L&N 780  at New Orleans

L&N 780 at New Orleans

L&N 780 was an E7A built in April, 1945

L&N 780 – Streamliner at New Orleans

Franck Studios photo of a “new streamliner” at the Louisville and Nashville terminal, Canal Street at the river. The streamers and gathered employees indicate this was one of the first appearances of the new locomotive in New Orleans. General Motors’ Electro-Motive Division (EMD) built this unit in February, 1945. EMD built the accompanying “B” unit (directly behind 780) a few months later. While THNOC only dates the photo as 1945, it’s likely this was taken in late summer.


The train 780 and its “B” pulls into the Canal Street station is likely the Pan-American. This name train ran from New Orleans to Cincinatti. The route operated from 1921 to 1971. The route acquired its name because it brought passengers from Gulf Coast ports further into the US. While the train began with coaches and sleepers, the railroad converted it to all-Pullman equipment by the mid-1920s. The Great Depression forced them to return coaches to the train, to offer lower ticket prices. L&N considered the Pan-American its flagship passenger route until the inauguration of the Humming Bird in 1949. So, new diesels on the Pan-American in 1945 were a cause for celebration.

The Humming Bird operated brand-new equipment on the same route as the Pan-American in the 1950s. So, the Pan-American became second-tier service. Both trains continued to operate until Amtrak took over passenger routes in 1971. Both routes were discontinued at that time.

EMD E7 locomotives

EMD manfactured the 2000-horsepower E7A units beginning in February, 1945. They started building the E7Bs a month later. Production run through 1949. Railroads dubbed the E7A the “bulldog nose,” and EMD continued the look with their E8 and E9 models. Since the national passenger rail corporation did not continue service on the L&N routes, they did not acquire these E7s.

L&N in New Orleans

Louisville and Nashville came to New Orleans in the 1870s. They acquired the Pontchartrain Railroad, which ran from Faubourg Marigny to Milneburg at Lake Pontchartrain. L&N service extended East from New Orleans. The railroad outgrew the original Pontchartrain RR station at Elysian Fields and Chartres Streets. They built a new terminal Canal Street and the river in 1902. That terminal served L&N passengers until the opening of Union Passenger Terminal in 1954.

The L&N terminal fronted on Canal Street. Trains departed from there, heading East to Elysian Fields. They then turned East again there, heading out of town around Lake Pontchartrain via the Rigolets Pass. The railroad operated freight service along the river on both sides of Canal Street. So, passenger trains were assembled and serviced on the Uptown side of Canal Street. They pulled into the station and rolled out from there. That’s what we see in this photo.




Lenten Fridays at West End

Lenten Fridays at West End

New Orleans flocked to the West End on Lenten Fridays.

lenten fridays

Chic Sale’s, Fitzgerald’s, and Bruning’s in the background. Jeanette Boutall Woest watercolor, 1973.

Lenten Fridays tradition

Prior destruction of the “West End Restaurant Area” by hurricanes and the Corp of Engineers, going out to dinner at West End was a longtime tradition. Some of the busiest days of the year were Fridays during the church season of Lent. Ah, Lent, that time when Catholics reflected on the forty days Jesus spent in the desert before beginning his public ministry. Lent is the reason for Carnival in the first place. Fat Tuesday is the big blow-out before the fasting and abstinence began.


Let’s face it, unless you have seafood allergies, abstaining from meat on five or six Fridays in late Winter/early Spring isn’t all that much of a sacrifice. Gumbo, fish frys at the parish church, and seafood po-boys all serve as wonderful coping mechanisms. Even cheese pizza in the school cafeteria isn’t such a bad deal.


lenten fridays

Bruning’s from Club My-oh-My by Jeanette Boutall Woest, 1966.

And then there was dining out. While so many restaurants in town offer seafood (even chop houses have “surf-n-turf” items on the menu), going out to the Lakefront in the Spring was fun. The heat didn’t wack you over the head yet, so sitting out on a patio made for a lovely evening. The image above from the porch of Club My-Oh-My illustrates the vibe. Have a cocktail and look out over the lake. Maybe even walk over to Bruning’s Restaurant as you gaze at the restaurant and contemplate your plans.

lenten fridays

Bruning’s in the 1960s by Jeanette Boutall Woest

Bruning’s was my dad’s favorite of the East End restaurants. East End of West End? That’s so New Orleans, isn’t it? The line separating Orleans and Jefferson Parishes isn’t specifically the 17th Street Canal. The line cuts off the edge of West End, making it the “East End” of Jefferson Parish. This was a real thing–if you had a medical emergency at Bruning’s or Fitzgeralds, you had to call JPSO, not NOPD.

Back to Bruning’s. Known for their Stuffed Flounder, the restaurant also offered a full range of seafood, along with spaghetti and meatballs for the kids.

lenten fridays

Fitzgerald’s – Interior view of a curved wood bar and three bartenders standing behind it. (Franck Studios photo)

Fitzgerald’s was my late father-in-law’s pick for West End dining. Both were packed on Lenten Fridays.

