News

2006 General Meeting

LASTA held its first general meeting in the new Sea Island Visitors Center on November 2. The officers and team leaders provided information on our recent events and updated the membership on current projects. LASTA extended its lease on 745 and various pieces of equipment owned by Louisiana Railroad Heritage Trust (LRHT).

Louis Saillard reported that we gained 43 members during the month of October. Many joined during our successful “Steam Fest” that was held at Audubon Park. Harry Abbott was appointed as our new Safety Officer.

Steam Fest

LASTA held its first STEAM FEST with the locomotive and her exhibit train on display at Riverview Park behind Audubon Zoo on October 14 and 15. Music was provided by Dennis and Company , Country Fried , Pat Flory and Hazel and the Delta Ramblers. A special slide lecture was given by railroad historian Louis Saillard.

Pittsburg Kansas Steam Excursion

745 and its crew made four runs each day during the weekend using a Push-Pull set up, three RDC coaches and a diesel on the rear for the return run. There were 1050 riders for the weekend. This event was sponsored by the Heart of the Heartlands Railroad Club with the assistance of South Kansas Oklahoma Railroad and Watco Companies, Inc.

Kearney, MO – 150th Anniversary

  • “The good times roll on the Spirit of Louisiana” – Kansas City Star (2-27-06)
  • “More than a Whistle Stop” – Kansas City Star (02-06)
  • “Speaking of History” – Kansas City Star interview with 745’s Engineer as we prepared to leave for the next event
  • Interview- Eric Langhorst (8th grade American History Teacher at South Valley Jr. High – Liberty, MO )
Liberty MO
Watco

Liberty, MO

Fat Tuesday – Kansas City

LASTA’s exhibit cars were wonderfully decorated with items from the Kenner Mardi Gras museum and were displayed on Mardi Gras Day (2/28) for media and the Union Station museum staff. The exhibit opened to the public on Saturday, March 4, and remained open for several weeks.

Kansas City

 

 

 

 

LASTA wishes to offer special THANKS to the following people and companies for helping us get 745 to Kansas City and back home:

  • Kansas City Southern Railroad and its employees, from the president down to the car man, for their support and encouragement.
  • New Orleans Public Belt Railroad, for getting 745 into the general transportation system and assisting with our safety training.
  • Canadian National Railway Company (CN Railroad)
  • Wayne Goins and the Plasti-Shell Packing Company for the use of their spur track.
  • Chief Mike Lambert with the Sorrento Fire Department
  • Gonzales Police and Fire Departments
  • Cypress Recycle for the late night fuel oil delivery to Sorrento

  • Chief Burl Larson with the Coushatta Fire Department
  • Cado Parish Dist 1 and 8, Colfax, Coushatta and Morganza as well as other Louisiana firefighters and departments who helped with our water logistics.
  • Decatur(MO) Drexel (MO), Mena (AR), Neosho (MO), Pittsburg (KS) and Sallisaw(OK) Fire Departments
  • A Big Thanks to all our Volunteers!

Kansas City Here We Come

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.

Steam Train brings Mardi Gras to Kansas City

Press Release Feb 21, 2006

SP-745 Kansas City Union Station

Kansas City’s Union Station and the Louisiana Steam Train
Association announces the Sprit of Louisiana exhibit at Union Station. The Spirit of Louisiana exhibit showcases the history and traditions of Mardi Gras in antique railroad cars pulled by a 1921 steam engine. Both the repairs to the steam train and re-emergence of Mardi Gras after Hurricane Katrina result from strong traditions and deep history. The Mardi Gras exhibit will appear from Friday, February 24 through Tuesday, May 23, 2006.

Mardi Gras, French for “Fat Tuesday”, is the ancient last celebration before
the Christian pre-Easter season of penance and fasting known as Lent. But in New Orleans, Mardi Gras has also evolved into a broader celebration encompassing everything from jazz music, to the African-influenced festivities of the “Mardi Gras Indians”, to the parades both carefully planned and spontaneous, to the full-dress evening balls. Come and see the costumes, the parade throws, the bands, the marching groups, and other elements of this grand celebration.

The train containing the Mardi Gras exhibit includes the last surviving
steam engine built in Louisiana. Number 745, the former Southern Pacific
“Mikado”-type steam locomotive, was built in 1921 and served until 1956. It then retired to display in New Orleans’ Audubon Park. The Louisiana Steam Train Association restored it to operating condition in 2004 and completed repairs after Hurricane Katrina in early February 2006. Today the steam engine operates just as it did in 1921, and pulls antique coaches containing the exhibit.

