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Louisiana & North West Railroad Company

Operating for freight only deep in the Louisiana heartland, the Louisiana & North West's foursquare No. 37 possessed character and individuality by virtue of a tremendous headlight low on its smokebox, ample staircases reaching from pilot beam to catwalk and an uninhibited volume of smoke exhaust as it blasts out of Gibsland where it connects with the Yazoo & Mississippi.

Lucius Beebe & Charles Clegg, The Age of Steam, 1957

Louisiana shortline

Incorporated in 1889, the Louisiana & North West Railroad Company still operates 62 miles of shortline pike between Gibsland, Louisiana, northward across the state line to McNeil, Arkansas. The L&NW interchanges on both ends of the line: with the Union Pacific (former St. Louis Southwestern) in McNeil, and with the Kansas City Southern (former MidSouth, nee ICG) at Gibsland.

For many years the road was well-known among railfans for its unusual stable of Electro-Motive F7 "covered wagons" -- unusual motive power for a backwoods southern shortline. By the early 1990s, the F units were sold off to various places, gradually replaced by Geeps from various former owners. The L&NW shops are located at Gibsland, only a few hundred yards southeast from the one the busiest interchange diamonds in region. For decades, three different railroads interchanged in the otherwise obscure north Louisiana town of Gibsland. The switching activity could get so hectic that the daily routine was known among railfans as the "Gibsland Shuffle." More recently, three railroad have gone back to two, as the MidSouth purchased the North Louisiana & Gulf -- the other shortline connecting in Gibsland -- just before being purchased itself by the Class 1 Kansas City Southern.

Official Guide ad

1988 Official Guide listing

Attending Louisiana Tech in Ruston, La., for a year afforded me many wonderful opportunities to spend the day in Gibsland, La. - the smallest town with the biggest railroad interchange. There was so much happening at the Gibsland diamond most days that the local rail fans called it the "Gibsland Shuffle" - and the L&NW was a big part of the action. While I missed seeing the famous F7's in operation, I was able to see them in storage before they began leaving the property. That a Western Pacific F7A built for the famous "California Zephyr" (including a snowplow) would find its way to a piney woods shortline in northwest Louisiana is exactly why I love shortline motive power. And I always thought the L&NW shop in Gibsland was a classic little shortline scene, worthy of modeling.

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