Page Two


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New Orleans is most fortunate in that it is so efficiently served by five of the best financed and most powerful railroads of the United States. Should the Santa Fe R.R. seek and obtain entrance here, as is not entirely unlikely, a sixth great line would be added.

Prominent among the group is the Southern Pacific, with more than 7,000 miles of track, and its several steamship lines. This road not only serves practically the entire west coast of the United States and part of Mexico but a very extensive territory in Texas and Louisiana. Through New Orleans as a gateway, it is the principal passenger route from points east to western Texas and California. Its through passenger service is principally in connection with the Southern, L. & N., and Illinois Central Railroads.

[Bartholomew & Associates, Railroad Transportation Report for New Orleans-Louisiana (1927), pp. 30-31]

Perhaps the most picturesque of New Orleans' old stations, the Louisville and Nashville Station at the foot of Canal Street was completed in 1902. In the 1940s, six passenger trains arrived daily on the terminal's three tracks.

[Louisiana Postcard Collection]

The L. & N. passenger station is located at the foot of Canal Street. It is a one story brick building constructed in 1902. It contains a general waiting room 30' wide and 45' long, a colored waiting room 25' wide and 35' long, two small rest rooms, and a ladies rest room 30' x 25' in size. A small lunch room (15' x 20') is in one of the waiting rooms. There is one baggage room 30' wide and 60' long. Mail and express are handled direct from the cars to trucks. A concourse 12 feet wide and 165' long parallels the north or track side of the building.

The train shed spans the three tracks and is 550 feet long. It is of steel with open sides.

There are three tracks, two of which are main line and one the baggage and express track. The latter is almost continually occupied. It is therefore necessary to perform the seemingly impossible feat of getting out and in 22 trains daily on two tracks, one of which must be kept clear for freight and switching movements. To add to this difficulty, Iberville Street, which runs through the train shed must be kept open, and the available length for standing cars is only about sufficient to take seven or eight coaches. The operation is that of a through station, the trains being made up and received in the coach yard near Julia Street.

The station is located between its own tracks and those of the Southern Pacific and the river, and is practically inaccessible at times. Taxis line up in the driveway along the south side of the station and to some extent in Canal Street where they obstruct traffic to the train tracks and wharf sheds.

[Bartholomew & Associates, Railroad Transportation Report for New Orleans-Louisiana (1927), pp. 20-22]

The "bridge" to the Canal Street Ferry, in front of the Louisville and Nashville Station, 1951. The station and the walkway to the ferry are linked in most people's memories, but the structures operated separately.

[Alexander Allison Photograph Collection]

The Louisville & Nashville Railroad was chartered in 1850. By 1880, its service had been extended to New Orleans, thru Birmingham, Montgomery, and Mobile, by acquisition of the New Orleans, Mobile and Texas Railroad. At the same time, the L&N also acquired the oldest railroad west of the Alleghenies-the Pontchartrain Railroad, five miles long, which extended "straight as a string" on Elysian Fields Avenue, in New Orleans, from the Mississippi River to Lake Pontchartrain, at Milneburg. This line was abandoned in 1935, after some 104 years of uninterrupted service. For seventy-four years, the L&N linked New Orleans with the Central-South and the Mississippi Valley.

[New Orleans Union Passenger Terminal Dedication Program, Saturday, May 1, 1954]

Another view of the station, behind the ferry bridge. Today, an Entergy transfer station occupies this site.

[New Orleans Railroad Terminal Board Series, Municipal Government Photograph Collection]

The Southern Railroad Terminal, also known as the Terminal Station, was constructed at 1125 Canal Street in 1908. The building was designed by Daniel Burnham, the architect for Washington D.C.'s Union Station. The station served the Southern Railway's subsidiaries, the New Orleans and Northeastern Railroad Company and the New Orleans Terminal Company. In the 1940's, the station's signature train was "The Southerner," which departed New Orleans daily for the east coast.

[Charles Franck Photograph Collection]

Interior of an American Express boxcar on the Illinois Central Railroad line, 1912.

[Charles Franck Photograph Collection]

The Missouri Pacific was the first railroad west of the Mississippi River, having started at St. Louis in 1851, and reached Kansas City in 1865. The St. Louis, Iron Mountain & Southern (the original line is today an important part of the Missouri Pacific System) co-operated in establishing rail-freight service between St. Louis and New Orleans in the early 1870's. And, in 1916, the Iron Mountain established through-passenger service between New Orleans and St. Louis and Kansas City, via Alexandria, La., and Little Rock, Ark.-using the T&P Tracks between New Orleans and Alexandria. In 1924, the Missouri Pacific acquired the Gulf Coast Lines, which link New Orleans with Houston and Brownsville, Texas.

[New Orleans Union Passenger Terminal Dedication Program, Saturday, May 1, 1954]

The Texas Pacific-Missouri Pacific Station stood on Annunciation, between Melpomene and Thalia Streets. Completed in 1916, the station was, according to a contemporary account, "considered the most impressive of all New Orleans passenger stations."

[Charles Franck Photograph Collection]

Postcard of the Texas Pacific-Missouri Pacific station.

