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Crescent from Charlotte, NC to New Orleans, LA

America by Amtrak, Coast-to-Coast and Border-to-Border

Crescent Charlotte, North Carolina to New Orleans, Louisiana 17 hrs Viewliner Roomette  776 miles

July 17 - 18, 2016    2:45 a.m. to 7:32 p.m.

Photography and text by Carl Morrison

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This is the 5th leg of my son, Matthew Morrison, and my "America By Amtrak" Tour.
  This segment, which left Charlotte, NC at 2:45 a.m. on CRESCENT No. 19  Roomette 5  Car 1910, would take me through North Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and the southeast corner of Louisiana.  This would be my first roomette in a Viewliner Amtrak car.  If you missed the earlier sections of this report, click here:  "America by Amtrak".

Sunday, July 17, Stay Onboard CRESCENT

Noon:  Birmingham, AL

Arrive 7:32 pm New Orleans, LA

Stay:  Holiday Inn - Superdome, 330 Loyola Avenue  New Orleans,  Louisiana  70112
        Book online or call: 1 800 315 2621

This is my first trip in an Amtrak Viewliner roomette.  Amtrak has an excellent "Virtual Viewliner 30D Tour" of a Viewliner Sleeping Car.  I had a roomette bedroom.

Before I hit the rack at about 3 a.m., I took some quick photos of my Viewliner Roomette Bedroom:


The car attendant has made up the room for two occupants.  This is the top bunk.


These top bunks come down a slide rather than being hinged on the wall like Superliner II bunks.  There is also a window to the outside from the top bunk.  The result is way more room between your face, while lying on your back, and the ceiling in a Viewliner.


The bottom bunk, (two facing seats during the day).  There was a step to get into the top bunk big enough to hold my camera/computer bag.


The foot end of the lower bunk with the in-room toilet/sink combination.  It makes the lower bunk mattress very narrow.


I tipped the folding sink down over the toilet for this photo.  The water drains out the back when you tip the sink up..don't leave anything in the water or you will never see it again.  Note the one plug, so bring a power bar if you have more than one thing to plug in.


Ice water?


the sink folded up and a reflection of me and my iPhone in the mirror.


View from a seat during the day with the upper bunk retracted to the ceiling and the extra window above.


Viewliner floor plan.  No. 1 - 12 are roomette bedrooms.  I was in No. 5.  A and B are deluxe bedrooms and H (Handicapped) with wide door into the hallway.


Extra wide handicapped room's door from outside.


View through glass door into a Deluxe Bedroom.


Since we left Charlotte about 2:45 a.m., breakfast was the first meal on this trip.



You would think that the menus across America would be different, but all 6 trains, all 5,000+ miles, the menu was the same, only the cover changed.  Needless to say, we didn't have to look at the menu at this point on the trip to order - we had it memorized.  Even the "Specials" were the same.


The portion of the Crescent Schedule which I rode.  The left column of times is southbound.  Note that I left Charlotte, NC, at 2:45 a.m.  The first photos out the window were of Atlanta, Georgia, about 6:40 a.m.



Atlanta has 6 Interstates, a couple merge through downtown.


Atlanta skyline.


Atlanta downtown from the Amtrak Station.


Trails & Rails - Heritage Appreciation Onboard

An innovative partnership program between the National Park Service and Amtrak, the Trails & Rails program provides Amtrak passengers with educational opportunities to foster an appreciation of a selected region's natural and cultural heritage and renews the long tradition of associating railroads with National Parks.

The Crescent offers a Trails & Rails program operating from Atlanta, Georgia to New Orleans, Louisiana and is operated by staff and volunteers of the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historical Park.

After departing Atlanta, the next stop is not for 100 miles, at Anniston, Alabama.  During that time we went from the Eastern Time Zone to the Central Time Zone.  I-20 parallels our route until Meridian, Mississippi.


Map from:


Lots of red clay and pine trees in Georgia.  We crossed an abandoned railroad and gated road crossing in Georgia.


Nice house facing the railroad.  What about that chimney though?


Typical small-town used car business.


I haven't seen a Gulf station since I moved to California.


Can you tell what state we are in by the outline of Hwy. 8 on the sign?


Sharp curves give a chance for a photo of the lead locomotive where the trees are cleared along the right-of-way.


Small town brick store fronts still look good in this town.


Town murals are interesting.  This must have been a theater or opera house.


Barns are a favorite photographic subject of mine, but you rarely see one that is not mostly covered in trees and vines.


There are many Baptist Churches in the south.


A golf course with pine trees makes a nice trackside vista.


If you do not have a GPS to keep track of location, a business sign will give you a clue.


Norfolk Southern flyover.  Rare to actually see a freight the same time we passed.


A second photo allowed me to get the full name on the Illinois Terminal locomotive.


Many towns along railroads in the US have murals, monuments, and retired equipment on display honoring what made them a great town.


The mural on the left and the full street view from my Viewliner window.


