New Orleans' first RR, the first RR west of the Alleghenies, built 1830-31 to reduce shipping times by diverting passengers and cargo from coastwise and some oceangoing vessels to the PRR transfer facility at Milneburg, 4½ miles from N. O., located on the S. shore of Lake Pontchartrain. Milneburg's name is that of Alexander Milne, Scottish philanthropist who cared for thousands of orphans (C 10/20/1838). He died at age 97 in his residence on Bayou Road (C 10/23/1838). The “city end” of the PRR was at the junction of Esplanade and Elysian Fields, approx. 13 squares below Canal St. Construction of the RR attracted many sightseers — on Sundays, when work was suspended, the RR invited citizens to drive carriages OR buggies, or TO ride horses, upon “the bed of the RR...will be this day [open] to afford carriages access to the Lake” (C 6/12/1830). One week later, the PRR hastily posted the following notice, “Road bed closed except for one day — Sunday” (C 6/26/1830)!
Mr. M. W. Hoffman, from Maryland and a lawyer, financier, and supporter of the Baltimore & Ohio RR, came to New Orleans and quickly became the principal promotor of the Pontchartrain RR. In 1829 he formed the New Orleans Rail Road Society for the road's construction. Work began in 1830 with substantial financial backing, and proceeded without interruption (L&N, Jan. 1930, pp. 13-14, 18-19).
The RR improved and enlarged its lake transfer facility — as early as 1839 Supt. Read's big dredging machine was at work there, moving 40 tons of earth per 15 minutes work. The harbor, 20' in depth and protected from “refills”, was ready in four months (C 5/13/1839). The name “Port Pontchartrain” became a popular reference to Milneburg. After the road was completed, hotels, restaurants, and bath houses began serving the growing numbers of New Orleanians who sought the pleasures of “outings.”
The Baltimore & Ohio RR Co. in the US and the Liverpool & Manchester Ry. in Great Britain influenced the style of the PRR's initial passenger and freight equipment. When the first day of passenger service came, Saturday April 23, 1831, there was one “elegant” car reserved for the state's governor, the city's mayor, and other dignitaries. This was the “Louisiana” — “it will in all probability be used for the present conveyance of passengers to and from the lake ... one very handsome car [the “Louisiana”], and indeed it is the only one, for the others we presume are only intended for rough work” (MA 4/26/1831). No other description. Those “others” could well have been PM two-axle gondola cars with makeshift benches. Captain McNeil, one of Mr. Hoffman's associates in the N. O. RR Society, urged the purchase of the car design that the B&O's Mr. Winan patented. This was the “Louisiana.” This fine car was exhibited in New Orleans and the directors ordered similar but lighter cars of that design be built by the PRR itself (the cars intended probably for “rough work”?) (L&N Jan. 1930 p. 18).
Almost immediately, the PRR advertised the “Louisiana” available to run only in mornings “to accommodate parties of 12 or more passengers” — the regular service, using, surely, the “Louisiana”, offered three round trips to the lake, 3:00 p.m. — 4:30 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. from the city end (C 5/3/1831, MA 5/5/1831). By June 30, an additional trip added, 8:30 p.m. (MA 6/60/1831).
It's possible to get an accurate description of the “Louisiana” from two early news items taken from Baltimore papers: “Two of Winan's cars built by Mr. Imlay” (the team designing and building cars for the B&O RR Co.) noting “the new cars seat 37 passengers inside and above and are easily drawn by one horse” (C 1/16/1830 from Baltimore Event of 12/22/1829). Another news item giving the B&O's 9/20/1830 date freight service begins added, “A new improved passenger carriage has just been prepared for use on the RR” ... “The body contains 12 people and outside seats at either end will receive six, including the driver. On the top is placed a double sofa [knifeboard bench], running lengthwise, which will accommodate twelve more ... A wire netting rises from the two sides of the top of the carriage to a height which render the top seats perfectly secure. The whole is surrounded by an iron framework with an awning to protect them from the sun or rain. It is named the ‘Ohio’” (C 9/17/1830).
