Plans for historic steam locomotive SP 745 to pull an empty grain train on the New Orleans and Gulf Coast (NOGC) Railway have been delayed until at least August or September. However, our GoFundMe campaign to raise the needed money for this special freight excursion continues!
Initial projections that the NOGC would have an empty grain train for SP 745 to pull this spring did not pan out but the railway expects there will be several opportunities for this to happen in the late Summer and Fall when grain season resumes.
As we have stated all along if for some reason the planned steam freight excursion does not happen WE WILL REFUND YOUR DONATION!
In the meantime, we will keep you posted as to exactly when this special steam freight excursion is expected to take place in August or September.
Thanks for your patience and understanding! And THANK YOU for your donations!
Exciting news, railfans! Help us take a quick trip back in time! To the sights and sounds and smells of the mighty steam locomotive! What better way to help celebrate the Crescent City’s Tricentennial with a real blast from the past! Although not exactly in New Orleans nor an official Tricentennial event…historic Southern Pacific Steam locomotive #745 (SP 745) will relive the past when she pulls a freight train on the New Orleans and Gulf Coast (NOGC) Railroad.
This will be a 20 mile long run along the mainline of the NOGC from Myrtle Grove to Gouldsboro Yard in Gretna, Louisiana which is a short distance from where SP 745 was born nearly 100 years ago and just across the Mighty Mississippi from 300-year-old New Orleans! The NOGC route parallels Louisiana State Highway 23 for nearly the entire route and includes a bit of street running on Madison Street in Gretna.
A steam-powered freight train is an extremely rare sight in the 21 st century and it’s something that’s never been seen in southeast Louisiana since steam railroading faded away in the 1950s but with your help the past will come alive as SP 745 pulls a long cut of grain cars to the delight of rail fans and the wonderment of the general public. Recommended viewing areas will be announced later and we ask that you please respect private property. This is a freight-only trip so no passengers will be on board.
The exact date has not been set and that’s where you, the rail enthusiast will need to get involved. We need to raise $10,000 to make it all happen. A GoFundMe account has been set up at https://www.gofundme.com/sp745. As an extra added bonus, any money raised beyond the cost of this event will go into 745’s flue fund as the old girl’s boiler must be rebuilt next year as mandated by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA).
We hope to run this once in a lifetime steam freight excursion in the next few weeks so what are you waiting for…PLEASE DONATE TODAY!
All donations will be refunded if the excursion is canceled.
December 16, 2017 – It was a magical day for a few in the city of New Orleans as SP 745, the last surviving steam engine built in Louisiana, headed out onto the main line. Operated by the Louisiana Steam Train Association (LASTA), SP 745 had a special mission as Santa’s North Pole Steam Train.
Children and adults alike were enchanted with this one-time holiday experience as SP 745 steamed from the Fly (near Audubon Park) to Blaine Kern’s Mardi Gras World. Once there, passengers disembarked and enjoyed a festive holiday party with hot cocoa and cookies along with a special showing of everyone’s favorite Christmas movie, The Polar Express!
After the movie, SP 745 chugged her way to the foot of Canal Street to pick up that jolly old man himself, Santa Claus! As the special train headed back to the Fly, Santa handed out a special gift and invitation to all onboard to come to LASTA’s annual Christmas Party at the railyard the following day. Additionally, each ticket holder received a 2018 LASTA family membership at no charge.
The crew of SP 745 would like to extend special thanks to the New Orleans Public Belt Railroad and its employees who worked with LASTA to make this event a great success. And, a very special thank you to all the passengers for taking a holiday trip!
For more information on SP 745, LASTA and future events, please see www.lasta.org.
After several years on hiatus due to major levee reconstruction on The Fly at Audubon Park, Southern Pacific Steam Locomotive #745 returns! It’s the 2016 Steam Train Festival! The historic engine and her exhibit train will be parked on the rails at “The Fly” for all to see Saturday and Sunday, October 15th and 16th from 9 am to 5 pm both days.
