Midland Branch

The Midland branch is actually two branch lines that were both built to Abbeville by predecessor roads of the T&NO. The segment from New Iberia to I&V Jct. was built by ML&T (Morgan's Louisiana and Texas) as part of the Salt Mine Branch in 1883. The segment from I&V Jct. to Abbeville (16.1 miles) was built by I&V RR (Iberia and Vermillion) in 1892. At some point, the line from I&V Jct. to the salt mine at Avery Island became the Salt Mine branch and the line from New Iberia through I&V Jct. to Abbeville and beyond became the Midland branch. The segment from Midland to Gueydan (11.2 miles) and the segment from Midland to Eunice (23.6 miles) were built by the Louisiana Western in 1895 and 1894 respectively. The connection from Gueydan to Abbeville (23.6 miles) was completed by LW in 1902. Another segment from Eunice to Mamou (9.4 miles) was built in 1910 by LW, but was abandoned by T&NO in 1934.

The line served several rice dryers/silos at Abbeville, Kaplan and Gueydan and this was probably the main product shipped on the line for many years. An LPG loading facility was built at Eunice, but it was a fairly recent addition, probably built in the 1960's or 70's. A separate train traveled the line from New Iberia to I&V Jct. to work the Salt Mine branch.

The Midland branch crossed over the SP's Youngsville branch at Davids (at M.P. xx.x.) A portion of this branch exists today as the Pesson spur serving the Port of New Iberia. The switch at I&V Junction is still in place and easily accessible by car, however, all but the first mile or two of the Salt Mine Branch has been removed. This track is used to store empty carbon black cars now. The line from I&V Jct. to Erath was heavily damaged as a result of hurricane Rita in 2005. It was questionable whether the line would be salvagable, but financial assistance was available to rebuilt the track and bridges to allow the line to continue in operation. The spindly vertical lift bridge across the Delcambre Canal is still used by L&D. In the early days of the L&D operation, a bicycle could be seen on the running boards of the L&D engine. The bicycle was used by the train crews to ride from one side of the canal to the other to raise/lower the bridge. A swing span was in place across Bayou vermillion at Abbeville until the late 1980's when the line from Abbeville to Kaplan was removed rendering the span unnecessary. The segment from Kaplan to Eunice (49.1 miles) was removed in 1978.

The Louisiana and Delta still operates the branch serving the rice mill at Abbeville and a shipper at the very end of the line which receives a single tank car every so often. The spotting track is enclosed by a chain link fence. For many years, an SP caboose and a (Rock Island?) caboose were present at Abbeville. The SP caboose is now part of the museum at Abbeville.

 

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