Compare the text with the following illustration. The single CPT PM AR DD (open upper deck with awning) is very close to the Baltimore descriptions. There probably was a series of these cars, named for states and/or cities. According to the Baltimore American of 12/2/1831, when the B&O's first train reached Frederick, MD, its consist included “the new carriage ‘Frederick’” with the cars “Maryland” and “Ohio”.
|Vignette on Baltimore & Ohio RR 1929 issue common stock certificate shows a circa 1830 train on that road. The B&O built the first Pontchartrain RR rolling stock. Note the gondola and flat cars, the latter hauling a road carriage, perhaps the first indication of TOFC or “piggy back” operation. The coach is perhaps a close approximation of the car “Louisiana” the B&O built and delivered to the PRR in 1831.|
The cars from Britain were larger and of the 3-CPT variety, PM two-axle AR DD, built 1831-32 by Worsdell (father and son carriage builders, famous for building almost all the carriages and other stock for the Liverpool & Manchester Ry., the world's first steam powered strictly commercial railway, opened in 1830). Metal grips allowed access to the top deck. Cars were named, used on inauguration of steam service on PRR, September 17, 1832. Equipment and steam locomotive “Pontchartrain” unloaded at “Port Pontchartrain” — “yesterday” (LA 8/16/1832). The PRR was rebuilt during a 30 day period (C 1/13/1832 & 2/3/1832) to allow heavier equipment of steam operation, yet the PRR placed an ad “asking for horses, active and gentle” to be available on “any Sunday for two trips, making 18 miles ... called a day's work” (C 3/16/1832). The “Pontchartrain” made the inaugural trip, pulling 12 cars and 400 people (LA 9/18/1832) and later had a regular train of four cars taking twelve and a half minutes (on a non-stop trip, surely) at a speed of 48 mph (C 9/19/1832).
The train of twelve cars calls for explanation. There must have been more British and/or B&O cars. Newspapers did not get every bit of news, and other sources did not explain the numbers. However, positive proof exists that there was indeed British equipment on the PRR. From the Louisiana Advertiser of 10/13/1832: To Mr. M. W. Hoffman, Esq. from Simeon Horne, Supt. PRR Co., “As far as I can ascertain the circumstances from spectators and persons in the cars, under which a slave boy lost his life on Monday last [10/8], they are as follows: At five o'clock p.m. after the train left the head of the Rail Road [Elysian Fields - Esplanade - Decatur] two boys jumped on the English passenger car in violation of the rule of the company, near Moreau St., and when near the basin [Basin St.] both of them fell off, one over the side, and the other between the said cars by which the last lost his life. It is said he belongs to a person by the name of Gimlet.” [boldface emphasis added.] One of the British cars was the “Orleans”, and the PRR sold it to the New Orleans & Carrollton RR Co. (which see).
The PRR schedule of 3/27/1833 listed one trip by horse, eleven by steam (C 3/27/1833) ... all round trips, of course. For years, the PRR schedules in the newspapers (see S p. 14) had the horsecar on the schedule column. It was the last departure from the lake. Charlton's 1955 book mentions a special car the PRR built to carry police arrests to the city end for incarceration. Milneburg instantly attracted many people seeking the pleasures of restaurants, lounges, hotels, and baths. Liquor was available and the inevitable low-scale offenders needed a secure lock-up (there was no jail at the lake end). Other plausible explanations: the loco needed more time for care and maintenance than expected, as well as cleaning the cars called for time; or perhaps there were complaints against loco noises at late hours? Later that year, “effective May 28, to accommodate the public during the bathing season, eighteen round trips were offered between 4:30 a.m. and 11 p.m. (from the city end)”, with the note “the company being now provided with cars, suitable accommodations will be afforded to persons of color” (C 6/3/1833). More equipment to research!
The PRR received its second locomotive “Creole” (see roster) in 1833 (C 5/15/1833), but before 1834 ended the PRR announced “both engines disabled ... Drive wheel entirely worn out” on both(!) (B 8/16/1834). The article continued, saying the RR was “resorting to horse power.” Worn “tyres” were not the only equipment problem. Fires set by locomotive sparks were a common occurrence, a shockingly large one 4/8/1837 (B 8/16/1837). The PRR replied that “sparkatchers” were on the locomotives since 1836 (B 9/5/1836 & 9/7/1836 confirms this ... an invention of Mr. H. Turner of N. O., an engineer of the RR). Another notable invention, by the PRR's Supt. Capt. Grant, was platform level freight handling, supposedly the first RR in the world using such a method (DP 9/7/1884). See also page c.
