Rebel Route to Tennessee #TrainThursday

Rebel Route to Tennessee #TrainThursday

Gulf, Mobile, and Northern’s Rebel Route connected New Orleans to Jackson, Tennessee.

Rebel Route

Rebel Route

The “Rebel,” operated by Gulf, Mobile, and Northern Railroad, at Terminal Station in Faubourg Treme, late 1930s, early 1940s. It’s unclear whether this train is departing on a northbound run, or backing into the station, arriving on the southbound run. Trains approaching Terminal Station used a “wye” track on St. Louis Street to change directions. The inbound train entered the wye, then backed in. Passengers exited onto Canal Street, across from Krauss Department Store.

The Route

The Gulf, Mobile, and Northern operated the Rebel from 1935 until its merger with the Mobile and Ohio Railroad in 1942. GM&N expanded the Rebel. They purchased additional equipment, operating a split of the route, from Union, Mississippi, to Mobile. The GM&O expanded the Rebel Route further, north to St. Louis. The train’s final incarnation, the “Gulf Coast Rebel” ended service in 1958.

“Little Rebels”

GM&N purchased two trainsets from the American Car Foundry in 1935. These sets used “power cars,” units which combined locomotive and coach. The Rebel also carried a buffet-coach car and a sleeper-observation. All coach seating operated following Jim Crow segregation laws.

The railroad acquired a third trainset in 1937. This trainset enabled GM&N to operate the split at Union, down to Mobile.

With the merger in 1942, GM&O discontinued the “little Rebel” trainsets. The railroad replaced them with the “Big Rebels,” Alco DL-105 locomotives and standard-style cars.

Terminal Station

South of Laurel, Mississippi, GM&N/GM&O used Southern Railway tracks to reach New Orleans. The Rebel approached the city via Slidell, crossing Lake Pontchartrain using Southern’s five-mile bridge. The train traveled through the city using Southern’s “back belt.” The Rebel stopped at City Park Avenue, then turned towards the river, ending the journey on Basin Street. Like Southern Railway trains, GM&O shifted passenger operations from Terminal Station over to Union Passenger Terminal in 1954.


Municipal Auditorium 1932

Municipal Auditorium 1932

The Walmsley administration held a banquet at the Municipal Auditorium in 1932.

municipal auditorium

Morris FX Jeff Municipal Auditorium

Franck Studios photo of the New Orleans Municipal Auditorium in 1932. The city opened the facility on May 30, 1930. Since it opened, the Municipal Auditorium hosted a wide range of events, including Carnival balls, boxing matches, high school graduations, professional wrestling, as well as trade shows and conventions. The building sits in Faubourg Treme, next to Congo Square.

Sporting events

The Municipal Auditorium seats over 7800 people in its arena configuration. The city used the facility as a starting point for several professional sports franchises. The auditorium served as home court for the American Basketball Association’s New Orleans Buccaneers, during the team’s 1969-1970 season. When the National Basketball Association granted New Orleans a franchise, the New Orleans Jazz played their first season in the facility. The New Orleans Brass, an East Coast Hockey League (AA) team, used the auditorium as home ice from 1997 to 1999.

What attracted these teams to the facility was the ease with which it could be adapted. The Bucs originally played at the old Loyola Field House, but outgrew it. The Jazz planned to use the Louisiana Superdome, but decided to wait a season. That enabled the team’s management to prepare for Dome life. While the Brass were a professional team, they knew the Dome would be impractical. They used the auditorium until the opening of the Smoothie King Center.


Harrah’s New Orleans Casino planned to use the Municipal Auditorium as a temporary site, while they demolished the Rivergate convention center and built their current casino on that site. The temporary casino only operated for a couple of months in 1995.


Thomas Semmes Walmsley held the office of Mayor of New Orleans from 1929 to 1936. Walmsley was a controversial figure, being a staunch racist. Interestingly, Walmsley was a member of the Boston Club, the luncheon club located on Canal Street that is closely identified with the Mystick Krewe of Comus. Hosting a political event in the city’s new auditorium was quite logical.

