Regional Reports from across the state

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Central

Cause to Celebrate

Festivals for the Season
Dinner on the Bricks, the ArtWalk and the Louisiana Dragon Boat Races are merging into a triumvirate known as the AlexRiverFete. The three events will also include music, a barbecue cook-off and areas with interactive activities for kids.

The historic Cultural Arts District, with its signature brick byways, will be filled with delicious food offerings from several local restaurants and eateries.  

ArtWalk, sponsored in part by the Louisiana Dragon Boat Races and the city of Alexandria, is a self-guided walking tour of sorts beloved by families, also held in the Cultural Arts District. The alleyways, sidewalks and open spaces of the District are transformed into a joyous outdoor spring festival, filled with local artists and craftsman both demonstrating and selling their handiwork. There is a vibrant community of artists throughout Central Louisiana who exist beside a vibrant community of art-lovers, making the festival a perfect fit for the enjoyment of all involved.

The splendid color and energy of the Louisiana Dragon Boat Races, now celebrating its third birthday, is as shimmering as sunlight falling on the Red River. Since it was launched in 2010, the Dragon Boat Races, with racing members that total more than 1,000 and 45 teams, are expected to draw 10,000 people to riverbanks lined with colorful canopies.

Alexandria Mayor Jacques Roy is most enthusiastic about the flurry of springtime activity in his city.

“We want to expand the celebration to build a true, unified effort for the entire community,” he says. “We look forward to this one-of-a-kind event that embodies the talent and heritage that is the heart of Alexandria.”
AlexRiverFete, May 9-11, Alexandria

Fork in the Road

Spring Dining in Alexandria
When the siren call of a beauteous Central Louisiana spring finds you unable to resist and you’re out and about soaking up the joys of the warming season, a stop at Atwood’s Bakery is a great way to celebrate the season with light, satisfying fare. Whether you can ignore the mouthwatering coconut cream pie is your decision alone. But delightful sweets aside, the soup and salad and lunch menus offer a pleasing line of choices in both a complementary and original blend of flavors.
The Queen’s Soup is a rich and creamy chicken soup made with wild rice. It’s served in a sourdough bowl that soaks up the flavors perfectly.
Classic French Onion soup is delectable with its red wine-and-onion base and topped with melted provolone cheese.
The bakery’s deservedly renowned smoked chicken salad, made with poulettes that have been smoked with pecan wood, is but one layer of The Atwood sandwich, a buttery and flaky croissant filled with the creamy, smoky chicken salad; apple wood bacon; and smoked Gouda cheese. Topped with lettuce and tomato, it will make your eyes close at first bite. You can also order this delicious salad sans croissant, served on a bed of greens with fresh veggies and the dressing of your choice.

Atwood’s Bakery, 1125 MacArthur Drive, Alexandria, (318) 445-5134

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Reader Comments:
May 21, 2013 11:54 am
 Posted by  RebMac

Jeanne,

It's nice to see someone take an interest in events from long ago. This accident was the worst the Kansas City Southern has ever had. Thirteen souls were lost that August morning; all six employees in both locomotives, six passengers of the troop train, and the troop train's conductor. Eighty-two were injured, many seriously.

The track upon which this wreck occurred is abandoned, now - it is located a mile and a half north of the LA1 intersection you describe (the photo you published is actually of a location about two miles north of the actual wreck site). In fact, you will follow the existing tracks there north a couple hundred feet, then follow the still evident abandoned roadbed that diverges to the right/north up in to the woods. I would be sure to be prepared for the wildlife, for the area becomes heavily timbered and is swampy. The wreck location is just a hundred feet or so south of the tree line that opens upon a large open field. You will clearly be able to see the old roadbed continue across that field in a broad sweeping curve to the northeast. I don't remember anything that marks the spot, other than an eerie feeling that something terrible once happened in that place.

The worst part about this wreck is that it could have been prevented. I invite you to read the report of the ICC - http://ntl1.specialcollection.net/scripts/ws.dll?file&fn=6&name=S%3A%5CDOT_56GB%5CRailroad%5CWEBSEARCH%5C3419.PDF (you'll have to cut and paste); it tells a story of ignorance, arrogance, and tragedy - especially in light of new technologies of the day.

Thanks, again, for covering this wreck. Thirteen forgotten souls have been remembered.

Pat McCarthy

May 22, 2013 01:26 pm
 Posted by  JMFrois

Dear Pat,

Thanks very much for your kind comments and additional details about what happened. It's very gratifying to for me to receive a sensitive and informed response like yours to one of my stories. I always wondered where exactly the wreck took place and now you've given me an excellent picture. I think some kind of marker should be there; or even a historical marker on Hwy. 1 where the track crosses, because, paraphrasing your words, these souls should be remembered. I will definitely read the ICC report--I deeply appreciate that you've sent me the link to the actual report and took the time to respond to my story.

Best Wishes,

Jeanne Frois

May 25, 2013 05:12 pm
 Posted by  RebMac

Jeanne,

I was stunned to receive your very kind reply to my note on your piece about the wreck of the Southern Belle - so much so, if felt I should somehow respond.

So, thank you for your reply. My grandfather was a civil engineer for the KCS, and that wreck took the lives of four of his close friends. He grieved over it for years. Naturally, I was drawn to the story; I only wish he had lived long enough for me to talk about it with him.

I just ordered a copy of your book "Louisianians All," and am looking forward to reading it. Thank you, again.

Pat McCarthy
Jackson, Mississippi

May 29, 2013 02:37 pm
 Posted by  JMFrois

Dear Pat,

It was my pleasure to answer you. As a little girl I traveled the trains with my family and can still feel the spell they wove around us; your grandfather was part of the romance--and tragedy--of trains. I'm so sorry he lost four good friends in the wreck and it's only natural he would be haunted by such a loss. I understand why you would have wanted to talk about this with him. I would have loved to talk to him about it myself! Thank you so much for doing me the kindness of ordering my book. "Louisianians All" was a special project to me, a labor of love during a magical time of my life when I was surrounded by loving support on a few sides that I'll always cherish. I sincerely hope you enjoy it.

Best,

Jeanne Frois

Sep 1, 2013 03:14 pm
 Posted by  scheely

Jeanne - Thank you for the excellent article. My father is a member of the 1st 90 mm AAA Gun Battalion that served in Korea. He has published a book, "A Brief History of the 1st 90 MM AAA Gun Battalion, USMC". My father included a chapter on the train crash. The book is self-published and he makes additions as he receives photos and stories from Marines when they find out about the book. I would love to include the picture of the track now and a link to your article if you would approve? I am currently working on a 7th revision. He received photos of the crash from a Navy Corpsman, Bill Kayatta who was pulled out of the wreck by use of the rail tie. I was sad to learn of the loss of the boy on his horse. Please let me know about the photo and feel free to pass my note onto the other gentleman who posted. Thanks again for the article.

Jan 24, 2014 01:12 pm
 Posted by  JMFrois

Dear Scheely:

Just found your wonderful post this morning, nearly five months after--sorry! Congratulations about your father and the book, it sounds like a cherished, wonderful project. Give me a few minutes to run your request about the photo and link to the article by my publisher, Errol and I will let you know. Sorry to have kept you waiting so long! Best wishes and I'm so glad you enjoyed the article. Jeanne

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