Southern Belle – Kansas City Southern service – New Orleans to KC

Southern Belle – Kansas City Southern service – New Orleans to KC

Southern Belle

southern belle

1940s postcard promoting the KCS Southern Belle.

Southern Belle – New Orleans to Kansas City

southern belle

Southern Belle ad, 1940s

The Southern Belle was the best-known named train operated by the Kansas City Southern railroad. The train ran from New Orleans to Kansas City. The Southern Belle route:

  • Kansas City
  • Joplin
  • Texarkana
  • Shreveport
  • Alexandria
  • Baton Rouge
  • New Orleans

Here’s the full timetable.

The distance of the trip was 861.1 miles, and the trip took 21.5 hours. The Southern Belle was listed as trains #1 and #2 for KCS. The train’s inaugural run was on September 2, 1940. Here’s some footage of one of its first runs:

The train left Kansas City for its final run on November 3, 1969.

KCS in New Orleans

southern belle

Louisiana and Arkansas/KCS Station, 705 S. Rampart (NOPL)

Kansas City Southern passenger service operated out of the The Louisiana and Arkansas-Kansas City Southern station. The station opened in 1923, at 705 St. Rampart Street. Kansas City Southern acquired Louisiana and Arkansas in 1939. This motivated the railroad to operate New Orleans-KC service.

The city opened Union Passenger Terminal in 1954. So, the train operated from there. The original station became a NOFD fire station. The city demolished it in the 1960s. The 700 block of S. Rampart consists now of surface parking lots.

The Kansas City Southern Railroad

The KCS originated in 1887, with the formation of the Kansas City Suburban Belt Railroad. Consolidations and bankruptcy created the Kansas City Southern Railroad on April 1, 1900.

KCS is the smallest Class 1 railroad in the United States. It connects New Orleans and Kansas City. Therefore, size isn’t everything. Therefore, the area serviced is lucrative.

Southern Belle consist

southern belle

Southern Belle ad

EMD E3 locomotives powered the train.

KCS entered the “streamliner” market late. The train’s initial consist combined old and new equipment. The 1940 consist:

  • Baggage-RPO-Dorm
  • Coach
  • Heavyweight Pullman Sleeper
  • Heavyweight Pullman Sleeper
  • Dining/Observation

KCS painted the sleeper cars to match the newer equipment.

1949 Upgrades

southern belle

Pullman Standard ad featuring the Southern Belle, 1950s

The railroad upgraded the equipment on the Southern Belle in 1949:

  • Baggage-RPO-Dormitory
  • 62-seat Coach
  • 60-seat Coach (2)
  • 36-seat Diner
  • 14-roomette, 4-double bedroom sleepers (4)

Sleeper service ran only from Shreveport to New Orleans. This consist ran basically unchanged, from 1949 to 1968. Meal service in observation cars replaced diner cars in the mid-1960s. KCS dropped sleeper service in 1968.

The face of the Southern Belle

Southern Belle

Margaret Landry on the Southern Belle, 1940

KCS put a “face” to their new train. They created “Miss Southern Belle”. The railroad chose 18-year old Margaret Landry for the job, at contest in New Orleans on August 24, 1940. She toured with the train for a few weeks.

The train featured her photo as the drumhead.

End of KCS passenger trains

Southern belle

1966 Southern Belle timetable.

Passenger service was lucrative for KCS. The railroad continued to order new cars into the 1960s. This was the 1965 consist, from the train’s Wikipedia entry:

  • Baggage (Kansas City to Texarkana)
  • Baggage (Kansas City to Shreveport)
  • Box Express (Alexandria to West Yard)
  • Box Express (Shreveport to West Yard)
  • Baggage (Shreveport to New Orleans)
  • RPO-Baggage-Dormitory
  • 60-seat Coach
  • 72-seat Coach
  • Diner
  • 14-4 Sleeper
  • 60-seat Coach (Kansas City to Neosho)

While the railroad publicly committed to its passenger trains, things changed in 1967. The US Postal Service cancelled mail transportation contracts with the railroads. Without that income stream, The railroad reconsidered service. KCS discontinued the Southern Belle two years later, in 1969.

Southern Belle business train

KCS created a business train in 1995. They acquired two FP9As and a F9B unit from CN. The railroad sold the original cars in 1969. So, KCS bought cars from Canada. They painted them in the original train’s livery. Here’s a video from 2017 of the business train:


Maison Blanche Budget Store Carrollton and Tulane, 1964

Maison Blanche Budget Store Carrollton and Tulane, 1964

Maison Blanche Budget Store Carrollton

Maison Blanche Budget Store Carrollton

S. Carrollton and Tulane Avenues, 1964. (Franck photo)

Maison Blanche Budget Store Carrollton

This 1964 photo of the strip at S. Carrollton and Tulane shows the transition of the Maison Blanche store at that location. The store opened in 1948, as the company’s first store away from Canal Street. The location appealed to many New Orleanians. Uptowners could come down Carrollton, Mid-City folks were right there, and the folks moving out to Metairie.

