Trackless Trolleys on the Magazine Street Line – #StreetcarMonday

Trackless Trolleys on the Magazine Street Line – #StreetcarMonday

Trackless Trolleys, also known as “trolley buses”

trackless trolleys

NOPSI trackless trolley on the Magazine line at Audubon Park, 1941 (Franck Studios photo)

Trackless Trolleys

Electric buses, “trackless trolleys”, operated on several New Orleans transit lines over the years. In the 1920s, NORwy&Lt/NOPSI experimented with the buses. By 1930, trackless trolleys operated on major lines in the system.

Magazine Street

Magazine Street, like St. Charles Avenue, runs the length of what we usually call “Uptown”. While St. Charles Avenue presents elegant mansions, Magazine Street borders the two sides of “the tracks”. You know, when someone says, “she’s from the other side of the tracks”. So, in New Orleans, that could easily mean Magazine street. While the neighborhoods between Magazine and St. Charles contain more elegant houses, the other side was, well, the other side. The area between Magazine and the river holds docks, wharves, warehouses, and small shotgun houses.

The combination creates a dense area. Neighborhoods grew, usually as plantations fronting the river were subdivided and sold off by their owners. As each plantation became a residential neighborhood, open-air markets, shops, schools and churches appeared.

Uptown Transit

trackless trolleys

1883 Robinson Atlas of New Orleans, showing the corner of Magazine and Toledano.

These new neighborhoods required connections to the Central Business District (CBD). The New Orleans City Railroad Company established the Magazine Street line on June 8, 1861. Streetcars on the Magazine line ran from the Clay Statue (St. Charles Avenue and Canal Street), down Canal, turning right on Magazine. The mule-drawn “bobtail” streetcars traveled outbound on Magazine to Toledano.

At Toledano, NOCRR operated a car barn and stables. Streetcars turned around by going through the car barn. They then returned the same route. The company expanded the line in 1883, running Magazine all the way to Audubon Park. NOCRR electrified the line in 1895.

NOCRR operated single-truck streetcars on Magazine after electrification. They replaced the single-trucks initially with Brill double-trucks, then “Palace” cars. NOPSI phased out the “Palace cars” with arch roofs, until 1930.

Trolley buses

NOPSI converted the Magazine line to trackless trolley service on November 30, 1930. Therefore, trolley buses meant NOPSI only needed one employee per bus, the driver. The city required two-man operation of streetcars. So, NOPSI cut labor costs dramatically when a line converted from streetcars to buses, even electric ones.

NOPSI converted Magazine from electric buses to diesel ones in 1964.

 

Fortier High School football – friday night lights in the forties

Fortier High School football – friday night lights in the forties

Fortier High School football – FNL

fortier high school football

The Alcee Fortier High School football, 1940s

Fortier High School Football

This is a Franck Studios photo of a football team from Alcee Fortier High School. I’m thinking this is from the 1940s rather than the 1950s, but there’s so little to go on in terms of identification. They look like your basic football team from the time before integration.

Alcee Fortier High School

Fortier High School Football

Fortier High School, on Freret and Nashville, Uptown. The facility is now Lusher High School.

The school opened in 1931. Fortier occupied the Uptown block bounded by Freret, Joseph, Loyola, and Nashville, The main entrance fronted Freret Street. Fortier opened as an all-boys, all-white school. It integrated as part of the school district’s plan, in 1961. The student body lost lost white students steadily through the 1960s and 1970s, due to white flight.

Fortier offered German language classes prior to World War II. It was one of the few schools in the city that taught the language.

Hurricane Katrina

Fortier declined dramatically in quality in the 1990s. By the early 2000s, it was rated as one of the worst schools in the city. The Louisiana Legislature pointed to schools like Fortier and demanded changes. They created the Recovery School District. The state tasked RSD with taking over public schools in Orleans Parish. They believed the Orleans Parish School Board could not handle the job any longer.

Within a year of the RSD’s creation, Hurricane Katrina struck. The storm’s aftermath changed all the plans for public schools. RSD permanently closed many schools. Fortier was one of them. RSD authorized charter schools across the city. Those new schools occupied the buildings of many older, failing schools.

Lusher High School

Lusher Elementary School opened on Willow Street in Carrollton in 1917. The school board expanded Lusher, opening a middle school, in 1990. The middle school used the old Carrollton Courthouse. That building housed Benjamin Franklin High School until that school moved to the University of New Orleans campus.

Lusher Elementary and Middle converted to a charter school in the wake of Katrina. The community planned a high school, going back to 2003. The charter enabled them to move on those plans. They opened the Fortier Campus as Lusher High School in 2006.

New Orleans Public Belt 1941 #TrainThursday

New Orleans Public Belt 1941 #TrainThursday

New Orleans Public Belt 1941

new orleans public belt 1941

New Orleans Public Belt 1941 – Baldwin 0-6-0 switcher at the Tchoupitoulas termina. (courtesy NOPB)

New Orleans Public Belt 1941

The New Orleans Public Belt Railroad is a “short line” railroad. It operates along the Mississippi River in Metro New Orleans. The city created NOPB in 1908. They fixed the issue of railroad congestion along the riverfront. The Class I railroad wanted their own tracks and terminals along the wharves and warehouses. So, the city created a Class III railroad, the NOPB, to connect them.

A state agency manages the NOPB. It is the Public Belt Railroad Commission. The commission also maintains the Huey P. Long Bridge, since it services both railroad and automobile traffic.

