The last remaining roundhouse in New Orleans stands on Tchoupitoulas Street.
NOTE: this post is an update of one from 2018.
Unidentified man stands next to NOPB locomotive #22
NOPB Roundhouse on the riverfront
Franck Studios photo of a Baldwin 0-6-0 switcher. NOPB received the engine new in Jan. 1921. It bore construction number 54415 from Baldwin, and its NOPB road number was 22. The engine was retired May 1957. The photo shows the engine coming off the turntable and entering roundhouse stall 5.
New Orleans Public Belt 1941 – Baldwin 0-6-0 switcher at the Tchoupitoulas terminal (courtesy NOPB)
The New Orleans Public Belt Railroad is a “short line” railroad. It operates along the Mississippi River in Metro New Orleans. The city created NOPB in 1908. They fixed the issue of railroad congestion along the riverfront. The Class I railroad wanted their own tracks and terminals along the wharves and warehouses. So, the city created a Class III railroad, the NOPB, to connect them.
A state agency manages the NOPB. It is the Public Belt Railroad Commission. The commission also maintains the Huey P. Long Bridge, since it services both railroad and automobile traffic.
The following railroads travel over NOPB tracks:
- BNSF Railway
- CSX Transportation
- Canadian National/Illinois Central
- Kansas City Southern
- Norfolk Southern
- Union Pacific
Google Earth image of the NOPB Tchoupitoulas terminal.
NOPB services its engines at the roundhouse on Tchoupitoulas. While turntable/roundhouse facilities were common prior to World War II, they became less common as diesel locomotives entered wider service. Diesel locomotives operate easily in either direction. Steam locomotives have a clear “front” and “back.” Turntables enabled the service facility to easily reverse the direction of the steam equipment. For diesels, crews just engaged the engines in reverse.
The image above is a Google Earth shot of the Tchoupitoulas facility today. Engines enter the facility from a siding track connected to the riverfront “main line.” The turntable directs equipment onto seven sidings. Depending on what’s required, an engine may simply park outside the roundhouse, or enter the stall. The tracks to the left of the circle appear to be a separate building for heavy maintenance tasks.
Dating the Photo
The photo was commissioned by the NOPB. So, it is part of the Franck Studios archive at the Historic New Orleans Collection (HNOC). HNOC dates the photo 29-October-1941, but there are dozens of photos with that date. It’s possible they were all processed by Franck Studios then. Therefore, it’s not clear just when the picture was taken. Since the engine was in service until 1957, it’s possible that the photo is indeed from 1941.
We haven’t been able to identify the man in the white suite in the photo. Given that he’s dressed in a white suit, it’s more likely he is either a NOPB commissioner or a city or state official. We’ve contacted NOPB in the hopes they know who he is.
Even if I don’t need your product/service, let’s talk about how I can help you.
(cross-posted to YatMedia and Eloquent Profanity)
Basin St. Down The Line New Orleans
How Can I Help You?
Can your products/services actually help me? Odds are, the answer is no. That doesn’t mean we’re not useful to each other. I’m a 65-year-old teacher and author. If you think your services would improve my businesses, pitch me! Otherwise, how about we explore other possibilities.
Endorsements and recommendations
I consider it a privilege to endorse and recommend folks I know. If we’ve worked together in the past, or have other personal connections, ask me to endorse your skills. Networking improves when we overlap our circles.
We don’t know each other, you say? If you think my endorsement can help, let’s fix that.
As an Independent Scholar and author of six books on the history of New Orleans, I am a font of NOLA trivia and minutiae. Working on something that needs details about New Orleans? Quick questions are always welcome. Sometimes it’s the little things, like checking a scene where your character orders a cappuccino at Cafe’ du Monde (hint: it’s not on their menu).
Yeah, you could check the menu of a place on Google, but asking a quick question nurtures a conversation, and possibly, a relationship. Feel free to ask. The questions often go beyond basic fact-checking, into restaurant recommendations, etc. These situations are often mutually beneficial. You get your answer, and you may be offering inspiration for a deep-dive article.
More extensive projects
I am always open to consulting work related to New Orleans. If you’re a content creator, journalist, or feature writer, and you have the budget to hire “experts,” let’s talk. This sort of thing often originates with the basic question.
