Streetcar accidents – NOPSI 888 back at Carrollton Station

Streetcar accidents – NOPSI 888 back at Carrollton Station

Streetcar accidents happen when automobile drivers don’t look

streetcar accidents

NOPSI 888 at Carrollton Station, after a traffic accident.

Streetcar accidents

Just this week, a garbage truck turned in front of NORTA 900, on Canal Street. Streetcar accidents happen once or twice a year.

1947 accident

Today’s photo shows NOPSI 888 with one end bashed in. The photo was shot on 13-May-1947. An automobile hit the streetcar earlier that day. Several lines still operated streetcars in 1947. The photographer notes the date, but not the circumstances of the accident.

Streetcar accidents began when automobiles took to the streets. In my book, New Orleans: The Canal Streetcar Line, I’ve got a photo of a Ford Model T, right after it encountered a streetcar. The accident occurred in front of Warren Easton High School, in 1914. The automobile lost.

Handling accidents

Streetcar-versus-automobile accidents present challenges for all concerned. Damage to the vehicles generates repair expenses. The transit operator (in this case, NOPSI) has to deal with claims from riders. Those claims often lead to lawsuits. While the transit operator is usually not at fault, the company has the deeper pockets. Drivers carry insurance, but often not enough to settle injuries for 10+ transit riders.

NOPSI’s lawyers retained a photographer. Charles Franck Studios had the job for years. They sent out a photographer to accident scenes. NOPSI towed the wrecked streetcars back to Carrollton Station. The photographer documented the damage. Those photos ended up as evidence in lawsuits.


This streetcar is part of the 800-series. They looked almost identical to the 900s currently running on the St. Charles Line. These streetcars used mechanical doors, not unlike a school bus door. The 900s have automatic doors.

NOPSI retained 35 of the 900-series when the Canal line ended streetcar service in 1964. With only a couple of exceptions, they destroyed the 800s.

Streetcar repair

Carrollton Station served as the main maintenance and repair facility for streetcars. NORTA’s Rail Department operates out of Carrollton Station today. While the Arabella and Canal Barns housed streetcars, they came to Carrollton for big repairs.

Accident photos

This Franck Studios photo is part of the HNOC collection. Since NOPSI received city subsidies for transit operations, the photo is in the public domain.

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.





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.


Sunset Limited dining and snacking from New Orleans to Los Angeles

Sunset Limited dining and snacking from New Orleans to Los Angeles

Sunset Limited dining across the West

sunset limited dining

Southern Pacific ad for the Sunset Limited, 1950s

Sunset Limited Dining

sunset limited dining

Southern Pacific dining car, ca 1916. (Courtesy

Traveling from New Orleans to Los Angeles on the Sunset Limited is a two-night affair. The Amtrak incarnation of the train departs New Orleans at 9am. The train stops in Houston in the afternoon. Passengers enjoy lunch near El Paso the next day. They then travel overnight through New Mexico and Arizona. The train terminates in Los Angeles in the early morning.

If passengers choose to eat breakfast on the train after departure, that means six meals en route. Bad food meant fewer riders. So, meals were high quality.


sunset limited dining

Sunset Limited menu, 1946

The Sunset Limited changed to “streamliner” service in 1950. Southern Pacific offered older, “heavyweight” service prior to 1950. The heavyweight train operated with steam locomotives. SP switched to diesels in 1949.

The heavyweight version of the Sunset Limited included a dining car and a lounge car. Passengers chose between full service meals, or a limited menu in the lounge.




sunset limited dining

Sunset Limited menu, 1946


This 1946 menu has some New Orleans touches, like fried oysters remoulade. The menu requires diners to check their choices. This is likely because most of the stewards on trains in the 1940s were African-American men. The best way to avoid confusion and complaints from white customers was to limit their interaction with the stewards. Note that this doesn’t mean the stewards were unable to take an order. It’s more likely the railroad heard complaints from passengers looking to blame someone for their own issues.