SP 745 is the star attraction of Steam Fest! The nearly 100-year-old steam engine was built just across the river in Algiers in 1921 and is the only surviving Louisiana built steam locomotive. The old girl sat as a cold, static display in Audubon Park from 1956 to 1984 when she was pulled out of the park to make room for the expansion of Audubon Zoo.
Now 745 returns to Audubon Park as a hot, living, breathing, steaming, fully restored blast from the past! Visitors will be able to view this monstrous mechanical marvel and climb aboard 745 to blow her whistle and see how a real steam engine operates. Steam Fest is a rare chance to experience a unique and significant piece of New Orleans and Louisiana railroad history up close and personal.
But that’s not all! Showcased inside our theatre cars will be a special exhibit of the many historical monuments of New Orleans and their creators. The exhibit will cover monuments to real people erected from before the Civil War to the present. There will also be displays on the New Orleans Public Belt Railroad as well as the Louisiana Steam Train Association (LASTA) which maintains and operates SP 745.
As always, music is an integral part of the entertainment at Steam Fest. Hazel and the Delta Ramblers, a Steam Fest favorite, will perform along with three other musical groups…Bob and The Thunder, River Rats and Jenn Howard and Band. There will also be a bounce house and rock wall climbing to add to the excitement for the kids! Of course, Steam Fest would not be the same without good food, liquid refreshments and railroad related gifts!
All are welcome to come out, enjoy and support a special piece of living Louisiana railroad history at the 2016 Steam Train Festival!
SP 745 APPEARANCE AT THE 2016 GRETNA FEST HAS BEEN CANCELLED
Due to circumstances beyond our control, historic Southern Pacific Steam Locomotive # 745 and train WILL NOT appear at this year’s Gretna Fest! We regret any inconvenience this may have caused.
Please look for SP 745 and her exhibit train at STEAM FEST! Check back here at www.LASTA.org for the very latest on STEAM FEST, scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, October 15th and 16th, 9 am to 5 pm both days on The Fly at Audubon Park!
In the last issue of the 745 Journal, we had advertised a Steam Up scheduled for February 28th. If have followed our recent posts, you may already know that our crew is working on the throttle value. The crew has reported that the job will not be complete by this weekend; therefore, we will need to re-schedule the Steam Up.
If you are in the area, please feel free to stop by the yard this weekend. It will be an excellent opportunity to see the work in progress.
Come join us at the 2015 LASTA Christmas party on SAT DEC 12. The party is scheduled from 11 AM until 4 pm and is open to the public. Santa will be arriving on SP-745 and we will have train rides for everyone.
745 club members will be able to sit in the engineer’s seat and run the locomotive. Not a member – ask us how!
Dear LASTA Members, your LASTA Crew will be in attendance at this year’s Gretna Heritage Festival, however, the 745 locomotive and her cars will not.
This unfortunate circumstance is due to lack of available rail to switch our equipment caused by the reconfiguration of the yard and adjoining track along the main line. Your Crew continues their efforts to reconfigure track for more mobility in the yard as our stopgap measure until the new location is secured. Plan to come to see all the work at the upcoming Christmas party in December. The exact date will be announced soon.
Meanwhile, we look forward to seeing you at the GretnaFest. Stop by and say hi!
LASTA will be present staffing our booth at the usual location on 4th St. and Huey P. Long Ave. along with Operation Lifesaver. We will support our sponsor Ellsworth Corporation with their maritime steam exhibit.
The LASTA Board has decided to postpone Steam Fest for 2012, previously set for May of this year. While LASTA searches for another Steam Fest Coordinator, the Board is reviewing ideas for moving the event from the “Fly” at Audubon Park to a more popular and accessible location. The goal is to find a location which will allow 745 to actually build up to full steam and move along the track for the enjoyment of patrons.
On December 3rd, LASTA will hold our annual Christmas Party. 745 will be under steam for the event that is free to all LASTA members. Due to yard construction and our limited space, our rides will be shorter than normal. We are planning to have our rail car (speeeder) operating from the rear of the yard out to the main line.
