Brief news article about a streetcar vs train accident in The Daily Picayune, 11-May-1912.
Passenger train No. 339, of the Illinois Central, crashed into the Royal Blue car at Washington Avenue, at 9 o’clock last night and knocked it into splinters. The car was dragged about 125 feet and part of it was on the front of the engine. The latter was derailed.
Howard Heldenfelder, of 136 S. Olympia, employed at the Krauss Store, was the only passenger in the streetcar. He sustained injuries about the chest and was badly shaken up. Jules Mainbaum, the motorman, was thrown from the platform, into a canal. He was fished out by the conductor, Thomas Burke. The motorman was injured about the head. He and Heldenfelder were taken to the hospital, where their injuries were found not very serious.
Interesting unpack here! A quick online search didn’t immediately turn up the route of IC train 339. It was either coming or going to Union Station, on Rampart Street. This was the “old” station, built in 1892. The city demolished it to make way for Union Passenger Terminal, in 1954.
A “Royal Blue car” ran on the Napoleon Avenue line. New Orleans Railway and Light Company (NORwy&Lt) operated streetcars in the city in 1912. The Napoleon line got the nickname “Royal Blue” because the roll board (the rolling sign indicating the streetcar’s route) was enclosed in blue glass. Since the streetcar was smashed into splinters, it likely was an all-wood Brill double-truck.
The motorman ended up in the New Basin Canal. This part of the canal is now part of the Palmetto canal system, that feeds into the 17th Street Canal and its pumping station near Metairie Road. Good thing the conductor could fish him out!
And then there’s the passenger, Mr. Heldenfelder. he lived at 136 S. Olympia. That’s across the street from St. Dominic School (now Christian Brothers School). To get to work at Krauss, he likely took the Canal line from Mid-City down to Basin Street.
Private varnish Berlin Sleeping Car rides to New York via the Amtrak Crescent.
Berlin Sleeping Car
The Amtrak Crescent 🌙 #20 pulled three private railcars to New York’s Penn Station (NYP on 25-February-2022. We talked about the two Patrick Henry railcars in a previous post. So, the private car, “Berlin” was the third car. This photo shows Berlin coupled to AMTK 69001, a “Bag-Dorm” car. Those cars provide baggage storage for passengers. Additionally, they contain roomettes for crew.
Berlin bears the paint scheme and livery of the American Orient Express, a private railcar charter, and previous owner of the car. While the livery is similar to the Patrick Henry cars, there are two operators.
Union Pacific Sleepers
Pullman-Standard built ten “Placid” series sleeper cars for Union Pacific in 1956. The cars contained 11 double-bed compartments. UP operated the Placids until 1971. The railroad turned them over to Amtrak at that time. Amtrak operated the sleepers throughout the 1970s. American Orient Express acquired three of the Placids. They renamed Placid Lake, “Berlin,” and Placid Waters, “Vienna.” Those names tied into the AOE theme.
The Placid series Pullmans were streamliners. While other railroads chose the corrugated style for their new cars, UP operated smooth-siders. The City of Portland and City of Los Angeles, two of UP’s “name trains,” operated the Placids. Amtrak took these cars into service as part of their “heritage” fleet. As the national passenger railroad acquired its own equipment, Viewliner and Superliner sleepers, they phased out the Placids. Private charter companies refurbished the older cars. They offered charter service, re-creating the “golden” age of streamliners.
The Berlin Sleeping Car’s website presents a detailed history of Placid Lake/Berlin. They include photos of the UP and Amtrak incarnations of Placid Lake. The site includes a floor plan of the car’s current interior. Berlin now contains six bedrooms and an kitchenette. This offers passengers a great more space than the eleven double-occupancy rooms of the UP design.
While private railcar adventures aren’t cheap, the charters usually are priced per trip. So, if you put together a group of twelve, it’s something to think about!
Amtrak #20 in New Orleans
The Amtrak Crescent operates daily service from New Orleans Union Passenger Terminal (NOL) to New York Penn Station (NYP), via Atlanta, Richmond, and DC. In this photo the Crescent pulls Berlin over the underpass at Canal Boulevard in New Orleans’ Lakeview neighborhood.
