New Orleans L&N Railroad Station on Canal Street – #Train Thursday

New Orleans History L&N Railroad Station Canal Street – #Train Thursday

New Orleans History L&N Railroad Station Canal Street

Postcard of L&N Station, ca. 1910

New Orleans History L&N Railroad Station Canal Street

New Orleans History L&N Railroad Station Canal Street

1901 Route map for the Louisville and Nashville Railroad.

The Louisville and Nashville Railroad operated for 132 years, from 1850 to 1982. The L&N began in Kentucky. The Class I railroad expanded to over 6000 miles of track. L&N freight operations came to New Orleans in the 1880s. In 1902, L&N opened a passenger terminal in New Orleans. The terminal stood at Canal Street at the river. The Aquarium of the Americas occupies the location today.

L&N Station

New Orleans History L&N Railroad Station Canal Street

Aerial view of Canal and the river, 1950s, showing the L&N train sheds in brown.

In a 1927 report titled, Railroad Transportation Report for New Orleans-Louisiana, the consulting firm, Bartholomew and Associates listed specifications of the station:

  • One-story
  • Brick building
  • General waiting room, 30’x45′
  • Colored waiting room 25’x35′
  • Two mens and one ladies rest room
  • Lunch room (15’x20′) in the general waiting room
  • Baggage room 30’x60′
  • Train sheds for three tracks that were 550′ long

Navigating Canal and the River

Lucie Allison, preparing to board a L&N train to Asheville, NC, in 1943 (Alexander Allison photo, courtesy NOPL)

Canal and the River was incredibly congested at this time. The L&N, Southern Pacific, and New Orleans Public Belt all had tracks at Canal Street. Streetcars operated to the loop at Liberty Place. They parked in a six-track terminal just up from the railroad terminal. In the above photo, Lucie Allison stands at Liberty Place. Note the streetcar tracks circling her. Her father, Alexander Allison, shot thousands of photos around New Orleans. He worked for the New Orleans Sewage and Water Board. His job took him all over the city.

L&N Trains to New Orleans

New Orleans History L&N Railroad Station Canal Street

L&N dining car, 1920s

The railroad operated four “name” trains to New Orleans:

Azalean – Cincinnati to New Orleans. The Azalean picked up Pullman sleepers from New York in Cincinnati. So, the route offered through sleeper service from that city.

Crescent – While many folks associate the Crescent with Southern Railroad, it actually arrived and departed in New Orleans via L&N. The Crescent traveled over tracks from several railroads in its journey from New Orleans to New York City. The train used L&N’s tracks from Montgomery, AL, to New Orleans. Therefore, it terminated at the L&N station, rather than the Southern terminal. That station stood at Canal and Basin Streets.

New Orleans History L&N Railroad Station Canal Street

L&N advertising poster

Gulf Wind – New Orleans to Jacksonville. The L&N operated the New Orleans – Florida Limited on this route, 1925-1949. So, that train used the older, heavyweight cars. The railroad replaced the older equipment with streamliner trainsets and changed its name.

Piedmont Limited – This train followed the same route as the Crescent. The Crescent train overshadowed the Piedmont Limited in popularity.

Transfer to UPT

The L&N station serviced passengers until the opening of Union Passenger Terminal in 1954. The city demolished the station shortly afterward.





NORTA 933 on the Riverfront Line? #StreetcarSaturday

NORTA 933 on the Riverfront Line? #StreetcarSaturday

NORTA 933 on Riverfront?


900-series NORTA 933 on the Riverfront line, 20-Jan-2008 (courtesy Commons user KimonBerlin)

NORTA 933 on Riverfront?

I don’t remember seeing this photo before. After Hurricane Katrina, it took some time to get both the St. Charles and Canal lines back to fully operational status. The green arch roofs were, for the most part OK, but the red, 2000-series cars flooded.

Getting the streetcars running

The overhead wiring on St. Charles was a mess, but it was for the most part fine on Canal. The rail department borrowed a voltage rectifier from MBTA in Boston, connected it to Entergy power, and was able to deliver power to the Canal line in December, 2005. After a few test runs, it was decided to run the 1923-vintage cars on Canal while the Von Dullens were repaired/rebuilt.