Date: Saturday December 3, 2011
Time: 1pm to 4 pm
Place: LASTA Yard 1501 Jefferson Hwy Jefferson, LA 70121
Today the crew completed the final work on track two. The switch was removed a few weeks ago and today the final spikes were driven to complete the new section. We moved two box cars across the new track and everything worked well. Track 2 is the last long section in the old yard.
Track one was removed a few weeks ago. Track 3 and 4 have been gone for nearly a year.
The new “Discovery Track” is finally finished and is now home to the Sea Island and the Virginia Beach. These cars will serve as our on-site offices and meeting room. The Sea Island is almost ready to occupy; however, the Virginia Beach still needs a complete interior remodel.
Dear LASTA Members , you are invited to come see the Southern Pacific 745 Steam Locomotive make her second appearance at the annual Gretna Heritage Festival a.k.a. GretnaFest this weekend from October 7-9.
Your dedicated volunteers completed the annual Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) inspection just in time to steam up and operate the engine. She is now fired and under steam at the yard in advance of the move to the West Bank during the day tomorrow under diesel powered escort. Once we arrive at the 4th Street track in Gretna LASTA will drop the fire for the duration of the event and relight for the return to Old Jefferson on Monday the 10th. Come out while we are on the move and crossing the Huey P. Long Bridge on either of these days. The exact move times will be posted as we get them coordinated with our partner railroads.
The engine will be displayed prominently on 4th St. by the intersection of Huey P. Long Avenue. LASTA is bringing the Jefferson Parlor car and the LASTA Caboose along with the “Mike Hankins” Memorial Crew Car. The 745 cab will be staffed for tours again this year. LASTA volunteer and certified instructor “Bigfoot” will staff the Operation Lifesaver display inside the Caboose. The Jefferson will be set up for our members to tour and take a break from the festival action in style.
New this year for the festival is our corporate sponsor Ellsworth Corporation’s large display trailer setup with another batch of beautifully restored marine engines and artifacts. Two of these will be connected to an external compressor in lieu of live steam to actually operate.
Wear you LASTA attire or buy some new items at our gift shop. The LASTA HO-scale model of the consist will be on display for sale of additional raffle tickets. Photographs will be allowed on the front of the engine again this year.
Pass the word along for others that may be headed to the fest to come see us and see how your generous donations have allowed your LASTA volunteers to maintain the last remaining Louisiana built locomotive with meticulous care.
In 2004, KCS Railroad had invited SP-745 to Kansas City for the Bicentennial of the Lewis & Clack Expedition. We were unable to attend since the rebuild was running behind schedule. KCS called again in 2005 when the Museum of Science and History opened at the Union Station. We were unable to attend, as members of our crew were still trying to recover from Hurricane Katrina. Finally, in 2006, we were invited to Mardi Gras and this time we couldn’t say no.
With the assistance of Jefferson Parish President Aaron Broussard arranged a first-rate Mardi Gras exhibit with the help of the Parish Convention and Visitors Bureau along with the Kenner Marid Gras World. We were ready to celebrate Mardi Gras!
745 departed the KCS yard for Kansas City on February 21. We had an unexpected stop in Sorrento, LA due to mechanical problems. Our driver bearing heated up and forced us to stop. We considered returning home but decided to continue. The next two days were spend on a short industrial siding, where the crew removed the side rods to allow the engine to be towed. At 11:15 am, on February 24, SP745 departed with TFM Locomotive 1412 providing power.
SP 745 and her four Louisiana Bicentennial Train passenger cars successfully completed round trips between Metairie and Reserve, Louisiana, on Kansas City Southern line on March 4 and 5. Along the right of way, thousands of Louisiana residents and hundreds of rail fans were treated to the sights and sounds of the New Orleans built steam locomotive and her historic consist.
On March 6, Huge crowds of families visited SP 745 upon her return. “Dr. Diesel” himself, Mike Palmieri, was observed hamming it up with Skip Waters of Dallas, Texas, as folks came from all over to celebrate SP 745’s return. Engineer Bill Johnson performed at the jamboree with Cajun folk singer Papillion as music takes a blue grass turn. Bill is primo banjo picker for the Backroom Bluegrass Band, creators of “Ghosts Along the Line, Ballard of Ol’745”.