Podcast – Cemeteries Terminal on Canal Street

The Cemeteries Terminal

Cemeteries Terminal

Bus Shelter for the Esplanade line, on Canal Boulevard.

The Cemeteries Terminal at the Foot of Canal

Cemeteries Terminal

NORTA 2003, outbound, pauses before the Cemeteries Terminal, to let NORTA 2019 leave.

The Cemeteries Terminal expansion project begins just over a week from now. Let’s explore the history of Canal’s end of the line.

1861 to 1894 – Mule-Drawn Streetcars

Canal Street at St. Charles Avenue (left) and Royal Street (right), 1865 (Blessing photo)

The Canal Streetcar line opened in June of 1861. It ran from St. Charles Avenue and Canal, originally to the New Orleans City Railroad Company barn on Canal at N. White. In August, 1861, the line was extended to the cemeteries.

1901 to 1925 – Belt Service

riding the belt

“Palace” Car on a test run on the Esplanade Belt, 1911. (courtesy NOPL)

Ridin’ the Belt – The Canal Street and Esplanade Avenue lines operated as belt service from 1901 to 1925. Check out our podcast on belt operation. In addition to Canal/Esplanade, St. Charles and Tulane also operated as a belt.

1925 to 1951

cemeteries terminal

Canal and City Park Avenue, before the left-turn tracks were ripped up, 1951.

Belt service on Canal/Esplanade was discontinued in 1925. The right-turn tracks were ripped up, but the left-turn remained, so streetcars on the West End line could head out to the lakefront.

1951 to 1964

Cemeteries Terminal

Cemeteries Terminal, 1963 (Courtesy Streetcar Mike)

Cemeteries Terminal

Cemeteries Terminal, 1951 (Franck Studios for NOPSI)

When the West End line converted to buses in 1948, the left-turn tracks on Canal Street were no longer needed. NOPSI and the city built a two-track terminal at the foot of Canal, then ripped up the turn tracks. In 1964, all the streetcar tracks on Canal Street were ripped up, after the last run of the Canal line.

2004 to Present

NOLA.com article on the Cemeteries Terminal expansion by Beau Evans.

NORTA announcement on the project.

cemeteries terminal

Current bus terminal on Canal Boulevard.

Canal Boulevard at present has three bus-turn lanes in the first block.

Cemeteries Terminal

Plan for extending Canal Street line into Canal Blvd. (NORTA drawing, photo courtesy Beau Evans, NOLA.com)

The plan for the Cemeteries Terminal expansion. The streetcar will turn right from Canal, loop around on Canal Boulevard, then return to Canal Street.

Cemeteries Terminal

The Bulldog, a pub on Canal Blvd, directly across from the bus terminal.

One of the businesses near the construction is The Bulldog, a Canal Street watering hole.

Buy Edward’s Book!

New Orleans: The Canal Streetcar Line (Arcadia’s Images of America Series)

cemeteries terminal

New Orleans: The Canal Streetcar Line

The clanging of a streetcar’s bell conjures images of a time when street railways were a normal part of life in the city. Historic Canal Street represents the common ground between old and new with buses driving alongside steel rails and electric wires that once guided streetcars.

New Orleans was one of the first cities to embrace street railways, and the city’s love affair with streetcars has never ceased. New Orleans: The Canal Streetcar Line showcases photographs, diagrams, and maps that detail the rail line from its origin and golden years, its decline and disappearance for almost 40 years, and its return to operation. From the French Quarter to the cemeteries, the Canal Line ran through the heart of the city and linked the Creole Faubourgs with the new neighborhoods that stretched to Lake Pontchartrain.

Cemeteries Terminal on the Canal Street Line #StreetcarSaturday

Cemeteries Terminal on the Canal Street Line #StreetcarSaturday

The Cemeteries Terminal

cemeteries terminal

Two NORTA 2000-series “Von Dullen” streetcars at the Cemeteries

The Cemeteries Terminal – End of the line

If you ride the Canal Street line from its beginning at the foot of Canal Street, you come to the Cemeteries Terminal, 4.3 miles later. The New Orleans City Railroad Company began operations on the Canal Street line on June 15, 1861. The original route as from the foot of Canal Street to the company’s barn, at Canal and N. White Streets. By August 24, 1861, however, the company extended the line to Bayou Metairie. This is now the intersection of Canal Street and City Park Avenue. The reason for the fast expansion was that people wanted to get up to the Cemeteries located in the neighborhood. Cypress Grove Cemetery, St. Patrick Cemetery, and several Jewish cemeteries were already in what is now the Mid-City area. So, the end of the Canal Street line became the “cemeteries.”

