Swift Stream – New York Central sleeper car now private varnish

Swift Stream – New York Central sleeper car now private varnish

Swift Stream – a sleeper that isn’t a pullman

(cross-posted to Pontchartrain Railroad)

swift stream

New York Central buffet-lounge-sleeper car “Swift Stream”, on the Amtrak Crescent.

Swift Stream

Yesterday’s Amtrak Crescent (#20, heading from New Orleans to New York City) pulled a guest. Budd built the Silver Swift for the New York Central in 1949. NYC Investments operates Swift Stream as a private car. It is available for charter.

Budd

The New York Central Railroad ordered eleven Buffet-Lounge cars from Budd in 1949. They became the “Stream” series. The Edward G. Budd Manufacturing Company built passenger rail cars to compete with the Pullman Company. Edward Budd built all-steel automobile bodies when he founded the company in 1913. Edward sold his designs to Dodge. The company invented a technique of welding stainless steel components together called “shotweld”. Budd used shotweld to build “streamliner” passenger rail cars. The manufacturer sold these cars to various railroads from the 1930s through the 1960s. Budd discontinued its passenger car division in the 1970s.

6DB Buffet Lounge Stream-Series

Swift Stream

Floor Plan of the Swift Stream (courtesy nycswiftstream.com)

While Budd built more of its “Slumbercoach” line of sleeper cars, the “Streams” offered railroads a comfortable option for their streamliner trains. The Streams had six bedrooms, a kitchen, and seating for twenty-two. Here’s a list of the eleven cars and their status (as of 2013).

Swift Stream’s history

New York Central operated Swift Stream for 22 years. Amtrak acquired the car in 1971. The national company ran it until the 1990s. Amtrak retired the car in 1981. So, it was sold it to a private owner in 1983.

Here’s the info on the car on Railway Preservation News (link above):

#10627 Swift Stream renumbered in May 1967 to #660 to PC #4415 sold in 1973 to Amtrak #3204. Retired in October 1981. Sold in 1983 to private ownership?? Located at the Midland RY Historical Association (Baldwin City, KS). Later moved to Los Angeles. Renamed City of Angels (1st) (#800460), then sold (when??) to second private owner. Acquired (when??) by Mid America Railcar Leasing. Name changed back to Swift Stream.

This post on the forum has a nice bibliography that railroad historians will appreciate.

Buried streetcar tracks are fun but not all that rare

Buried streetcar tracks are fun but not all that rare

Buried streetcar tracks are all over New Orleans

buried streetcar tracks

Work crews on Bourbon Street discover old streetcar ties.

Buried Streetcar Tracks

The city, on its RoadWorkNOLA page on Facebook, posted a neat find–ties from streetcar tracks under the existing concrete of Bourbon Street. Streetcars operated on Rue Bourbon in the Quarter from 1902 to 1948.

Carondelet and Desire lines

buried streetcar tracks

NOPSI transit map 1922, showing Desire going out on Bourbon and returning on Royal

The Carondelet streetcar line opened for business in 1866. The line crossed Canal Street in 1902, traveling down Bourbon, out to the Ninth Ward. Streetcars returned downtown via Royal Street. In 1919, streetcars on the Carondelet line changed signs when they traveled all the way to Desire Street. By 1920, New Orleans Railway and Light Company split the Carondelet line. The original route from 1866 returned. The Desire line opened for business on October 17, 1920. Desire serviced the French Quarter. Streetcars ran outbound on Bourbon and inbound on Royal.

Equipment on Desire

buried streetcar tracks

NOPSI 830, operating on Desire in 1947. The company cut this streetcar in half in 1964.

While Carondelet used mule-drawn streetcars on the original route, electric cars ran on the line when it crossed Canal. Electric streetcars replaced mule-drawn cars in New Orleans by 1900. So, the Carondelet extension to the Ninth Ward operated electrics. Desire continued with those streetcars.

Ford, Bacon and Davis single truck streetcars operated on Carondelet in 1902, Therefore, the Desire extension used the same single-truck cars. The line switched to double-truck streetcars in 1924. The arch roof 800s and 900s phased out the older double-trucks in the second half of the 1920s.

The Desire line switched to buses in 1948.

Tearing up the tracks

Buried streetcar tracks

NOPSI bus 1932 running on the Desire-Florida bus line in the late 1940s.

The War Department refused requests from NOPSI to convert many of the streetcar lines to buses. during WWII. So, those ties found by the work crew are likely from then. After the war, the federal government approved bus conversions.

NOPSI and the city did not rush ripping up streetcar tracks in the 1940s and 1950s. NOPSI riders approved the switches in this period. It wasn’t until the early 1960s that preservationists took notice of streetcars. NOPSI planned to convert the Canal line in 1958. They implemented the plan in 1964. The company cut down the overhead catenary lines on Canal Street within hours of the switch in May, 1964. The city ripped up the tracks over the next two months.

