Direct links to archived railga.com pages

RailGA.com was the most comprehensive site on the net for information about railroads in Georgia, until a couple of months ago when it just mysteriously went down.

Fortunately most of the pages were archived by the Wayback Machine.

Railroad History Index

North Georgia Map

South Georgia Map

Dadsplaining Dad-Rock, Part II – The Metal Years

Part of “an incomplete history of hard rock, heavy metal, and punk rock music”, continued from here.

I am going to dispense with most of the commentary and concentrate on simply listing things. Otherwise I will never actually finish any of these posts. As with part 1, videos disappearing off of youtube is a constant threat to the usefulness of these links. Ye have been warned.

Heavy Metal – the NWOBHM and its fellow travelers

Many of the bands here were part of the “New Wave of British Heavy Metal” (NWOBHM) circa 1979-1982. Confusingly but predictably, this music is now referred to as Traditional Heavy Metal.

NHOBHM wasn’t so much a single musical style as a cultural movement, and elements of later genres can already be heard.

Glam Metal and its strange bedfellows

Glam Metal (also known as “Hair Metal”) was not so much a musical fusion of Heavy Metal with Glam Rock, as the adoption of Glam Rock hair and clothing by hard rock and metal bands. The earliest Glam Metal was, musically speaking, almost indistinguishable from the Heavy Metal listed above. But these similarities faded fast.

By the late 80s, Glam Metal was so popular that it was the “default” style of hard rock in the popular mind. The genre nearly vanished from public view during the 90s.

Speed Metal

Neoclassical Metal and other “shred” artists

Thrash Metal

The darker, edgier, heavier Metal of the mid to late 80s. The sonic characteristics that defined Thrash have become so widely diffused, in the 21st century to say that a band or genre is influenced by “metal” is mostly synonymous with saying they have a Thrash influence.

Etc.

Stuff that simply has to be listed but doesn’t fit elsewhere on the page.

Coming in part 3: 80s hardcore, crossover thrash, alternative metal, etc etc

 

Junker’s Rebellion

A comic that I drew during the 1992-1993 academic year, mostly during first period A.P. Spanish II, taught by “Señor Bryant”.

These strips were the first mention of “Fluxum Florum” (later spelled FLVXXVM FLORVM), some time before I thought to start using it as a musical alias.

This strip is probably a redrawn version of a lost original. You can tell by the late date (too late for that school year), the fact that it is inked, and the fact that it is not on 3-hole notebook paper. These very-evenly-sized panels were created on a computer, printed out, and inked-over so they looked drawn.

This is a genuine drawn-in-class one. It was the introduction of Junker’s nemesis, “Spearmint Sherry”. The “Franco-Prussian War Flying Ace” was a running gag, of which this was the first instance.

Another re-drawn one on printer paper, a tribute to Dr. Demento:

A roughly drawn two-parter that mentions Fluxum Florum and sees the introduction of “Kermit Grande”.

I’m pretty sure this Holodeck was not the only Trekkie reference in the strip. I distinctly recall one where Kermit Grande was a Ferengi.

A stand-alone drawing of “Kermit Grande”:

Three more genuine classroom productions. This one, the version I chose to scan was a photocopy made soon after drawing it. It is better preserved than the pencil version.

A really rough one. The “small people” here refers to, if I recall correctly, an internal parody of “Mr. Men and Little Miss” that may or may not have appeared in other strips.

The “Ben Gray” in this strip is not, as some have assumed, a parody of Ben “The Thing” Grimm. (He doesn’t even look like The Thing, ffs) He is rather a fairly accurate depiction of a classmate. “Junior” is an accurate rendering of the sign from a convenience store of that name close to the school.

Note the backstory of Junker’s parents was changed from that depicted in the first strip shown above. At some point I decided that they were not just generic “square middle aged people”, but very specifically they were “square middle aged people who used to listen to punk rock back in like 1977 or something”.

Here’s two more strips involving the “Franco Prussian War Flying Ace”. I did these in pencil with the intention of tracing in ink later, but never did. The fact that the letterhead and panels appear to be printed on something better than a dot matrix suggests these were much later than all the others here. (I have no memory of having any access to inkjet or laser printers at any time while in high school)

 

“Standard” Locomotive Cab Variations

Because while writing about wide nose variations I realized there also didn’t really exist such a catalog of non-wide cabs. Conventional road-switchers only!

Except for the railroad custom jobs at the end, standard cabs are not being built new since the 1990s. However, so many were sold over the years that they remain ubiquitous in all situations other than the lead unit on a mainline train: trailing power, locals, switching; not to mention museum-pieces.