Historic Landmark concerns.

The designation of the St. Charles line and its 35 900-series streetcars as a National Historic Landmark is very important for NORTA and the city. The decision to operate the green streetcars on “revenue runs” off St. Charles was technically a violation of the landmark designation. The line and those streetcars were supposed to be frozen-in-time at the point it was put on all the lists.

Yeah, that’s important, but Hurricane Katrina was quite the exception. The city, and NORTA knew that running those streetcars was essential for showing that the city was on the road to recovery. Things were indeed looking less dire by December, 2005.

900s on Canal Street

Seeing the green streetcars run on Canal Street was a flashback for those of us who remember them from 1964 and earlier. The arch roofs had been a mainstay on the Canal iine since the “Palace” cars were retired in the mid-1930s. They ran on Canal until the line was converted to bus operation in May, 1964. From the 1930s, the Canal and West End lines ran the 800s and 900s. West End converted to buses in 1948.

New Places for the 900s

In addition to once again running up and down Canal Street, the aftermath of Katrina saw the green streetcars run on track that didn’t exist when they were limited to St. Charles in 1964. One year after Canal re-opened in 2004, the “Carrollton Spur” went operational. Every third 2000-series Von Dullen car on the line made a right turn, running down N. Carrollton Avenue, to City Park. They pulled into a two-track terminal there at Esplanade Avenue and Bayou St. John, then returned to downtown.


Since the 400-series arch roofs were also damaged in the storm’s flooding, the Riverfront line had the same issues Canal did. NORTA decided to have the 900s make a left turn at Canal and the riverfront. They ran down to Esplanade Avenue, along the riverfront edge of the French Quarter. When they hit the French Market Terminal (stop 1 on the Riverfront line), they changed directions and returned to Cemeteries and City Park.

New Orleans: The Canal Streetcar Line
by Edward J. Branley

cemeteries terminal

New Orleans: The Canal Streetcar Line

The clanging of a streetcar’s bell conjures images of a time when street railways were a normal part of life in the city. Historic Canal Street represents the common ground between old and new with buses driving alongside steel rails and electric wires that once guided streetcars.
New Orleans was one of the first cities to embrace street railways, and the city’s love affair with streetcars has never ceased. New Orleans: The Canal Streetcar Line showcases photographs, diagrams, and maps that detail the rail line from its origin and golden years, its decline and disappearance for almost 40 years, and its return to operation. From the French Quarter to the cemeteries, the Canal Line ran through the heart of the city and linked the Creole Faubourgs with the new neighborhoods that stretched to Lake Pontchartrain.

Product Details

ISBN: 9781531610920
ISBN-10: 1531610927
Publisher: Arcadia Publishing Library Editions
Publication Date: March 24th, 2004
Pages: 130
Language: English

Retail Giants – Tennessee Williams / New Orleans Literary Festival – FRIDAY!

Retail Giants – Tennessee Williams / New Orleans Literary Festival – FRIDAY!

Retail Giants

Retail Giants at the Tennessee Williams Festival!

The Tennessee Williams / New Orleans Literary Festival is a fantastic annual event. It’s in the French Quarter. I’ve been asked to be part of a panel titled Retail Giants. The panel will be on Friday, March 23, at 10am. It will be in the Queen Anne Ballroom of the Hotel Monteleone.

The Festival runs from Wednesday, March 21 to Sunday, March 25. Festival HQ is open on the Mezzanine level of the Hotel Monteleone. The hotel is at 214 Royal Street. HQ operates from Thursday-Sunday, from 9am to 4pm. There’s lots of interesting talks, discussion panels, and other events. Check out the full festival schedule.

Retail Giants – The Panel

Here’s the blurb on the panel:


New Orleans is a nostalgic town that cherishes its diehard institutions, particularly the retailers who became household names over multiple generations. David Johnson of the New Orleans Museum of Art moderates a panel of authors whose work chronicles where New Orleanians made groceries, furnished homes, and browsed for bric-a-brac. David Cappello is the biographer of John G. Schwegmann; Ed Branley writes about Krauss Department Store, and John Magill is the author of a recent book about that popular commercial and social thoroughfare, The Incomparable Magazine Street.