From Carnival time: three “private varnish cars,” The private rail PHCP (Patrick Henry Creative Promotions) cars, “Evelyn A. Henry” and “Warren R. Henry” joined the Berlin Sleeping Car on a northbound trip. The three cars brought up the rear of Amtrak Crescent 🌙 #20 on 25-February-2022. The train departed New Orleans Union Passenger Terminal (NOL) on time. It passed through New Orleans’ Mid-City, Lakeview, and Gentilly neighborhoods, before heading further east. Amtrak travels across Lake Pontchartrain on the Norfolk Southern “five mile bridge.” From there, it’s off to Atlanta, Richmond, DC, up to New York Penn Station (NYP).
The PHCP cars
Patrick Henry Creative Promotions operates two private cars. The Warren R. Henry is a Dome/Observation car. It’s particularly unique because the observation area at the rear contains an open platform. From the company’s website:
Built in 1955 for the Union Pacific Railroad, the dome car features panoramic viewing upstairs, a formal dining room or boardroom for meetings and a beautifully appointed lower level lounge with satellite TV, DVD and CD player. A complete bar is located on the lower level. An added feature is our open rear platform where guests can take in the fresh air at each stop along the way.
So, Warren R. Henry offers “vistadome” views, rear views from the back platform, and fine dining.
The Evelyn A. Henry provides the sleeping space for a private rail PHCP trip:
Built in 1954 for the Union Pacific, our deluxe sleeping car features 5 double bedrooms with lower and upper beds. A shower and bathroom is located between each pair of bedrooms. A new feature is the master suite “Grand Canyon” with queen size bed, private bathroom, TV/VCR, and a spacious closet.
Pullman built this car for UP. As private varnish, the car has been extensively modified from the classic bedroom/roomette configuration used by the railroad.
Coast to coast?
Private varnish cars often offer coast-to-coast service. They attach to the Southbound Crescent 🌙 #19 in New York. Amtrak pulls the cars to New Orleans. The railroad connects them to the Sunset Limited #1, heading out of NOL to Los Angeles. Five days of luxury travel.
Tomorrow; The Berlin Sleeping Car, which accompanied the PHCP cars on this trip.
Operation Lifesaver Amtrak, a salute to the safety education organization.
Operation Lifesaver Amtrak
AMTK 203, a GE P-42 Genesis locomotive, painted to mark 50 years of Operation Lifesaver. The organization was originally sponsored by Union Pacific Railroad. OL promoted rail safety in the early 1970s. After localized campaigns in Idaho, the program expanded. Operation Lifesaver presented rail safety education nationally. Operation Lifesaver Amtrak demonstrates that passenger trains take safety seriously. AMTK 203 pulled the Amtrak Crescent #20 out of New Orleans (NOL) on 27-January-2022. Additionally, this was the day Catalpa Falls brought up the rear. Catalpa Falls is a restored Pullman car.
Operation Lifesaver accomplishments
The safety organization delivers its message to schools, community and civic groups. Additionally, OLI.org offers materials for download. They engage with film and television productions. Spotting unsafe actions in films, the group contacts production companies. While In 2006, they engaged with Pixar. They spotted a problematic scene in “Cars.” The lead character-car, “Lightning McQueen” races a train. While their advocacy doesn’t work all the time, they do have accomplishments.
OL offers a wide range of printed material for sale. Clubs and groups can distribute those materials. Additionally, OL offers merch such as t-shirts and keychains. So, safety-conscious supporters carry the message around regularly.
Amtrak endorses the OL mission wholeheartedly. Passenger trains operate at high speeds. Unsafe drivers and pedestrians present challenges for Amtrak. Amtrak cooperates with the railroads that own the tracks. So, every grade crossing displays a sign with a toll-free number. A motorist can call if they get stuck. They call, dispatchers stop trains.
We got word that AMTK 203 was on its way to NOL. It departed NOL two days later. It was a double-treat for train-watchers that morning. The Canal Boulevard underpass is quite the photo spot. Thanks, rail enthusiasts on social media!
Catalpa Falls – Private railcar running on the Amtrak Crescent.