EMD

Early high nose

The classic, original EMD look of the 1950s. Used on early road-switchers such as the GP7, GP9, GP18, etc.

GP7 (Sean Lamb)

Early low nose

Used on a very small number of GP9s, and then on GP18, GP20, etc. The factory low nose sloped downward from back to front. I have seen divided and undivided windshields, not sure if both are original or not.

Low-nose GP18 (Montgomery County Planning Commission)

GP18 (Sean Lamb)

Early, chopped nose

Most of the low-nose first generation EMD’s are the result of modification by the owners. These vary wildly in appearance depending on who rebuilt them and when.

GP10 – rebuilt GP9 (Mose Crews)

GP7 (Paul Rome)

GP30

Unique design, never used again, but serving as a transitional model between the generations before and after.

GP30 (Harvey Henkelmann)

If you think that looks unusual, check out the high hood version:

High-Hood GP30 (Richard Gibson)

Standard, aka “Spartan” Cab

This is the normal basic EMD cab, the face of US railroading for decades. Introduced with the GP35 in 1963 and used up through the SD70.

GP35 at the 1964 World’s Fair (Chuck Zeiler)

Final models (SD70s, some SD60s and GP60s) have a housing on the side of the nose for the “ICE” (Integrated Cab Electronics).

SD70 (source)

Standard, high nose

Associated with Southern and N&W. Considered more crashworthy than the low version. (It was also cheaper for a long time) These kept their high short hoods well into the NS era.

GP38-2 (Paul Leach)

The Snoot

Elongated nose to hold early radio control equipment. Used only on SD40-2 – taking advantage of the model’s long frame.

SD40-2 (Sylvester Herrera)

“Aerodynamic”

Used only for demonstration units, this is the standard cab with the edges rounded off.

GP59 demonstrator (Tom Golden)

GE

GE’s standard cabs had generally stubbier noses than their EMD counterparts.

There are probably more variations than shown here, but one so rarely encounters older GEs that I’ve never had a reason to try to learn more about it than this.

Early version, low nose

Characteristic of U-boats, Dash-7s. Short, “round but square” nose, rounded roof.

C30-7 (Ricardo Frontera)

The side view shows how short the nose really is:

C30-7 (my own photo)

Note the first model, the U25B, had a longer nose than its successors.

U25B (credits/license)

Early version, high nose

Southern ordered their GE’s with a high nose, because of course they did.

B23-7 (Bernie Feltman)

Hunchback cab

Transitional design used on early Dash-8s. The nose is more like the next version, but the round roof is still round. Notice the roof is lower than than body behind it.

C32-8 (Andrew Koenigsberg)

Late version

Seen on Dash-8s and the small number of Dash-9s that were not built with wide cabs. The roof is angled instead of round, and matches the height of the overall body. The nose has sharper angles and is not as blunt as the Dash-7 version.

C40-9 with air “top hat” air conditioner (John Mueller)

B40-8 (credits/license)

ALCO

All of these are museum pieces now, but relevant in the history of road-switcher design.

1st version

Used on RS-1, RS-2, RS-3, etc., all the way back to 1941. These were by far the most popular ALCO models, so this is the look usually associated with the builder. The short hood is the same height as the long hood, but the cab is notably taller than both.

RS-1 (credits/license)

Later models are “rounder” than the RS-1.

RS-3 (credits/license)

1st version, chopped

No low-nose alternative was offered for these early ALCOs. But like their EMD counterparts, they ended up getting chopped every which way, resulting in a snoot almost like an SD40-2.

Chopped RS-1 (Bob Krug)

Chopped RS-1 (Allan Williams)

2nd version, high

Starting with the RS-11 they made the hood as tall as the cab, and changed the shape of the nose.

RS-11 (Sean Lamb)

2nd version, low

The lowered version of the same nose as above. There appear to have been both one- and two- window variants.

RS-11 (Jeff Pfeiffer)

The length of the nose compared to its height is truly crocodilian, especially on the 6-axle RSD-15. The “Alligator” is disproportionately famous for a model that sold only in the double digits.

RSD-15 (James Huff)

On the even less successful RS-27, they shortened the nose down to a mere stub of its former self.

RS-27 (Drew Jacksich)

Century cab

The Century Series featured a totally new look. They simplified the look of the nose, and angled the front windows. Most models had a very short GE-like nose. The C420 had a different, longer nose than the others.

C424 (Roger Puta)

C420 (credits/license)

Santa Fe CF7 Cab

The CF7 program to rebuild F-Units into a road-switcher involved an oddly proportioned parody of the standard EMD cab. Both rounded and angular roofs were used.

