2-8-0 Steam Locomotives in Gentilly #TrainThursday

2-8-0 Steam Locomotives in Gentilly #TrainThursday

2-8-0 Steam Locomotives operated regularly in Gentilly

2-8-0 Steam Locomotives

Southern Ry (NO&NE) 2-8-0 near Gentilly Blvd (between NE Tower and Seabrook) New Orleans, Frank C. Phillips Photo

2-8-0 Steam Locomotives

We mentioned the New Orleans and Northeastern Railroad (NO&NE) last week, in our discussion of Homer Plessy’s ticket to Covington. Plessy was arrested at Press Street Station. That station was the terminal for the NONE in the 1890s. Southern Railway acquired NO&NE in 1916. Southern Railway moved NO&NE’s passenger service to Terminal Station on Canal Street. Freight service operated from NO&NE’s Gentilly Yard. The way out of town for the Southern system was their five-mile bridge across Lake Pontchartrain. So, passenger trains came out via the Lafitte Corridor, then merged onto the Back Belt. Freight trains came up Peoples Avenue from the yard, then to the back belt. The trains traveled north, alongside Peoples Avenue. The trains crossed the Industrial Canal at Seabrook. From there, they headed out of town.

Gentilly Blvd. and trains

The Back Belt more-or-less follows Gentilly Blvd. While train tracks run as much as possible in straight lines, streets tend to twist and turn. Because Gentilly Blvd intersects the train tracks several times, the railroad and the city built several underpasses. Trains stayed at the same level, going straight. Automobiles turned, curved, and dipped under the tracks.

1940s Gentilly

Tony Howe, admin of the Louisiana Railroad History group on Faceback captioned this Frank C. Phillips photo:

Southern Ry (NO&NE) 2-8-0 near Gentilly Blvd (between NE Tower and Seabrook) New Orleans, Frank C. Phillips Photo

Others in the group (which is highly recommended for railfans and rail historians) added details. The houses to the left place the photo in Gentilly Terrace. The train heads south, towards either the Back Belt or the yard. The photographer stands just south of the underpass at Gentilly Blvd. The WPA/city/railroad built that underpass in 1940.

Consolidation 2-8-0

Baldwin Locomotive Works introduced the Consolidation 2-8-0 locos in 1883. So, this type of engine was a regular workhorse by the late 1940s. NO&NE owned a number of Consolidations. Unfortunately, the number on this engine isn’t visible.

Canal-Baronne Transit Operations, 1906 #StreetcarMonday

Canal-Baronne Transit Operations, 1906 #StreetcarMonday

Canal-Baronne Transit Operations were important at the turn of the 20th Century.

Canal-Baronne Transit

Streetcars at the intersection of Canal and Baronne Streets, 1906. (Detroit Publishing Company postcard)

Canal-Baronne Transit

Single-truck streetcars along Canal Street in 1906. This postcard shows common Canal Street operations at the time. We’re eleven years into the electric era here. Single-truck Brill and Ford, Bacon & Davis streetcars run all over New Orleans. Double-truck cars replace the singles on the Canal Street and St. Charles Avenue lines by 1910.

800 Block of Canal Street

Single-truck streetcars dominate this scene, but it’s the buildings in the background that got my attention. There’s a wall sign on the reddish building towards the center-rear of the image. That sign advertises A. Shwartz and Son, a dry goods store in the 700 block. That store closed in 1892. So, by 1906, the wall ad is already a “ghost ad.”

A. Shwartz ad, 800 block of Canal Street (Infrogmation photo)

That’s important for my next book, Fading Signs of New Orleans. That ad still exists! The building became the Trianon Theater in 1912. The theater’s owners painted over the A. Shwartz ad. Passersby saw the theater promotion from 1912 until the Saenger Brothers bought the Trianon in the 1920s. The ad remained. Over time, the paint from the Trianon sign faded. Weather and age revealed the Shwartz ad underneath. Now, the sign is a mixture of the two. Because the edge of the Shwartz ad was dark (red) with white letters, it held up. All of the photos I’ve found are either of the Trianon ad or the mash-up. That’s why this postcard is important.

Height mismatches

The old Trianon Theater became office and retail space. The Keller-Zander department store operated there for years. The building next to the old theater is an old house from the 1850s. The Boston Club purchased the house and converted it for use by the luncheon club. The Boston Club is the private organization most closely associated with the Mystick Krewe of Comus.