Budget Store Transition

As more and more people moved out to Metairie, Maison Blanche followed them. The company opened a store on Airline Highway, in the Airline Village Shopping Center, in 1955. MB Airline was much larger than the Carrollton store, so shoppers went there more. As sales dropped off at Carrollton, the company shifted its focus. They made Carrollton a “budget” store. The company also converted the store in Gentilly, at Elysian Fields and Frenchmen. The Gentilly Woods store made the Frenchmen location redundant.

Interestingly enough, the two stores that replaced the original locations ended up replaced themselves. MB Airline closed after Clearview Mall opened, and MB Gentilly Woods closed after the company opened a store at The Plaza at Lake Forest. You can find the entire story in Maison Blanche Department Stores.

Budget Store Operations

Maison Blanche Budget Store Carrollton was a forerunner of “outlet malls”. Maison Blanche used the stores to sell older merchandise at discounted prices. The store didn’t want deep-discounted items on display right next to the new merchandise, so the bargains were at the Budget Stores.

In addition to discontinued new merchandise, theMaison Blanche Budget Store Carrollton (and Gentilly) also sold the company’s “debits”, the items returned by customers. When a customer returned an item, the department’s managers would determine if they could simply put that blouse or pair of trousers back in stock, or if it was worn/damaged. If the item wouldn’t work back in stock, it would be considered a “debit” and returned to Canal Street. From there, the assistant buyers evaluated the items again. Items that could be sold at a discount made their way to the budget stores.

Tulane and Carrollton

This Franck Studios photo shows MB Carrollton in the background. Mid-City Lanes is in the foreground. The Walgreens at the end of the strip is barely visible, behind the MB.

Maison Blanche Department Stores
by Edward J. Branley

mb book

On October 30, 1897, S.J. Shwartz, Gus Schullhoefer, and Hartwig D. Newman with financial backing from banker Isidore Newman opened the Maison Blanche at the corner of Canal Street and Rue Dauphine in New Orleans. Converting Shwartz’s dry goods store into the city’s first department store, the trio created a retail brand whose name lasted over a century. In 1908, Shwartz tore his store down and built what was the city’s largest building 13 stories, with his Maison Blanche occupying the first five floors.

The MB Building became, and still is, a New Orleans icon, and Maison Blanche was a retail leader in the city, attracting some of the best and brightest people in the business. One of those employees, display manager Emile Alline, created the store’s second icon, the Christmas character Mr. Bingle, in 1947. Mr. Bingle continues to spark the imagination of New Orleans children of all ages. Even though Maison Blanche has become part of New Orleans’s past, the landmark Canal Street store lives on as the Ritz-Carlton Hotel.

New Orleans History Books for Christmas – Part 2

New Orleans History Books for Christmas – Part 2

New Orleans History Books for Christmas – Part 2

Part 2 of a series. Part 1 here.

New Orleans History Books for Christmas – Part 2

Three more books tonight! Links go back to Octavia Books’ website, but you can get these books at all the usual suspects.

Lake Pontchartrain by Catherine Campanella

new orleans history books

Lake Pontchartrain by Catherine Campanella

This book brings back so many fond memories for me, as well as a lot of interesting history. I always like to say, I “slept” in Metairie, and “grew up” in Gentilly, because my dad worked at LSUNO/UNO, and I went to Brother Martin High School. My dad was not a fan of driving on I-10. He enjoyed his morning sunshine on Lakeshore Drive. So, he would cruise with no red lights to Elysian Fields, and drive me down to school. While this took him a bit longer, it gave him peace. He got peace, therefore I got quiet time to listen to the radio with him, occasionally talk about what was going on.

From the book’s description:

Native Americans used Okwata, meaning wide water, as a shortcut for inland trade between the Gulf of Mexico and the Mississippi River. When the Europeans arrived, the original inhabitants showed them the route the settlement near the river became the city of New Orleans, other lakeshore communities grew, and Lake Pontchartrain continued to be a vital waterway well into the 20th century. Aside from its economic value, Lake Pontchartrain was a cultural mecca: Mark Twain wrote about it and jazz sprang from its shores; locals and visitors traveled out to the amusement parks and opera pavilions, simple fishing villages and swanky yacht clubs, forts and lighthouses; and majestic hotels and camps perched precariously over the water. In Images of America: Lake Pontchartrain, photographs document memories of a time that not even Hurricane Katrina could erase.