CF7 (Roger Puta)

CF7 (Marc Grinter)

NS Admiral Cab

This is used by NS for some of their rebuilds. It is similar to the EMD standard cab, but with sharper edges, higher number boards (which go above the roof), and windows angled outwards (from bottom to top).

SD40-2 (Don Woods)

CSX “Dash 3” Cab

Some of CSX’s rebuilds use this blocky design which is very controversial among railfans.

SD40-3 (Brian Gessel)

Similarities to the cab used on various NRE Genset models have been noted, but they are not so identical as to suggest that CSX simply bought the cabs from NRE.

3GS21B (credits/license)

Wide-nose Locomotive Variants

There have been several flavors of wide-nose / wide-cab designs over the years. I have not seen a site that has pictures of all on one page. So here they are in rough chronological order.

This article covers only hood unit and cowl units. Carbodies and monocoque designs are a different subject altogether.

Early EMD

The earliest version from 1967 had no crash safety benefits over a standard cab, and was designed purely for aesthetic reasons. Created for the cowl units FP45 and F45, the same design was also used on the DDA40X hood unit.

FP45 (from Wikipedia; credits/license)

DDA40X (from Wikipedia; credits/license)

Passenger-only no-steps version

This was similar to the first design, but lacked stairways and handrails. Used most notably on the ill-fated SDP40F of 1973, and F40C. All locomotives with this cab were cowl units.

The first ones built had a nose almost exactly like the FP45:

SDP40F(Ron Hawkins)

On subsequent units the point of the nose, where the door was, was flattened.

SDP40F (Drew Jacksich)

When the SDP40F was put into freight service as the SDF40-2, stairs and cutouts in the nose were added.

SD40F-2 (credits/license)

EMD F40PH

Unique and unmistakable for anything else, especially by EMD. The F40PH of 1975 featured a much simpler nose design than its older cousins, and became the face of Amtrak for the next 20 years.

(Drew Jacksich)

Early GE

GE, like EMD, produced wide-nosed cowl units for passenger service. Unlike the EMD counterparts, these appear to be one-offs, not part of the overall evolution of cab design. Not very many of these were ever built, and none survive.

U30CG (Charles Stookey)

P30CH, the “Pooch” (Roger Puta)

Canadian Comfort Cab

The true “Canadian” Cab was created by CN in 1973. This was the first cab that was designed with crew safety in mind. All units with this design were originally sold in Canada but a number have been resold to US railroads and can be seen on shortlines and lease fleets.

For many years, US railfans tended to call almost any freight locomotive with a wide nose a “Canadian Cab”, as wide nose designs didn’t catch on down here until the early 90s.

The actual Canadian version can easily be distinguished by the four front window panes. Unlike the earlier (and most later) EMD designs, these windows are vertical rather than slanted back.

CN continued to order these from multiple manufacturers into the 90s, when they switched to the same 2-window models as US railroads.

EMD version

Used on GP38-2W, GP40-2LW, GP40-2W, SD40-2W, possibly others.

GP40-2LW (my own photo)

MLW version

Differs from the contemporaneous EMD design by the shape of the windows.

M-420 (credits/license)

GE version

Looks very similar to the EMD one, but on a GE locomotive. Used on C40-8M, C44-9LW, possibly others.

C44-9WL (James Gardiner)

EMD Triclops

Unmistakable 3-window design. Otherwise very similar to the Canadian cab. Introduced circa 1988 and used for the SD40-2F, F59PH, and the earliest orders of SD60M. This can still be seen on mainline freights, but is rare and much sought after by railfans.

SD60M (Terry Cantrell)

EMD North American Safety Cab

The most numerous EMD variation, starting in 1990. “North American” means the cab was sold in both the US and Canada, unlike earlier versions that were only for one country or the other.

Note superficial resemblance to the original 1967 design, particularly the shape of the windows. One visible, though small, difference is the nose on these is  slightly tapered and the corners are more rounded.

Used on SD60M, SD60MAC, SD70M, SD70MAC.

SD70M (credits/license)

Sante Fe offset-light version

Designed by Sante Fe and used only for the GP60M. This design has a headlight that is not actually in the center of the nose but just to the right of center when facing the locomotive. Unlike the standard EMD wide cab, the nose is not tapered and looks more like the FP45 cab.

GP60M (Sam Botts)

Whisper Cab

This looks nearly identical to the standard version, but was the first EMD cab isolated to reduce noise and vibration. A vertical seam is visible on the side of the nose. Used on SD60I, SD70I, SD80MAC, early SD90MAC.