Historic Old New Orleans Guidebook

Historic Old New Orleans Guidebook

Historic Old New Orleans was published in 1938.

historic old new orleans

Historic Old New Orleans Guidebook

Cover illustrations for a pamphlet, “Historic Old New Orleans,” published in 1938. The pamphlet is subtitled, “America’s Most Interesting City.” The front cover displays the title, but no further information. The rear illustration features the courtyard of the “Claiborne Mansion” in Faubourg Marigny. Neither Loyola University Special Collections nor the Newberry Library (which also holds a physical copy) offer more detail.

Guidebooks and Pamphlets

Loyola University of New Orleans holds a collection of brochures, pamphlets, and guidebooks collected by Dr. Anthony J. Stanonis. Dr. Stanonis did his undergraduate studies at Loyola, and earned his PhD in History from Vanderbilt University. This collection presents a wide range of tourism-related publications. Nowadays, these would all likely be on websites.

While the covers of these publications spark the imagination, the inside content isn’t available in digital form. If you know of any scanned copies of these pamphlets, particularly “Historic Old New Orleans,” please let me know.

Claiborne Mansion

The back cover of this guidebook features the courtyard of the Claiborne Mansion. This old house stands at 2111 Dauphine Street, in Faubourg Marigny. The mansion dates back to 1855. William C. C. Claiborne, used the house as a residence. Claiborne, served as the first governor of the Louisiana Territory. He then served as governor of the State of Louisiana (1812). The house currently welcomes guests as an inn. So, the Inn describes itself as “pet friendly.”

The Claiborne Mansion is a pet friendly establishment, and the mansion’s owner Cleo has always embraced the rich literary history of New Orleans, which at various times has been host to treasured authors like Hemingway, Tennessee Williams, William Faulkner, and John Kennedy Toole. When Cleo noticed that some of the neighborhood’s “free agent” cats were polydactyl, it seemed only fitting and in the proper literary spirit of things to christen them the Claiborne Cats, and welcome them to the mansion grounds as unofficial guests.

This is indeed fitting and proper!


Kenner Sanborn Maps

Kenner Sanborn Maps

Kenner Sanborn maps offer insight into the city in 1926.

kenner sanborn maps

Kenner Sanborn maps

This plate shows a section of Kenner, LA. Fire insurance companies used these maps to set rates for customers. Kenner Sanborn maps provide the underwriter with details on structures, streets, and railroads. They offer the historian a rich set of information on the evolution of a metro area. This map shows the area from what is now the Canadian National (formerly Illinois Central) right of way at Kenner Avenue, down to 3rd Street, towards the river. In modern Kenner, the top of this map marks the start of “Rivertown,” along Williams Boulevard.

Fire insurance

David Alfred Sanborn lined up clients for his map project in 1866. His work gained traction quickly. Insurance companies sought improvements in setting rates. He began with Boston and expanded to other large cities. Sanborn mapped the details insurance companies desired to set competitive rates. By 1916, Sanborn’s company grew to the point where they bought out all of their major competitors. So, by the creation of Kenner Sanborn maps 1926, these maps were the standard.

Kenner in 1926

The maps illustrate the city’s role at the time. Kenner was the “town” that Sicilian truck farmers drove to when they went “into town,” for supplies, news, and social functions. Kenner had two Baptist churches (segregated) and a Catholic parish, St. Mary’s. The archdiocese renamed St. Marys to Our Lady of Perpetual Help in 1936.


Railroad links defined Kenner in 1926. Kenner Sanborn maps show three railroads, the Louisiana Railway and Navigation Company Railroad, and the Illinois Central Railroad. The IC splits at Kenner. The IC segment turns north, heading across Lake Pontchartrain to Hammond, LA. The Yazoo and Mississippi Railroad continues west. “Kid Ory” and his jazz band took the Yazoo and Mississippi into New Orleans from LaPlace, to play gigs in the city on weekends.