Streetcars on Baronne

Baronne Street was a part of the St. Charles line for decades. The line ran on St. Charles to Tivoli Circus, inbound and outbound. At the circle, inbound streetcars curved around, to Howard Avenue. While the modern line turns right onto Carondelet Street, the cars traveled inbound on Baronne at the time of this photo. Baronne had dual-track operation. So, the inbound streetcars came to Canal Street on Baronne. They traveled down to the turnaround at Liberty Place. The outbound cars turned left at Baronne. They traveled up Baronne to Tivoli Circus (later named Lee Circle), then out to the Uptown neighborhoods.


Rigolets Pass – L&N heading to New Orleans from the Gulf Coast #TrainThursday

Rigolets Pass – L&N heading to New Orleans from the Gulf Coast #TrainThursday

Rigolets Pass connects Lakes Pontchartrain and Lake Borgne

Rigolets Pass

L&N train crossing the Rigolets Pass, 1922

Rigolets Pass

Rigolets Pass

Map of the Rigolets, 1935

The Rigolets Pass is a waterway just north and east of New Orleans. It connects Lake Pontchartrain with Lake Borgne. The Louisville and Nashville Railroad (now CSX) uses a bridge over the Rigolets to connect trains outside the Isle d’Orleans. L&N decided that a bridge over the Rigolets was easier to build than one over Lake Pontchartrain.

Norfolk Southern built their eastern exit from the city over the lake. Their bridge over Lake Pontchartrain runs parallel to the Highway 11 bridge and the I-10 “twin spans”.

L&N Serviced the Gulf Coast

While the Southern Railway traveled up through Mississippi from New Orleans, L&N headed out to the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Their system then turned north. So, regular freight trains ran from the riverfront in New Orleans, out to Gulfport, Biloxi, and points east.

Gulf Coast Passenger Trains

Rigolets Pass

L&N crossing the Rigolets, 1922

Additionally, L&N ran passenger service from New Orleans to the Gulf Coast. The railroad was the US mail link for the towns along the water. These photos are of an L&N train, heading back from the coast, most likely Ocean Springs, MS, to New Orleans

David Price contacted Jerry Lachaussee when we were discussing the top photo on Facebook. Mr. Lachaussee wrote an article with Parker Lamb for TRAINS magazine in 1987. It was titled, Where CSX Goes to Sea. Here’s what David said about his conversation with Jerry:

I have heard from Jerry Lachaussee who is the real authority on the L&N across the Gulf Coast…he and Parker Lamb did a feature article on that line in TRAINS…cover photo and all. Jerry is familiar with the photo and says the same photographer actually shot two images of it on the bridge that day. The L&N train is powered by an L&N G-class 4-6-0. The lack of head end cars means that it well could have been one of the coast commuter trains. The train is heading railroad-south…toward New Orleans.

The Photos

Mr. Percy Viosca, Jr. shot these photos on 27-June-1922. Both photos are in the Louisiana Sea Grant College Program repository at the LSU Library.

Mr. Bingle 1952 – Maison Blanche Canal Street

Mr. Bingle 1952 – Maison Blanche Canal Street

Mr. Bingle 1952 – Jingle, Jangle Jingle

mr. bingle 1952

Maison Blanche Canal Street, December, 1952

Mr. Bingle 1952

In 1947, Emile Alline was the display-window manager for Maison Blanche. He took his family up to Chicago that fall, for a family trip. While up there, he applied a professional eye to Christmas displays along the “Miracle Mile.” Alline decided his store needed a Christmas character. He sketched a short snowman. Snowman? Not quite right. How about holly wings, and an inverted ice cream cone for a hat? Now Alline had a snow elf!

Mr. Alline brought the concept to MB management. The little guy captivated everyone. The store featured Mr. Bingle all over its print advertising for Christmas, 1958.

Christmas Spokes-Elf

Mr. Bingle hooked New Orleans. While the other Canal Street stores did Christmas displays, they didn’t have a character. So, Maison Blanche presented Mr. Bingle. Kids loved him. By 1952, the store displayed Mr. Bingle right up front!

Maison Blanche grew from the single store on Canal Street in the post-war 1940s. They opened stores on S. Carrollton Avenue in Mid City and Frenchmen Street in Gentilly. Mr. Bingle flew out to those locations! So, when Alline commissioned the Mr. Bingle puppets, they visited all the stores.

Canal Street in 1952

Maison Blanche anchored the 900 block of Canal Street for almost a century. S. J. Shwartz built the “MB Building” in 1908. So, by 1952, it stood for over forty years. Shoppers entered on the corner of Canal and Dauphine Streets. The entrance on the left of the photo (behind the bus) led to the office building. The first five floors of the building were retail space. The next seven housed a number of businesses. Many doctors set up shop in the MB building.

Santa and Mr. Bingle look down here from the second floor. So, that area was stockrooms. Eventually, the store covered up the second floor windows with year-round displays.