This abandoned bridge below our high railroad bridge caught my eye.  The following view from a few seconds later.



Another small town sign
with a railroad history, but it identifies photos on both sides as being near Irondale.


SLSF 4018 on display at Sloss Furnaces
Power type     Steam
Builder     Lima Locomotive Works
Serial number     5872
Model     USRA Light Mikado
Build date     1919
Configuration     2-8-2
Gauge     4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm)
Leading dia.     33 in (0.838 m)
Driver dia.     63 in (1.600 m)
Trailing dia.     43 in (1.092 m)
Adhesive weight     228,500 lb (103.6 t)
Loco weight     303,000 lb (137.4 t)
Fuel type     Coal
Boiler pressure     200 psi (1.38 MPa)
Cylinders     Two, outside
Cylinder size     26 in 30 in (660 mm 762 mm)
Performance figures
Tractive effort     54,700 lbf (243.32 kN)
Factor of adh.     4.18
Operators     Frisco Lines
Class     4000
Number in class     23
Numbers     4018
Locale     Birmingham District
Delivered     1923
Last run     February 29, 1952
Current owner     City of Birmingham, Alabama
Disposition     Static display at the Sloss Furnaces National Historic Landmark

SLSF 4018 is a class USRA Light 2-8-2 "Mikado" steam locomotive which operated for three decades hauling freight between Bessemer and Birmingham, Alabama (United States), on the St. Louis – San Francisco Railway. It went on display at the Alabama State Fairgrounds in 1952 and is one of only a few locomotives of its type that survive. Current Disposition - Static display at the Sloss Furnaces National Historic Landmark.



Inside Sloss Property:  DS4-4-660  c/n 73893, b/d 9/1948


Sloss Furnaces
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Sloss Blast Furnace Site
U.S. National Register of Historic Places
U.S. National Historic Landmark
Sloss Furnaces, Birmingham AL
Built     1881
Architect     James W. Sloss; Et al.

Sloss Furnaces is a National Historic Landmark in Birmingham, Alabama in the United States. It operated as a pig iron-producing blast furnace from 1882 to 1971. After closing it became one of the first industrial sites (and the only blast furnace) in the U.S. to be preserved and restored for public use. In 1981 the furnaces were designated a National Historic Landmark by the United States Department of the Interior.

The site currently serves as an interpretive museum of industry and hosts a nationally recognized metal arts program. It also serves as a concert and festival venue. Construction is also underway on a new $10 million visitors center. The furnace site, along a wide strip of land reserved in Birmingham's original city plan for railroads and industry, is also part of a proposed linear park through downtown Birmingham. An annual Halloween haunted attraction called "Sloss Fright Furnace" is held at the site.



Birmingham Station





I asked my car attendant if I could take his photo, and he made this Napoleonic profile pose.


I think the vertical lighting where he stood made an interesting photo.


The Viewliners clearly label their cars.  This one being Train 19 Car 11.


A telephoto scene from Birmingham.


Anyone know what this company this logo represents?

At lunch at Birmingham,  Alabama, they seat only 2 per table.  My seat mate was a young lady from Perth, Australia.  She was coming from New York City.  She had the waitress read the menu to her.  I found out that she had only peripheral vision.  She was heading to New Orleans also and planned a swamp/plantation tour and was staying on Canal Street.  She works in communications, web pages and such.


About 20 minutes west of Birmingham Station, we flashed past this nice classic station.


Small eating area on the Viewliner and still two tables reserved for crew.


Viewliner cafe back bar.

Viewliner Cafe Car


Viewliner Diner/Kitchen


Beautiful clouds as we crossed a river with interesting strata on the right.


"Cuba Mercantile Co." perhaps on the storefront.


A quick check of my iWatch confirmed that we were in Cuba, with the weather, current date and temperature and sunset time.


Approaching Meridian, Mississippi a closed factory.  Cotton and lumber were the main industries in the area and Meridian was a railroad center.



Meridian Amtrak Station


Some vintage cars at the Meridian, Mississippi Station


Kansas City Southern 2971 idles in Meridian, Mississippi



LAUREL   proclaims itself to be “The City Beautiful,” referring to its oak tree lined streets and its early 20th century architecture. The city was founded in 1882 and grew as a rail center for shipping timber products from the area. Oil was discovered in the area in the 1950s and today there are over 150 companies providing services to oil and gas drillers.




Laurel town clock from my Viewliner.


Maybe a VFW since it says, "Support our Troops" on the door.


Typical rural home in the south - pickup in the front yard, front porch, tin roof, electric fan on the porch for evening sittin'.  When I was a child in the '40s, an icebox, or refrigerator might be on the front porch.


Next stop, Hattiesburg, Mississippi

 HATTIESBURG is another town that got its start due to the lumber industry and the railroad. The presence of several rail lines yielded the moniker the “Hub City.” The University of Southern Mississippi (where Brett Favre played), William Carey University and Camp Shelby, the largest National Guard training base east of the Mississippi River are located here. The Italian Renaissance style train station was restored and re-dedicated in 2007. Singer, songwriter, author and movie producer Jimmy Buffett played guitar here during his college years at Southern.