SD60I (Dave Parker)

Later “notched” version

Used on late examples of SD70M and SD70MAC. Nose has a slightly taller mid-section to accommodate full-height door, resulting in a somewhat “notched” appearance. The whole nose is less rounded and more angular than before, and no longer tapered.

SD70M (David Sommer)

Current Design, “more notched”

Late SD90MAC-H (1999), SD70ACe (2004-2014), SD70M-2, and several others. The nose is deeply notched to improve visibility. The distinctive teardrop window shape of earlier designs is gone.

SD70ACe (credits/license)

On the SD70ACe-T4 produced since 2015, the nose shape is simplified – but still deeply notched – and the original EMD window shape has returned.

SD70ACe-T4 (Jonathan Camacho)

General Electric, Current Design

Unlike the constantly changing EMD, GE’s cab/nose design basically looks the same on nearly models since 1990. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

There are thousands on the rails, the most likely thing to see leading any mainline train. Examples include Dash-8, Dash-9, AC4400CW, ES44AC, ES44DC, etc.

ES44AC (credits/license)

Prototype version

This one-off prototype was created in 1988 from a B40-8.

Prototype B40-8W (Bill Wilcox)

Canadian Dash-9 “Australian” Cab

This seems to have been used in North America only on CN C44-9W’s, and on  several GE models sold to the Australian market. Notice the EMD-like front windowpane shape.

C44-9W (Jon Hall)

Norfolk Southern Crescent Cab

Used for the SD60E rebuild program. This cab is designed by NS and manufactured by Curry Supply.

SD60E (Alan Niebel)

NS has a similar cab built by RLS that is used on the Dash-8.5 rebuilds.

C40-8.5W (Der Langsame)

Dadsplaining Dad-Rock – Part 1

An incomplete history of hard rock, heavy metal, and punk rock music, Part 1 of ???

The subtitle of this blog promises “classic rock”, a promise I have until now failed to make good on.

This post is mainly a series of links to youtube videos illustrating the music genres in question. This is not meant to teach you, the reader, anything you didn’t already know, but may be helpful in explaining these genres to your kids or something. I started making it for that purpose myself, but it has grown way longer than I expected it to.

Band names are links to Wikipedia, song titles are links to music videos.

Keeping the links alive is already turning out to be a constant battle – at least one song was removed from youtube for copyright reasons between when I started writing this post, and when I published it.

Blues, Jazz, early Rock-n-Roll

We begin with a very brief selection of early songs that “look forward” to fuzztone, distortion, and fast guitar pickin’.

British Invasion, British Blues, Freakbeat

The standard narrative of the early 60s musical invasion of the US by British bands is that the Brits, being less racist (or at least racist against different races than Americans were), “got” the Blues in a way that most white Americans didn’t. This is almost certainly bullshit.

However, many of these bands did (re)introduce some of the rawer, grittier elements of the music back to American audiences.

Garage Rock

Garage rock can be seen as one of America’s first two punches back against the British Invasion (the other, more successful punch, was Motown).

Garage Rock was dismissed as teeny-bopper stuff at the time, merely a derivative of both British bands and of 50s rock and roll.

The retroactive re-appraisal of Garage Rock started with the Nuggets series. In the 70s it came to be seen as the direct ancestor of punk rock, also recognized for having pushed the envelope towards psychedelic or “acid” rock later in the 60s.

This section could use expansion.. or you could just go find more yourself.

Psychedelic Rock, Blues Rock, Acid Rock, Proto-Metal (1967-1969)

This was the point when Rock (with a capital “R”) really split off from the pop mainstream. This is a selection of some of “heavier” songs; this period also featured a lot of wispy psychedelia, folk rock, and semi-classical chamber-rock that eventually became Progressive Rock.

This music is obviously directly ancestral to 70s hard rock and heavy metal, but most reckon punk rock’s ancestry to have already split off (see Proto-Punk).

Early Hard Rock / Heavy Metal

At this point, “hard rock” and “heavy metal” were not defined as different genres, and indeed were not really even distinguished from progressive rock yet.

The standard sound was rooted in blues and early rock, usually mid-tempo, with a guitar sound that tended to be powered by fuzz pedals at first and gradually relying more on amplifier overdrive as that technology became more advanced, and a vocal style that bordered on screaming (but would of course be considered “clean” by extreme metal standards).

Songs consist mostly of guitar power chords, swinging/shuffling rhythms inherited from blues, riffs derived from the blues scale, and frequent guitar solos. The bluesy nature is a main thing that distinguishes this style from later styles of metal and rock.

