This railroad performed passenger service between downtown New Orleans and the Northern, Central & South American Exposition of 1885-1886. (It was completed too late to carry crowds to the earlier and more popular exhibition of 1884-1885, the World's Industrial and Cotton Centennial Exposition.)
An earlier effort to build a railway to the first exposition couldn't attract enough investors. This was the “Shaw Railway” or “Exposition Railway”, organized in 1884 as the Exposition Railway & Improvement Co., promoted by Mr. Henry Shaw. While the Shaw Railway was primarily intended to carry materials to build the first exposition's buildings, Mr. Shaw wanted to carry passengers also (DP 7/1/1884).
The railway that succeeded (Canal St. & Expo. Ry. Co.) was built through “unsettled parts of the city ... along the rear of the city”, from Canal St. near Carondelet, where a special depot was placed, over private r-o-w near Hagan Ave. (part of which is now Jefferson Parkway), across the N. O. Navigation Canal and next arriving at the exposition grounds at Upper City Park. The Shaw Ry. crossed the St. Charles line at grade to enter the grounds.
The first train over the Exposition Ry. (DP 11/8/1885) consisted of one New Orleans City & Lake RR dummy pulling four newly painted cars (used West End line equipment). Col. Joe Walker, President of the N. O. City & Lake RR, and President McConnico of the Exposition, with many guests, officers, reporters and Prof. D'Aquin's Band, rode this train which left at 12:45 p.m. In fact, the N. O. City & Lake RR operated this railway with its own men and officers.
The two exhibitions exhibited operating electric railways: the Leo Daft narrow gauge “Volta” at the first, and the Van Depoele overhead trolley system at the second (see Electric Streetcar section).
The Shaw Railway was dismantled when the second expo closed, and within sixty days of that date, had to be totally removed (DP 7/24/1886). The rails and other trackwork materials, enough for six miles, were sold to Mr. Hugh Carlisle of Alabama to build a dummy line from Gadsden to Attala. It took up 24 carloads when leaving New Orleans, via the New Orleans & Northeastern RR (the Queen & Crescent System).
Copyright © 2008 Louis C. Hennick. All rights reserved.
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