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Cane Train: 1897

Circa 1897. "Cane fields in Louisiana." Glass negative by William Henry Jackson. View full size.

Circa 1897. "Cane fields in Louisiana." Glass negative by William Henry Jackson. View full size.


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Canebrake Rattlesnakes are vicious.

Those machetes that were used to cut sugarcane came in handy to dispatch rattlers and cottonmouths.

No Surrender

She's flying two white flags, which means she's an unscheduled extra. Possibly the photographer's special train? Maybe a photo taken by their passenger while they wait in the siding, or pulled-off in there to avoid fouling the main line while taking a picture.

Attitude 1890s style

I have no idea who the guy on the right is, But I am 100% certain that he is telling the photographer "I'm a mean son of a bitch and I haven't had my coffee yet. What was it you wanted?"

A little detective work

I blew the photo up to read the initials on the tender's collar, and they are L.N.O. & T. The Louisville, New Orleans and Texas RR ran from Memphis to New Orleans, and became part of the Illinois Central in 1892.

This is obviously not that main line, but a dirt track branchline in the sticks. The the crew seems to be in a siding, likely to wait for an opposing train on that rough looking "main track".

In spite of the minor assignment this day, the No. 8 looks like a shiny bottle and probably the handiwork of her fireman. Her valve covers (just ahead of the side rods) proclaim her builder as Rogers. She's been around the block a few times, yet still has delicate pinstripes painted on the domes, and had been gussied up with that brass eagle on the sand dome cover, and appears to be in excellent mechanical shape. And that long shank link and pin coupler on the front confirms this shot is before 1900.

Col. Sanders

... apparently moonlighted as a railroad worker.

Beware the cane fields of Louisiana

When our family lived in southern Louisiana for a while, we kids would play in the cane fields. I'd use my trusty Western Auto Barlow knife to cut sugarcane pieces for my pals and me to gnaw on.

We quickly learned that snakes were abundant in those cane fields, and half of them were probably dangerous.

All were alarming and I decided I'd didn't like sugarcane as much as I had thought I did.

The Cane Mutiny

All six gentlemen of yesteryear seem to be glaring into the camera like, Fight Me. Also I have smelled sugar cane growing in the sun (albeit in Florida) and there is no smell like it. Your nose can sense the sweetness. Once, my mom gave me a piece to gnaw on (with my teeth, not my nose). Tastes like sugar.

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