lclc_state A standard gauge lumber operation, the pike was the reincarnation of the previous Williams Lumber Company operation. It operated in Tangipahoa Parish with the new name Louisiana Cypress Lumber until around 1955, when most of the cypress stock was removed from the swamps. Remarkably, all three of the mill's light steamers survive today in some form: #1 is stored in pieces in a private collection in Georgia; #2 was purchased by the Mid-Continent Railway Museum in 1960 and remains in their collection; #3 is on display in downtown Ponchatoula, next to the Canadian National (ex IC/ICG) mainline.

About 1920, a small 2-6-0 was sold to the Williams Lumber Co. at Ponchatoula, Louisiana, and sold again in May 1921 to the Joseph Rathborne Lumber Co. Rathbone closed in 1929 and was sold to the Joyce interests of Chicago. The Joyce family also operated rail lines at Rainey River, Minnesota and Manistique, Michigan. The Ponchatoula mill was reopened on July 15, 1936 as the Lousiana Cypress Lumber Co. The little 2-6-0 was renumbered to #2 and served as backup to the company's road locomotive #1, a 2-6-2 built by Porter in 1921. For about a year before the mill closed in January 1956, Cypress imported mahogany logs from Honduras to cut up at the Ponchatoula mill. The logs were shipped to New Orleans by steamship and then transported to Ponchatoula in Illinois Central gonolas. #2 was used in regular service as the switcher at the mill to switch the gondolas while #1 was out on the road.

Mid-Continent Railway Museum

Motive Power

Louisiana Cypress Lumber Co #1

  • builder:H. K. Porter Company
  • arrangement:2-6-2 Prairie
  • built:1921
  • fuel:coal/water
  • notes:
  • blt for Louisiana Cypress Lumber Co
    retired, 1956
    privately owned in Griffen GA
  • builder

    Louisiana Cypress Lumber Co #2

  • builder:Lima Locomotive Works
  • arrangement:2-6-0 Mogul
  • built:1906
  • fuel:coal/water
  • notes:
  • blt Ellisville Lumber Co #1027
    to Louisiana Cypress Lumber Co #2, 1921
    to Mid-Continent Rwy Museum, 1960
  • builder

    Louisiana Cypress Lumber Company #3

  • builder:H. K. Porter Company
  • arrangement:2-8-0 Consolidation
  • built:1914
  • fuel:coal/water, later oil/water
  • notes:
  • blt Lyons Cypress Lumber Co #1
    to Louisiana Cypress Lumber Co #3, 1920s
    retired from service, 1940s
    on static display in Ponchatoula LA
  • builder

    Louisiana Cypress Lumber Company #3 Scanning my father's negatives from the 1950s and 60s has, at times, revealed some unexpected treasures: like finding a photo of my mother on the running board of Louisiana Cypress kettle #3, in a Sunday dress (above, right). Based on the date attached to the negative, I realized that at the time of the photo my parents were not yet married. That makes some sense: Boyfriends and girlfriends will do things that, once married, spouses will not! When I asked my dad about it, he said, "Well, I asked your mother to get up on the locomotive ... and she did!" (The things we do for love.)

    Also, the car tucked just out view behind the tender (above, left) is my father's 1948 Buick.

    Rolling Stock



    I'm so grateful to Mark Ballard, who found my website and subsequently shared with me the wonderful collection of Louisiana Cypress Lumber Company images show below -- many of which are C. W. Witbeck photographs. About his collection, Mark comments:

    I inherited photos, film, and some magazines from my grandfather Lloyd Ballard when he passed. He was the fireman from what I understand. He became friends with a photographer named Witbeck whom he brought into the swamp while they were working. He worked for Louisiana Cypress until they closed the mill and he bought a small service station in Ponchatoula and worked it until he passed a few years ago. I have a wonderful video that was taken in the swamp that shows the logging process and construction of the tracks thru the swamp also.

    HawkinsRails thanks Mark Ballard for use of his Louisiana Cypress Lumber Company images

    Links / Sources

    This page was updated on 2017-07-06