Maggie and Smitty’s

lenten fridays

Maggie and Smitty’s Crabnett. Terry Marks Painting.

While I didn’t mind my dad or father-in-law picking up the check for taking us out to eat, the budget of a UNO Education major didn’t support such adventures on my own. That’s OK, we had Maggie and Smitty’s. The legendary Tom Fitzmorris nailed the vibe of the place:

 Maggie & Smitty’s was the most informal and cheapest of all the restaurants at West End. Although some of this can be discounted because of the low prices, a sizeable number of customers were of the opinion that Maggie & Smitty’s had some of the best fried seafood, and certainly the best boiled. They usually served boiled seafood hot—not a common practice in West End or anywhere else in town.

And the cats! Maggie and Smitty’s, offering primarily outdoor seating, was the headquarters of the West End Squad. Those were some badass cats!

lenten fridays

Exterior of Maggie and Smitty’s Crabnett. John DeMajo photo.

“Maggie” was Maggie Hermard, and “Smitty” was her sister, Elaine. Along with their brother, Lloyd, they opened the restaurant in 1956. It became “Maggie’s” in the 1980s, after Smitty passed away. By the time the building was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina, the restaurant was closed. Ah, but the memories!

Comus 1909 costume

Comus 1909 costume

The costume of Comus for 1909 was traditional. Originally posted to krewehistory.info.

comus 1909

Comus 1909

Artist’s watercolor for Comus in 1909. The theme that year for the parade and bal masque was, “Theme: flights of fancy.”

Notes from the Tulane Library collection:

Drawing on paper; 7.5 x 9 inches; Comus costume design, Carnival Collection, Manuscripts Collection 900, Louisiana Research Collection, Howard-Tilton Memorial Library, Tulane University, New Orleans, Louisiana.

Mystick Krewe of Comus

The Mystick Krewe of Comus (MKC) organized in 1856. They paraded for the first time in 1857. Unlike other Carnival krewes, Comus does not parade a king. Comus is a demi-god. He is “Comus,” not “King Comus,” or “King of Comus.” While turn of the century costume designs featured Comus wearing a crown, this evolved over time. Comus now sports a cap with feather plumes, decorated in rhinestones and fur.


MKC operates as a “secret society.” They maintain closed membership roles. All members of the krewe wear masks, for parades (when they took to the streets) and for the balls. This includes Comus himself. Additionally, other krewes follow Comus in this regard. The Knights of Momus also closely guard the identity of Momus annually. Therefore, Comus, Momus, and a few other organizations present their monarch wearing a full-face mask.

Consequences of secrecy

Comus and its affiliations with luncheon clubs such as the Boston and Pickwick Clubs, became problematic for the City of New Orleans in the 1990s. From Wikipedia:

In 1991, the New Orleans City Council passed an ordinance that required social organizations to certify publicly that they did not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, gender, disability, or sexual orientation, in order to obtain parade permits and other public licensure.[1][2] The Comus organization (along with Momus and Proteus, other 19th-century Krewes) withdrew from parading rather than racially integrating.

While Proteus returned to the streets in 2001, Comus and Momus only hold balls, in private hotels.

Modern Comus

comus 1909

Comus continues their role as the senior Carnival organization in New Orleans. They hold their bal masque annually. Towards the end of the evening, Comus invites Rex, the King of Carnival, to join him at the Comus ball. This photo shows the four Carnival monarchs (Rex in gold, Comus in silver) in 2018. Comus wears a full mask to protect his identity.


Podcast 39 – A Carnival Primer

Podcast 39 – A Carnival Primer

A Carnival Primer for everyone.

carnival primer

Comus Parade, 1858

Podcast 39 – A Carnival Primer

When I’m asked to speak to a group that’s come to town for a convention, meeting, etc., they often ask for a talk on a Carnival-related subject. I’ve expanded this into a Carnival Primer that traces the celebration back to its medieval European roots, up to modern times. Now it’s a podcast and “cornerstone” content.


As y’all know, I record the podcasts using Zoom. I’m also going back through talks I’ve given re-recording them via Zoom. That way, y’all can clearly see the images used for that presentation. In the case of this Carnival Primer, the talk is a good bit longer than something I’d do for a live group. They can’t pause and run to get another glass of wine.

Zoom saves both video and audio files upon completion. So, I upload the video to YouTube. Here you go. The audio-only is classic podcast in our traditional format.

The Pod

We present a history of Mardi Gras:

  • Origins – Carnival’s Medieval Roots and how it came to New Orleans
  • Comus – the city’s first “modern” parade.
  • Old-Line Parades – Comus, Rex, Momus, Proteus
  • Black Mardi Gras – Indians, Zulu, Debutante Balls
  • Super Krewes – Bacchus, Endymion, Orpheus, Rex, Zulu
  • Yardi Gras – Carnival during the Covid-19 pandemic
  • Going Forward – 2023 and beyond!


