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Down the Atchaflaya 1890

PostPosted: Thu Oct 22, 2009 10:41 am
by BobbyGra
My great grandfather F.M. Grace was a methodist minister appointed to the "Gros Fete" area of Louisiana at the Baton Rouge conference of the church in December 1889. In his journal, he describes his travels in the area during one of many floods that affected the area. He describes going under the bridge at West Melville, La. (See picture under Stations / Structures), as follows:

"The Texas and Pacific RR crosses it (the Atchaflaya River) at West Melville on an iron bridge that cost $500,000. As the draw is not permitted to be open at night, we lay to above the bridge, and soon after daylight our engineer blew a long blast of his steam whistle to give notice to the bridge-keeper that a boat was waiting to pass through. I awoke and looked out upon the waste of waters that submerged the town and was nearly up to the bridge. The Sun rose and April birds were making the forest musical before the boat stood out in the stream. Not yet the engineer at the bridge had raised steam sufficient to swing the draw, and our boat sent out another prolonged whistle and stood with paddles reversed lest the boat be carried down stream. It was a moment of thrilling anxiety when the answering whistle came back and the draw-bridge began slowly to swing open. Then our pilot set his boat straight toward the opening, and putting on a full head of steam in order to overcome the crosscurrents between the pillars of the bridge, we shot through the narrow space, our rear works almost scraping the piers. We were safe in another moment and were plowing waters nearly one hundred feet deep with a sense of relief, when the Captain told me that two boats had formerly been lost just in that part of the River. Soon the capricious stream broke into various channels and occasionally very crooked ones, interespersed with what had been islands but now under water."

Hope this is enjoyed by anyone who finds it. I have no connection to the Railroad other than a historical interest. I live along its line in Midland, Texas.

Question: Is this a replacement bridge, or the same one my ancestor saw in 1890?

RE: Down the Atchaflaya 1890

PostPosted: Thu Oct 22, 2009 10:41 am
by dhogan
Gross [i]F[/i]ete or Gross [i]T[/i]ete, Louisiana? Have heard of the latter but not the former.