1950 Streamliners

sunset limited dining

Streamliner lounge car on the Sunset Limited, 1950s

Sunset Limited dining changed radically with the debut of streamliner service in 1950. One of the trainsets featured two New Orleans-named cars, a diner, “Audubon Room” and a lounge, “French Quarter”. Both matched the streamliner livery, corrugated steel with a maroon stripe across the top of the cars.

Audubon Dining Car

sunset limited dining

Audubon diner on the Sunset Limited (Budd ad, 1950)

Fine dining continued on the streamlined Sunset Limited, in the Audubon Room. The blue tones of the brand-new Budd diner encouraged passengers to enjoy meals. The car also featured some of Audubon’s bird paintings. The menu in the new diner likely wasn’t much different from the 1946 version above. So, diners feasted on their oysters in a more modern setting.

French Quarter Lounge

sunset limited dining

French Quarter Lounge, 1950. (Budd ad)

SP promoted the new Sunset Limited heavily. They featured the French Quarter Lounge car in brochures and advertisements.

Sunset Limited dining

French Quarter Lounge, 1950 (Budd ad)

The lounge’s “wrought-iron” around the bar and along the walls gave the car the feel of a New Orleans club.

“Pride of Texas” Coffee Shop

sunset limited dining

Pride of Texas (courtesy Texas Compound)

In addition to the restaurant and lounge, the Sunset Limited offered coffee and snack service. Sunset Limited dining meant several meals while crossing Texas. They named the coffee shop the Pride of Texas. The decor here focused on common Texas themes, such as the longhorn on the wall.

sunset limited dining

Pride of Texas coffee shop, 1950. (Budd ad)

Southern Pacific ordered five streamliner trainsets from Budd for the Sunset Limited. It’s unclear if the railroad named all of the diners, lounges, and cafes the same, or if the other trainsets had different names.

sunset limited dining

Pride of Texas menu, 1952 (courtesy Texas Compound)

Passengers welcomed the chance to get up and walk around. The sleeper compartments offered as much comfort as possible. While they provided privacy, sometimes you need to get up and around.

sunset limited dining

Pride of Texas (courtesy Texas Compound)

A real estate development project, Texas Compound, restored Pride of Texas. They display the car at their location.

End of an era

Audubon and French Quarter, in Daylight Livery (Courtesy CSRM)

Southern Pacific transferred the Sunset Limited to Amtrak in 1971. The national company operated the “heritage” equipment on the route. They eventually switched to Superliner service. They sold the hertiage cars. Some became private varnish. Others became museum exhibits. SP retained French Quarter (Budd #2987, SP #291) as a business car. The railroad painted the car in Daylight livery. They donated the lounge car to the California State Railway Museum in 1998. The museum also acquired Audubon that same year. As of 2015, both cars operated in private service. It would be an interesting experience to ride in the original French Quarter, tagging along behind the current Sunset Limited!


sunset limited dining

Superliner lounge seating. (courtesy Matthew Neleigh)

As mentioned above, Amtrak continued the route in 1971. Sunset Limited dining became Superliner dining.

sunset limited dining

Superliner Lounge bar and attendant (courtesy Ben Schumin)

While the cars no longer have unique names, they offer quality service.

sunset limited dining

Superliner Dining Car (courtesy Ben Schumin)

Passengers enjoy full meals in the dining cars and snacks in the lounge cars.

Grunewald Hotel and Double-Truck Streetcar, 1911 #streetcarMonday

Grunewald Hotel and Double-Truck Streetcar, 1911 #streetcarMonday

Grunewald Hotel would become the Roosevelt Hotel

Grunewald Hotel

Grunewald Hotel. J. H. Coquville, 1911

Grunewald Hotel

“One of the most up-to-date and finest hotels in the U.S.” is the caption on this 1911 postcard of the Grunewald Hotel. The hotel occupies the corner of Canal and Baronne Streets. While it does not occupy the full block fronting Canal Street, the hotel stretches from Baronne Street to Roosevelt Way (O’Keefe Avenue) behind the storefronts.