Proto-Punk, Glam-Punk

Here we pause the progression of hard rock in the 1970s, and step back to the 60’s to explore the development of punk out of garage-rock roots.

Other than the Velvet Underground, who were too artsy-fartsy to be lumped into a “genre”, these bands were characterized as Hard Rock or Glam Rock by contemporary observers. Later (meaning after the Ramones and Sex Pistols) they were retroactively re-christened as punk forebears.

Even after the deluge of the 1977-style punk rock, there have been continual waves of new punk- or punk-related bands that still sound more like these ancestral bands.

Glam Rock

Glam Rock was closely related to hard rock, but had a glitzy hair-and-makeup image completely different from the “dirty hippie” look of most other contemporary rock. It was an almost exclusively British phenomenon except in the very late phases.

It should be noted the Glam Rock was more of a fashion movement than a musical one. Musically, if glam rock has a central tendency, it would be towards a sound firmly based in 1950’s Rock n Roll – including such trappings as I-VI-IV-V chord progressions, boogie-woogie rhythm guitar, pounding piano, vocal harmonies,  saxophone as a main instrument – but updated for 70s production values and hard rock guitar sounds, with a certain pompous grandeur that’s harder to describe in words than it should be.

The same 50’s nostalgia can be heard in much other 70s rock, from Elton John’s “Crocodile Rock” to about half of Bruce Springsteen’s career, not to mention the Rolling Stones and Faces – Glam was musically continuous with its contemporaries and hard to draw a box around. It’s not for nothing that this was also the decade of “American Graffiti” and “Happy Days”.

The musical elements of Glam – especially the pounding beats and “Chuck Berry turned up to 11” guitar – were important influences or inspirations to punk and post-punk, and even more obviously an influence on Glam Metal (especially the 2nd, less metallic wave of bands like Poison).

This list only includes the harder-rocking songs by these artists.

Pub Rock

Pub Rock was a “back to basics” style of music based on early Rock and Roll that existed mainly in the mid 70s and almost exclusively in London. Most of the bands involved in Pub Rock were never well-known in the US, and never will be, though a few individuals later became big name as New Wave solo artists.

It is notable mainly for being the genre that Punk Rock directly replaced as the “hot new thing” on the British music scene.

Further Developments in Hard Rock

“Everyone knows Rock attained perfection in 1974”

Meanwhile, after about 1973, Hard Rock itself was developing towards a more “radio-friendly” sound increasingly divorced from the fuzzy sound of the 60s. This development eventually led to Arena Rock.

Gradually, Progressive Rock and Heavy Metal were allowed to go off into their own spaces and be their weird selves in secret, while Hard Rock went mainstream in outlook.

This is still a large chunk of the music played on “classic rock” stations, along with the later Arena Rock.

Arena Rock

Here I am following the definition of “Arena Rock” as laid out by TV Tropes:  mainstream radio-oriented hard rock of the late 70s and early 80s. The lines around this category are pretty fuzzy, but you just sort of know it when you hear it. Most of the bands involved in this were not newcomers, but had been around in some form or other for years. This was the style that hard rock and prog-rock musicians seemed to naturally slide into as the 70s became the 80s. This is probably the first style someone unfamiliar with anything else on this page would identify if asked to name some “classic rock” songs.

Punk Rock and close relatives

The initial wave of Punk Rock took the Glam/Proto-Punk template a step further away from mainstream hard rock. Songs became shorter, faster, simpler, with fewer (or at least simpler) guitar solos, almost universal lack of any instruments beyond guitar/bass/drums, and deliberately unskilled vocals.

Punk Rock per se was short lived as a major commercial genre. Many of the more successful bands and/or their constituent musicians moved off, by the 80s, into the world of Post Punk, and the ones that didn’t change went back to a small niche market. Punk was largely replaced, in the public eye, by “New Wave“.

However, the stage had been set for descendants of punk rock to flourish underground, in local clubs and small independent record labels, in hand-written fanzines, out of sight and out of mind, to periodically burst back into the rock mainstream over the decades. (Seen this way, these bands here may actually count as the 3rd such eruption, after Garage Rock and Proto-Punk)

We’ll stop there for now. Next installment: The 80s, with everything from “Don’t Stop Believing” to “Angel of Death”!

The Roswell Railroad

This post gathers the information I’ve been able to find about the Roswell Railroad, one of the almost-completely vanished and forgotten rail lines of the Atlanta area. This was branch of Southern Railway that operated between Chamblee and Roswell from 1881 to 1921.