Of Ms. Campanella’s books, this is still my favorite.

Krauss – The New Orleans Value Store by Edward J. Branley

new orleans history books

Krauss – The New Orleans Value Store by Edward J. Branley

My latest book! Released in September, Krauss – The New Orleans Value Store tells the story of Krauss, the department store that occupied 1201 Canal Street from 1903 to 1997. I got an email from The History Press around this time last year, asking if I’d be interested in this project, since Krauss closed twenty years ago this past October. I jumped at it! While I worked at Maison Blanche back in the day, I felt a kindred spirit with Krauss. From the description:

For almost one hundred years, generations of New Orleans shoppers flocked to Krauss. The Canal Street store was hailed for its vast merchandise selection and quality customer service. In its early days, it sold lace and fabric to the ladies of the notorious red-light district of Storyville. The store’s renowned lunch counter, Eddie’s at Krauss, served Eddie Baquet’s authentic New Orleans cuisine to customers and celebrities such as Julia Child. Although the beloved store finally closed its doors in 1997, Krauss is still fondly remembered as a retail haven. With vintage photographs, interviews with store insiders and a wealth of research, historian Edward J. Branley brings the story of New Orleans’ Creole department store back to life.

By the way, if anyone wants someone to talk about Krauss, Jewish retailing, Maison Blanche, Canal Street, or streetcars, email me. 🙂

New Orleans Radio by Dominic Massa

New Orleans History Books

New Orleans Radio by Dominic Massa

Massa’s second “Images of America” book. Just as entertaining and informative as his television book. From the description:

From humble beginnings in a physics lab on the campus of Loyola University came the sounds of the first radio station in the lower Mississippi River Valley when WWL Radio signed on in 1922. The little station would grow into a national powerhouse, with its morning Dawnbusters show and nightly broadcasts from the Blue Room of the Roosevelt Hotel. The city’s second oldest station, WSMB, with studios in the Maison Blanche Building, developed its own cast of favorites, including Nut and Jeff. Later, in the city known as the birthplace of jazz, radio played a key role in popularizing early rock and roll. Disc jockeys at leading stations WTIX and WNOE helped develop the Crescent City sound, along with local personalities with colorful names like Poppa Stoppa, Jack the Cat, and Dr. Daddy-O.

This book was fantastic for me, when I was working on the Jazz book.

Go get ’em!

Krauss – The New Orleans Value Store

by Edward J. Branley

For almost one hundred years, generations of New Orleans shoppers flocked to Krauss. The Canal Street store was hailed for its vast merchandise selection and quality customer service. In its early days, it sold lace and fabric to the ladies of the notorious red-light district of Storyville. The store’s renowned lunch counter, Eddie’s at Krauss, served Eddie Baquet’s authentic New Orleans cuisine to customers and celebrities such as Julia Child. Although the beloved store finally closed its doors in 1997, Krauss is still fondly remembered as a retail haven. With vintage photographs, interviews with store insiders and a wealth of research, historian Edward J. Branley brings the story of New Orleans’ Creole department store back to life.

Old Metairie – 800 Metairie Road then and now

Old Metairie – 800 Metairie Road then and now

Old Metairie

old metairie

800 Metairie Road, 1962 (Franck Studios photo)

Old Metairie, Metairie Road, near the railroad tracks.

This is a Franck photo of the strip shopping center at 800 Metairie Road in 1962. I went there a bit with my parents as a kid, when we lived on Bonnabel Blvd and Dream Court. Daddy preferred making groceries at Schwegmann’s rather than Winn-Dixie, but we went to the K&B on the right-hand side of this photo a good bit.

Evolution of 800 Metairie Road

The Do Drive In was across the street. Like all drive-ins, as property values increased, the owner usually sold out, or subdivided the property themselves. In the case of the Do, the theater was replaced by a condo development, DeLimon Place. Next to it, another shopping center appeared, Old Metairie Village.


The Katz and Besthoff shifted locations, from the right side of the shopping center to the left. This store converted to a Rite Aid when that chain bought out K&B. My memories of the drugstore are more from the 1980s. The western end of the shopping center then became a McDonald’s. When the fast food joint closed, PJ’s Coffee took over. The patio of the coffee shop still has the jail-like fence that was the “play place” from the McDonald’s.

Winn-Dixie to Langenstein’s

Old Metairie

800 Metairie Road, now. (Google Maps)

The Winn-Dixie closed, leaving the grocery store footprint open. The uptown grocery, Langenstein’s, opened their second location here.

