Louisiana, Texas & Pacific Railroad

Special Outdoor Events

Golden Spike Ceremony


The railroad is officially complete! We had a great time Saturday. The railroad is fun, the bridges are awesome, the locomotives pull well, and my son James has turned into a great engineer. We call it the Louisiana, Texas & Pacific, although the trains represent real railroads.

LT&P Superintendent G. Payne

The Louisiana, Texas & Pacific Railroad held its own Golden Spike Ceremony on October 27, 2012. The spike (or screw, in this instance) was driven at 12:30 p.m., following festivities that began at noon. Work crews completed the final link in the railroad on Friday, October 12, when they completed a magnificent truss bridge on the northern loop.

Historically, railroad owners' beautiful daughters graced the rails of their fathers' empires. My daughter Price shared about an hour's worth of riding with her dad to test the tracks on October 13. The test train ran without derailments the whole time. One cross tie on the trestle supporting the rails was left without track screws in place. This is where the Golden Spike ceremony was held.

Before the ceremony, James and I did some last minute repairs to the tracks and ran the steamer over the entire railroad for the first time. We wanted to be sure it would make it without derailing. You can see the loco is incomplete; but it runs on two electric motors in the tender.

My friend Bob Myers shard the official "Golden Spike" ceremony with my mom Sara, me, and James, who took this photo.

Bob took this shot after we had installed the last track screw. In honor of the original Golden Spike ceremony, we lined up the two Louisiana, Texas & Pacific locos nose-to-nose. To the left is Southern Railway #2243, an NW-2 switcher (the real one was actually painted green for several years). To the right is Southern Pacific #260 (the real one is still in existence in Georgia).

Following the Spike ceremony, James give a ride to his granddad, Steve. The bridge seen here was built by my friend Oscar Blank and me, and designed by super-engineer Lisa Eldredge. It is unbelievably sturdy.

John Hawkins Rail Celebration Day

Ralph, Jack, and John Hawkins visited the Louisiana, Texas & Pacific on March 3, 2014. We had a great time! The weather was perfect and the trains ran well. Aside from a couple of derailments (aren’t there always derailments?), the riding trains ran well and we had a great day. We probably operated trains for two hours or so. I think this should be called the John Hawkins Rail Celebration Day from now on. My daughter Price and my son James helped me out by testing the trains and the railroad before our guests arrived.

Since he was 12 years old, Ralph has liked running what we termed Mega-Trains. In the days of the shows we attended with our portable O scale railroad, we would try to run one train a day with every car that was available. Sometimes, with 55 cars or so, the engine was following the caboose quite closely! The train Ralph was engineering in this photo (above) was the longest train ever to grace the rails of the 1/8-scale LT&P, at about 36 feet.

Finally, we accomplished another first for the LT&P riding railroad: we double-headed an excursion train. This then became the longest train ever run on the LT&P, breaking the five-minute old record Ralph had previously set, at about 45 feet.

We also ran the O scale and N scale railroads, swapped some cars, had a good chat, and generally enjoyed a perfect day. James enjoys running his UP Big Boy, which even in N scale is a monster. Another show piece was the ten-car San Joaquin Daylight in O scale, with its Daylight-schemed MT-4 loco. Six of the ten cars in this prototypical train came from Ralph and Jack’s dad, John. John, as the story goes, had picked up the damaged, dented, bent, disassembled car sides at a show. Over the years, they made their way to my house, where I straightened, stripped, re-soldered, floored, roofed and painted them.

One day, I hope to have ALL our railroad friends on hand for a special day of train riding, operating, discussion, and basic love of life!

Mississippi Coast Model RR Museum visit

A group of railfans from the Mississippi Coast Model Railroad Museum visited the LT&P in the spring of 2016. A full dozen folks rode trains, asked questions, checked out the engineering and drove trains for a couple of hours. It was very nice to see the railroad hold up well and with very few problems. It was also nice to see a long train running, the first time for the new loop. It was fun. The family was on hand to take part. I hope to host more events like this in the future. The group has started building a 7.5" gauge riding railroad at their museum with about 600 feet of track. The train is a ride, an attraction for visitors. Most of their road bed is done and they plan to take a trip to Michigan to pick up their train and their switches next week. I visited their facility recently and they had no grading done at that point; they now expect to have everything in place and running for an upcoming train day!

Black Friday Train Day

Train Day was wonderful this year (2016). Thirty people came to ride trains and we all had a great time. The weather was sunny with 75 degree temps and the LT&P's two locos ran well the whole time (about five hours). The LT&P's new signal system (kudos to Chris Schiek) also worked well and controlled the long stretch of single track line (300 feet) between the railroad's two loops. Credit goes to several key contributors to the event, including Oscar Blank, a local model train fan and now expert loco driver. Price Payne took most of the photos (below) during the day and my most amazing wife Alicia is the best hostess I have ever known. Erich and Matt, two real railroad engineers, said we should do more Train Days! The steamer model, SP 260, pulled an SP hopper and a T&NO 60' combine, while SR 2243, an NW-2, pulled an engineer's car, T-style riding car, SP gondola car with two seats, and an SR caboose. The kids who rode trains ranged in age from 3 years to 86.

Links / Sources

This page was updated on 2016-04-21