Old Reliable – Image

Old Reliable - Image

From the cab of “Old Reliable” Bill Mongrue (left) and Ned Gauthreaux survey the refinery area. “Old Reliable” was the engine that shifted, pushed, and pulled Pan American Refinery railroad cars for decades. Bill Mongrue, head switchman, and Ned Gauthreaux, engineer, worked side by side at Pan American Refining Company in Destrehan for nearly three decades starting in 1927. Bill lived in Luling when he began working at the refinery in 1919 and rowed across the river by boat to Destrehan. When it was dark or foggy, his father would stand on the riverbank waving a lantern to guide him to the landing area. In later years, he crossed by ferry when service began. Ned lived above Lutcher and began working at Pan Am in 1921, moving later to switchman of the three-mile refinery track within which gondolas, flat and box cars were dropped off from the main line and repositioned for loading, unloading, and lineup for destination. “Old Reliable” was capable of moving from forty to fifty cars around the yard. There was never an accident or injury during their twenty-seven years of working together. (Photo courtesy of Kerney and JoAnn Mongrue)