March 2005 Test Run

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”.

 

December 2004 – Test Run!

On the road, SP-745 pounding the high iron, with the Ray Deplechain, caboose. Engineer Bill Johnson, Fireman David Bartee were assisted by LASTA hoggers in training – Bill Morris and Keith Bonnette.  Aboard the caboose were a highly motivated and trained crew of LASTA volunteers, who became the first riders behind 745 in fifty years.

 

January 2004 – Hydro Test

Work also continued on the other equipment. What started out as two ex-Auto Trains (ex-RF&P baggage cars) are well on their way into becoming theater cars. When completed, each car will have three separate and divided galleries, each supporting its own audio visual equipment as well as separate exhibits depicting the Louisiana Territory at the time of the Louisiana Purchase. LASTA volunteers have put in hundreds of man-hours into the massive remodeling project. Each theater can comfortably accommodate 25 standing adults.

August 2003 – The Big Plan?

The meeting was hosted by former Louisiana Lt. Governor & retired KCSRR Vice President Jimmy Fitzmorris. In attendance were representative of Union Pacific RailroadKansas City Southern Railroad, Burlington Northern Santa Fe RailwayCanadian National (IC) Railroad, and Louisiana & Delta Railroad.

The meeting confirmed the cooperation of the railroads involved and it was decided that the steam train will operate over the lines of BNSF, KCS, and CN railways, with the UPRR providing trackage links as necessary.

 

January 2003 – 745 Party!

In addition to the usual suspects, news coverage was quite good. Both the print and TV media were represented at the yard, with a nice spread in the Metro edition of the Times Picayune, and extensive coverage that night on TV.

Greg Dodd has been in town for about six weeks to work on 745. Talk about tireless, you could drive out to the yard and there was Greg under the big red tarp working away.

LASTA History – 2001 BBQ

 

LASTA History – 2001

 

Greg had the bid just for one day since it was declared invalid the following day because the bid bond check was not received. Greg was ready to quit, but under Bruce’s spell, he finally agreed to resubmit his bid. To complicate matters even more, another “interested” individual showed up at the site to view the project. This individual admitted he knew little about steam engines, but wanted to make “a lot of money” since he had given up his share of one of the state’s gaming casinos. He said he was going to hire some “good people” to fix 745. He arranged for some consultants to come by and look the job over but they never showed up! This same individual, on the day the bid was due, missed the deadline by ten minutes! Greg was again the only bidder. Bruce had a lot of scotch that night to celebrate life’s absurdities. But the drink was too soon!

The next day, the bid was again declared invalid since the bid bond check was again missing. Before planning to jump off the Crescent City Connection, Bruce wanted to at least explain to Greg why he didn’t get the bid again. When told, Greg screamed very loudly that he did put the check in the envelope with the bid. On the way to the bridge, Bruce called the DOTD and told them what Greg had screamed. They checked the envelope and found the check! They stated that they had never seen a bid without a check stapled to it and thus assumed that the check was not there. Thank God the envelope was saved! Bruce immediately turned from the bridge. but again it was much too early to celebrate.

After a bid is accepted, a certain amount of time is permitted to obtain a performance bond before the bid is declared invalid. LASTA, Greg, Jefferson Parish, and countless insurance agencies tried to obtain the required bond. LASTA was finally told that it would be easier to get the required bond to build another Taj Mahal than to restore a steam engine. Finally, at the eleventh hour, Bobby Palmer, a friend of Bruce, was able to get the required performance bond. Greg still maintains that the actual rebuild of 745 will be much easier than obtaining the “Notice to Proceed”.

” As you may know by now, my crew and I came to your lovely town on October 26, 2001, and started tearing 745 down on October 29, 2001. The 745 cooperated very well. So far it is going to be a good rebuild. I have seen both better and worse rebuilds. We are looking forward to returning in January to get the boiler ready for sandblasting and do form #4 surveys. Until then I really would like to thank everyone for all the help and support.” 
—Greg Dodd – October 2001

 

LASTA Histroy – 2000

The RPC staff was very helpful but had their own set of guidelines to be met before they could meet our request. After months of answering their questions and concerns, the 745 restoration project was presented to the full commission and was adopted by the full membership.

Victory was only momentary, as we were soon informed that the Regional Planning Commission was not a suitable governmental sponsor since it had no power to raise money from taxes.