Stories of the South - Gerhard Anderson
From time to time I receive some pretty great comments on the blog and some even better emails. First part of June I received a wonderful email from Gerhard Anderson of Tampa, FL. He had emailed to share a fantastic Kodachrome slide scan of his taken in Shuqualak, MS of the E.F. Nunn & Co. building. I covered this building back in April 2014 and you can find that blog post HERE. He had run across my blog post while trying to find information on the building and had emailed to ask if he could share his photograph with me. The photo is from 1987 and as you can see it’s fantastic. There is nothing that can recreate a Kodachrome sky.
We have been emailing back and forth and I asked if I could share some of his photographs and maybe an interview on the blog. He has graciously agreed. Below I’m sharing his writing and photographs. He is a train enthusiast and has been taking pictures since 1976 when he purchased his first manual SLR camera a Pentax KM. I asked him to give me a little background about himself.
Hello Mrs Pugh, Thank you very much for the kind comments. I’m not so sure I would be interesting enough for a interview. :) I have had a lifelong love for trains, both the real and the models. I have been collecting and building HO scale models for over 40 years now. In 1976 when I turned 20 I purchased my first camera a Pentax KM a fully manual SLR. With help from some of my railfan and model train friends I got a good start with my photography, Kodachrome 25 slide film, learning to work with correct sun angles, and took my first railfan trip to Birmingham Alabama. Since then I have been able to photograph trains all over this country but Mississippi was my favorite location. I really enjoyed photographing The Columbus & Greenville Railway, Meridian & Bigbee, Gulf & Mississippi, just to mention a few. It seems to me that some things hung on longer in Mississippi than in other places, like small town depots, the loading and use of pulpwood cars, and a lot of the least traveled rail lines that would have been pulled up elsewhere.
He was worried about not being very interesting, honestly. Traveling the country following the rail lines? Taking pictures of all kinds of neat depots and trains sounds fascinating to me. Gerhard also sent me more pictures and some wonderful words to go with them. I’ll let his words and pictures speak for themselves.
High noon on Fairground Street in Vicksburg, Mississippi. This Keystone Bridge Co. Pratt Thru Truss bridge was built in 1895 and closed to traffic in 1993. It stands sentinel over the Illinois Central Gulf yard. June 1984.
All is gone in this photo. The depot, the tracks and even the microwave tower on the left. Once a busy rail line and an essential life link for the local farmers and shippers, this was the gateway rail line for shipments going south to the Port of Mobile and north to connections with Mid-Western and Northeastern rail lines. Within the state of Mississippi, Corinth was on the extreme north and State Line MS was on the south. During the Mobile & Ohio Railroad (1851 to 1940) and then it’s successor Gulf Mobile and Ohio years ( 1940 to 1972.) This line prospered with both local and through traffic. Even a mainline passenger train "The Gulf Coast Rebel" Trains 15 & 16, provided service to Mobile and St. Louis (1940 to 1958) and more importantly the small communities along this route. The Rebel made stops in State Line at 9:15 am Southbound and 4:46 pm Northbound daily. The GM&O carried large blocks of refrigerated cars north from Mobile with fresh fruits and bananas from Central and South America to Chicago and Midwestern markets. Most of the local traffic was agricultural and a large amount of forest products were shipped including finished lumber and a tremendous amount of pulpwood logs more commonly referred to as 'short wood' used in making paper. After the merger of the Illinois Central and the Gulf Mobile & Ohio in August of 1972 to form the Illinois Central Gulf Railroad things started to change and after a few years the frequency of through trains dwindled to just a few in each direction, with most of the through traffic being diverted to other Illinois Central Gulf lines, especially the Mobile Al. to Hattiesburg and on to the Jackson route. A ICG local job provided service to State Line’s few shippers like Wally Timber who shipped pulpwood logs. This type of service continued until July 10, 1985 when Gulf & Mississippi Railroad took over service on the rail line through State Line. A rebirth of this segment of tracks had many difficulties to overcome, such as years of deferred maintenance and the many shippers who turned to trucks as their means of transportation. On April 14, 1988 the last owner of the railroad thru State Line would emerge, the Mid South Rail Corporation would acquire all 713 miles of the Gulf & Mississippi Railroad lines in Mississippi, Alabama and a small segment in Tennessee. While many of the Mid South’s lines succeeded, the line though State Line would only last a little over 4 years and total abandonment and removal of tracks, buildings and other structures would occur several miles north of State Line all the way to the Port of Mobile in 1992. In 2016 the only remains of this railroad in East Mississippi would be 55 miles from Meridian to Waynesboro, MS called the Meridian Southern Railway.
Two former Gulf Mobile & Ohio Woodracks, numbers 4217 and 4369, now wear Gulf & Mississippi markings, ‘GMSR’ at the Woodyard at State Line Mississippi. These two open end cars were supplied to Gulf Mobile & Ohio Railroad in early 1950’s by the General Cast Steel Co. of Granite City Illinois in kit form. These cars were assembled by Gulf Mobile & Ohio shop forces in Meridian and also in Mobile utilizing recycled wheels, trucks and brake equipment. These 2 open end cars were 36 years old at the time of this photograph. These General Cast Steel ‘racks’ endured and survived many years of rough and hard loading and unloading. The key to their longevity was there was only 3 components to the structure of the body, 2 ends and a center. Time was running out on these cars in 1986. Federal Railroad Administration law prohibited the interchange with other railroads a car older than 40 years and Paper Mills began converting to 'on site’ chipper’s to minimize cost of shipping and handling and processing at the mill. By the early to mid 1990’s Pulpwood logs will have largely disappeared from the South. The third car in the background is a former Illinois Central all welded car, much newer in design but not as strong as the GSC Cars.
Gulf & Mississippi Railroad GP10's 8256 and 8167 readies for departure from Artesia MS to Mobile Alabama. Painting locomotives was not an urgent priority on the Gulf & Mississippi, but moving tonnage was. This train would set off of cars in Meridian, MS for points East and West and pick-up cars going South to Mobile. This train would pass thru State Line very late in the afternoon or early evening. Photo taken in Artesia, Mississippi October 9 1987.
Again, thank you Gerhard for emailing me! It’s amazing the people I’ve gotten to talk to because of this blog. I have a few more pictures from Gerhard I'll be sharing in another post. If you enjoyed these images please either comment on the post at the bottom or email Gerhard directly at email@example.com and let him know that you enjoyed his pictures. I learned so much about the different railroad lines that I didn't know. I've always loved trains so getting to see these images was a treat. I can remember as a kid when they still loaded "short wood" at the woodyard located right on the railroad tracks in Pheba, MS. That same train would come through Cedar Bluff, MS and I would hear the clack clack of the train as it rumbled through when I would spend the night with a friend. Thanks again so much for sharing your pictures with all of us.