The following year saw the Louisiana Course (race track) on Gentilly Road at the PRR crossing point opened. The PRR became a double track railroad (doubtful if double-tracked the whole distance — surely only a “turnout” or long passing track midway between river and lake, allowing two trains to operate instead of one, thus doubling the road's capacity), starting Thursday, June 7 — John Cumminger, contractor (DP 6/8/1838). The road had made a profit regularly, declaring a 5% dividend on capital stock in 1837 (CB 2/7/1837) but a 4% dividend was more often the case (1839, C 12/18/1839). The patronage was reaching 100,000 annually ... 200,000 was reported for 1835-36 (C 12/7/1836). An improvement late in coming ... in 1846, on April 29, the N. O. Bee noted the use of baggage cars on the RR. No further information.
|This 1880 New Orleans, Mobile & Texas RR woodcut ad incredibly
depicts passenger equipment developed as much as forty years earlier!
Such “generic” images were used often years after the equipment
had become obsolete. John White reminds readers and researchers that,
while such considerations are true, the artists' conceptions often convey
useful details with surprising accuracy. He employs an 1839 engraving
of a Boston & Worchester RR train with a two-axle baggage car in its
consist (JW, pp. 453-454). The first DT baggage cars appeared in 1855
on the Old Colony RR — thus it is safe to claim the Pontchartrain RR's 1846
baggage car was a two-axle type.
The baggage car was an important step in the development and continual improvement of passenger equipment, appearing in the first full decade of railroad construction. This plain, unembellished car relieved passengers from putting luggage in racks, around their legs, or in their laps in already cramped compartments. Baggage often was packed atop the cars — sometimes being set ablaze by sparks from the locomotive. A specialized car could be loaded quickly by RR employees, allowing passengers to entrain efficiently, thus saving time. — Courtesy of Jerome G. Lachaussee
Research in N. O. newspapers from the 1840s through the 1850s reveals almost nothing about PRR passenger eqpt. acquisitions. This is frustrating for new or second-hand cars surely were bought. However, the 1867 road's annual report has an excellent loco roster (S p. 188). The PRR extended service to the foot of Girod S., with stops at Canal St. and one between Canal St. and the old “city end”, beginning July 19, 1868 (DP, S p. 14). The heavy use of the road continued, with the need of additional cars a certainty.
|Shields||Note 1||Note 1||Note 1||Note 1||John Shields||1832||1|
|Pontchartrain||2-2-0||60"||Note 2||10 x 11||Rothwell Hick & Rothwell #2||1832|
|Creole||0-4-0||54"||Note 3||11 x 18||Edward Bury, Liverpool #11||1833|
|Fulton||2-2-0||Note 4||Note 4||Note 4||Benj. Hicks & Son, Soho Iron Works, Bolton||1834|
|Orleans||0-4-0||63"||Note 5||12½ x 20||Edward Bury #40||1836|
|Liberty||4-4-0||48"||12T||14¼ x 18||Baldwin #358||8/14/1849||* 6|
|Peter Conroy, Jr.||"||60"||"||11½ x 20||Baldwin #419||3/11/1851||* 7|
|Union||"||"||17T||"||Baldwin #443||8/23/1851||* 8|
|Wm. H. Avery||"||54"||20T||12 x 22||Baldwin #848||4/16/1859||* 9|
|J. H. Lapeyre||"||60"||21T||12½ x 22||Baldwin #968||10/13/1860||* 10|
|George Pandely||"||"||"||"||Baldwin #1547||4/27/1866||* 11|
|Charles Morgan||"||60¾||16½T||12 x 24||Baldwin #1986||10/16/1869||12|
|*||Engines listed in 1867 PRR annual report.|
|1||Probably 0-4-0, Drivers, Wt., Cyls. similar to “Creole”. Supt. Grant commented that the loco. was too light to gain traction; it was kept as a stationary boiler. Loco. built in Cincinnati by Shields, arrived in N. O. by riverboat.|
|2||Probably under 12T.|
|4||Poss. 60" drivers, Wt. under 12T, cys. poss. same as “Pontchartrain”.|
|5||Probably under 12T.|
|6||Condemned in 1867, gone by 1887 (poss. 1867?).|