I often receive emails and messages from folks that say, I’d love to buy you lunch and pick your brain. I’ve got an easy way for you to do that – click that “support me” button and buy me a coffee! Better still, become a patron of my History work, or my Fiction writing.
Let’s Connect! Let’s Talk!
The 1929 transit car strike left a lot of Palace car damage.
Palace car damage
Photo of New Orleans Public Service, Incorporated (NOPSI) streetcar 625, an American Car Company “Palace” streetcar, photographed on 2-July-1929, showing damage by vandals. The motormen and conductors operating the city’s streetcars struck NOPSI on 1-July-1929. Those workers inflicted a great deal of damage to streetcars, tracks, and stations overnight, 30-June/1-July, and into 2-July. This photo, taken by Franck Studios, is part of a series documenting that damage for NOPSI’s lawyers. NOPSI 625’s roll board indicates it last operated on the West End line, likely on 30-June. The operator parked the streetcar at Canal Station. That station stood on the original site of the New Orleans City Railroad Company’s car and mule barns, built in 1861. By the 1920s, several of the original buildings remained. The public notices like the one tacked up on the end of the streetcar went out on 11-July-1929, so that may specifically date this photo.
The 1929 Strike
The Amalgamated Association of Street and Electric Railway Employees of America, Division No. 194, negotiated with transit managers for NOPSI for several years, in the run-up to 1-July-1929. Talks broke down that Summer, and the union called for a strike. The motormen and conductors took destructive actions overnight. They vandalized a number of streetcars, particular at Canal Station, along with track on Canal Street. They also vandalized the station itself.
While the story of the invention/creation of the po-boy sandwich offers a romanticized version of the four months of the strike. It’s clear, however, that the circumstances were anything but romantic. While the violence of the first two days of the strike subsided, it picked up again by 5-July. NOPSI decided not to operate any streetcars from 1-4 July.
On 5-July-1929, NOPSI brought in strike-breakers in an attempt to restore streetcar service. One Palace streetcar departed Canal Station that Saturday morning. Crowds of union members and their supporters blocked Canal Station and the other streetcar barns after that first streetcar left. The lone streetcar traveled down Canal Street to Liberty Place. The crowd followed it, eventually surrounding the car. They pulled the strike breakers off the car and set it on fire.
Faubourg Marigny railroad ferry connected the East Bank with the NOO&GW railroad.
Faubourg Marigny railroad ferry
S. T. Blessing stereograph, titled, “View from Opelousas railroad ferry,” The image is essentially undated. The New York Public Library lists it as 1850-1930. The likely date is 1870s. The photographer stands at the Faubourg Marigny ferry landing, located at Elysian Fields Avenue and the river. The New Orleans, Opelousas, and Great Western (NOO&GW) railroad operated the ferry, connecting the east bank with their station in Algiers.
The NOO&GW railroad originated on the West Bank, in Algiers. It incorporated in 1853, with the mission of connecting New Orleans to points west. So, prior to the Southern Rebellion, the railroad grew west, to what is now Morgan City, Louisiana. The Union took control of the “Texas Gauge” railroad, from 1862 to 1865. Expansion continued during reconstruction. Additionally, we’ve written a couple of articles on the railroad. It started from a Louisiana operation to ownership by Charles Morgan, to becoming part of the Southern Pacific system.
The Marigny riverfront
Blessing captures an active riverfront scene. The vessel to the center of the photograph is an ocean-going ship. While this vessel may depart for the US east coast, like New York or Baltimore, the riverboat on the right will likely return up the Mississippi. Two mules stand in the foreground, resting after unloading barrels. Those barrels likely contain molasses. Sugar plantations processed raw sugar cane. They converted it to molasses, making it easy to barrel and transport. Longshoremen loaded those barrels on both types of ships.
In the background, a church steeple rises from the neighborhood. Given the position of the photographer, that is likely the spire of Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic Church.
The ferry itself
Robinson Atlas, 1883, showing the Pontchartrain Railroad station on Elysian Fields and the ferry landing.
The NOO&GW ferry crossing enabled passengers to board trains on the east bank, cross the river, and continue westward. While Algiers was the railroad’s main station, getting passengers there was still a challenge. The railroad ferry gave passengers a more-comfortable ride, in their coach and sleeper cars.
