Tap Lines
Mystery Photos Number 1

4-4-0 at sawmill

Thanks to David Price for steering us in the right direction. This photo was only a small portion of the entire image, which can be seen below. This new photo shows the sawmill of G. H. A. Thomas & Co. of Springfield, LA and the gauge is of 62 inch or 5'2". Why did Thomas have such a weird gauge and where did he picked up that locomotive. It all started when the New Orleans & Lake RR ordered a group of steam dummies from Porter for their 5'2-1/2" gauge transit road in New Orleans in 1882. The weird gauge was to insure that freight cars from the connecting 5 foot gauge roads could not be toted down the streets of New Orleans.  This includes Porter c/ns 825-830, and when the transit company was electrified around the turn of the century (anyone out there has any history on the transit roads of New Orleans?) this group of Porters were available for purchase. G. H. A. Thomas who was based in New Orleans purchased at least one of this group ; Porter c/n 830, which shows up in Porter's records as being completely rebuilt by Thomas. In fact enough parts were ordered to show that this engine must have been wrecked in a terrible way. There was originally a 325 gallon saddle tank engine, note the unusually high domes which would have cleared such a tank. Also this engine was originally a 2-4-2t with coal bunker, losing the bunker and rear wheels in the wreck and gaining an extra wheel up front.

Photo Courtesy of David Price. Note their only new engine in the far left background, Lima shay c/n 2169 built in May of 1909 and numbered 7. Putting the age of this photo after 1909. A 1907 lumber mill guide shows Thomas with two locomotives, which would show its quite possible there was at least a second ex-New Orleans & Lake RR. Porter on the roster and seeing how the shay was numbered 7, all six of the Porters ended up here numbered 1-6. Porter records show parts were being ordered as late as 1911 for at least one, c/n 825, but only locomotive, 830 was indentified as to its owner, G.H.A. Thomas, but with no date as when the parts were ordered. Very possible that the photo shows Porter c/n 825 instead but more than likely a little of each locomotive in that group, 825-830, has been incorporated into this one poor locomotive.

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