Growth of Mid-City New Orleans

The Mid-City neighborhood grew out from the French Quarter and Faubourg Treme. Light industry and other businesses set themselves up along the New Basin Canal. Folks working in those businesses took the Canal Streetcar to work. Eventually, they bought lots in Mid-City and built houses. By the 1900s, the Sicilians expanded into Mid-City to the point that the archdiocese granted the community permission to form a new parish. St. Anthony of Padua became Mid-City’s parish in 1915. All the while, people from many communities regularly took the streetcar up to the cemeteries.

The Original Terminal

cemeteries terminal

Cemeteries Terminal, 1964. (courtesy Mike Strauch, www.streetcarmike.com)

The end of the Canal Line was a two-track terminal until 1964. At various points, the streetcar tracks turned left and right onto City Park Avenue. The West End line went to the foot of Canal, then turned left, to continue to the lake. The Canal line ran as belt service with the Esplanade line, streetcars turned right onto City Park Avenue. The Canal line ran down City Park Avenue to Esplanade. They crossed the bayou at Esplanade Avenue, and continued down to N. Rampart Street. The Cemeteries Terminal was a busy place!

The Modern Terminal

Cemeteries Terminal

NORTA 2003, outbound, pauses before the Cemeteries Terminal, to let NORTA 2019 leave.

When the Canal line returned in 2004, so did the Cemeteries Terminal. Canal Street was one lane wider on either side, though. That meant there was only room for one track at the end of the line. When a streetcar leaves the terminal, it travels in the street for two blocks, before re-entering the neutral ground.

If there’s a streetcar in the terminal when a second car arrives, the new car pauses just before the switch that merges the tracks. The now-inbound car heads out, the outbound car pulls in. At busy times, two cars will enter the terminal. They’ll both leave at the same time. This usually happens on days when a big event happens downtown. A lot of folks take advantage of free parking around the cemeteries. They hop the streetcar and head to the river. Additionally, two cars double-up in the terminal when one of them gets way behind schedule.

Operations

Here’s a pair of 2000-series Von Dullen streetcars at Cemeteries. The now-lead car (which was the last one in) pulls out. By the time I finished recording this car, the one behind it pulled out as well!

Cemeteries Terminal

The modern Cemeteries Terminal

That left me standing in an empty terminal.

Buy Edward’s Book!

New Orleans: The Canal Streetcar Line (Arcadia’s Images of America Series)

cemeteries terminal

New Orleans: The Canal Streetcar Line

The clanging of a streetcar’s bell conjures images of a time when street railways were a normal part of life in the city. Historic Canal Street represents the common ground between old and new with buses driving alongside steel rails and electric wires that once guided streetcars.

New Orleans was one of the first cities to embrace street railways, and the city’s love affair with streetcars has never ceased. New Orleans: The Canal Streetcar Line showcases photographs, diagrams, and maps that detail the rail line from its origin and golden years, its decline and disappearance for almost 40 years, and its return to operation. From the French Quarter to the cemeteries, the Canal Line ran through the heart of the city and linked the Creole Faubourgs with the new neighborhoods that stretched to Lake Pontchartrain.

Denver Zephyr and Minor League Baseball #TrainThursday

Denver Zephyr and Minor League Baseball #TrainThursday

The Denver Zephyr

denver zephyr

Promotional photo for the Denver Zephyr

The Denver Zephyr – Chicago to Denver

The Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad operated streamlined passenger rail service from Chicago to Denver, from 1936 to 1973.

denver zephyr

Denver Zephyr poster

The Route of the Denver Zephyr:

Westbound

  • Chicago
  • Omaha
  • Lincoln
  • Denver

Eastbound

  • Denver
  • Lincoln
  • Omaha
  • Chicago

Streamliner

denver zephyr

Denver Zephyr poster

The Zephyr consist included coaches, dining cars, Pullmans, and observation cars. The original Budd trainsets operated until 1956. They were then reassigned to Burlington subsidiaries, running from Denver to Dallas-Fort Worth. Burlington took delivery of new Budd trainsets that included VistaDome cars. The DZ operated a VistaDome car as a coffee shop called the ChuckWagon. This second incarnation of the DZ began operation in October, 1956. The train’s route was also extended, past Denver, to Colorado Springs.

Amtrak Service

Amtrak took over passenger service in the US in 1971. The company operated the DZ daily, from Chicago to Denver. The Denver Zephyr service was discontinued in 1973.