I’m looking forward to this. The authors know their stuff! So, I’ll be the lightweight in this group.

Krauss, Maison Blanche, and Streetcars!

mb book

Maison Blanche Department Stores, by Edward J. Branley

I was invited to participate on this panel because of the latest book, Krauss – The New Orleans Value Store, but my earlier book, Maison Blanche Department Stores, fits the subject wonderfully. I’ll be talking both Krauss and MB, and how retail evolved on Canal Street. There’s lots of New Orleans history here, as Canal Street was the nexus of many separate communities, as folks came downtown to shop. Therefore, we’ll talk a bit about streetcars as well, since they were an integral part of shopping on Canal and Magazine Streets.

There will be a lot of stories and fun on Friday. I’m looking forward to seeing y’all there.

French Quarter Map 1808

French Quarter Map 1808

French Quarter Map 1808

French Quarter Map 1808

Map of the French Quarter, 1808

French Quarter Map 1808 – Gilbert Joseph Pilié

My Facebook friend Cathe Mizell-Nelson shared this fascinating map from The Historic New Orleans Collection. While there are several maps showing the streets of the French Quarter in the 18th/early 19th centuries, this one lists property owners. The cartographer is Gilbert Joseph Pilié. Here’s HNOC’s bio of Pilié:

Elected city surveyor of New Orleans 1818-1842. He surveyed New Orleans area lakes and helped establish forts between Bayou St. John and Mobile, Alabama. Gilbert Joseph Pilie began his New Orleans career as a teacher of drawing on Royal street, and as a scenic artist for the St. Philip Street Theatre and Olympic Circus. In 1818 he was elected city surveyor, a post he held until 1842. He was responsible for several memorials such as a triumphal arch honoring General Lafayette, and designed the riverfront vegetable markets. He was also involved in surveying the New Orleans area lakes and the establishment of forts between Bayou St. John and Mobile, Alabama.He married Therese Anne Deyant and had several children, including his son Louis Joseph, who succeeded him as city surveyor. DOB ca. 1789 DOD 1846-06-29

This map isn’t bad for a 19-year old!

Map Detail

The breakdown of property owners is an awesome resource, putting families on specific blocks of the Quarter. This isn’t a hi-res image, so it fuzzes out. You’ll need to contact HNOC to dig deeper.

A significant feature of this map is what’s not there on the eastern edge. The City of New Orleans comes to halt at what is now Esplanade Avenue. The Marigny Plantation is to the right on this map. Bernard Mandeville de Marigny began subdividing the plantation at this time. So, what we now know as Faubourg Marigny isn’t of interest to Pilié.

Church Property

The area around what we now call the “Old Ursuline Convent” is also interesting. The present-day convent/museum is at the corner of Ursulines and Chartres. The property runs down Chartres to St. Mary’s Italian Church. On this map, the convent property runs from Ursulines, all the way to Rue du Quartier, which is now Barracks street. Notice that Rue Hospital (now Governor Nicholls Street) doesn’t even go through the property. Since Pilié’s interest was identifying property owners, this block wasn’t of interest. The block between Governor Nicholls and Barracks was owned by the government, prior to the Louisiana Purchase. Just before the transfer of Louisiana to the Americans, the Spanish shifted ownership of this property to the church. The archdiocese owned that block well past the Civil War.

Legendary Locals of New Orleans
by Edward J. Branley

Since its founding in 1718 by the LeMoyne brothers, New Orleans has cemented its status as one of the busiest ports on the continent. Producing many unique and fascinating individuals, Colonial New Orleans was a true gumbo of personalities. The city lays claim to many nationalities, including Spaniards Baron Carondelet, Don Andres Almonester, and French sailors and privateers Jean Lafitte and Dominique Youx. Businessmen like Daniel Henry Holmes and Isidore Newman contributed to local flavor, as did musicians Buddy Bolden, Joe “King” Oliver, Louis Armstrong, and Louis Prima.

War heroes include P.G.T. Beauregard and Andrew Jackson Higgins. Avery Alexander, A.P. Tureaud, and Ernest Morial paved the way for African Americans to lead the city. Kate Chopin, Lafcadio Hearn, Ellen DeGeneres, Mel Ott, Archie Manning, and Drew Brees have kept the world entertained, while chefs and restaurateurs like Leah Chase and the Brennans sharpened the city’s culinary chops. Legendary Locals of New Orleans pays homage to the notables that put spice in that gumbo.