|7||Condemned in 1867, gone by 1887. Mr. Conroy poss. Mississippi born, later became a N. O. citizen. Further research underway.|
|8||Listed in BLW records as 12T, RB 1865. Full stroke valve motion. Gone by 1887.|
|9||Engine has link motion. Listed in BLW records as 17T. Gone by 1888. William H. Avery was associated with commercial merchants Foley, Avery & Co., 34 Perdido St., Factor's Row, and was a director of the Branch Louisiana State Bank.|
|10||Engine has link motion. Listed in BLW records as 17½T, and poss. del. by 1861. Gone by 1888. In 1867, J. H. Lapeyre was President of the N. O. Board of Brokers, and a Trustee of the Merchants' Exchange. His personal listings included Pike, Lapayre & Brother, (William S. Pike, J. M. Lapayre, A. Brother) bankers.|
|11||Engine has link motion. Listed in BLW records as 16½T. Gone by 1888.|
|12||Gone by 1888. This loco. was actually named after the steamship line owner and railroad builder who figured prominently in 1850s to 1880s transportation history. “Our fellow citizen Charles Morgan owns the Pontchartrain RR, will double track it, change the gauge to 5'6" [to match his just-acquired New Orleans Opelousas & Great Western RR (which see)]” (DP 8/30/1871). The 1869 date was probably very close to the time Charles Morgan bought the PRR. (Morgan lived April 21, 1795 to May 8, 1878 — Wikipedia, "Charles Morgan (businessman)", accessed May 12, 2015.)|
|Another loco, BLW #1987, same date 10/16/1869, ordered for Morgan's Louisiana & Texas RR & SS Co., had 60¾ drivers, 14 x 24 cyl., and weighed 22½T. Mr. Morgan ordered the two in one order, and this adds evidence of the ownership, or part ownership, the RR and SS magnate had of the two RRs, the MLa&T and the PRR.|
|It is unknown whether PRR locos were regauged c. 1870 to 5' gauge, in conjunction with the NOM&T, or had dual gauge trackage installed between Pontch. Junction and Girod Street. The exact date the L&N changed the NOM&T and the PRR to standard gauge is yet to be found. The old PRR locos, some only 20 years or so, probably ran until L&N eqpt. took over c. 1884-85, then sat two or three years awaiting resale, rebuilding or scrapping. The story of the PRR locos is still unfinished, but research is closing in.|
The PRR promoted a railroad all the way to Mobile almost from its beginning in 1831. From time to time N. O. papers had promising news of such projects, usually with PRR participation. An especially good example was La. Act 183 of March 19, 1861, incorporating the N. O. & Mobile RR Co., needing 2.5 million dollars for capital stock. Within a month, the Civil War began and this project withdrew from public concern. Seven years later, the project re-emerged with “northern” capital — the N. O. Mobile & Chattanooga RR Co. — which see — (chartered August 19, 1868, filed with La. Secretary of State). The NOM&C was built in less than two years, commencing regular passenger service between N. O. and Mobile on November 21, 1870. The new road was a 5' gauge RR, common with many RRs in the south. Events moved rapidly, involving the PRR most intimately. The NOM&C finances suffered from the start, reorganizing as N. O. Mobile & Texas RR Co. (La. Act 94 of April 18, 1871) and purchasing controlling interest in the Pontchartrain RR. The PRR changed its gauge to 5' and sold its waterfront trackage to two railroads, the NOM&T and the Morgan's Louisiana & Texas RR & Steamship Co. Both the NOM&T and the PRR used the Canal St. station. The NOM&T used the PRR trackage to reach Canal St. The track to Girod St. was from that time used for freight service.
A decade later, on April 24, 1880, the NOM&T was sold under foreclosure to the N. O. & Mobile RR (incorporated the same day), which itself was sold to the Louisville & Nashville RR Co. on October 5, 1881. Corporate stability then prevailed for over a century. The L&N became part of the CSX System in 1987.