The map shows freight and passenger platforms on the IC line, along with a number of industries on both sides of the railroad right-of-way.


Krauss 1938 #KraussFriday

Krauss 1938 #KraussFriday

Krauss 1938 shows the badge of the Eighth National Eucharistic Congress.

krauss 1938

Krauss 1938

The Catholic Church in the United States held its Eighth National Eucharistic Congress in New Orleans. The Congress ran from 17-October to 20-October, 1938. Since Krauss Department Store stood next to the Southern Railway passenger terminal on Canal Street, the store put up the logo for the Congress. Yes, the Krauss brothers were Jewish. Yes, they turned the store over in 1920 to their Jewish brother-in-law, Leon Heymann. No, that didn’t matter, when all those Catholics got off trains, emerging into the Canal Street sunlight, next to their store.

Eucharistic Congress

The Catholic Church holds large events called Eucharistic Congresses. While synods and such are political/business events, a Eucharistic Congress is for the faithful. These events included meetings, seminars, lectures, and, naturally, Mass. The ultimate event for a Congress was usually a big, outdoor Mass for hundreds, even thousands of attendees.

Shopping and Trains

Krauss 1938 promoted the Eucharistic Congress that year. The Southern Railway ran a special train, from Washington, DC, to New Orleans, prior to the opening of the Congress. That special run transported Cardinals, Archbishops, Bishops, and others from the Northeast to New Orleans for the event. Other trains brought clergy and lay attendees to the city from across the country.

While trains converged upon all five passenger stations, Terminal Station at Canal and Basin Streets concerned Krauss 1938 the most. This passenger terminal serviced trains from Southern Railway and Gulf, Mobile, and Ohio. So, Catholics from all destinations in those systems ended their journey to the Congress on Canal Street. Right next to Krauss.

As attendees got off the trains, many naturally realized they forget this or that from home. A full-service department store right next to the station attracted these folks. Guests at nearby hotels like the Roosevelt walked over to Krauss for shopping and souveniers. That huge logo welcomed them with open arms.


Hot 5 Kid Ory

Hot 5 Kid Ory

Hot 5 Kid Ory gets less attention than the band leader, Louis Armstrong.

hot 5 kid ory

Hot 5 Kid Ory

It’s no surprise that articles about the Hot 5 focus around Pops, but Hot 5 Kid Ory influenced the Chicago jazz scene in the 1920s. This publicity photo for the band presents (l-r) Kid Ory, Louis Armstrong, Johnny Dodds, Lil Armstrong, and Johnny St. Cyr.

You can learn the full story of the Kid’s Chicago years in Johnny Mac’s book, Creole Trombone: Kid Ory and the Early Years of Jazz, and out at the 1811 Kid Ory House in Laplace, LA.

Chicago Jazz

David Guion, in his 2015 article, Kid Ory, Trombonist, Businessman, sums up his time in Chicago:

In 1924, both King Oliver and Louis Armstrong asked him to join them in Chicago, promising good money from recording sessions. Over the next five years, he participated in landmark recordings with Armstrong’s Hot Five, Oliver’s Dixie Syncopators, Jelly Roll Morton’s Red Hot Peppers, the New Orleans Wanderers (basically the Hot Five with George Mitchell on cornet instead of Armstrong’s trumpet.)

In some ways, the Kid was a victim of his own success, as Sicilian interests looked to leverage Jim Crow laws to control Creole musicians. Like King Oliver and Pops, the Kid got fed up with the New Orleans scene. Instead of heading up to Chicago, Ory went West, to Los Angeles. Still, King Oliver and Pops kept in contact, encouraging him to come to Chicago. He did just that in 1924. The five years Ory spent in Chicago were magical for Traditional Jazz.

So, yes, any band led by Pops naturally focuses on his magic. Hot 5 Kid Ory deserves props as well. Guion points out Ory’s skill as a band leader and businessman. Any band that includes a musician who understands management benefits. Ory’s networking ability enabled him to score all those recording gigs.

Go out to the museum and learn more about early jazz!