I grew up along the old Pleasant Hill branch in Robeline.  We lived about a hundred feet from the tracks!  I remember seeing steam locomotives when I was very small.  My grandmother would take me with her to pump water from a well right by the tracks.  We had a cotton gin in town and saw mill very close to town.  There were stacks of lumber and cross ties set to out to dry.  There were pulpwood cars to be loaded.  My cousins actually road a passenger train from Robeline to Pleasant Hill back then.  It was sad to see the line abandoned about 1965.  Later we lived in Shreveport close enough for me to ride a bicycle to the Hollywood yards.  I spent lots of time around the yards and the old roundhouse watching the trains.  I got a tour of the roundhouse once.  Back then you were still welcome as long as you were not causing trouble or doing anything unsafe.  I'd also spend a lot of time at the T&P and SP crossing waiting for trains to cross the diamond.  There were still lots of FTs on the SP back then.  It was a thrill to watch the signals change and know the trains were coming.  My neighbor's father worked for SSW so we sometimes got to go down to the engine shop in downtown Shreveport. He gave me some old manuals which I studied cover to cover.  Also got to ride both KCS and T&P-MP passenger trains out of Shreveport.  My father took me to KCS yards for a grand tour twice!  I got really interested in railroad signalling in high school.  I designed and built an exhibit for the a state science fair in Natchitoches that won first place.  Later still I spent a lot of time during early college days roaming North Louisiana exploring old logging railroad right of ways.  I made several trips to Long Leaf to see the old saw mill and the RR&G long before it became a museum.  I wrote several papers in high school and college about railroads and did a short research paper on the L&NW for a college class.  People were generally happy to talk to you and show you around.  I toured lots of industrial sites back then - saw mills, paper mills, metal fabrication, etc. - that you can't even get close to now.  Everything changed when I went to Viet Nam like it did for a whole lot of young men.