Sully illustration from 1836 of Faubourg Marigny
Marigny to Milneburg
From 1836, an illustration by G. W. Sully of the riverfront in Faubourg Marigny. You can see the station for the Pontchartrain Railroad on the left side of the illustration. The railroad was chartered in 1830, and began operations in 1831, so this was just five years into its existence. The purpose of the Pontchartrain Railroad was to connect the city, specifically, Faubourg Marigny, Faubourg Treme, and the French Quarter. Alexander Milne developed the area at what is now Elysian Fields Avenue and the lake into a port district, which became known as Milneburg. In addition to coming up the Mississippi River, much of the city’s ocean-going ship traffic came to New Orleans from the Gulf of Mexico, through the Chef Menteur Pass or the Rigolets Pass, into Lake Pontchartrain. Once in the lake, the larger ships were unable to go down Bayou St. John and the Carondelet Canal. Milneburg made it easier for the ships, since all they had to do was dock on the lakefront.
New Orleans’ First Railroad
The only catch was that the city was five miles away! The solution was simple, though, build a railroad. The planning/discussions for the railroad began in 1828. The first train, pulled by horses, left the station on April 14, 1831. Steam locomotives took over for animal power in June of 1832. This connection was a major path for commerce and goods up to the Civil War. After the war, as rail service to New Orleans began to expand, the Pontchartrain Railroad was acquired by larger rail concerns.
Sail to Steam
Notice that, in this illustration, the vessels are all powered by sail. That would change dramatically, as larger ships were constructed with steam engines and side paddlewheels, to speed up the journey from New Orleans to Havana, and various ports in along the American coast and Europe. These heavier ships were unable to use the passes into Lake Pontchartrain. This cut back on the shipping traffic docking at Milneburg, and the railroad no longer transported the goods it once did. Like many port areas, Milneburg became more of a recreational area than commercial, and the railroad then began to carry more passengers than goods. In the 1830s, though, it was all about commerce.
The Henry Frank at New Orleans
From Queen of the South, 1853-1862, the journal of Thomas K. Wharton. Captains of Mississippi riverboats overloaded their steamers, then bragged about it, as you can see here, The Henry Frank carries 9226 bales of cotton, arriving at New Orleans from upriver. Upon arrival at New Orleans, the riverboats were unloaded, and the cargo transferred to oceangoing vessels.
Cotton was exported from the Southern plantations to textile mills up the Atlantic coast, and to Great Britain. This is why “cotton was king” in New Orleans and across the South in the mid-19th Century. It’s the main crop that sustained the institution of slavery in the United States. The planters drove their slaves to pic the cotton and bale it for transport. The riverboat captains took great risks to get that valuable cargo to the second largest port in the country. Only New York was a larger port than the Crescent City. Steam power made Mississippi Riverboats an important part of commerce.
But here’s the catch with moving such large numbers of cotton bales–fire! That stuff burns! So many flammable goods came together on the Mississippi River levee at New Orleans. While the fires of the late 18th Century wiped out large portions of the city, the threat of fire didn’t go away just because the Spanish used brick and stone to rebuild. Wharton notes in his journal that there were many waterfront fires in the city. Still, King Cotton moved out to New England and Great Britain.
IPEVO document camera
I’ve been experiementing with this IPEVO document camera a bit. It’s going to be solid for lectures where I need to show a book, but as a copy camera, it’s a bit weak. I’m going to look at getting a document/book mount for my digital SLR for going up to UNO and exploring the Krauss archives. I haven’t assessed that stuff yet, but the archivist told me a lot of what they have is in scrapbooks. I’m not going to be able to get those onto a flatbed scanner, so I’ll come at it from the top!
Registraton Deadline TOMORROW, 5-July
This looks like a good seminar! In addition to the seminar, the Optional Activities also are excellent:
- Tour: An optional one and a half hour afternoon tour of the Whitney has been scheduled at a discounted rate of $15.
- How-to-Workshops: For those members who opt-out of the tour, various members of Le Comité will present workshops on topics including: Uploading Raw DNA to GedMatch, Finding Slave Ancestors on Louisiana Plantations, etc.
Pre-Registration is required as there’s limited seating. TOMORROW is the registration deadline, so you’ll want to move on this quickly if you’re interested. The Registration form (PDF) is here.
“Roses for Marie” by Edward Branley
The Voodoo that Marie Laveau do
Marie Laveau. This is an older photo, from before St. Louis Cemetery #1 was restricted to tours given by licensed tour guides. The “X” marks on the tomb offended one visitor so much a couple of years ago, they painted the tomb pink, thinking it was a help. Wrong kind of paint, though, which caused thousands of dollars to be spent on restoration. I hope people continue to leave the offerings and mementos, even if they don’t mark the tomb itself.
Glapion family tomb in St. Louis #1, 1930s (WPA photo in the public domain)
This WPA photo from the 1930s shows the tomb unmarked.
“Tomb of Marie Laveau”, 1970s, unknown photographer (State Office of Tourism, in the public domain)
The tradition of the “X” marks was in full swing by the 1970s, though, as can be seen in this tourism promotion photo.
Restaurant L. Boudro in Milneburg (Public Domain image courtesy HNOC)
Lucien Boudro opened a seafood restaurant in Milneburg, in 1842. He passed away in 1867, and the restaurant closed a few years later. The restaurant was in a charming house with a gated garden. The train tracks in front of the restaurant were for the Orleans and Pontchartrain RR, known as the “Smokey Mary”. Milneburg was an active port area in Antebellum New Orleans. Ships could bypass the river passes by coming from the Gulf of Mexico to Lake Borgne, through the Chef Menteur Pass or the Rigolets, then into Lake Pontchartrain, docking at Milneburg. They’d get back to Faubourg Marigny by taking the train down Elysian Fields Avenue.
I haven’t found any restaurant reviews for Boudro’s, but surely they had access to a lot of good lake seafood.
Image is a watercolor on linen. Artist is unknown.
Bachman lithograph of New Orleans, 1851
I just love these illustrations. I know they’re usually far from accurate, but they still give you a good idea of the growth of a city. If you click on the map, you should get a larger-res version. Aside from the cathedral, chat can you spot?
(Public domain image. Physical rights held by HNOC)