Progress decisions impact small towns

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The 1947 passenger coach of the past sits silently alone – past its glory days

 

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.

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DeQuincy Railroad Museum

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. IMG_2149

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.

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Depot seating once welcomed the masses with comfort.
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Railroad artifacts adorn the walls of the depot museum to provide a snapshot of history.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

IMG_2181Today, 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 IMG_2169distant 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.    IMG_2178

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.

Kansas City Railroad Holiday Express
Kansas City Southern adds decor to the historical depot and museum during the festive holidays.  (Photo from DeQuincy Railroad Museum by Donovan Reed)

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.

See for yourself some of the pride at dequincyrailroadmuseum.com/ or facebook.com/DeQuincyRailroadMuseum23/.

 

 

17 thoughts on “Progress decisions impact small towns

  1. Kansas City Southern has had a huge impact on De Quincy. It was truly a railroad town, as there were 2 train stations in this small town. The Missouri Pacific station was operated in DeQuincy as well, at least into the 50’s. My family took a train ride on the Missouri Pacific in 1960 to Dallas, Tx. I do not know when it was torn down and forgotten.

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  2. Thank you for visiting our RailRoad Musuem and our town. We are very proud of both. We are saddened by the death of our RR board president ,Mr. Gary Cooper. He did so much to improve the Museum and it’s treasures. He would be have been thrilled to hear all of your comments . Please come again and spread the word about DeQuincy’s little “treasure”.

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    1. It’s inspiring to hear of the comments about the story. It was a pleasure to visit. I need to travel back that way and stop in again, spending more time in the town. I see that the story is being shared quite a bit so hopefully it will generate more interest. I was so inspired of the efforts of the town to renovate the museum and gather artifacts. The efforts of Mr. Cooper have a lasting impact to the history of the town and each family. I too was saddened to hear of his passing. His memory and life will go on through his efforts no doubt. I express my thoughts and prayers for his family and the town of DeQuincy. Others will rise to carry on what he has started. Keep your lights burning. You’re a beacon for many.

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  3. Thank you so much for your story regarding this wonderful museum. My father worked for the railroad in the 1950’s in DeQuincy. I loved watching the trains and riding the train to go shopping in Beaumont, Texas. My heart still skips a beat when I hear the train whistle or the rumbling of the train on the tracks. I have loved watching the revitalization of the Railroad Depot. It was a place of magic when I was a child and now a place of wonder as the collections grow.

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    1. It was a pleasure visiting and capturing a little of the history. I imagine the trains and activity in my mind today and I know you all still relive the moments of your lives. Thanks.

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  4. My husband retired 11-7-2014 from KCS. We lived in DeQuincy for many years where he was the welding foreman. We have many friends and memories of our time there and still visit often. Our oldest daughter lives in Iowa, LA. I still remember the first Railroad Days Festival!

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  5. I doubt I’ll ever get to visit it, Interesting read and pictures, railways were the engines of development and their histories are inspiring. Btw, thanks for following my blog, I’ll be reading your posts too 🙂

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    1. Railroads are a part of my family and I almost started working on one in Florida but took a different route. I would like to discuss them more in future blogs too; and maybe when I can eventually travel back to Europe for a comparison post. Thanks for following also.

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  6. Great post. I was a 3rd generation railroader in DeQuincy. My dad worked in the KCS depot as the station agent. My first job was a track gang laborer on those tracks you saw and walked over. My history with that historic building dates back to about 1955.

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  7. A very nice read. Great job.

    However, it was me that took the photo of the Holiday Express passing the depot that night. 😉

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    1. Great photo. Glad to know who took this one. Our photos were taken during a non-festive event. Your photo added the holiday touch to show the special events. Thanks. What did you experience when you took the photo during the holidays?

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      1. Rain! Haha! It was raining off and on that night so I had to find a suitable location to set up my equipment where it wouldn’t get wet, but, still provide a decent photo of the museum with the Holiday Train. I was determined to get the photo and it was definitely a challenge. It was a fun night nonetheless as me and a friend was just hanging out waiting on the train to arrive.

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