Large crowd comes out for train event

Published 8:50 am Friday, February 13, 2015

Over 500 train enthusiasts were estimated to have attended the Feb. 7 GM&O Historical Society South End Regional at the old passenger depot on Austin Street in Bogalusa.

Visitors had the opportunity to meet and mingle with former GM&O employees, view slide shows from the railroad’s heyday, purchase railroad memorabilia at a flea market and listen to live music. They also had the chance to view the building’s completely refurbished interior.

Local Historical Society members hosted the event. Historical Society Board member Terry “Foots” Quinn was the spokesman for the local group. The Bogalusa Civic League donated finger foods and drinks, while the Ingleside Society donated desserts.

Railroad enthusiast, author and historian Louis Saillard, from Baton Rouge, provided two railroad audio-visual programs, which proved to be very popular during the day.

“I think the event went off very well,” depot owner Mike Cassidy said. “Thanks not only to Foots Quinn for this event, but also to the Civic League and Ingleside Society for providing refreshments. We didn’t know what to expect from this event. Bona fide railroad enthusiasts were the target audience, and they turned out from several states.”

Cassidy spoke about how his father, Charles J. Cassidy, worked to renovate the inside of the building.

“It was his passion to restore the inside of the building,” Mike Cassidy said. “My dad acquired the depot in 1973 when the railroad sold off the property. He devoted the rest of his life to work you see.”

Angie’s J.W. Brumfield and Ponchatoula’s Craig Carter were just two of the former GM&O employees at Saturday’s event. Brumfield was employed for more than 34 years as an engineer before it merged in 1972 with the Illinois Central. Carter worked as a clerk from 1971-1972 before he moved on to another railroad line.

“It was excellent working with the GM&O. It was a good railroad, and I mean the best. This is a good meeting. It brings back some good memories.”

Carter agreed.

“It was a railroad that did things the old fashioned way. They were personal and focused on taking care of your customers,” Carter said.

Vendor Ed Stoll came from the Austin, Texas, area for the event. He was selling historical tape CDs. He has 26 years service on 13 railroads companies from clerk to freight claims to calligraphy-operator.

“I’m here participating because I want to help promote the local meets for the GM&O Historical Society,” Stoll said. “All the shows are big days to me. I’ve been doing this for years.”

Quinn said he thought the meeting brought out the people who enjoy railroad life.

“It’s going at least as well as I thought it would,” Quinn said. “We’ve got a good crowd with good people having a great time.”

Quinn harkened back to an historical event in 1969 to which to compare Saturday’s meeting.

“It’s kind of like Woodstock,” Quinn said. “It’s love, peace and railroads.”