Donaldsonville South Louisiana State Fair – Trip from New Orleans #TrainThursday

Donaldsonville South Louisiana State Fair – Trip from New Orleans #TrainThursday

Donaldsonville South Louisiana State Fair

donaldsonville south louisiana state fair

Broadside advertising a day trip to Donaldsonville, 1930. (courtesy LaRC)

Donaldsonville South Louisiana State Fair – Ride the train from New Orleans

Advertisement for a special round-trip train to take students from New Orleans to the Donaldsonville South Louisiana State Fair, October 3, 1930. The train departed Uptown New Orleans at 8am and returned at 7:15pm. While that’s a long day for kids, it was a fun day!

The “official” Louisiana State Fair is held in Shreveport, Louisiana. Today, New Orleans to Shreveport requires a five-hour car trip. The typical route is I-10 to Lafayette, then I-49 to Shreveport. Before the Interstate Highway System, the trip required travel on US highways and state roads. Therefore it took longer.

donaldsonville south louisiana state fair

Autos entering the South Louisiana State Fair grounds, ca 1925

A “South Louisiana State Fair” attracted people who didn’t want to travel to the northwestern corner of the state. While autos traveled the roads of Louisiana in 1930, many people didn’t own a car. So, the train enabled kids to go to the state fair.

Texas and Pacific Railroad

donaldsonville south louisiana state fair

Cover for a route map, Texas and Pacific Railroad, 1906.

The Texas and Pacific Railroad operated from 1871 to 1976. The Missouri Pacific Railroad acquired the railroad in 1928. While MP owned T&P, they operated it separately.

The T&P planned a southern transcontinental connection, between Marshall, Texas and San Diego.  The T&P met up with the Southern Pacific railroad. SP expanded from California.

The Texas & Pacific/Missouri Pacific Terminal in New Orleans

donaldsonville south louisiana state fair

Texas and Pacific Terminal, Annunciation Street, ca 1920. (Detroit Publishing Company)

The T&P built a terminal on Annunciation and Thalia Streets in 1916. Missouri Pacific trains operated from that terminal after MP acquired T&P. The demolished the station in 1954.

Gretna Station

Donaldsonville South Louisiana State Fair

Gretna Station, 1983

Trains operating from the T&P/MP station crossed the river by ferry, basically just behind the station. The ferry carried the trains to Gretna. That’s why the stop in Gretna on the schedule. From the Fourth Street station, the train traveled to Westwego, picked up kids there. The train made no stops after Westwego, bringing kids and teachers to the Donaldsonville fair grounds.

The ferry crossing enabled the railroad to offer a stop on the west bank of New Orleans. So, passengers looking to travel on T&P/MP boarded over there. They didn’t have to come across the river.

Thanks to Lee Miller at the Louisiana Research Collection at Tulane University for this great item.

 

MP-TP Terminal 0-6-0 on the Riverfront, 1930s #TrainThursday

MP-TP Terminal 0-6-0 on the Riverfront, 1930s #TrainThursday

MP-TP Terminal 0-6-0 on the riverfront.

MP-TP Terminal 0-6-0

SS West Hobomac at New Orleans, late 1930s. (WPA photo in the public domain)

MP-TP Terminal 0-6-0

This 0-6-0 switching engine is working the docks on the New Orleans riverfront in the late 1930s. American Locomotive Company (ALCO) built this engine in 1907. At the time of this photo, it ran on the Missouri-Pacific/Texas Pacific Terminal Railroad in New Orleans.

The New Orleans Public Belt Railroad (NOPB RR) ran tracks along the waterfront at number of the wharves. While longshoremen unloaded ships carrying bananas and other perishables to warehouses, then onto trains, many cargoes went directly into railroad cars on the dock. Switch engines placed the appropriate type of cars next to the ship. So, they filled the cars and the switch engine pulled them off the dock. The railroad assembled a short trains just off the dock. They ran those trains to their yards. From there, the railroad organized longer consists to get the goods away from New Orleans.

The USS West Hobomac

The ship in this photo was the USS West Hobomac. It was the thirteenth in a series of twenty-four cargo ships built by Skinner and Edy in Seattle, Washington. The shipyard launched West Hobomac after only sixty-six days. The ship traveled to Europe, hauling cargo during WWI. The ship made two trips before the end of the war.

After WWI, the US Navy decommissioned West Hobomac. It became SS West Hobomac. The Navy transferred it to the United States Shipping Board. USSB leased the ship to several operators. Lykes Steamship operated the ship from 1933 until the beginning of World War II. Lykes had extensive operations in New Orleans. So, it’s logical that SS West Hobomac visited the city regularly.