After Charles Morgan sold the NOO&GW to the Southern Pacific system, trains crossed the river in Jefferson Parish. That ferry landing was near the location of the Huey P. Long bridge. Rather than traveling to the Faubourg Marigny railroad ferry, passengers boarded SP trains at Union Station. The departing trains headed north from there.
PATREON Note: So, today’s post is NOT behind the Patreon wall, in the hopes that some of the folks who see the links on social media will get a taste of what patrons get daily. While we present the first hundred or so words on each post to non-patrons, we felt it would be good to offer an entire post.
Patreon History offers a path for supporting NOLA History Guy.
Tomorrow begins a new dynamic for NOLA History Guy, Patreon History! We’ll make a post a day available for subscribers only. Subscriptions will be one dollar (US$1) per month. I’ve had a Patreon account for a few years now, but never really structured it. That changes tomorrow!
There are a few reasons why Patreon History makes sense for me.
It’s popular. Patreon went through a few different phases. Startup, place to monetize sex work via photos and video, creative writing. Going into 2021, there are a number of very popular blogs and podcasts delivered via Patreon.
Patreon’s been around for a while. The platform is well beyond startup. The business model has shaken out. Blogs and podcasts across the spectrum use the platform to monetize their work.
WordPress Integration. It’s easy for me to link Patreon to my existing blogs. The reader/listener doesn’t have to use the Patreon site. They can enjoy my content on the existing blogs.
How it’s going to work
Logo for the 1811 Kid Ory Historic House in Laplace, LA. A photo of Kid Ory is one coming up in January.
I post one to three photos/images a day to social media. In 2021, one post gets monetized. You’ll have to subscribe to my Patreon to read the article accompanying that post.
So, the technical side: I set Patreon to show the first 100-ish words of a post. While the full article is behind the “wall,” the photo displays. You see the preview. You get this now, when I post to Twitter and Instagram. That remains the same. What you get for your support is the full article.
Rabbit holes and deep dives
I enjoy posting images to social media. They spark conversation. We fall down rabbit holes on some oddball subjects. Those rabbit holes often become 1000+ articles on the blog. That continues with Patreon History. Everyone sees the “featured image” and the first paragraph or so. Subscribers see those articles in their entirety.
Sometimes a rabbit hole turns into a “deep dive.” Subscribers get those 2000+ word articles. I’m also starting a substack for long-form articles. Those get cross-posted to both platforms.
Podcasts for Patreon Histoy
NOLA History Guy Podcast goes to twice a month, starting tomorrow. One episode stays outside the “wall,” the other goes behind it, for subscribers. The model for this changes from the posts. I set podcasts so that anyone who has ever donated to the Patreon account sees them. That means, if you donated a dollar three years ago, you get the podcasts. If you sign up for January and cancel in February, you get them. We’ll be soliciting sponsors for the podcast as well.
A number of pods use the two-ep-per-month model. Some require a Patreon subscription level of $5/month. So, if you listen to three of these, you’re putting up $180/year. That’s not what we want. Maybe we’ll add “premium” content in the future. For now, if you give us a dollar, we’re good.
Years ago, I split up my multiple social media personalities. A friend fussed at the mix of food porn and politics in @YatPundit. So, I started a second account on Da Twittah, @YatCuisine. That became two blogs. Add the history blog to that. NOLA History Guy grew out of my streetcar blog. It absorbed the streetcar stuff. The other subjects continued in separate spaces.
NOLA History Guy – All. The. History. Along with the podcasts.
YatPundit – rants, politics, local stuff.
YatCuisine – Da food!
Eloquent Profanity (at ebranley dot com) – Fiction, verse, personal logs.
Content on each blog/site goes Patreon in 2021. Like the history blog, the others present both open and subscriber posts. YatPundit’s Pub podcast remains open.
The ultimate goal
I’m not looking to get rich by expanding Patreon History. The ultimate goal here is to raise a steady stream from supporters to a) pay Lady Duchess of the Red Pen (my editor, Dara Rochlin) and b) hire a proper producer for the podcast. If I can get a minimum of $300/month of support, that can happen.