Zephyrs Baseball

denver zephyr

Kansas City Blues logo

In 1901, the Kansas City Blues moved to Washington, DC, to become the Washington Senators. Kansas City immediately formed a new team, under the Blues banner. That AAA-league team stayed in the city until 1955. The Philadelphia A’s re-located to KC that year, so the minor league club needed a new home. They found one in Denver. The team took the name “Bears,” playing in the American Association through the 1962 season. For the 1963 season, the team moved to the Pacific Coast league.

denver zephyr

Denver Bears logo

In 1985, the team changed its name to the Denver Zephyrs, an homage to the streamliner train. The team kept that name until 1993.

denver zephyr

Denver Zephyrs logo

Major League Baseball awarded Denver a franchise in The Show that year. When the Colorado Rockies came to town, the AAA club had to move, again. This time it was to New Orleans.

Roller Coaster to Ball Club

denver zephyr

The “Zephyr” Roller Coaster, on a t-shirt from New Orleans Public Service

A minor league ball team usually changed names when it moved. The Zephyrs were able to keep their name in New Orleans, though. The city’s long-time amusement park, Pontchartrain Beach, was the connection. Pontchartrain Beach’s signature roller coaster was the “Zephyr.” When the Denver team came to town, the name connected with the locals. The entrance to the Zephyr roller coaster even looked like a streamliner train! It made sense to keep the Denver logo.

denver zephyr

New Orleans Zephyrs logo

The team did just that, until this year. Now, the New Orleans AAA team is the New Orleans Babycakes.

The “Last Streetcar” on Canal Street – May 31, 1964

The “Last Streetcar” on Canal Street – May 31, 1964

The Last Streetcar on Canal (for forty years)

last streetcar

NOPSI 972, coming out of the barn on Canal Street for the last time. (Courtesy Tulane LaRC)

Which “Last Streetcar?”

The last day of regular service on the old Canal line was May 30, 1964. There are a number of interpretations as to which run was the “last” streetcar. Irby Aucoin’s famous photo from the night before is arguably the last “revenue” run. This car, 972, the next morning, was the last streetcar on the two-track main on Canal. That wasn’t a “regular” run, however. NOPSI started cutting down the overhead wire right behind 972. There were slowdowns to the point where that last trip took hours instead of minutes. Still, that banner on the side was big news, as 972 switched off of the Canal main track. When the car turned onto the third track that makes the turn to St. Charles Avenue, Canal service was gone.

35 Remained

When 972 turned onto St. Charles that morning in 1964, plans that were long-made came to completion. NOPSI kept 35 of the arch roof streetcars of the 900-series for operations on the St. Charles line. They earned the nickname  “Charlie cars.” Some of the remaining 800- and 900-series cars were donated/sold to museums and private collectors. The rest were unceremoniously cut in half and scrapped. NOPSI had no interest in fighting with the so-called “streetcar activists” that appeared on the scene after the announcement that Canal would be discontinued. So, they cut down the wires, cut up the streetcars, and deployed a fleet of green, air-conditioned, modern Flixible buses.

NOPSI promised the people of Lakeview and Lakeshore “express” bus service that would enable them to get on a bus within blocks of their homes, then ride into the CBD in air-conditioning. No transfer at the foot of Canal Street, to ride a streetcar in sorry shape. No crowds bunched together in the heat, humidity, and rain of the spring and summer. Nothing the uptown folks could do or say would convince the people who actually used the Canal line at the time to change their minds.

Bus ridership changed dramatically during the forty years of no streetcars on Canal. When the red Von Dullen cars took to the street in 2004, people were ready for a ride from City Park Avenue into town. Air conditioning doesn’t hurt, either.

Learn more!

Check out my book, New Orleans: The Canal Streetcar Line, part of Arcadia Publishing’s “Images of America” series, or check out our podcast on “Riding the Belt.”

Terminal Station on Canal Street fades into history – April 16, 1954

Terminal Station on Canal Street fades into history – April 16, 1954

Terminal Station fades into history

terminal station

The Southerner was the last train to leave Terminal Station on Canal Street. (courtesy Tulane’s LaRC)

Terminal Station on Canal Street

Tulane’s Louisiana Resource Collection shared some important photos in Louisiana railroad history for April 16. The first photo is of Southern Railroad’s Train #48, better known as “The Southerner.” The Southerner was a “limited” train that ran from New Orleans to New York City. The train began operation in 1941, using EMD E6 engines and brand=new, corrugated-sided cars from Pullman-Standard.

The photo above shows the last Southerner leaving Terminal Station, on April 16, 1954. The Illinois Central and Kansas City Southern railroads had already moved their operations to Union Passenger Terminal on Loyola. When The Southerner departed on April 16th, Southern Railroad’s inbound trains were re-routed to their new home on Loyola Avenue.

terminal station

The Southerner, on its way to New York (Wikimedia Commons)

Terminal Station was built on Canal Street in 1908. It serviced the Southern and Gulf, Mobile and Ohio railroads. So, in the black-and-white photo above, the photographer stands on the Basin Street neutral ground, behind the stations’s platforms. Krauss Department Store is visible on the right.

