masthead_industrials

Godchaux Sugar Company

tag_quote

Leon Godchaux, realizing the importance of the plantation railroad in bringing about the centralization of the grinding and refining on the many plantations he purchased, built an amazing system of tramways. Of all the Louisiana plantation railroads, these were in a class by themselves.

Godchaux-Reserve House Historical Society

gsc_state As early as 1890, the Godchaux Sugar Company began using rails to bring its sugar cane crops to its south Louisiana mills for processing. Five years later, Godchaux had purchased its first two steam locomotives -- two Baldwin tank engines -- and had track stretching at least 20 miles. The elaborate 36" narrow gauge system was scrapped in 1958 when the mill changed hands, but not before rostering 7 active steam engines, a Whitcomb switcher, over 250 double-truck cane cars, and dozens of miles of trackage all across the plantation fields.

Motive Power

Godchaux Sugar Company #1

  • builder:Baldwin Locomotive Works
  • arrangement:0-4-4T Forney four-coupled
  • built:1895, Baldwin #14065
  • fuel:coal/water
  • notes:
  • blt for Reserve Plantation
    to C. W. Whitbeck, 1956
    to Disneyland Railroad #3, 1957
  • builder

    Godchaux Sugar Company #3

  • builder:Baldwin Locomotive Works
  • arrangement:0-4-4T Forney four-coupled
  • built:1898, Baldwin #16200
  • fuel:coal/water
  • notes:
  • blt for Reserve Plantation
    scrapped, 1952
  • builder

    Godchaux Sugar Company #5

  • builder:Dickson Manufacturing Co.
  • arrangement:0-4-4T Forney four-coupled
  • built:unknown, Dickson #1017
  • fuel:coal/water
  • notes:
  • blt for LaPlace Plantation
    to Reserve Plantation, 1909
    scrapped, 1942
  • Godchaux Sugar Company #6

  • builder:Davenport Locomotive Works
  • arrangement:0-4-4T Forney four-coupled
  • built:1907, Davenport #741
  • fuel:coal/water
  • notes:
  • blt for Alma Plantation
    to Reserve Plantation, 1938
    rebuilt 2-6-0 with tender
    to Edaville Railroad, 1959
  • builder

    Godchaux Sugar Company #7

  • builder:H. K. Porter Company
  • arrangement:0-6-4T Forney six-coupled
  • built:1911, Porter #4969
  • fuel:coal/water
  • notes:
  • blt for Supple Plantation
    to Elray Kocke Service, Inc, 1951
    to Tally-Ho Station, 1958
    to C. W. Witbeck, 1960
    to Reno, Nevada, 1962
  • builder

    1955 Wreck

    tag_quote

    In November of 1955, as No. 4 was crossing Highway 61, North of LaPlace, pulling a train loaded with cane to the mill, it was hit by a truck traveling at a high rate of speed and carrying a heavy load of piling. The driver failed to heed the warning by the flagman, and the vehicle plowed into the train, striking the first car behind the tender. The impact was so great it tore the car to shreds, derailed others, and dragged the locomotive and tender into a ditch some thirty feet away. The brakeman riding the pilot beam was killed, and another railroad employee, also riding the pilot beam, lost one of his legs. During the sixty-three years the platation road operated, this was only the second fatality that occurred. The other happened at LaPlace, where a man was killed as he walked into the path of No. 4.

    Godchaux-Reserve House Historical Society

    letter

    Correspondence about wreck / 1972

    journal_rwh

    In late 1955 I was a student at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. Every weekend I drove back home to New Orleans on U.S. 61. In December I passed the Godchaux wreckage several times, each time vowing on the next trip to bring my camera and take some photos. Finally, in January of '56, I stopped and made these photos -- some of the first ones I took with my used 127 twin lens camera I had only recently acquired.

    journal_rwh

    In 2010, I received a note from a woman in Texas who found this page.

    I just came across your website with the photos of the Godchaux Sugar train wreck in Nov 1955. Until I saw these photos I had never seen any of the accident, which happened when I was two years old. But I knew about it from as far back as I can remember. The brakeman that was killed was my father's first cousin, M J Vicknair, youngest child of ... He was born in 1933 and he died November 28, 1955. He is buried in St.Peter's Catholic Church Cemetery in Reserve. He was not married. I have enclosed the only photo I have of him. He had three sisters (2 now deceased) and two brothers. Ironically, his oldest sister died tragically also. She was one those killed in the New Orleans Mother's Day casino bus crash in May 1999.

    Her note is a fascinating connection to dad's pictures, and a poignant reminder that wrecked steel often means wrecked lives.

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