The Pontchartrain's equipment, coaches and motive power, took an interesting turn after the road's association with the L&N and, earlier, the NOM&T. Changes connected with the NOM&T are not available, but the L&N's changes saw “new” locos, all “second hand” and some third hand, coming from some of the L&N's earlier mergers. These five engines are 4-4-0 passenger types, none ever known to have been repainted with PRR numbers or lettering. As far as it's known, all the PRR equipment was L&N property.
The photo of L&N 4-4-0 2119 (S p. 6) is a D-0 class built by Rogers in 1873, 16x24 cylinders, 140 lbs. boiler pressure, 54" drivers, total weight 69,000 lbs. Its original L&N number was 425, REN 1119 in 1897, and 2119 in 1903. Its scrapping date is unknown, but over half of these locos in 2119's class had been scrapped by 1918. Thus, the date of the photo could be circa 1915-1920. Data from Prince, p. 61.
Two “new Rogers” 5' gauge locos, numbers 803 & 811, plus “new” coaches and “old ones repaired” arrived as “reassigned L&N equipment” (DP 5/15/1884). Prince lists both locos (p. 28) as Rogers, and the 811 originally owned by the St. Louis & South Eastern RR (newly merged with the L&N), StL&SE original number 11, named “Evansville,” built 1871, 14x22 cylinders, 60" drivers, and scrapped 1896. Little is said of the 803: Rogers built, but “sold 1886” (the year the L&N and PRR changed gauge to 4'8½" — set to change May 10, 1886 according to DP 3/14/1886 and 4/29/1886). The L&N plans called for three trains (three sets of equipment) to fill all schedules.
Prince's book has three excellent PRR action shots, all with L&N equipment. A Thomas T. Taber print of D-0 class 4-4-0 no. 2 was taken in 1923. The loco was originally Pensacola & Atlantic no. 11, built by Rogers in 1882. L&N REN it 430 on acquisition, and REN it to no. 2 in 1897. It escaped a 1903 REN, reason unknown, but was scrapped in 1926. It had 17x24 cylinders, 64" drivers, pressure 140 lbs., and weighed 90,000 lbs., with 12,900 lbs. tractive effort (Prince p. 62).
Class D-8 4-4-0 no. 17 is an L&N archives photo taken in March 1935, three years after PRR passenger service ended. March 1935 is considered the last of any PRR freight operation. The two-car train was possibly carrying workers to start dismantling the RR. No. 17 is a BLW loco built 1870, earlier number 69, 17x24 cylinders, 64" drivers, 155 lbs. pressure, another 90,000 lb. engine but with 14,300 lbs. tractive effort. Supposedly scrapped 1933, which brings the date of the photo under question. It's an L&N archive print, and an excellent shot of an entire PRR train from its last days. Note the interesting structure of the lower and upper sash in the coach (see sketch), hopefully revealing the coach's builder.
|Sketch of coach in train of No. 17, showing the division of the sash, upper and lower. Coach has 10 double windows each side, plus 1 half-window at each end (2 half-windows per side).|
Lastly, no. 142, a D-20 class 4-4-0 rebuilt from a 4-6-0 “ten wheeler” (Prince p. 145)! Rhode Island built in 1891 for Atlanta Knoxville & Northern, their no. 30. L&N first numbered it 351, 155 lbs. BP, 64" drivers, 16,000 lbs. tractive effort, weight 110,000 lbs., scrapped 1937. The most powerful of the L&N 4-4-0s dispatched for the PRR.
Besides the PRR, the L&N operated “commuter service” for New Orleans to Ocean Springs, Miss. until 1964. Before dieselization, Prince photographed in 1950 one of these trains, loco (p. 116) K-48 class no. 262, a medium sized 4-6-2 built by the L&N itself (series 246-263, 1920-22), 210 lbs. BP, 22x28 cylinders, 69" drivers, 35,070 tractive effort, weight 233,000 lbs.
After the L&N took over in 1881, PRR service improvements began soon to appear. The road began selling round trip tickets, Canal St. to West End, via PRR to Milneburg and then lake steamers “Herione” and “Camellia” (sic — possibly “New Camellia”) to reach West End, competing with the N. O. City RR's dummy line, which required a “change of cars” near the Clay statue (DP 7/14/1885). In fact, connecting the three lake resorts and lake steamship ports of West End, Spanish Fort, and Milneburg by a railroad, the Lake Shore Marine Ry., had been a serious but unfulfilled proposal three years earlier (DP 8/7/1882).