The Pelican

terminal station

“The Pelican” backing into Union Passenger Terminal, April 16, 1954 (courtesy Tulane’s LaRC)

The first Southern Railroad train to enter Union Passenger Terminal was “The Pelican.” The Pelican also ran from New Orleans to NYC, but its consist was an luxury affair. It used sleeper cars owned by Pullman-Standard. There were no coach cars.  The tracks coming into UPT include a “wye” track. While the incoming trains came in engine-first, they turned around on the wye. Then the engines backed into the platforms.

Terminal Station

The Pelican at Union Passenger Terminal, April 16, 1954 (courtesy Tulane’s LaRC)

The Mayor of New Orleans in the 1950s was deLessepps Story Morrison. He was one of the biggest proponents of a single train station for the city. New Orleans had five stations around the city. Union Passenger Terminal remains in use by Amtrak and the Greyhound Bus company today.

Podcast – Riding the Belt – Streetcar Belt Service in New Orleans

Podcast – Riding the Belt – Streetcar Belt Service in New Orleans

Streetcar Belt Service

I was truly surprised when I mentioned “riding the belt” at my “Second Thursday” lecture for the Friends of the Cabildo earlier this month, and nobody knew the term. Now, I’m 58, and the St. Charles/Tulane belt service ended in 1950, but there have always been folks older than me who remember this.

Streetcar Belt Service for Seven Cents

streetcar belt service

NOPSI 434 on the St. Charles Belt, 1947 (courtesy George Friedman)

Belt service was practical. The idea was for streetcars to run in a loop. Cars on one line would go in one direction, cars on the other line in the opposite direction. So, from 1900 to 1950, the St. Charles line went outbound. Starting at Canal and Rampart:

  • Inbound (towards the river) on Canal
  • Right turn onto St. Charles Avenue
  • Outbound (towards uptown) on St. Charles
  • Right turn onto S. Carrollton
  • Outbound (heading towards Mid-City) on S. Carrollton
  • Right turn on Tulane Avenue
  • Inbound (towards the CBD) on Tulane
  • Tulane to Elk Place
  • Elk Place to Canal
  • Back at Canal and Rampart

The cars whose roll boards said TULANE ran this in reverse, Elk to Tulane to S. Carrollton. Then, left turn onto St. Charles, inbound to Lee Circle. Curve around Lee Circle to Howard, then right turn on Carondelet (since St. Charles between Canal and Lee Circle is one way the other way). Left turn at Carondelet and Canal to Rampart.

streetcar belt service

NOPSI 817 on the Tulane Belt at the New Basin Canal Bridge (courtesy George Friedman)

Equipment on the St. Charles/Tulane belt was Brill double-trucks until 1915, then 400-series arch roof cars. In 1923, 800-900 series arch roofs also ran on these lines.

streetcar belt service

NOPSI 1182 trackless trolley at Canal Station (courtesy Streetcar Mike)

Belt service was discontinued in 1950, when the New Basin Canal was filled in, forcing changes in roads and traffic patterns. Tulane line converted to trackless trolleys in 1950. St. Charles was re-configured to its present-day route.

Canal/Esplanade Belts

streetcar belt service

“Palace” Car on a test run on the Esplanade Belt, 1911. (courtesy NOPL)

Riding the belt also was a thing on the downtown side of Canal, from 1903 to 1931. The Canal and Esplanade lines ran streetcar belt service as follows:

Canal

  • Outbound on Canal Street from N. Rampart
  • Canal Street to City Park Avenue
  • Right turn on City Park Avenue to the bayou bridge.
  • Cross the bayou, then inbound on Esplanade Avenue
  • Right turn from Esplanade onto N. Rampart
  • Left turn onto Canal Street from N. Rampart
  • Inbound on Canal to Liberty Place
  • Loop around Liberty Place
  • Outbound on Canal to N. Rampart

 

Esplanade

  • Inbound at Canal and N. Rampart to Liberty Place
  • Loop around Liberty Place
  • Outbound on Canal to N. Rampart
  • Right turn onto N. Rampart
  • Left turn onto Esplanade
  • Outbound on Esplanade to the bayou
  • Cross Bayou St. John to City Park Avenue
  • Right turn on City Park Avenue
  • City Park Avenue inbound to Canal Street
  • Left turn on Canal Street
  • Inbound on Canal to Rampart.

Equipment on the Canal/Esplanade belts was Brill double-trucks until 1915, then American Car Company “Palace” cars.

Streetcar belt service on Canal/Esplanade was discontinued in 1931. After the “beautification program” of 1930, The Esplanade line was converted to bus service.

Thanks to George Friedman and Streetcar Mike Strauch!