Some images from the pod. The full presentation is available as a PDF here.

a carnival primer

Medieval Mardi Gras as a float in Proteus

Fat Tuesday, the last day before Lent was a day of celebration and feasting in Medieval Europe. The lord of the castle would elevate eligible Squires to Knighthood. The time of fasting and preparation for Easter began the next day, on Ash Wednesday.

a carnival primer

Modern Flambeaux!

Using fire to light the way of the parade!

a carnival primer

#RexComus – The Meeting of the Courts

Carnival formally comes to a close when the courts of Rex and Comus meet at the Comus bal masque on Mardi Gras Night.

a carnival primer

King Cake from Adrian’s Bakery in Gentilly

The King’s Cake dates back centuries. Here’s a modern incarnation of the confection, from Adrian’s Bakery, located on Paris and Mirabeau Avenues in Gentilly.

a carnival primer

Masking Indian

Black Mardi Gras includes “Masking Indian,” a tradition dating back over a century. There are a number of origin stories for the tradition.



KreweHistory.info – Proteus 1925 – The Love of the Snow White Fox

KreweHistory.info – Proteus 1925 – The Love of the Snow White Fox

Watercolor float design from Proteus 1925.

proteus 1925

Proteus 1925 – The Love of the Snow White Fox

“The Love of the Snow White Fox” was the title of Float 12 in the Krewe of Proteus parade for 1925. The parade’s theme was “Tales and Romance of Old Japan.”

Proteus continued using the wagon-style floats when they returned to parading in 2000. Watercolors like this visualized the theme as determine by the Captain and other krewe officers.

Battle of Lake Borgne 1814 #watercolorwednesday

Battle of Lake Borgne 1814 #watercolorwednesday

The Battle of Lake Borgne preceded the 1815 battle in Chalmette.

battle of lake borgne

Battle of Lake Borgne

“Capture of American gun vessels off New Orleans December 1814,” by William Hole. THNOC’s record for this watercolor painting:

View of 5 American gunboats containing about 170 sailors commanded by Lieutenant Thomas Ap Catesby Jones surrounded by 33 British barges and sloops with around 1,000 men commanded by Captain Nicholas Lockyer. Scene depicts the Battle of Lake Borgne which occurred December 14, 1814. British lost 17 men, 77 wounded; U. S. lost 10 with 35 wounded, and the rest taken prisoner.

We’ve written a bit about the Battle of Lake Borgne, in 2022. While that article, “Cutting Out Lake Borgne,” offers a number of illustrations of the gunboats from the period, we didn’t include this particular painting. So, jump over there for more details. As mentioned in that article, I’ve always held a fascination for “cutting out expeditions” that dates back to my teen years, reading Forester’s “Hornblower” novels.

Clearing the way

For all the power of the British squadron that entered the Gulf of Mexico in 1814, getting to New Orleans was easier said than done. The city was guarded from attacks coming up the river. That left approaching New Orleans via Lake Borgne. That approach offered two options, Lake Borgne to Lake Pontchartrain to Bayou St. John was problematic because Fort St. John, located where the bayou and lake meet, was ready to greet the British with heated shot. That left landing on the eastern side of Lake Borgne, cut through the swamp, and approach the city from the plantations along the river in St. Bernard Parish.

Either way, the Royal Navy had to clear the path for the Army. That meant defeating the US Navy’s gunboats. The action was an unqualified victory for the RN. The delays and indecisiveness of the British Army were the primary contributors to Jackson’s victory in Chalmette.

The artist

William Hole was born 10 Nov. 1793. He was the only son of the late W. B. Hole, Esq., of the island of Jamaica. His uncle was Rear-Admiral Lewis Hole. William entered the RN in 1805. By the Battle of Lake Borgne, he was a master’s mate and commanded one of the open boats on the lake, and participated in the river actions related to the main battle:

On 14 Dec. 1814 he next commanded one of the boats of a squadron at the capture, on Lake Borgne, of five American gun-boats under Commodore Jones, which did not surrender until the British, after a stern conflict, had endured a loss of 17 men killed and 77 wounded. Joining then in the hostilities against New Orleans, he again had charge of a boat, an 8-oared cutter, on the river Mississippi, and bore an active part in all the scenes which were there enacted, including the storming and capture of a heavy battery. During six whole weeks he was in consequence exposed, in his unsheltered boat, to the inclemency of the season which then prevailed, undergoing the greatest hardships, and being often, with his men, severely frost-bitten.

Hole received a commission as Lieutenant in 1815, having passed the exam for that rank in 1812.

The painting

Since Hole participated in the naval actions, his painting presents a fairly accurate account of the battle.