Passenger Time Table for the Ponchartrain RR, effective May 27, 1900. — Louis Hennick collection
After the big crowds of the 1884-85-86 dual expositions declined in New Orleans, leaving only the city and its usual visitors, still a goodly number of people spending money, the L&N sharply cut back service on the PRR, all trains stopping at “Pontchartrain Junction” station (DP 9/13/1887). This was the point where the L&N rails from Mobile joined the PRR, 1.03 miles from the foot of Canal St. (Pontchartrain Junction was 138.69 miles from Mobile, Canal St. 139.72 miles — L&N RR Co. New Orleans & Mobile Division Employees Timetable No. 115, May 25, 1913). PRR passengers had to change trains — most L&N trains stopped at the Junction, but there were not so many main line trains to the Canal St. L&N station! PRR riders had to choose a train that connected. Not an improvement, especially considering the Junction station was 7 squares (blocks) out from N. Claiborne's busy Canal & Claiborne Street RR Co. Canal & Claiborne line. There were still many people alongside the PRR that went to Milneburg to go fishing, crabbing, or on other outings. Yet, looking at the 1900 Pontchartrain RR, there still was a busy RR on weekdays with many more trips on Sundays.
The Official Railway Equipment Register of June 1903 lists nine pieces of “passenger equipment”, and the July 1913 lists thirteen. While the listings give the impression that the cars were numbered 1-10 (skipping 2) in 1903, and 1-14 (also skipping 2?) in 1913, photographic evidence indicates the cars were not renumbered, but kept their original numbers from L&N. All passenger cars supposedly L&N owned originally unless renumbered when acquired through purchase of operating roads.
The Pontchartrain RR was still so heavily used in the period just before WW I, despite the truncated service cut back to Pontchartrain Junction, that there was serious consideration to electrify it. The city council in 1901 considered an ordinance to sell an electric railway franchise, Canal Street to Milneburg, permitting a double track line (TD 6/26/1901, 7/14/1901). This stirred interest, enough perhaps to cause the PRR to announce some trains will begin running to the L&N station on Canal Street (TD 5/25/1904). Dissatisfaction with PRR service, however, continued. Four years later, there was a serious threat to take away the PRR's franchise (TD 11/9/1908), and a year later, the lake steamships “Camellia” (sic — possibly “New Camellia”) and “Margaret” announced that, beginning in 1910, they would stop landing at Milneburg. (The NORy&L Co. was extending tracks to a new landing near the lighthouse — TD 3/31/1909.)
These threats did not deter the PRR. Serious plans surfaced again to electrify the railroad. President Sloan of the N. O. Ry. & Lt. Co. ordered a study to consider the improvement (TD 11/8/1914) and Mr. Charles Marshall, L&N superintendent, reported he had given such an electrification plan to the road's Board of Directors and its engineering department (TD 11/1/1914). These plans lay without more consideration, as by war's end, it was obvious that the automobile era had almost fully “arrived”. The Pontchartrain RR, locally nicknamed “Smoky Mary”, ran its last passenger trains in 1932. L&N RR Co. System Public Timetable No. 418 of March 1, 1932 shows nine daily round trips to Milneburg. Scarcely two weeks later, the PRR passenger service made its last day's work. A multitude of observers lined the tracks, tossing flowers, paying last respects, some people saddened. The L&N archive print of 4-4-0 17 pulling two cars, as shown in Prince's book, probably is the last run photo of the road (Prince, p. 145). This photo appeared in the Dixie special section of the TP, Sunday September 13, 1959. The hand-me-down 4-4-0 locos and wooden coaches from the L&N served till the end, and the passenger service itself lasted one hundred and one years.
Copyright © 2008, 2010, 2014, 2015, 2016 Louis C. Hennick. All rights reserved.
Previous Page | Next Page
Appendix III Title Page & Contents
Computer Science Department, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Home Page
H. George Friedman, Jr. Home Page