This photo is part of a WPA collection, which dates it at 1939-1940.

TP-MP Terminal 0-6-0 #2

MP-TP Terminal 0-6-0

TP-MPT #2 is now owned by the Louisiana Steam Train Association.

The Trinity and Brazos Valley ordered this engine from Alco in 1907. Alco built delivered it from their Richmond Works. T&BV assigned it #76. T&BV went bankrupt in 1914, and Barry Equipment acquired it in 1917. Barry sold #76 to TP-MPT. That railroad renumbered the engine to #2.

After TP-MPT folded, Bisso Towboat bought the engine. The engine remained with that company for over thirty years.

The Louisiana Steam Train Association now owns this engine. Thanks to Tony Howe and Gregory Beadle for info on the 0-6-0.

St. Aloysius Panther Yearbook 1933 – N. Rampart Street #BOSHbook

St. Aloysius Panther Yearbook 1933 – N. Rampart Street #BOSHbook

St. Aloysius Panther Yearbook 1933

st. aloysius panther yearbook

St. Aloysius High School, N. Rampart Street side, 1933 (BOSH photo)

St. Aloysius Panther Yearbook 1933

St Aloysius Panther Yearbook in 1933 featured a shot from the N. Rampart Street side, 1933. This photo is in the St. Aloysius Panther Yearbook.

Esplanade and N. Rampart

The Brothers of the Sacred Heart operated St. Aloysius High on the corner of Esplanade Avenue and North Rampart Street from 1892 to May, 1969. The school used a mansion on the corner from 1892 to 1924. The BOSH tore down that building in 1924, replacing it with the one in the photo. So, the yearbook staff shot this photo when the school was nine years old.

Usually, photographers shot the school from the Esplanade side. This is an interesting and less-common perspective. Students use all entrances of a school during the day, depending on the bus or streetcar they take to get there. St. Aloysius had a large, paved front yard, on the Esplanade side. Students went outside for lunch and between classes.

Panthers to Crusaders

The mascot of St. Aloysius High in the early 1930s was the Panthers. The school’s colors were purple and gold. Therefore the pages of the 1933 yearbook have the purple trim you see in this image. Brother Martin Hernandez, SC, didn’t like the school using purple and gold, because those are LSU’s colors. He changed the colors to crimson and white. At the same time, Brother Martin changed the school’s mascot to “Crusaders”. The Crusader, in his white cloak with crimson cross gave the school a much more unique look.

When the BOSH opened Cor Jesu High School in 1954, they chose crimson and gold for that school’s colors. They became the Cor Jesu Kingsmen. Over the summer of 1969, the BOSH decided to use Cor Jesu’s colors and the St. Aloysius mascot for the combined school, Brother Martin High School.

Fifty Years of Brother Martin

The 2018-2019 year marks fifty years of service to the community by Brother Martin High, but it’s 150 years for the Crusaders.

Canal Street Architecture – S. H. Kress – classic to “modern” and back

Canal Street Architecture – S. H. Kress – classic to “modern” and back

Canal Street Architecture

canal street architecture

S. H. Kress Building, 921 Canal Street, 1959. (Franck Studios photo)

Canal Street Architecture – S. H. Kress

The S. H. Kress store on Canal Street opened in 1913. It filled the niche between the Maison Blanche building, built in 1908, and the Audubon Building, built in 1910. The store operated from 1913 until 1981. It is now, along with the Maison Blanche building, part of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel. Canal Street architecture passed through several phases, but the hotels return to the classic looks.

Kress – “five and dime” stores

Samuel Henry Kress opened his first store, selling “stationary and notations” in Nanticoke, Pennsylvania, in 1887. The store was a success, enabling Kress to expand. He took the concept of “5-10-25 cent” stores to the Main Streets of America, such as Fifth Avenue in New York City, Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, and Canal Street, in New Orleans. While the upfront investment was considerable, the stores were successful. Kress made a good bit of money. He established a family foundation to give some of it back.

The 900 Block of Canal Street

new orleans architecture

900 Block of Canal, 1883. Robinson Atlas Plate 6 (courtesy New Orleans Notarial Archives)

In the 1880s, the 900 block of Canal Street consisted of the Christ Episcopal Church on the corner of Canal and Dauphine. Next was the Grand Opera House. Then several smaller buildings, leading up to the corner of Canal and Burgundy. In 1884, the chapter of Christ Episcopal auctioned their church to the highest bidder. The Mercier family bought the property. The church moved up to St. Charles Avenue and Six Street. This shift brought major changes to Canal Street architecture.

canal street architecture

900 Block of Canal, 1910. The Audubon Building is on the left, then the gap that used to be the Grand Opera House, then the MB Building. (courtesy LOC)

The Merciers demolished the church and built a five-story retail building. Simon J. Shwartz acquired the building in 1897. The Grand Opera House was demolished around 1900. In 1908, Shwartz demolished the Mercier Building. His “new” Maison Blanche opened in stages. Construction finished on it in 1909. A year later, investors acquired the buildings between the Grand Opera House and Burgundy Street in the 900 block.  They built the Audubon Building.  The Grand Opera House was demolished. A gap existed between the Audubon Building and MB for a couple of years. S. H. Kress bought the site of the Grand Opera House, 921 Canal Street. They filled in the gap with one of their five-and-dime stores.

