the train in a day or two.
The town of New Iberia put us up in the New Iberia Inn. We were given a suite in which Ray Duplechain, Willy Meyers, David Bartee and I stayed. David Bartee accused Ray and me of having a snoring competition but we feel that it was a false accusation since neither one of us heard anything. We arrived at the depot in New Iberia on time and backed into the wye and onto L&D RR’s track which junctions there. We backed the train into a side track and tied it down for the evening. The guy who had met us in Morgan City showed up with an associate and they brought several high-pressure lubrication systems with them and had even custom machined a head for one of them to fit our extra-large buttons. It’s really been heartwarming to see how much folks have responded to and support the LASTA efforts with the train. Some other folks showed up with a couple of bags of crayfish and an LP boiling pot and the crew had a crawfish boil next to the train.
I wanted to see if the restaurant in a little inn in St. Martinville was still open where Jane and I had had a nice meal in 1991 and Ray Duplechain and I drove the 10 miles over to St. Martinville. The inn, which is next to Longfellow’s Evangeline Oak, was still there but looked like the restaurant was closed. There was a phone on the front and I called the number by the phone. The lady said that she had closed the restaurant several years before. She recommended a restaurant called “Possum’s” and we had a good meal there.