We learned recently through the pages of The Shreveport Times that an old steam engine will be visiting Shreveport later this month.
Southern Pacific 745, a steam locomotive that drew crowds when it chugged through Shreveport last year, soon will return on its way back home to New Orleans.
The engine, which has been in Missouri doing excursion runs, will pass through Shreveport August 26-27, according to the Red River Valley Railroad Historical Society.
The engine, with a diesel engine along “just in case” and pulling carloads of excursion passengers, should pull into Shreveport on a leg from Heavener, Okla., around 2:00 p.m. on August 26.
After an afternoon and night sampling area food and casinos, the train will leave before dawn the following day on its return to the Crescent City.
The locomotive, Mikado (2-8-2 wheel arrangement) and built in New Orleans in 1921 in the Texas & New Orleans Railroad’s Algiers shop, visited the area at length in April 2005 as part of a state-circling tour. A stopover then for the crew lengthened as the historic iron horse required repairs. Its travel to Bossier City – a river crossing scheduled to be repeated in this month’s visit – drew crowds to the east side of the Red River as people gathered for a glimpse of a mode of travel long gone.
The T&NO was an SP subsidiary.
“It’s alive – a living, breathing machine,” said Dallas resident Skip Waters, a railfan who came to Shreveport to photograph the engine believed to be the last New Orleans-built engine in existence.
“They’re romantic, a time capsule, a piece of history you don’t see,” he added.
In 1956, after 45 years, the 745 was retired and donated to Audubon Park in New Orleans.
Rusting and vandalized, it was given to the Old Kenner Railroad Assn. in 1984.
The engine was restored by the Louisiana Steam Train Assn., or LASTA, which formed in 1997 and maintains the unit (http://www.lasta.org/).