Buggy Rides: Five Reasons you should take a tour!

Buggy Rides: Five Reasons you should take a tour!

Buggy Rides!

Buggy Rides

Elvis the Mule!

Buggy Rides: Five reasons to hop in the carriage

1. It’s OLD.

Taking a buggy ride is taking a step back into the past. I’m doing a bit of research for a fiction project set in the Civil War. In 1861, the first mule-drawn streetcars come to Canal Street. They blend in with all the horse- and mule-drawn wagons and Hanson cabs taking goods and people around the city. When you book a buggy ride, you step back into that. OK, OK, I’ll grant that it’s a challenge to send yourself back to 1861 when Decatur Street is full of traffic, but once you turn off onto the less-jammed streets, you can close your eyes and listen to the clop-clop of the mule’s feet.


Buggy rides used to get a bad rap from the local tour guides and those of us with an interest in history. Some of the tall tales told by buggy drivers were awful. When people would come to the old New Orleans Mailing List (pre-WWW days) with history questions, one of the common responses was, “That’s buggy ride history.” No longer! Buggy drivers are licensed tour guides. They have to pass the same history test the on-foot tour guides do. They give you an informative story


Seeing the city from a buggy allows you to cover more ground in a short period of time. It’s a good combination with a traditional walking tour. Get my friend Loki to show you around the Garden District and/or the Cemeteries, on one of his Two Chicks Walking Tours jaunts. Take in all the architectural history of the Quarter with Grey Sweeney Perkins, on one of her Friends of the Cabildo tours. Then ride a buggy for a totally different experience!


You don’t want to hear the tour? Just climb into the buggy with your honey and ride around. Take in the Quarter. Cuddle.

5. It’s FUN!

Day or night, riding a buggy around the Quarter is just plain fun. It’s  great way for a family with kids to get off their feet for a little while. Older folks can get out of the sun while still “doing something.”

Take The Tour!

Buggy Rides

Elvis can’t wait to meet you!

Want to take a buggy ride? Contact my friend Nancy Landry. She and Elvis will gladly show you around!

The Irish-Italian Podcast!

The Irish-Italian Podcast!

The Irish-Italian connection/tradition originates with the two cultures merging in New Orleans after WWII.

The Irish

In terms of numbers and influence, the Irish were first in New Orleans. O’Reilly is an outlier on this; the Irish influence begins in the 1820s.  That first wave of Irish immigrants provided the manpower to build the New Basin Canal.

Crescent City Living’s video on the Irish Channel, produced by Crista Rock, with commentary from NOLA History Guy.

The Irish in New Orleans

Love New Orleans? Thank an Irishman

The story of St. Alphonsus and St. Mary’s Assumption churches

The Irish Cemeteries

Ten Contributions the Irish Made to New Orleans

These are articles about the Irish I’ve written over the years. This podcast doesn’t go into a ton of detail, since its focus is how all these folks ended up in the same parade. 🙂 Don’t let that deter you from looking further into the Irish. Their story is an important part of the bigger story of New Orleans.

The Italians

In many ways, the Italians get more exposure in the touristy writing than the Irish. That’s mainly because the Italians all but took over the French Quarter. This was in the 1880s and 1890s. The Italians left a lasting mark on the French Quarter. It’s the one neighborhood just about every visitor sees. Naturally, this is going to leave an impression. The Italian groceries, St. Mary’s Italian church (next to the convent), so many other Italian-owned businesses. Even the building the Louisiana State Museum currently uses as a warehouse for their massive collection was at one time a pasta factory!

Anyway, I wasn’t kidding about going to the Beauregard-Keyes House, either. The mafia connection is fascinating!

It’s not all about the Quarter, though, for the Italians.

Five Italian Contributions to New Orleans

The Hotel Monteleone was built by Italians

So, the Italians migrated from the Downtown side of Canal Street. They went to Gentilly, Metairie, and St. Bernard Parish. The folks who went out to Metairie teamed up with the Irish for the big parade.