Civil Rights and Kress

S. H. Kress segregated its lunch counters in Jim Crow states. Protesters in Greensboro, NC, targeted Kress as part of their first sit-ins. Protests and boycotts followed in other Southern cities, including Nashville Jackson, MS. Protesters in Baton Rouge targeted Kress for their initial protests.

The Kress store at 921 Canal avoided the protests of other cities. Civil Rights activists focused on the F. W. Woolworth store down the street. While I have no documentation here, I suspect Kress wasn’t targeted because it was next to Maison Blanche. The entrance to the Maison Blanche Office Building was right next to the Kress entrance. Blocking the MB entrance meant blocking access to the offices of a number of doctors and dentists, along with other professional offices. Perhaps activists considered this when choosing to picket Woolworth.

The front facade

Canal street architecture

The 900 block of Canal Street in 1976. The white porcelain covering on the Kress building is visible on the right.

Kress remodeled the Canal Street store in 1960. They covered the original building’s facade with a white, porcelain overlay. The original facade remained underneath. New owners removed the porcelain overlay in 1983. The building returned to its 1913 look.

Sale to Genesco

In 1964, the Kress family sold out to Genesco, Inc. The new owners dropped the Kress business model. So, they expanded the chain, moving into suburban shopping malls. Genesco closed Kress stores, starting in 1980. The Canal Street store closed as part of that first wave. The building passed through several owners. In 2000, the building became part of the footprint of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel. While the front facade remains, the interior is now the parking garage for the hotel.

 

 

The Southern Pacific Argonaut – the slow run to Los Angeles #TrainThursday

The Southern Pacific Argonaut – the slow run to Los Angeles #TrainThursday

Southern Pacific Argonaut

southern pacific argonaut

Drumheads used by The Argonaut.

Southern Pacific Argonaut

southern pacific argonaut

SP “Heavyweight” cars of the type used on the Argonaut, at Union Station, 29-Mar-1950

The Southern Pacific Argonaut ran along with the Sunset Limited train, from New Orleans to Los Angeles. Southern Pacific operated the trains, then Amtrak. The Sunset is well known because it was one of SP’s flagship trains. Amtrak continued the train after their takeover. SP discontinued their other New Orleans trains in the 1960s, including the Argonaut.

Economy to L.A.

While the Sunset Limited was a luxury train, the Argonaut meant economy travel. The trip from New Orleans took fifty hours. SP operated mostly coaches on the Argonaut, with one or two sleepers. The Argonaut got you there, maybe with a stiff back from two days in a coach seat, but you got there.

SP began the Argonaut in 1926. The journey originally took over 61 hours, five hours longer than the Sunset Limited. The Argonaut operated sleeper cars from New Orleans to Houston and to San Antonio, westbound. The train operated with a diner car for the entire route.

Steam Power

Southern Pacific Argonaut

Texas & New Orleans GS-1, similar to those that pulled the Argonaut (State Library of Louisiana)

Until the 1950s, steam locomotives pulled the Argonaut. The “Golden State” class GS-1 (4-8-4) locomotives owned by SP were most used. By the 1950s, Alco PA-PB diesel units serviced the train.

southern pacific argonaut

SP PA-1 locos pulling The Argonaut across the Mississippi and into Union Station (NOPL).

Heavyweights

Cars for the Argonaut were “heavyweight” style, seen in the photos above. So, the train was never “streamlined” like many “name trains”. It was an economy offering, so SP didn’t invest much in it. If travelers wanted the luxury and speed of newer rolling stock, they took the Sunset Limited.

Southern Pacific trains initially operated from the Trans-Mississippi Terminal, on Annunciation Street, Uptown. The trains crossed the river via ferry not far from the station. After the construction of the Huey P. Long Bridge, SP trains used Union Station on Howard Avenue. They took the route currently used by the Sunset Limited. So, SP trains used Union Passenger Terminal after its completion in 1954.

SP cut back the Argonaut’s route in 1958, running the train only from New Orleans to Houston. They discontinued the train entirely in the 1960s.

