We steamed her up for the last time today. I decided to tie the stuffed ‘possum “Dumplin” on top of the headlight for the trip home. We’d adopted her at the Cracker Barrel Restaurant in Shreveport. The train was opened up to the public for the last time this morning and closed this afternoon. We started backing up on the lead around 16:45 this afternoon. The weather was nice and it was great to have the trip both begin and end with such beautiful weather. KCS MOP Ted Wax was with us again for the last trip and said that he was sad to see it coming to an end and we certainly agreed with him. Ted was a major part of all the test runs and also started and ended the grand adventure with us and it was sad to say goodbye to him at Lambert Junction.
While we were waiting for the NOPB to pick us up, the NOPB 2001 went by with the office car City of New Orleans in tow and General Manager Jim Bridger and a number of guests were on the back platform when it went by. I radioed to 745 and Keith Bonnette did a nice job with a whistle tribute when they went by. It was also nice to end our trip by waving to Jim since the NOPB had done so much to support us as well. They pushed us onto the LASTA lead and then cut off and backed away. I pulled forward around the 16-degree curve and had a little problem with the drivers slipping due to grass that had grown over the rails. As soon as I got the engine through the gate, I got off of 745 and turned her over to Bill Morris so he could bring her into the yard and finish the trip.
Some of 745’s many fans came out to say goodbye as we headed through the Kansas City Southern’s New Orleans Yard on the way to the LASTA yard and the completion of the trip.
We said goodbye to KCS MOP Ted Wax at Lambert Junction. Ted had played a vital part in our testing and regular operations of the trip and it was sad to see such a great adventure coming to an end for both of us, as well as the rest of the crew.
We closed the event with a gathering of the crew and a final prayer which included thanks and prayer for Gregg Dodd who had done such a marvelous job of restoring the locomotive. We rounded up a few final pieces of equipment and David and I hit the road to start the long drive home. As we were leaving, one of the crew blew a goodbye to us on 745’s whistle as we headed down Jefferson Highway. We drove to Mobile, AL and stayed the night in the Comfort Suites just west of town. The hardest part of our trip was saying goodbye to all our wonderful friends and teammates!