Maison Blanche Department Stores

Mr. Bingle 1952

Maison Blanche Department Stores, by Edward J. Branley

Mr. Bingle tells his story in Chapter 3! Buy the book here!

New Orleans During the Civil War

New Orleans During the Civil War

New Orleans During the Civil War

civil war

Custom House, Canal Street, New Orleans, 1864. Marshall Dunham Collection, LSU

New Orleans During the Civil War

I try to keep away from most Civil War subjects here on the blog. They usually end up in flame wars in comments. That doesn’t mean there aren’t interesting New Orleans-related topics from the period.

Antebellum New Orleans

So much happening up to the secession of Louisiana from the Union! Comus parades in 1857. Beauregard and others struggle against the Know-Nothings. The Creoles are still separated from the Anglo-Irish. It’s a fascinating time to study. Streetcars and railroads are growing. So much to talk about.

Secession and War

The Clay Monument, the start of the Canal Streetcar line, and the formation of local Militia units. Decisions as to how to defend the largest port in the CSA. The Southern Rebellion begins, with the first shots fired by a New Orleanian.

The Battle of New Orleans

civil war

Battle of New Orleans, 1862

War comes to Southeast Louisiana. Farragut comes up the river. Butler brings his troops from Ship Island to the forts below New Orleans. The mutiny at Fort Jackson. Surrender.

Union Occupation

The rebels abandon New Orleans, and the largest port in the rebel states is once again under Union control.


All these topics are discussed in the Facebook group, New Orleans During the Civil War. It’s a closed group the tight moderation. The group isn’t about other aspects of the rebellion. It’s not about battles and situations outside New Orleans.

It’s about New Orleans. The focus helps keep things under control.

Come join us and let’s talk.

Trusted Talents – Book 2 of the Bayou Talents Series – Signed by Author

Someone’s stealing magickal artifacts – in the middle of Mardi Gras! The priests of the Ordo Archangelli keep their tools hidden until needed. New Orleans has kept some of their secrets well, until now.

Daniel McCain is a Dark Adept of the same group that tried to kill Ren Alciatore at Samhain. Now, McCain comes close to acquiring a powerful set of tools. When all are in his possession, challenging and defeating him will cost lives. And there’s no better time to hide these thefts than Carnival!

The Ordo don’t know where the theives’ next target is. Ren wants to enlist the help of one of McCain’s cousins, Brooks Stirling Sumner, to learn more about the artifacts. Renard Alciatore’s Talents are no longer hidden. Will the shadowy group known as the Assembly trust him? With the guidance of a Coven of Witches and knowledge from his new friend, Ren and The Assembly must protect their city from those who want to win at all costs. Bullets and magick are a strong combination to defeat!

D. H. Holmes in 1864 – #CanalStreet

D. H. Holmes in 1864 – #CanalStreet

D. H. Holmes

D. H. Holmes

D. H. Holmes, on Canal Street, 1864

D. H. Holmes in 1864

I spoke to the tour guides that volunteer with the Friends of the Cabildo on Monday. They’re a lovely group of folks. I like to say that talking with them is like teaching an AP History class. You have to come prepared and offer things they don’t already know.

I’m not sure how much they did or didn’t know about the Jewish families who dominated the retail scene on Canal Street for over 175 years, but that’s what my Krauss book is about, so that was the subject of the talk. When I speak on Krauss, I usually start with background on the Touro Buildings in the 701 block of Canal Street. Then we go up the street to the 900 block, with a brief pause for D. H. Holmes, in the 800s.

Canal Street in 1864

The photo above shows the 800-900 blocks of Canal Street in 1864. The Civil War was still in progress, but New Orleans had been under Union occupation for two years. You can see the various buildings in the 800 block, including D. H. Holmes. At the time, the Holmes (“Holmses” in the Yat vernacular) was considered a “dry goods” store. Holmes, Fellman’s and Godchaux’s followed Maison Blanche in branding themselves as “department stores” in the late 1890s.

You can see the third incarnation of Christ Episcopal in the background, at the corner of Dauphine and Canal. The second incarnation occupied the corner of Bourbon and Canal, in the 700 block. Judah Touro bought the second church and tore it down to complete his row of commercial buildings. The chapter moved down the street.

Move to Uptown

Christ Episcopal left Canal Street for Uptown in 1884. In that year, the chapter auctioned off the 901 Canal location and moved to St. Charles and Sixth Streets. The Mercier family bought the church, demolished it, and built the building bearing the family’s name. D. H. Holmes was in the middle of all of the goings-on, from 1842 to 1989. That’s when Dillard’s of Little Rock acquired the stores.