This was quite the exception to previous conversions. So, a lot of streetcar tracks still exist. Digging a bit deeper reveals others. It isn’t rare, but it’s fun to see.

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:

 

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.

Texas and Pacific Railroad – Train Thursday

Texas and Pacific Railroad – Train Thursday

Texas and Pacific Railroad – Train Thursday.

Texas and Pacific

T&P Railway passenger train, leaving the Trans-Mississippi Passenger station, 1950s.

Texas and Pacific Railroad – Uptown, West Bank, Points West!

EMD E-8A #2011 leads a Texas and Pacific passenger train out of the Trans-Mississippi Passenger Station, New Orleans. Data on a Texas and Pacific Railway history website indicates this photo was shot in 1950-1951.

The second, “B” diesel unit is an EMD F-7B. I can’t find a roster number for that unit in this photo. Drop me a line (or comment) if you can identify it.

The Texas and Pacific Railway began operations in the state of Texas in 1871. The Missouri Pacific Railroad acquired a majority share of the T&P in 1928. While they essentially owned T&P, MoPac operated T&P independently until 1976. MoPac merged into the Union Pacific in 1980. Because of lawsuits and regulatory issues, however, the merger was not complete until 1997.

Texas and Pacific Station

Texas and Pacific

Trans-Mississippi Passenger Station, uptown New Orleans.

The “Trans Mississippi Passenger Station” stood on Annunciation Street, uptown, between Thalia and Melpomene Streets. So, this station is one of the five consolidated into Union Passenger Terminal. We’ll do a full article on it in the future.

The Louisiana Eagle

texas and pacific

Texas and Pacific Railway passenger ticket, 1940s.

These locos are likely pulling the “Louisiana Eagle”, the “name train” that ran from New Orleans to Dallas/Ft. Worth on the T&P. The Louisiana Eagle departed New Orleans at 7:50pm, arrived in Dallas at 8:05am the next morning, terminating at 9:05am in Ft. Worth. So, it was an overnight train.

While the Huey P. Long Bridge carried trains, Texas and Pacific used train ferries to cross the Mississippi. The trains would leave the Annunciation Street terminal, then go to the riverfront. The cars boarded a rail ferry boat for the crossing. The train re-formed, stopping at the Gretna station on Fourth Street. They would then go on their way.

The typical consist of the Louisiana Eagle was an E-8 or F-7 locomotive, then five cars (presumably baggage, two sleepers, diner, and a coach). I don’t have a definite consist list, so if you do, let me know.

 

Mid-City Railroading in the late 1940s

Mid-City Railroading in the late 1940s

Mid-City Railroading in the late 1940s

mid-city railroading

L&N Train leaving Canal Street, 1940s (Ron Flanery photo)

Mid-City Railroading – late 1940s

I ran out to the UNO Library a couple of weeks ago, chasing down some old railroad maps. I remembered seeing a set of maps there a few years back, but resisted the temptation to go totally down the rabbit hole on railroad stuff. One of the things that did stick with me, though, was that there was a railroad engine terminal behind Greenwood Cemetery, more or less where First Baptist Church is now (below).

mid-city railroading

Engine terminal by Greenwood Cemetery, 1949 (City of New Orleans)

 

Grade crossing survey

I found the documents I remembered quickly. It was a grade crossing survey from 1949. The compiled the data for the new Union Passenger Terminal project. I didn’t need high-quality scans for now. So I took some phone pics and moved on. Just knowing I was right about the engine terminal was enough. I came back to those images this morning. I wanted to get an idea of the general area around City Park Avenue to the New Basin Canal. Therefore, I took quick shots of those plates.

mid-city railroading

Grade crossing survey, 1949 (City of New Orleans)

So, I had some time this morning, and I looked those other images over. I came across something that made me scratch my head. The plate showing tracks around Bienville Street and N. Carrollton Avenue (above) showed the layout of a full passenger rail station.

Passenger Stations in New Orleans

This confused me in a big way. I’d always known about the five passenger stations in the city. They were:

  • Louisville and Nashville (Canal and the river)
  • Terminal Station, Southern and Gulf, Mobile and Ohio (Canal and Basin Streets)
  • Union Station, Illinois Central and Southern Pacific (Howard Avenue)
  • Texas Pacific/Missouri Pacific (Annunciation Street)
  • Louisiana & Arkansas-Kansas City Southern (S. Rampart and Girod Streets)

These five were demolished, and UPT was built right behind Union Station, so it fronted Loyola Avenue. So, I’d never heard of a station in Mid-City.

mid-city railroading

Bienville Street and N. Carrollton Avenue, 1937 (Sanborn)

While I’ve read a bunch on railroads in the city, I’ll be the first to admit that my knowledge is quite incomplete. Drew Ward graciously pulled up the Sanborns for N. Carrollton and Bienville. The image above is from 1937, and doesn’t look anything like a proper passenger station.

I’ll keep you posted on what I learn.