Ever wonder about the impact on small town USA when decisions are made in the name of progress? Here is an example.
While traveling through the southern coastal U.S., we diverted from the Interstate travel mainly because of congestion building on Interstate 10.
It was a nice, pleasant ride and a good change of pace from the fast lane – and we had some time to enjoy the local flavor.
One of the unique spots we encountered was in DeQuincy, Louisiana. We weren’t looking for anything specific, just traveling through during a slow weekday.
As we came around a curve on Lousiana 12 we just happened upon a well-kept train depot. It sure looked enticing.
We decided to stop and look around, exploring the restored 1913 steam locomotive, a 1947 passenger coach, and two vintage cabooses. Intrigued by what we saw, we decided to step inside the enticing building – which is DeQuincy Railroad Museum.
It wasn’t busy and we had a great chat with the staff member on duty. I learned that her dad worked on the railroad and she grew up with it being a major part of her life. I could relate as my dad worked for the railroad all of my life that I could remember anyway.
Our new friend had a unique story that triggered a thought concerning small towns when a big business – and probably the mainstay of the day for a town’s economy – moves or closes.
In 1897, with a crossing of rails from two company lines, the town of DeQuincy was formed.
As we inquired about the museum and the town, we realized the impact of how things don’t stay the same when progress comes beckoning. In this case, it was the development of Interstate 10 and the diminishing Kansas City Railroad Southern Depot.
According to Wikipedia, construction of the Interstate Highway System in Louisiana began in 1957. By spring 1975, the entire route of I-10 had been opened across Louisiana except for a small section.
From what I gathered, DeQuincy was a main stop for the Kansas City Railroad. Travelers enjoyed the dependency and convenience of the railroad and businesses appreciated the movement of their goods.
When the Interstate became the main logistical trail, business gradually slowed . Kansas City Railroad had to adjust to the times. Thankfully they allowed the town to acquire the depot to continue the great tradition of the town and its families.
Today, the depot museum stands in the place of a vibrant railroad industry, although Kansas City Southern still makes an occasional pass.
While visiting the museum we heard a train coming with its distant roar and the sense of excitement. It was on us before we could even get set for a good camera shot. We just waved as it zoomed past; then the silence of the tracks again and echoes of the museum.
Lousianatravel.com reiterates that DeQuincy, which is north of Lake Charles, has a colorful history as a railroad town, as you would suppose anyway.
Although the past is the past, the people of DeQuincy take great pride in their history as a railroad town, and nearly every major festival celebrates railroad heritage.
The major festival held in DeQuincy is the Louisiana Railroad Days Festival held each April with live music, model railroaders and other railroad themed events such as the canine caboose dog pageant or the dining car cook-off!
During the holidays, the festive KCS Holiday Express Train with candy cane stripes on its engine arrives at the DeQuincy Railroad Museum with Santa and his elves greeting visitors, usually preceding the lighting ceremony and Taste of the Holidays home tour.
DeQuincy’s Railroad Museum is a non-profit corporation established in 1974 dedicated toward acquiring, preserving and displaying artifacts of a bygone era. Many of the community remain interested in and excited about railroading and collecting railroad artifacts and memorabilia. The majority of these railroad buffs are retired railroad families who generously donated their railroad collections and artifacts to the museum.
The community itself was instrumental in restoring the 1923 Kansas City Southern Railroad Depot back to its former grandeur. According to the museum’s brochure, it is one of the most outstanding examples of the Mission Revival style of architecture in the South.
While the Interstate travel diminished the economic growth of DeQuincy, its people are just as proud of their heritage and the place DeQuincy has earned in the nation’s heritage.
Yes, we must yield to progress, but let’s remember the past and never forget there are communities who once contributed to the success of our nation – and they still do.