According to RailGa.com:

The Roswell Railroad Company was incorporated in Georgia in 1879 as successor to the Atlanta & Roswell Railroad Company. It was controlled by the Atlanta & Charlotte Air-Line Railroad Company, which constructed the 10-mile, 3-foot gauge line and opened it for business on September 1, 1881. In the same year, the A&CAL was leased to the Richmond & Danville Railroad (which became Southern Railway in 1894).

(RailGa.com)

The town of Chamblee was originally called “Roswell Junction”.

However, feeling the name of the settlement was too similar to nearby Roswell, they randomly selected Chamblee from a list of petitioners for the new post office name.

The railroad followed very roughly the present-day Chamblee-Dunwoody Road to the center of old-town Dunwoody, where the building located at 5518 Chamblee-Dunwoody Road was a section house.

 

The original Dunwoody depot was later moved and used as “Thompson’s Store”, but this building no longer remains.

(from Narrow Gauge Discussion Forum)

The line never actually reached Roswell, as the company was never able to build a bridge across the Chattahoochee. It ran along Roberts Drive and what is now Dunwoody Place, and ended near the present North River Tavern. This station was referred to as “Roswell” by the railroad. The engine house was “moved to by the river for use as a barn”.

Roberts Drive is named after Isaac “Ike” Roberts, the “only engineer of the Roswell Railroad”, whose house still stands at 9725 Roberts Drive.

The final stop was Roswell Station, on the south bank of the Chattahoochee River, just east of the current Roswell Road. There was no means to turn the locomotive around, so it simply ran backwards on its return trip. The train was powered by 0-6-0-arranged Baldwin 1878 steam locomotive named “Buck.”

(from Historic Roswell Georgia)

There was also a branch to the current location of Morgan Falls Dam.

The railroad famously was used by Teddy Roosevelt when he visited Bulloch Hall in 1905.

Theodore Roosevelt, who had begun his presidency on reasonably good terms for a half-northerner president, had infuriated the South by inviting Booker T. Washington to dine in the White House. Consequently, he waited a few years until the episode blew over and finally visited Bulloch Hall for the first time while touring the South in 1905. He was thought to be the first sitting President of the United States to visit the South since the end of the American Civil War, however this is incorrect as William McKinley had visited the South earlier while celebrating the victory of the Spanish–American War.

(from Narrow Gauge Discussion Forum)

Update:

It looks like I need to be paying a visit to the Roswell Visitors Center.

(from michaelhitt.com)

See also:

Schambeau’s (Bayou La Batre) Commercial

I have no recollection of Schambeau’s advertising on TV, especially not a spot this long. It looks like the early 80s. The kids shown buying from the candy counter were probably my classmates.

Schambeau’s was one of the two main grocery stores in Bayou La Batre, along with rival Greers. Schambeau’s was about a mile further from our house, but we shopped at both.

Schambeau’s was more of a General Store than Greers, which was purely a Supermarket. In the last years, Crum Schambeau was heard to remark that the real competition was the Walmart in Tillman’s Corner.

Schambeau’s did not long outlive Mr. Crum, due (I’m told) to his heirs not wishing to continue running the store. Greers continues.

Bayou La Batre’s Own “Cannery Row”

When you grow up in Bayou La Batre, there are certain things long gone that you hear about from the older residents.

The railroad. The fine hotels destroyed by the 1906 and 1916 storms, never to return. The old bridge. (Twist: I remember that one, and the old Dauphin Island bridge too!)

When we would drive around the shore on Shell Belt Road, my Pawpaw would point out a location where the “Old Factory” used to be. There was not even a trace of anything that looked like a building remaining.

This map, dated 1918, shows a “Canning Factory” at the end of a railroad spur, located conveniently near to the “Oyster Beds”. I don’t remember anyone specifically saying that oysters were what was processed at the factory, but it would certainly make a lot of sense if it was.

Source: University of Alabama Map Library

The railroad here was the “Bay Shore” branch of the Mobile & Ohio Railroad, which operated from approximately 1899 to 1940. There is little to show of this line today, the rails having been physically removed soon after abandonment. It is memorialized by Railroad Street in the Bayou and Bay Shore Avenue in Mobile.

This (1926) map highlights the route from Mobile to Bayou La Batre:

Source: University of Alabama Map Library

The  Bay Shore Historical Society website says:

At the far western end of the wye at San Souci was the lead to the Alabama Canning Company, also known as the American Canning Company. Alabama Canning Company was located on the north end of Coffee Island, about a mile south of the junction at San Souci. It was on this track that the trains would head down first, then back up through the wye toward Bayou la Batre.

