There’s often confusion over passenger station locations on S. Rampart Street.

passenger station locations

Passenger Station Locations

Prior to the opening of Union Passenger Terminal (the current Amtrak station) on Loyola Avenue, five passenger depots operated in New Orleans. Two of those stood on S. Rampart Street. When passenger stations locations are in close proximity, it’s natural for confusion to develop. Union Station (Illinois Central and Southern Pacific) stood on the west side of the New Basin Canal, and the Louisiana and Arkansas station stood on the eastern side of the canal. Since the city demolished both stations in the 1950s, let’s pinpoint both with Sanborn Insurance Maps (courtesy of the Library of Congress).

Union Station

passenger station locations

The Illinois Central Railroad re-located to S. Rampart Street in the 1890s. So, this was the first depot near the canal. Southern Pacific, originally operating at Esplanade and the river, later joined IC in Union Station. The map section above (Sanborn, 1908) shows the station (also shown at the top of this post), between Euphrosine Street and Howard Avenue on S. Rampart. The water on the other side of Howard is the tuning basin for the New Canal. (Note: the only part of the canal that remains is out at Lake Pontchartrain. If you go up West End or down Pontchartrain Boulevards in Lakeview, that wide grassy area separating the streets where the canal flowed.

So, building a train depot next to a navigation canal made perfect sense. Therefore, when the city filled in the canal in the 1940s, the location was a logical choice for the unified station.

Louisiana and Arkansas

passenger station locations

Zoom-in on the L&A Terminal, Sanborn Maps, 1940 (via LOC)

The Louisiana and Arkansas Railroad built a passenger terminal on the eastern side of the New Canal in 1923. This map section (Sanborn, 1940) shows S. Rampart passenger station locations. This terminal stood at 705 S. Rampart Street. L&A merged/acquired Kansas City Southern in 1938. Since KCS was the better-known brand, the station changed to their name and signage. While the map still says “Louisiana and Arkansas,” the depot morphed into KCS until it closed in 1954.

What happened to the canal?

passenger station locations

Zoom-in on Union Station, Sanborn Maps, 1940

The New Canal’s turning basin vanishes in the 1940 map. Sanborn labels the area there as “WPA Offices and Storage Yard.” One of the many Works Progress Administration’s projects in New Orleans was filling in the New Canal. The Inner Harbor Navigation Canal (Industrial Canal) rendered the New Canal redundant. WPA identified potential construction projects and threw federal funds at them. So, the canal basin morphed into storage area immediately after closure.

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