The following railroads travel over NOPB tracks:

  • BNSF Railway
  • CSX Transportation
  • Canadian National/Illinois Central
  • Kansas City Southern
  • Norfolk Southern
  • Union Pacific
  • Amtrak

The Engine

The engine in the photo is a Baldwin 0-6-0 switcher. It was built new for NOPB in Jan. 1921. Its construction number 54415, and road number was 22. The engine was retired May 1957.

Dating the Photo

The photo was commissioned by the NOPB. So, it is part of the Franck Studios archive at the HNOC. It’s dated 29-October-1941, but there are dozens of photos with that date. It’s possible they were all processed by Franck Studios then. Therefore, it’s not clear just when the picture was taken. Since the engine was in service until 1957, it’s possible that the photo is indeed from 1941.

Mystery Man

We haven’t been able to identify the man in the white suite in the photo. Given that he’s dressed in a white suit, it’s more likely he is either a NOPB commissioner or a city or state official. We’ve contacted NOPB in the hopes they know who he is.

Train watching on the NOPB

the New Orleans Public Belt tracks offer some great trainspotting opportunities. One of my favorite spots is on Central Avenue in Jefferson, LA, right by the eastern approach to the Huey P. Long bridge. Central Avenue at this point (basically right under the Earhart Expressway) crosses seven sets of tracks. The tracks closest to Airline Highway are Illinois Central/CN tracks. You can see lots of activity, including CN, KCS, and Amtrak’s City of New Orleans.

On the approach to the Huey P. Long Bridge, you can see UP, NS, and Amtrak’s Sunset Limited.

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.

Fishing Shack in the Rigolets, artist Jane Smith Ninas

Fishing Shack in the Rigolets, artist Jane Smith Ninas

Fishing Shack in the Rigolets

Fishing Shack in the Rigolets

Fishing Shack in the Rigolets, 1943, by Jane Smith Ninas

1943 – Fishing Shack in the Rigolets

I spent some time this afternoon, looking in a couple of photo collections for local Radio Shacks. It’s part of a new project, a Facebook group for sharing memories of New Orleans stores. The name of the group is New Orleans Shopping, so please feel free to click through and join. So, I didn’t come up with any Radio Shack photos right off, but I did come up with a lot of “shacks”. This painting caught my eye, thought I’d share.

Fishing Camps around New Orleans

We’ve got fishing camps (no Realtor is going to call your grandpa’s camp a “shack”) all over Southeast Louisiana. Some are simple, others are palaces out in the wetlands. The Rigolets pass, along with Chef Menteur Pass, are the two bodies of water connecting Lake Pontchartrain with Lake Borgne. Lots of good fishing and crabbing out along those passes.

Ninas’ painting includes many of the components one would expect in and around a local fishing camp. It’s raised on pilings. Around the shack are various dockside items for keeping and maintaining small fishing boats The shack is on the ground, next to the pass. While most fishing camps on the lake are over water, this shack is on the shore..Usually, a pier connects the camp to shore. Owners of fishing camps in te 1930s-1940s likely kept their boats by the camp. So, there’s a hoist behind the shack, where the boat could be raised. They could work on the boat while out of the water. It’s also a good way to secure the boat, raise it up, then lock down the hoist. These days, it’s more likely the owner puts their boat on a trailer and bring it home.

Jane Smith Ninas

Jane Ninas, nee Smith, is the artist. She married artist Paul Ninas, in 1933, but then left him and married photographer Walker Evans. She passed away in 2005, at the age of 92.

American Standard Gentilly: Warplanes to Plumbing

American Standard Gentilly: Warplanes to Plumbing

American Standard Gentilly: Manufacturing

American Standard Gentilly

1944 Times Picayune photo of the Consolidated plant in Gentilly

When the United States entered World War II, New Orleans stepped up immediately. The Lakefront became the nexus of war manufacturing. Higgins Industries and Consolidated Aircraft (now Convair) led the way. The US Navy built a Naval Air Station on the lakefront, in MIlneburg. Therefore, it made sense to build aircraft manufacturing near the base. Gentilly  was about the PBY.

American Standard Gentilly – Warplanes

American Standard Gentilly

The last PBY built in Gentilly

The Consolidated Aircraft Company built seaplanes for the US Navy in WWII Gentilly. As the war went on, other planes were built at the lakefront facility, but the PBY scout planes were the plant’s big product.

American Standard Gentilly

Recruiting for Consolidated during WWII

WWII Gentilly needed workers! Not only did New Orleanians rise to the challenge, they moved out to the neighborhood. Living close to work was easy in Gentilly. Many families built homes in the area during the war. So, after the war, Gentilly experienced a serious housing boom. Men and women coming home from the war saw the area as a great area to start their families.

After the war

While the PBY was an important part of the Navy’s push forward in the Pacific, there just wasn’t the same need for the search planes. Consolidated closed the plant. WWII Gentilly needed to switch to peacetime. The aircraft plant was sold to the plumbing supply company, American Standard.

American Standard Gentilly

American Standard Gentilly, 1948

American Standard Gentilly was a major contributor to the local economy into the 1980s.

American Standard Gentilly

Interior of the American Standard Gentilly plant

The plant continued going strong for almost thirty years The high-end residential neighborhood next door, Lake Oaks managed to co-exist with the manufacturing plant next door. The folks of Lake Oaks saw the amusement park, Pontchartrain Beach to be the “noisy neighbor” in the area.

American Standard Gentilly

American Standard Gentilly, 1985

In June of 1985, a fire spread throughout the facility, burning the plant to the ground.

 

American Standard Gentilly was a total loss. The charred remains of the plant were removed. The Orleans Parish Levee District re-located their “field yard” — their vehicle maintenance yard, to the site.