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Louisiana Cypress Lumber Company

Louisiana Industrial

The Louisiana Cypress Lumber Company operated a cypress lumber mill on the south side of Ponchatoula, La, as well as a section of track that extended out into the numerous cypress swamps east of the Illinios Central Railroad's main line. This standard gauge lumber operation operated until around 1955, when most of the cypress was removed from the swamp. 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

See also our complete Louisiana Cypress Lumber Company industrial collection

Links / Sources