Edward J. Branley photo
Private railcar Catalpa Falls, bringing up the rear of the Amtrak Crescent #20 (Northbound), 27-January-2022. Catalpa Falls is a 1949-vintage 6-double-bedroom/lounge car, built for the Pennsylvania Railroad by the Pullman Company. The car ran on the PRR signature train, Broadway Limited, from 1949 to 1967. Amtrak sold the car off when it took over passenger operations in 1971. Catalpa Falls operates as a private charter car now. While Catalpa Falls was built by Pullman-Standard, Budd also made similar cars.
The Broadway Limited
The Pennsylvania Railroad operated the Broadway Limited from New York to Chicago, from 1912 to 1971. So, Amtrak continued the route from 1971 to 1995. In 1995, the national passenger railroad discontinued the route. By 1995, Amtrak lost over $18 million a year on the Broadway Limited. The Three Rivers replaced the train in 1995. Amtrak later discontinued the Three Rivers. The Lake Shore Limited now offers daily service from New York to Chicago.
According to its Wikipedia entry, the Broadway Limited in 1956 ran a 14-car consist:
The February 1956 Official Guide listed the westbound Broadway Limited (Train 29) consist as having fourteen cars normally assigned: nine sleeping cars between New York and Chicago, one additional sleeping car from New York continuing through to Los Angeles on the Santa Fe’s Super Chief, the twin-unit dining car, lounge car, and observation car.
One of the sleeping cars at the time was Catalpa Falls. Additionally, PRR ordered replacements for their 1938 Broadway Limited trainsets in 1946, after World War II. Pullman-Standard delivered the cars in 1949.
Restored to original
Floorplan of the Catalpa Falls, restored to its 1949 design by Executive Rail.
Executive Rail, a division of Catalpa Falls Group, LLC, owns the railcar. The company restored the car to its mid-century glory. While Catalpa Falls contains modern amenities such as flat-screen televisions and wi-fi Internet service, they’re worked in so they don’t detract from the experience.
Like a number of private cars, Executive Rail offers passengers a throwback to a golden age of passenger rail. Instead of the usual Amtrak sleeper cars, Catalpa Falls tempts the traveler with a more elegant form of rail travel.
Amtrak Kenner – The City of New Orleans heading out of and into downtown.
Amtrak’s City of New Orleans, #58 (Northbound), passing through Kenner, Louisiana, approximately 20 minutes out of Union Passenger Terminal (NOL). The train picks up speed as it leaves the New Orleans metro area, to head out along Lake Pontchartrain. So, after clearing the lake, it turns north (on the old IC, now CN tracks) to run parallel to I-55, and off to Chicago. Therefore, the route is essentially unchanged from the days when the Illinois Central operated the all-Pullman “Panama Limited” and the City.
This intersection is Williams Boulevard, in the “Laketown” section of the city of Kenner. While the platform to the left of the tracks is now unused, it was built to be the terminus of an experimental Amtrak line that ran from here to NOL in 1984. The plan was to connect the suburbs with a rail diesel car for commuter service. The concept didn’t last beyond the trial period, which coincided with the 1984 World’s Fair in downtown New Orleans.
Diner (Cross Country Cafe – CCC)
The train is pulled by a single GE P-42 Genesis locomotive.
Heading to New Orleans
The Southbound/inbound trip is Amtrak #59. Like the northbound train, #59 is approximately 20 minutes away from arrival at Union Passenger Terminal (NOL). The train still moves quickly through Kenner, as it enters the metro area from Lake Pontchartrain.
At some point during the 8 minutes separating the northbound and southbound trains at this point, they passed each other, then #59 changed to the north (lake side in NOLA geographic terms), approaching NOL on the track #58 used to depart.
The southbound consist differs from #58 in that it has one more coach car. As on #58, the train is pulled by a single Genesis locomotive. Unlike the Crescent and Sunset Limited trains, the trip up the Mississippi Valley only requires the power of one engine.
The school off to the left (lake) side of the tracks is Our Lady of Perpetual Help School. OLPH is the oldest Catholic parish in Jefferson Parish.