Milneburg 1927 – Pontchartrain Railroad

Milneburg 1927 – Pontchartrain Railroad

Milneburg 1927, and the Orleans Levee Board

milneburg 1927

Milneburg 1927

Photo of what is now the intersection of Elysian Fields Avenue and Robert E. Boulevard, 4-March-1927. Photo shot by an unidentified photographer for the Orleans Levee Board.

The Orleans Levee Board shot a lot of film in the late 1920s in Milneburg. They prepared for land reclamation projects in the area. This shot, shows how far the lake shoreline extended south. The levee at the time blocked the lake at what is now Robert E. Lee Boulevard. So, with the tracks running the length of what is now Elysian Fields Avenue, pinpointing this photo is not difficult.

Milneburg reclamation

Land reclamation in Milneburg began in the Fall of 1927. The process involved building barriers in the water, then pumping out the water behind the barrier. When the water was gone, move the barrier out further, drain that. Keep going until pumping the water wasn’t practical. By mid-1928, reclamation advanced to the lighthouse. So, in modern terms, reclamation started at Robert E. Lee, advanced to Leon C. Simon, and terminated at what is now Lakeshore Drive. So, the lighthouse ends up in the middle of the Pontchartrain Beach Amusement park. Now, it’s right next to the UNO Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism school.

The railroad

The Pontchartrain Railroad diminished dramatically in the mid-1920s. Milneburg’s usefulness as a commercial port facility declined after the Southern Rebeilion. By the 1880s, the railroad, along with restaurants and hotels in the area, re-branded. They sold the ride out to the lake as a day trip or overnight entertainment excursion. While the re-branding was successful for about twenty years, the area lost its attractiveness. Fishing camps dominated the Milneburg landscape in the 1920s. The railroad connected those camps with the city. The railroad’s profitability dropped.

The reference to “L&N tracks” on the photo goes to ownership. The Louisville & Nashville Railroad acquired the Pontchartrain Railroad in the mid-1880s.

cross-posted to Pontchartrain Railroad History

 

 

Zoom Talk 2020-03-19 – Golden Age of Canal Street

Zoom Talk 2020-03-19 – Golden Age of Canal Street

Zoom Talk 2020-03-19

Zoom Talk 2020-03-19

https://www.dropbox.com/s/e0mrfn3mftjm4dz/zoom_0.mp4?dl=0

I’ve presented this talk to several groups in the last year or so. With everyone holed up because of Covid-19, I did the talk yesterday (19-March) via Zoom. It’s a bit long, because I was sorting out the use of Zoom, so you’ll need to fast-forward through the first 20 minutes of the talk to get to its actual beginning.

Also, TIL: it’s too long for YouTube. I’ll edit out that first portion and get it up there over the weekend. If you’d like to view it now, the link will let you download the MP4 version.

Enjoy!

 

Cemetery Scene with Railroad Tracks

Cemetery Scene with Railroad Tracks

Cemetery scene with railroad tracks along I-10. (cross-posted to Pontchartrain Railroad – N Scale)

cemetery scene

“Cemetery Scene” by Jeffrey H. Goldman, 1985 (via HNOC)

Cemetery Scene

Local architect and artist Jeffrey H. Goldman painted this “Cemetery Scene” in 1985. It depicts a cemetery from the other side of a single railroad track. This painting and several others by Mr. Goldman are now held by the Historic New Orleans Collection.

Rabbit holes

I try to post three or four images of old New Orleans daily to social media. It’s a great way to promote my books. The process of choosing those photos is rarely simple. While it’s easy to find images and tie them to themes in my books, I end up going down rabbit holes. For example, I may find a great image of the Lakefront, then see another with details that merit further research. Then I look at other images related to that one, and down and down I go. It’s fun, even though it can be time consuming.

Finding this Goldman painting is typical. I sought Boyd Cruise paintings, since he did so many of buildings in the French Quarter. I expanded the search to include other artists, and Goldman came up.

The Cemetery

This “Cemetery Scene” is of Greenwood Cemetery, viewed from the other side of the New Orleans Terminal Company track running parallel to the cemetery. Greenwood opened in 1852. Its western side was on the east bank of the New Basin Canal. The trains ran between the cemetery and canal.

The Trains

Norfolk Southern Railroad owns the track. The ownership runs through the old New Orleans Terminal Company. Southern Railway acquired NOTC in the early 1900. Now, it’s all Norfolk Southern.

This particular track connected old Union Station with the “back belt” tracks that run from Metairie, out to New Orleans East. Now, it’s only used by passenger trains coming and going from Union Passenger Terminal. While several trains used the track prior to the Amtrak consolidation, now it’s only used by the Amtrak Crescent. The video above shows the Amtrak Crescent traveling the track shown in Goldman’s Cemetery Scene. It’s shot from the other side of I-10, for safety reasons.

This video is from a couple of days prior to the cemetery scene. It shows the Crescent after it’s switched onto the Back Belt and is heading out of town.

The Artist

Mr. Jeffrey H. Goldman was born on February 11, 1941. He was an architect, photographer, writer, and artist. He passed away on September 4, 2010.