The Spanish Fort Streetcar Line

The Spanish Fort Streetcar Line

Spanish Fort Streetcar

spanish fort streetcar

Tracks running out on the Spanish Fort fishing pier, 1911. (Franck Studios)

Spanish Fort Streetcar

The amusements at Spanish Fort entertained New Orleanians, from the 1880s, up to the first incarnation of Pontchartrain Beach, in 1929. Going to the fort was a day trip, and a train service brought folks out to the lake. The train service ended in the late 1890s. Streetcar service began in 1911 and ran until the 1930s.

History

spanish fort streetcar

Heading out to Spanish Fort, 1912.

Fort Saint John, known to New Orleanians as the Spanish Fort, guarded the mouth of Bayou St. John at Lake Pontchartrain during the Spanish Colonial Period. While it never saw action, the fort played an important role in the War of 1812. Because Jackson assigned Lafitte’s gunners to the fort, the British chose to come at the city from Lake Borgne and St. Bernard Parish. They made no attempt to come down the bayou and Carondelet Canal. The US Army pushed the city’s defenses further out, building forts at the Rigolets and Chef Menteur Pass. By the time of the Southern Rebellion, Spanish Fort was a tourist attraction.

Amusement Area

spanish fort streetcar

Spanish Fort in New Orleans, “The Coney Island of the South”

After the end of Southern Rebellion, civilian government returned to New Orleans. Streetcar lines expanded across the city. Mules pulled these streetcars. The streetcar companies experimented with steam locomotives, but residents along the lines complained of the noise and smoke. Electric streetcars came to New Orleans in the mid 1890s.

Mules weren’t practical for getting out to the lakefront. To make the trip to West End or Spanish Fort in the 1870s-1880s, folks took steam trains. The railroad companies made the locomotives look like streetcars.

The Spanish Fort amusement area was popular. The location offered cool evening breezes. In general, temperatures were lower near the water. The combination attracted folks to come out for a swim, and to hear jazz, opera, and other music in the evenings.

The train service meant a trip to Spanish Fort was a long day trip, or, if you were out for the evening, an overnight excursion.

Ownership Change

spanish fort streetcar

“Plan Book” for the sale of Spanish Fort, 1911 (courtesy New Orleans Notarial Archives)

Spanish Fort declined in popularity in the 1900s. West End dominated as the lakefront destination of choice. The Spanish Fort area was sold in 1911, and the new owners convinced the New Orleans Railway and Light Company to offer electric streetcar service.

The Streetcar Line

spanish fort streetcar

Streetcars at the old Spanish Fort railroad station, ca 1911.

NO Rwy & Lt company originated the Spanish Fort line. The route:

  • Start – S. Rampart, between Tulane and Canal
  • Left turn onto Canal Street, outbound to City Park Avenue
  • Left turn onto City Park Avenue to the Halfway House
  • Right turn at the New Basin Canal, heading outbound next to the railroad right of way
  • Right turn at Adams Avenue (now Robert E. Lee Blvd.)
  • East on Adams to Spanish Fort.
  • Left turn into the Spanish Fort Station (still there from railroad service)

The inbound/return route was a reversal of the outbound run.

The line operated seasonal service. More streetcars ran in the Spring through the Summer. In the Fall and Winter, Spanish Fort operated as “shuttle” service. Riders took West End to Adams Avenue and transferred to the shuttle cart that went to the fort. This shuttle service operated when the line started in March, 1911. The full service began in June, 1911.

When the new owners took over in 1911, they extended the streetcar tracks from the railroad station out along the fishing pier. A streetcar ran from the station stop that was usually the end of the line to the end of the pier.

The Streetcars

spanish fort streetcar

Barney and Smith streetcar, ca 1905 (NOPSI drawing)

NORwy&Lt operated double-truck streetcars on the Spanish Fort line. The Barney and Smith cars ran regularly, with some American Car Company cars also used. During the busy summer season, the powered streetcars pulled unpowered “trailer” cars.

End of Spanish Fort service

pontchartrain beach

Main Gate of the Pontchartrain Beach amusement park, 1929

The Spanish Fort line terminated in 1932. By the 1920s, the fort’s popularity as an amusement destination declined. When the Batt family opened their Pontchartrain Beach amusement park on the eastern side of Bayou St. John, in 1929, ridership on the Spanish Fort line spiked up again. Pontchartrain Beach heavily advertised the Spanish Fort line as a way to get to the amusement park. “Right Next to Krauss!” The park moved to Milneburg in the 1930s, though. Without either the fort or Pontchartrain Beach, there was no reason to keep the line in operation.