Other stores

The loading dock on the side of the K&B closed in when the store moved. Now, the western side of the shopping center is home to a number of small businesses. The larger stores needed more parking and access. Maison Blanche, for example, expanded from the city to Airline Hwy.

The laundromat next to the Winn-Dixie closed at some point in the 1970s. Radio Shack took its place. I worked at that Radio Shack in 1981. I taught high school, and Radio Shack was my summer gig. The store was the smaller, neighborhood type. We set up one of the high-end audio systems in the bay window in front. I blasted the tunes and read books, sometimes for over an hour, uninterrupted. It was easy to flip down the music quickly when someone came into the store. By that fall, my friend who was the manager got promoted to the Radio Shack in Lakeside Mall. I went along for the ride, better commission.

What are your memories of 800 Metairie Road?

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Hidden Talents

Dragon’s Danger

Maison Blanche Department Stores

Legendary Locals of New Orleans

Brothers of the Sacred Heart in New Orleans

New Orleans Jazz

New Orleans: The Canal Streetcar Line


NORTA Cemeteries Terminal – Almost Done

NORTA Cemeteries Terminal – Almost Done

NORTA Cemeteries Terminal

(cross posted to Canal Streetcar (dot com))

norta cemeteries terminal

Canal Blvd, before construction on the Cemeteries Terminal began.

NORTA Cemeteries Terminal is almost finished

The terminal at the foot of Canal Street, NORTA Cemeteries Terminal, is nearing completion. Construction began back in August, and it all appears to be coming along on schedule.

When the Canal Street line opened in 2004, the NORTA Cemeteries Terminal was a single-track affair. The outbound and inbound tracks merged to one. The operator changed the poles at the terminal, and went back downtown on the inbound (right-hand side if you’re looking towards the river) track.


norta cemeteries terminal

The pre-1964 Cemeteries Terminal

When the line switched to buses in 1964, the terminal was two-track. It looked like the terminal at S. Carrollton and S. Claiborn Avenues. Canal Street’s auto traffic increased over the years, so they city cut back the neutral ground at the foot of Canal. There wasn’t enough space left to build a two-track terminal.

Rider Safety

NORTA Cemeteries Terminal

Plan for the new terminal

The additional traffic presented an additional complication. Streetcar riders were trapped in the middle of an incredibly busy intersection. Crossing Canal Street on either side is dangerous for pedestrians, even with crosswalks and Walk/Don’t Walk signs. Listen to our podcast on this subject for more details.

The city always planned for the NORTA Cemeteries Terminal to be temporary. The original funding for the Canal Street line included $10M to build an off-street terminal. The best plan called for outbound streetcars to make a right-turn onto City Park Avenue, travel that street for a block, then turn left onto Canal Boulevard. The actual terminal would be in that first block of Canal Blvd. The streetcars would loop around, go up City Park Avenue for a block, then left-turn onto Canal Street for the inbound run.


norta cemeteries terminal

Car Stop Sign on Canal Street

The residents of Lakeview fought the project for over ten years, complaining that the construction would inconvenience them. Liability issues, combined with the possibility of losing the federal money forced NORTA’s hand. The project got the green-light earlier this year.

Progress – Canal Street

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Cemeteries Terminal progress, 22-Nov-2017 – Canal Street

This is Canal Street, looking lakebound, with Greenwood Cemetery in the background. The track and overhead catenary is fully double-track.

NORTA Cemeteries Terminal

Canal Street at City Park Avenue, 22-Nov-2017

Moving up from the last photo. The track and overhead wires make a right-turn at City Park Avenue from Canal Street. Streetcars haven’t turned right onto City Park Avenue since belt service ended in 1932.

City Park Avenue and Canal Boulevard

The view from City Park Avenue. Looking down City Park Avenue, towards Canal Boulevard. The track is complete, and a test run of a 2000-series streetcar took place this morning.

NORTA Cemeteries Terminal

Canal Street, from City Park Avenue.

Looking back on Canal Street, from City Park Avenue.

NORTA Cemeteries Terminal

Canal Street line terminal on Canal Boulevard.

The end of the line on Canal Boulevard. This design allows riders to get off the streetcar, then board buses, without having to cross busy streets.

Now that all the track is complete, we’ll try to get photos of Von Dullens on the move!




Cemeteries Terminal on the Canal Street Line #StreetcarSaturday

Cemeteries Terminal on the Canal Street Line #StreetcarSaturday

The Cemeteries Terminal

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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

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Cemeteries Terminal, 1964. (courtesy Mike Strauch,

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.


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.

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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.