Louis Grunewald built the hotel in 1892, on the site of the Grunewald Music Hall. The music venue burned down. He opened the hotel in time for Carnival in 1893. Grunewald later expanded the hotel with six-story annex. The annex opened in 1908. About that time, Louis turned control of the hotel over to his son, Theodore.

The Cave

Grunewald Hotel

“The Cave” night club at the Grunewald Hotel. (Detroit Publishing Company)

The expansion of the Grunewald Hotel included a night club called “The Cave.” The Cave was decorated as, well, a cave, with stalactites, stalagmites, running water, and vines. The night club regularly booked “Dixieland” bands. We now refer to that style of jazz as “Traditional.” After the the Vaccaros bought the hotel (1923), they closed The Cave. They re-opened the night club in 1935. They named the new club, “The Blue Room”, and featured big-band music.

Streetcars in 1911

Double-truck streetcars replaced the single-truck Ford, Bacon, and Davis streetcars in the 1910s. New Orleans Railway and Light, Co., purchased double-trucks from Brill and Barney and Smith. In 1915, NORwy&Lt purchased a new style double-truck from Southern Car Company. They bought arch roof streetcars from Southern Car Company. These become the original 400-series. They ran mostly on the St. Charles/Tulane belts. Perley A. Thomas designed the arch roofs for Southern. He used the design to start his own streetcar manufacturing company, in High Point, North Carolina.

Barney and Smith

grunewald hotel

Barney and Smith streetcar. (NOPSI drawing via Hennick and Charlton)

Postcards at the turn of the 20th Century were often colorized photographs. This is the case here. Artists usually painted over power lines in the photographs. The streetcar passing in front of the Grunewald in this postcard has a single trolley pole on the roof. Assuming the artist didn’t paint out a second one, this means the streetcar was likely made by Barney and Smith. These streetcars operated on Canal Street and on the Spanish Fort line. The electrified version of the Spanish Fort excursion line opened in 1911.

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Norfolk Southern Lake Pontchartrain Bridge – longest in the world

Norfolk Southern Lake Pontchartrain Bridge – longest in the world

Norfolk Southern Lake Pontchartrain Bridge is the longest train bridge in the world.


Norfolk Southern Lake Pontchartrain Bridge


Rail operations around New Orleans require crossing over water. Lots of water. Eastbound trains traveled over land. They crossed the Chef Menteur Pass and Rigolets Pass. This lengthened trips. So, crossing Lake Pontchartrain rather than going around it made sense, but it was a challenge. The New Orleans and Northeastern Railroad accepted the challenge in 1883. The NO&NE was incorporated in 1868 as the Mandeville and Sulphur Springs Railroad. It became the NO&NE in 1871. The railroad completed track construction in 1883. William Harris Hardy, a NO&NE vice-president, proposed the bridge in 1883. The railroad built the Lake Pontchartrain bridge the following year. Hardy rode the first train across the bridge in November, 1884.

Swamp on either side

The bridge spans 5.8 miles of open water, but its length covered an additional 15 miles of marsh. The southern approach required 12 miles of bridge and an additional 3 miles on the north end. So, the bridge is the longest railroad bridge in the world. In 1896, the railroad modified the bridge. They built embankments on both sides. So, the bridge itself only spans the 5.8 miles across the lake.

NO&NE to Southern Railway


Southern Railway acquired NO&NE in 1916. While it was part of the Southern Railway system, it maintained a bit of its original identity. Equipment operating on NO&NE carried the original railroad’s sub-lettering, below the Southern Railway identification.
In 1969, Southern Railway fully merged NO&NE into their Alabama Great Southern subsidiary. NO&NE ceased to exist. Southern Railway merged in 1990 to become Norfolk Southern. Norfolk Southern owns/operates the bridge today.


Hurricane Katrina wiped out 5 of the 5.8 miles of track on the bridge in 2005. So,NS immediately began repairs to this critical connection. The first train after the hurricane crossed the lake sixteen days later.

Trains on the bridge


Freight trains regularly cross the bridge daily. The Amtrak Crescent (#19 and #20) use the bridge to travel from New Orleans to New York City’s Penn Station daily as well.