Trains Again

The one that did it.

That old Amtrak engine.

Another picture of that influenced my publisher into commissioning the third book of my little collection. “Abandoned Railroads of New Orleans.” I loved the idea. I signed on the dotted line.

And, then.

New Orleans is like a giant railroad terminus and hub. Trains come from all four points on the compass. They pick up ship-based freight. The trains are broken apart and cars are shipped to other regions. Most railroad companies have car barns here. They have engine sheds here. I found a working turntable in the yard of the railroad company that I own.

I don’t own it entirely. I own about 1/385,000 of it. The citizens of New Orleans owns It is the New Orleans Belt Railroad. They are responsible or moving freight cars from one railroad company to another.

One would think that there would be plenty of abandoned railroad-related stuff around here.

One would be wrong.

All of the railroads working here are modern and efficient. If they abandon a track line, they tear it up. If a train car is to be scrapped, it doesn’t linger. There really isn’t much abandoned stuff to photograph. Even the trains in the picture are owned by the railroad historical society.

I heard about a place in another parish where there is also a rail scrapping yard. Apparently, they have enough work that projects take a while to be demo’d. That’s not in Orleans Parish. I talked to my publisher about it. They graciously agreed, and we rewrote the top of the contract. Now, the book is “Abandoned Railroads of Louisiana.” They hope that they can do a 50 state series. They like me well enough that I can pick and choose because once again I’m functioning as a reporter and photographer. I help build their knowledge about a subject. I might pick one or two more railroad books, but they are going to take a long time to photograph. As a wise man once said, “Sometimes the hardest part of taking a picture is getting there.”

The picture. The baby Leica to the rescue. Man, is its lens sharp and contrasty. I had to did a lot of tinkering to get the picture down to this level. I added some glow to it because… I felt like it. I won’t do that to the pictures for the book. This work is pretty close to photojournalism.