Hickory Creek Private Railcar on the New Orleans #BackBelt

Hickory Creek Private Railcar on the New Orleans #BackBelt

Hickory Creek is an ex-New York Central observation car.

hickory creek

Private varnish “Hickory Creek,” bringing up the rear of the Amtrak Crescent #20, 30-Dec-2019. (Edward Branley photo)

Hickory Creek on the #BackBelt

The ex-New York Central car, Hickory Creek, brought up the rear on the Amtrak Crescent, on its way to Penn Station on 30-December-2019. I don’t know the details of this particular trip for Hickory Creek, if they came down just to New Orleans, or if this was a return from going all the way out to Los Angeles. Either way, the car headed back north on Monday morning.

New York Central’s 20th Century Limited

hickory creek

Poster for the New York Central’s 20th Century Limited, featuring the 1948 trainset.

Hickory Creek was one of the “sleeper observation” cars put into service by the New York Central in 1948. So, the railroad switched the train to diesel (EMD units) in 1945, ordering new trainsets as well. General of the Army Dwight D. Eisenhower rode the inaugural run in 1948. The train ran until 1967.

Consist

So, the train began operation in 1902. A typical 20th Century Limited consist, including Hickory Creek, in 1965 looked like this:

  • E7A diesel locomotive: NYC 4025;
  • E8A diesel locomotive: NYC 4080;
  • E7A diesel locomotive: NYC 4007;
  • MB Class Baggage-mail car: NYC 5018;
  • CSB Class Baggage-dormitory car: NYC 8979;
  • PB Class Coach: NYC 2942;
  • DG Class Grill-diner: NYC 450;
  • PAS Class Sleepercoach (16-Single Room 10-Double Room): NYC 10811;
  • PAS Class Sleepercoach (16-Single Room 10-Double Room): NYC 10817;
  • PS Class Sleeper (22-roomette): NYC 10355 BOSTON HARBOR;
  • DKP Class Kitchen-Lounge Car: NYC 477;
  • DE Class Dining Room Car: NYC 406;
  • PS Class Sleeper (10-roomette 6-double bedroom): NYC 10171 CURRENT RIVER;
  • PS Class Sleeper (12-double bedroom): NYC 10511 PORT OF DETROIT;
  • Class PS Sleeper (12-double bedroom): NYC 10501 PORT BYRON;
  • Class PSO Sleeper-Buffet-Lounge-Observation (5-double bedroom): NYC 10633 HICKORY CREEK.

(Source: Wikipedia)

Hickory Creek after the New York Central

Since the railroad discontinued the 20th Century Limited before the creation of Amtrak in 1971, the rolling stock didn’t go over to the new operator. Ringling Brothers Circus bought Hickory Creek. Since they didn’t need Pullman quality, the circus used it as dorm-style housing. They ripped out the interior of the car.

hickory creek

Hickory Creek, prior to the 2014 restoration. (Fred Heide photo)

In 2014, Star Trak, Inc., acquired Hickory Creek. They restored the car for private operation. So, the team modified original Pullman Standard design of five bedrooms to four. Since modern operations of private cars involve hitching on Amtrak trains, the team reduced the bedrooms to add showers. Trains Magazine published an article on the restoration by Mr. Fred Heide in November, 2014.

Modern floorplan

hickory creek

Post-restoration floor plan of Hickory Creek.

In addition to reducing the number of bedrooms, the 2014 restoration changed the galley area. The 1948 design of Hickory Creek included a small galley, for preparing snacks and drinks. So, the Star Trak team converted the space into a full-service kitchen. Again, this fits with modern use of private cars. They’re designed to be independent of the trains pulling them.

hickory creek

Observation area of the restored Hickory Creek. (photo courtesy Simon Pielow)

While the bedrooms and galley changed a bit, the team kept the rear observation area true to the 1948 design.

Private Rail on the #BackBelt

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Private car Hickory Creek on the #BackBelt in New Orleans, behind an Amtrak baggage/dorm car. (Edward Branley photo)

I spend a lot of mornings at the PJ’s Coffee Shop at 5555 Canal Boulevard. The baristas here are great and the regulars are nice folks. Regulars occasionally ask me why I get up and record/photograph the Crescent as it heads out of town. It’s pretty much the same consist each morning, but then there are the days when something extra brings up the rear.

 

Streetcars Canals Baseball #StreetcarMonday in Mid-City

Streetcars Canals Baseball #StreetcarMonday in Mid-City

Streetcars Canals Baseball in Mid-City New Orleans

Streetcars Canals Baseball

Heinemann Park, 1915

Streetcars, Canals, Baseball!

In one of our podcast conversations with Derby Gisclair, we discussed aerial photos of Heinemann Park/Pelican Stadium. Derby explains the neighborhood around the stadium used by the Pelicans baseball club. While Heinemann Park wasn’t the first ballpark used by the AA-club, it was their home for most of their tenure.

