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The Cemeteries Terminal
Bus Shelter for the Esplanade line, on Canal Boulevard.
The Cemeteries Terminal at the Foot of Canal
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
“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
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, 1963 (Courtesy Streetcar Mike)
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.
Current bus terminal on Canal Boulevard.
Canal Boulevard at present has three bus-turn lanes in the first block.
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.
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)
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.
The 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 poster
The Route of the 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 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.
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 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 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
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.
New Orleans Zephyrs logo
The team did just that, until this year. Now, the New Orleans AAA team is the New Orleans Babycakes.
Uptown Backatown lines connected downtown to the universities.
Uptown Backatown – Commuter Lines
The S. Claiborne line began operation in 1915. New Orleans Railway and Light Company was the city’s transit operator then. The S. Claiborne line’s route, 1915-1916:
- Canal Street at Carondelet
- Inbound on Canal (1 block) to St. Charles Avenue
- Right turn onto St. Charles, up to Howard Avenue.
- Howard Avenue to S. Rampart
- S. Rampart to Clio
- Clio to S. Claiborne
- S. Claiborne up to Broadway
- Broadway to the end of the line at Maple Street
- From Maple Street, Broadway to S. Claiborne
- S. Claiborne to Erato
- Erato to Carondelet
- Carondelet to Canal
After 1916, the S. Claiborne line was extended. Instead of ending on Broadway, it ran all the way to S. Carrollton Avenue. Carrollton and Claiborne was an important corner/hub for street rail. The St. Charles/Tulane belt stopped at S. Claiborne, and the Orleans-Kenner Railroad’s interurban service came into New Orleans at this corner.
As the backatown neighborhoods grew, the streetcar lines that connected them grew as well. NORwyLT initially operated the single-truck Ford, Bacon, and Davis streetcars. The 800/900 series arch roof streetcars ran on S. Claiborne after 1923. Tulane and Loyola students, as well as New Orleanians attending sporting events at Tulane Stadium used the S. Claiborne line as an alternative to St. Charles.
I’m not sure about the original source of the photo above. It’s NOPSI 964 at the end of an outbound run on S. Claiborne.
NOPSI 964 advertises Luzianne Coffee on this run. Luzianne coffee and tea is one of the brands from Reily Foods. Reily also makes/sells CDM and French Market Coffee.
Streetcar operations on S. Claiborne were discontinued in favor of bus service in 1953. Around the same time, belt service on St. Charles and Tulane was discontinued. The Tulane line was converted to bus service, and St. Charles began point-to-loop operation, running from S. Carrollton and S. Claiborne, down S. Carrollton to St. Charles, then looping around Carondelet and St. Charles in the CBD. Today, the corner of S. Carrollton and S. Claiborne is still a transit hub, but two of the three lines are buses.
Route information source: The Streetcars of New Orleans by Louis C. Hennick, E. Harper Charlton.