The 1918 map disagrees about the factory being on Coffee Island, and I’m inclined to side with the map. An island location would have required the railroad to build a mile-long trestle over the bay. This does not fit with any description of this railroad that I’ve ever heard of before, and would have been a literal “bridge to nowhere”.

It seems more reasonable that the factory was located on the mainland.

At the approximate location of where the “Old Factory” was said to be, there is still a dirt “road” off from Shell Belt Rd through the salt marsh, leading towards the shore of Portersville Bay. It goes to a point that naturally sticks out into the bay. It can clearly be seen on modern satellite images:

Source: Google Maps

This is what it looks like in Google Street View (and in real life too!):

It is most consistent with the old map if this “road” is actually the railroad right-of-way. Here is the satellite image with the guessed route of the railroad tracks highlighted in yellow:

The real revelation happened when I began searching for more info on the “Alabama Canning Company”.

It turns out there are a lot of pictures of this place, located in the National Archives and the Library of Congress!

This photo shows oysters being unloaded onto the dock. It looks like they had a large pier running out into the bay, with railroad tracks utilized for wheeled oyster baskets. The factory in the background looks like a sizeable operation. It must have been the biggest industry in town at the time.

Source: Mediawiki Commons

Here we see the whole thing as it looked from out on a boat in the bay:

Source: Library of Congress

Many of the photos show very young workers in the factory and on the boats. This was the early 20th century, the era of child labor.

Original caption: “Alfred and Willie, two young oyster fishers in Mobile Bay. A few, but not many of these youngsters are found on the oyster boats. Bayou La Batre, Ala.” (National Archives)

“Fred, a young oyster fisher; working on an oyster boat in Mobile Bay, the Reef, near Bayou La Batre, said he was fourteen, but not likely. ” (Library of Congress)

“Shucking oysters in the Alabama Canning Company (Dunbar Lopez, Dukate Co.) Small boy on left end is Mike Murphy, ten years old, and from Baltimore” (LOC)

“On right-hand end is Marie —, eight years old, who shucks 6 or 7 pots of oysters a day (30 or 35 cents) at a canning company. At left end of photo is Johnnie —, eight years old, who earns 45 cents a day. Been shucking for three years. ” (LOC)

“Little Nettie [?], a regular oyster-shucker in Alabama Canning Co. She speaks no English. Note the condition of her shoes, caused by standing on the rough shells so much, a common sight”. (Other versions identify the subject as “Lottie”)
These photos were taken about 1912-1913. The children would have been born in the first decade of the 20th century. This is about the age of my great-grandparents. If you are from Bayou La Batre, some of them could be your great-grandparents, if not great-great-grandparents.

The work was seasonal, with many families coming to town only during the cooler months when oysters were in season. You can see in the photos almost everyone is dressed for cooler weather. Many of the workers were also immigrants, as the captions mention some children being unable to speak English. From the Mississippi Gulf Coast Museum of Museum of Historical Photography website:

The [labor shortage] problem was resolved initially by bringing in Eastern European immigrants known as ‘Bohemians’ from the Baltimore, Maryland canneries.  The Baltimore people traveled in special railroad cars from their homes in Baltimore to work the canneries during the winter oyster season along the coast.   They lived in factory-owned camps near the canneries, and the children rarely attended local schools. Some of the Baltimore families stayed on after the oyster season.

We can assume the hiring practices established in Biloxi were also followed in Bayou La Batre.

It turns out the reason all of these 100-year old pictures from Bayou La Batre are part of the national historical record, is because they were part of a famous series taken by Lewis Wickes Hine. Lewis Hine is an unsung hero of American labor relations, risking his own safety to end the practice of child labor in this country.

Lewis W. Hine

In 1908 Hine became the photographer for the National Child Labor Committee (NCLC), leaving his teaching position. Over the next decade, Hine documented child labor, with focus on the use of child labor in the Carolina Piedmont,[3] to aid the NCLC’s lobbying efforts to end the practice.[4] In 1913, he documented child laborers among cotton mill workers with a series of Francis Galton‘s composite portraits.

Hine’s work for the NCLC was often dangerous. As a photographer, he was frequently threatened with violence or even death by factory police and foremen. At the time, the immorality of child labor was meant to be hidden from the public. Photography was not only prohibited but also posed a serious threat to the industry. To gain entry to the mills, mines and factories, Hine was forced to assume many guises. At times he was a fire inspector, postcard vendor, bible salesman, or even an industrial photographer making a record of factory machinery.[5]

So here we have a connection to historical events of national importance, right there in Bayou La Batre, and all that’s left of it is a dirt path through the marsh grass and scattered recollections of an “Old Factory”.