This 0-4-0F (Fireless) locomotive #21 was built by the Heisler Locomotive Works of Erie, PA, in 1935.  It was one of two that worked for the Hercules Powder Co., an explosives manufacturer, at its Hattiesburg plant from 1946 until 1958. It was donated to the City of Hattiesburg in 1968.



Bonhomie & Hattiesburg Southern #300

The Bonhomie & Hattiesburg Southern gained fame with rail fans by continuing to operate the line with steam locomotives #250 and #300 until 1961 when both were finally replaced by two used EMD SW1s. The line then merged into the Illinois Central Gulf in 1972, and is now part of ICG successor Canadian National's route from Jackson, MS, to Mobile, AL.

#300 is a 160,700 lb coal burning Mikado (2-8-2) type locomotive with 52" drivers and 19" x 26" cylinders. Operating at a boiler pressure of 200 psi, it delivered 30,700 lbs tractive effort.



Next Stop, last one in Mississippi, Picayune


(How do you spell that, time to check my iWatch.)
iWatch is a good way to remember, date, time (even when you cross time zones), city weather temperature and sunset time.

PICAYUNE was founded in 1904 and named after a Spanish coin that had historically been used by inhabitants of New Orleans. The landscape around here grows more subtropical. The city has become home to many who moved north from the Gulf Coast and New Orleans searching for a safer place to live after Hurricane Katrina.


CROX 2027

According to the interpretive plaque, this is the sole surviving Crosby Chemical tank car. It went on display on 18 July 2012.


A couple of things caught my eye trackside - my brother's name, and my rail fan buddy's name is Don.  And, I have not seen a Winn dixie store for decades.


Sometimes, a city can be identified by its name on the town's water tower.  I could not see the initial letters on this one, so I checked the CRESCENT map and enlarged it enough to see that it was Pearl River, Louisiana.  The CRESCENT, enlargeable map is at


Next stop, Slidell, Louisiana

SLIDELL  Welcome to the heart of Bayou Country. Slidell was named for John Slidell, the one-time Confederate States of America commissioner to France and member of Congress. Founded in 1910, the town became a center for construction materials with both a lumber mill and a brickyard. In the 1960s, NASA opened several facilities in the area and Slidell’s population tripled during the next decade.



I liked the puppy-like white clouds in the eastern sky.


We were near the shore of Lake Pontchartrain where houses are on poles to protect them from high water.



Slidell to New Orleans on the Crescent


As we go out on the Lake
Pontchartrain causeway, Hwy. 11 heads out as well with I-10 farther east.

Norfolk Southern Lake Pontchartrain Bridge
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Norfolk Southern Lake Pontchartrain Bridge
Carries     Norfolk Southern rail line
Crosses     Lake Pontchartrain
Locale     New Orleans, Louisiana
Owner     Norfolk Southern Corporation
Total length     30,264 ft (9,224 m)
Construction end     1884

The Norfolk Southern Lake Pontchartrain Bridge is a bridge that carries a single-track of Norfolk Southern rail line between Slidell and New Orleans, Louisiana. At 5.8 miles (9.3 km) long, it is the longest railroad bridge in the United States and likely the longest rail bridge over water in the world. The Huey P. Long Bridge in nearby Jefferson Parish has sometimes been given that title, but at about 4.4 miles (7.1 km), that bridge is considerably shorter than the Norfolk Southern bridge.

The bridge is heavily used by Norfolk Southern freight trains. In addition, Amtrak's Crescent passenger train crosses the bridge once daily in each direction.



I enjoyed the sky reflection in the placid lake between the CRESCENT and Hwy. 11.



Back on firm ground with room for adjacent tracks.


We followed quite a circuitous route into the New Orleans Amtrak station.

Map from:


We came right through the famous cemeteries of New Orleans.


Past the First Baptist Church of New Orleans


Sunset was a beautiful time to enter New Orleans on Amtrak.


The Amtrak Station is next to the Superdome.



New Orleans Amtrak Station

New Orleans Station in 2006 after we arrived on THE CITY OF NEW ORLEANS, after Hurricane Katrina.


My time-stamp arriving in New Orleans.  The year was 2016.

Tips and Tricks of Amtrak Travel:

When you go for coffee in your sleeper car.  Since it is scalding hot, first get a plastic water/juice cup, then put the coffee cup inside, then dispense the coffee into the cup.  My car attendant showed me this trick.  By the time I was back in my room, the plastic was warped from the heat, but my fingers weren't.

If you are photographing things out the train window, and miss the station's name, if you have an iWatch, have it preset for the weather and it will also give the name of the town.  (Picayune, Mississippi, caused me to write this tip.)

Next, two wonderful days in the photogenic city, New Orleans.

If you missed any of the other parts of "America By Amtrak" here's where it is all recorded:

Visitors Since 1/12/17:

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