This 1915 photo is amazing. It shows a football field, chalked out over the outfield, and a racing oval behind the fence. Derby suspects the racing oval dates from the amusement park the stadium replaced.

City Park Avenue to Tulane Avenue

streetcars canals baseball

Aerial view of the New Canal, running out to Lake Pontchartrain at the top, 1915

The Pelicans played ball at Crescent City Park, later known as Sportsman’s Park, until 1901. They moved to Tulane Avenue that year. Heinemann built the ballpark at Tulane and S. Carrollton in 1915. The team moved there that year.

streetcars canals baseball

Here’s the area behind the Halfway House, City Park Avenue and the New Canal. It’s a bit grainy, but you can see the patch of ground where Sportsman’s Park was located. NORD eventually built St. Patrick’s Park, a few blocks down, at S. St. Patrick and the New Canal.

Getting to the ballgame

streetcars canals baseball

S. Carrollton Avenue bridge over the New Basin Canal. It was demolished when the canal was filled in, late 1940s.

Pelican Stadium sat very close to the New Canal. A set of railroad tracks separated the park from the waterway. So, bridge crossed the Canal there. The streetcars used that bridge, then turned onto Tulane Avenue to continue their inbound run. So, baseball fans from Uptown rode the St. Charles line to get to the ballpark. Folks coming from downtown rode the Tulane line, down Tulane Avenue, to the ballpark.

So, I know we’ve talked about the Tulane line, particularly when it operated in “belt” service with the St. Charles line. It seems line some things pop up regularly. But hey, this is baseball! The area around S. Carrollton and Tulane was a nexus. The Tulane/St. Charles belt crossed the New Canal here. Passenger trains coming to town from the West rolled by, on their way to the Illinois Central’s Union Station. Folks bowled across the street at Mid-City Lanes. Therefore, the corner is important to many folks.

Especially baseball fans.

After the streetcars

streetcars canals baseball

Pelican Stadium, ca 1950

Belt service on the St. Charles and Tulane lines was discontinued in 1950. So, after that time, fans from Uptown rode the streetcar to its new terminus at S. Carrollton and S. Claiborne Avenues. They transferred to the Tulane bus line from there. The Tulane line provided trackless trolley service until 1964. After 1964, Tulane used regular diesel buses. While the railroads worked with the city on the new Union Passenger Terminal, they trains still stopped right here, a convenience for Uptown passengers. The other “belt service” in New Orleans was on Canal and Esplanade, which we discuss in my book on the Canal line.

This photo is likely from 1950, because the city resurfaced Tulane Avenue. So, they removed the streetcar tracks, leaving the overhead wires for trackless trolleys.

After Pelican Stadium

The stadium became the Fontainebleau Hotel after the stadium was demolished. So, the hotel became a mini-storage facility later. Now it’s condos and storage units.

 

 

 

Bernadotte Street Yard in Mid-City #TrainThursday

Bernadotte Street Yard in Mid-City #TrainThursday

The Bernadotte Street Yard ran from Canal Blvd. to Jefferson Davis Parkway

Bernadotte Street Yard

Sanborn fire map from the 1940s, showing detail in Mid-City New Orleans. Full PDF here

Bernadotte Street Yard

Throughout the first half of the 20th Century, the portion of Mid-City that ran from Jefferson Davis Parkway to City Park Avenue was much narrower than the neighborhood is today. On the western side, Mid-City extended to the New Canal. From there, the neighborhood ran west, crossing Banks, Canal, and Bienville Streets. Mid-City hit a dead end one block past Bienville. So, the Bernadotte Street railroad yard began at Conti Street, essentially cutting off Mid-City from Bayou St. John.

New Orleans Terminal Company

The New Orleans Terminal Company (NOTC) built a railroad link from Canal and Basin Streets. It ran through Faubourg Treme, then down St. Louis Street, out to Florida Avenue. So, this connected the company’s passenger terminal downtown with the “Back Belt” owned by Southern Railway. Southern moved their passenger operations from their station on Press Street to Canal Street in 1916. Therefore, NOTC made a solid investment.

Industrial Corridor

In addition to connecting Canal Street with the Southern Railway’s track, the NOTC link became the foundation for an industrial corridor. So, NOTC built a railroad yard at the Canal Blvd end of the link. Southern Railway leased the yard from NOTC. Southern referred to it as the “Bernadotte Street Yard.”

Engine Facility

The image above is part of a Sanborn fire map from the 1940s. It shows the American Can Company factory on the right, on Orleans Avenue.The map details the various warehouses and other industrial sites. The borders are Jefferson Davis Parkway to N. Carrollton Avenue, Bienville Street to Orleans Avenue. Additionally, this area included a Southern Railway engine facility. That facility had a turntable and roundhouse.

To be contnued…

The Bernadotte Street Yard is relevant to a number of my research interests. So, I’ve got a fiction project in my head that may play out on passenger trains. That means Terminal Station. The station’s proximity to Krauss Department Store is also significant. I regularly watch rail activity on the Back Belt, on Canal Blvd. The mouth of the yard is not far away. In other words, come back periodically for more on this area.