[Louisiana Postcard Collection]

When three yoke of oxen furnished the motive power to pull two small box cars and one flat car over 23 miles of track, into East Texas, from Swanson's Landing on Caddo Lake, in Louisiana, in 1858-that was the beginning of The Texas and Pacific Railway. (The steam locomotive had been ordered but was delayed enroute down the Mississippi by steamboat.) Then came the Civil War and the Panic of 1873. Construction of the line between Shreveport and El Paso was slowed. In 1876, the New Orleans Pacific Railway Company built a line between New Orleans and Shreveport. In 1881, The Texas and Pacific acquired the fanchise, and by the end of 1882 had established rail service between New Orleans and El Paso.

[New Orleans Union Passenger Terminal Dedication Program, Saturday, May 1, 1954]

A scene at the railroad freight yards, May 13, 1921. It took 8 pairs of mules to haul away this 24 ton door for the Hibernia Bank and Trust's new vault door, built by the Mosler Safe Company.

[Charles Franck Photograph Collection]

There were so many switch tracks in New Orleans that a 254-page book was needed to list them all. This page documents the track privilege for the Southern States Alcohol Company, a business located on the land now occupied by Lambeth House and the old Uptown Square shopping center.

[Reference Digest of Industrial Switch Track Ordinances (1921)]

At least three railroad companies operating in the Crescent City used ink blotters to advertise their routes to potential passengers.

[Rare Vertical File]

Transportation to Milneburg was achieved via a branch line of the L. and N. R. R., on a wheezing vehicle, pulled by an engine known as "Smoky Mary." When put to the test, Smoky Mary could, amidst great puffing and blowing and much expulsion of smoke and cinders, attain the remarkable speed of ten miles an hour. Passengers usually emerged with clothes blackened and eyes and throat stuffed with cinders.

[GumboYa-Ya (1945), p. 421]

The Pontchartrain Railroad continued to run its "Smoky Mary" train between Decatur Street and Milneburg on the Lake until March 15, 1932. This timetable shows that on Sundays, at least, the trip lasted a total of twenty minutes.

[Rare Vertical File]

The passenger service of the Louisiana & Arkansas-Kansas City Southern consists of two trains each way daily. One of these is the streamliner, "Southern Belle," and the other is a conventional steam train. The "Southern Belle" is handled around the wye at Shrewsbury and is backed into the station [at Rampart and Girod]. It is then moved to Jefferson Davis Yard where it is cleaned and serviced. It is backed into the station in the evening for departure. The other train heads into the station. All passenger equipment is cleaned and serviced at the Jefferson Davis Yard. The total number of cars each way daily on these two trains varies from 18 to 24. The train arriving in the morning and departing in the evening carries three cars of l. c. l. freight in addition to the regular passenger equipment. Mail and express cars are worked directly from trucks on the station tracks. Trains are handled from the station to Jefferson Davis Yard by a switch engine which also spots the head-end cars carrying l. c. l. freight.

[Godat and Heft, Report on Proposed Railroad Grade Crossing Elimination and Terminal Improvement for New Orleans, Louisiana (1944), v. 1, p. 12]

The Louisiana and Arkansas-Kansas City Southern station stood at 705 S. Rampart Street. Completed in 1923, the station ended its days as a fire station for the New Orleans Fire Department.

[Photo by Leon Trice. General Interest Collection]

The tracks leading into the L&A-KCS station.

[Alexander Allison Collection]

The Kansas City Southern Lines, which connect New Orleans with Dallas, and with Kansas City, via Alexandria and Shreveport, were formed from the merger of three different railroads: the Kansas City Southern, the Louisiana Railway and Navigation Company, and the Louisiana & Arkansas. The LR&N between New Orleans and Shreveport was completed in 1907 by William Edenborn. And, in 1923, the LR&N acquired a line between Shreveport and Dallas. These two lines, which were merged by the late-Harvey Couch, were acquired by the Kansas City Southern in 1939-thus providing a thru route from New Orleans to Kansas City.

[New Orleans Union Passenger Terminal Dedication Program, Saturday, May 1, 1954]

New Orleanians were not only in danger of bodily harm from passing trains, they were also likely to be inconvenienced in their own travels along the city streets. The movement of trains along the many switch-tracks throughout the Crescent City was a major cause of traffic interruptions. This letter from the Southern Pacific tries to justify that line's switching practices.

[Department of Utilities Records]

Shortly before 6 p.m. on November 18, 1926, the Orleans-Kenner commuter train was struck and overturned at the Southport crossing by a string of boxcars being back toward the river on a Louisiana Railway and Navigation Company switch track. More than a dozen passengers were injured, though only two of them were taken to the hospital. The Times-Picayune reported that George A Blanke, of Jefferson Terrace was trampled in the passengers' rush to the door and suffered a broken rib. Another passenger, William Daylish, was thrown through a window into a drainage dish, resulting in cuts on his hands and a case of shock. It was determined that the LR&N train, running without lights, was at fault.

[Photography by A. Pelle. Charles Franck Photograph Collection]

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