Hine is also the photographer of a very well known series on the construction of the Empire State Building.

Source: CUNY

So when was this factory built, and whatever happened to it? The Bay Shore website says:

Below is a photograph taken before the hurricane of 1906, showing the company tracks on the west side of the building. The photographer is facing south, toward Portersville Bay.

The buildings seen in this image were either heavily damaged, or destroyed, in the 1906 hurricane, and the company either elected not to rebuild, or was financially unable to. At a later date (unknown) this location became the Dunbar & Ducate Factory. Dunbar & Ducate was later destroyed by a boiler explosion which claimed the lives of several employees.

“Dunbar & Ducate”, (or DuKate) had already taken over by the time of Hines’ photos in 1912-1913 (and indeed some of his captions refer to it as such).

W.K.M. DuKate

The Biloxi Historical Society lists a number factories owned by several firms involving the DuKate family, including “Dunbars, Lopez, & Dukate Company“, in Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana. It appears that it was often called the “Alabama Canning Company” even when it was owned by DuKate.

Julian Lee Rayford, writing in 1956, describes a world already long gone, including a “Big Factory” owned by “Dunn, Barr, and Ducate”.

GEORGE BRYANT told me about the factories
in Bayou la Batre.

The factories fall into two classes. First, the
factories of 1915, and a few years later. And,
second, the factories of today. There is little con-
nection between the two. True, the factories have
always canned shrimp and oysters, but there is a
distinct contrast between the periods.

Pure Food Laws have cleaned them up, and
now, everything is peaceful and quiet in the fac-
tories. Government inspectors stand on constant vi-
gil making the pickers maintain purity and quality
in the products.

After 1906, the factories lined the Bayou.
There was the Union factory, operated by the
Union. There was the finest and largest, the one
run by Daughdrille. On the coast, was the “Big
Factory,” controlled by Dun, Barr and Ducate. And
there was the “Green Factory,” so called because of
the color used on the outside of the building. All
along the Bayou were the picking sheds, which sent
their products to the larger establishments to be
packed, or, canned.

An article in the New Orleans Times-Democrat, April 7 1910, mentions a factory being constructed by this company in Bayou La Batre:

The John F. Wentzell mentioned here is probably related to Wintzell’s Oyster House founder J. Oliver Wintzell, as well as the Wintzell family of Bayou La Batre.

The factory is described as packing shrimp. It is not clear if this was the same facility as the oyster plant shown in the photos, or a different plant also located in Bayou La Batre.

I cannot find any information about the existence of the Alabama Canning Company earlier than this. It is possible it operated under a different name before DuKate took it over, if it actually existed before 1910.

The plant survived and was repaired after the 1916 storm:

I can only find one other page about an explosion, the Find-A-Grave page for Robert Walter Cox who died on August 16, 1923 when an ammonia tank exploded in the ice plant of the cannery. It reads like a newspaper article, but there’s no citation and I cannot find the same story anywhere else.

EXPLOSION KILLS ONE AND INJURES TWO AT ICE PLANT

Ammonia Tank Blows Up At Bayou La Batre, Killing Robert Cox and Wrecking Plant

Death injury and heavy property damage resulted form a violent explosion at the ice pant of the Alabama Canning Company at Bayou la Batre Thursday night. Robert Cox, 40 years old, frieman at the plant was almost instantly killed and two other persons, Willie and Aime Castello, father and son, recieved serious injuries. The disaster occurred when an ammonia generator exploded, wrecking the one-story structure. The loud noise which accompanied the explosion attracted the attention of people throughout the community, many of whom hurried to the scene.

Cox was discovered in a dying condition outside the boiler room a few minutes after the generator exploded. The younger Castello was huried to the roof of the building from which he was rescued by persons who rushed to the plant. Willie Castello, the father, is an engineer at the plant according to information received in Mobile. His son is tankman at the ice plant.

Shortly after the accident a Mobile physicain was summoned to treat the injured. The small casualty list was apprently attributable to the fact that only a few employees were on duty whe the explosion occurred.

Perhaps this explosion was too much for the Big Factory to come back from, and put them out of business. Perhaps the Pure Food and Child Labor laws had made the business unprofitable. Or maybe decreasing supply due to overfishing. Or a combination of all these things.

By the time of this 1943 map, the railroad is abandoned, the spur track for the factory is already just a dirt road, and the there is no indication building where the factory would have been.

Source: USGS

It is also gone on this aerial photograph from the 1940s, where things do not look terribly different from today:

Source: Bay Shore Historical Society

In the 20 years from 1923 to 1943, all trace of the Old Factory has vanished into the sea and sand.