NEW  ORLEANS  CAR  29

H. George Friedman, Jr.

Last updated November 16, 2016 (added Picture 1.5)
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On March 12, 1894, two young men named Frank R. Ford and George W. Bacon hung out their shingle as an engineering firm in Philadelphia.  In the fall of that year, Mr. Bacon accepted an invitation from the St. Charles Street Railway (SCSRR) of New Orleans to make a proposal for electrification of its horsecar lines.  As things turned out, the SCSRR hired a different firm, but the rival Orleans Railroad (ORR) was favorably impressed by the young engineers and gave them the electrification contract for their lines.  Eventually, the Canal & Claiborne Railroad (C&CRR) and the New Orleans & Carrollton (NO&C) were also electrified or modified under the guidance of Ford & Bacon.  By 1895, the firm added George H. Davis as a partner, and changed its name to Ford, Bacon & Davis (FB&D).

One of the accomplishments of the FB&D engineering work was the design of an improved electric streetcar.  The first electric cars on the ORR were purchased from Brill, and were fairly standard Brill models operated on streetcar systems around the country.  For the electrification of the C&CRR in 1896, FB&D designed an improved streetcar, whose most obvious feature is the very wide clerestory roof.  Most FB&D cars also featured improved trucks called Lord Baltimore trucks, transverse (cross) seating, and some steel parts in the body construction, which provided a strong and solid car body.

The new FB&D car type was very successful, as indicated by the repeat orders from several New Orleans companies.  Between 1896 and 1908, 217 such cars were ordered from car builders American, St. Louis, and McGuire-Cummings.

In addition to the little single truck streetcars, New Orleans in the early days had four groups of larger, double truck electric streetcars.  There were a dozen cars acquired in 1898 and 1899 to haul trailers on the West End (and later the Spanish Fort) line, cars 500-507 and 509-512 (there was no 508).  There were 125 “Palace” cars used on major lines since 1902, originally numbered 01-045 and 058-0137 and later renumbered 600-723 (075 had been destroyed in a collision).  A dozen locally built cars were called “Morris” cars after the master mechanic who supervised their design and construction; they were originally numbered 046-057, later 513-524.  And there were 25 Brill semiconvertible cars acquired in 1906, originally as 300-324, later 450-474.  Then, beginning in 1914, New Orleans began to acquire more of the larger, double truck streetcars, and to phase out the single truck cars such as the FB&D.  In that year, cars 400-449, the first arch roof double truck motor cars in New Orleans, were put into service.  As New Orleans began to standardize on the arch roof double truck cars, more were acquired in the 1920s (cars 800-972 and 1000-1019), and the single truck cars were retired.  Most were scrapped, but a few were retained as work cars.  These were modified by having their seats removed and their windows boarded up, and in some cases, large openings were cut into their sides.  Among others, cars numbered 24-30 appeared on the work car roster.  They were used as wreckers, sand cars, etc.  In this form, a very few FB&D cars survived longer than their mates.  With one exception, the last few work cars were retired and scrapped in 1953.

The only one of these cars to survive today is car 29.  Built about 1896 by St. Louis Car Co., its original truck was the McGuire “Columbian”.  It is known to have been equipped with a Lord Baltimore truck in 1934, when it was assigned to Arabella Station.  Today it rides on a Brill 21-E truck.  It has seen work car service as a wrecker, a sand car, and a rail grinder, and the latter two jobs still keep the little car busy.  It has suffered the usual neglect that is the fate of work cars, but in recent years, railfan interest has apparently inspired Carrollton Shops to repair the car (after a controller fire a few years ago) and put it into top notch condition.  It is the very last FB&D car known to survive anywhere.


In all the pictures in this article, click on the picture for an enlargement.
Picture 1.
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Vandalia Line locomotive 428 pulls a string of flat cars loaded with FB&D-type cars for delivery to New Orleans.  The first few cars behind the locomotive are numbers 335, 336, 333, and 334.  Car 335 has a route sign “Peters Avenue” in its front clerestory glass; the glass was red with blue lettering.  (Peters Ave. is now called Jefferson Ave.)  Cars 320-349 were part of the last group of FB&D cars for New Orleans.  They were built in 1908 by McGuire-Cummings.  Probably none of these cars became our car 29, which is about ten years older, but they all have the same design.
Picture 1.5.
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NOPSI car 29 on St. Charles Ave. at First St., November 12, 1945.  At this time, 29 was one of several work cars remaining on the active roster.  The car is heading downriver, i.e., toward Canal Street, going away from us.  Note the “work car” striping on the end dash panels of the car.  It is showing Special on the route sign.
Picture 2.
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Car 29, probably somewhere in the vicinity of Carrollton Station.  The car shows a Not In Service route sign, but no longer has “work car” striping on the dash panels.  Note the rear view mirrors, which suggest that this picture dates from the time the Perley Thomas cars were one-manned.
Pictures 3 through 25.
In June 1961, the New Orleans Division of the Electric Railroaders Association (ERA) chartered car 29 for a trip around the system, which then consisted of two lines: St. Charles and Canal.  They provided the car with special route, destination, and run number signs, and a dash sign with the name of the organization.  The pictures in this group were taken on that occasion.
Picture 3.
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Car 29 at the exit from its home base, Carrollton Station, with the ERA members watching the proceedings.  This was taken before the special route and destination signs were mounted on the car.  Note the “work car” striping on the dash panel of the car. — Sidney Silleck photo
Picture 4.
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The signs have been mounted on the car, and the ERA members are preparing to board, as car 29 stands between its Perley Thomas big brothers 944 and 968. — Sidney Silleck photo
Picture 5.
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Car 29 poses with its guests on the lead tracks between Carrollton Station and the St. Charles line on Carrollton Avenue.  Several men are wearing caps with what appear to be old NOPSI operator badges. — Sidney Silleck photo
Picture 6.
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Car 29 approaches the terminal of the St. Charles line on Carrollton at Claiborne. — Joe Guarino photo
Pictures 7, 8, and 9.
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Car 29 carries its passengers along S. Carrollton Avenue.  The ERA members apparently brought along their own seating (lawn chairs), as the little work car ordinarily carries none. — Otto Goessl photos
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Pictures 10 and 11.
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Car 29 has come around Lee Circle onto Howard Ave., but instead of turning down Carondelet Street as the St. Charles cars do, it has continued on Howard to the end of the track.  We see the car just after it has changed ends to return on Howard Ave.  The upper picture faces back toward Lee Circle, the lower is looking in the other direction.  It appears that there was only one set of ERA signs for the car. — Sidney Silleck photo (upper)
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Pictures 12 and 13.
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After returning on Howard Ave. to Carondelet Street, car 29 continued down Carondelet to Canal.  Here we see the car pulling onto the Canal Street neutral ground.  But what happened to the dash sign?! — Otto Goessl photos
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Pictures 14, 15, and 16.
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In order to switch from the St. Charles line tracks to the Canal line tracks, car 29 had to take the crossover at the left in the top picture.  The car had to reverse ends and pull onto the Canal track (middle picture), then reverse again (bottom picture) to proceed down Canal Street.  In the bottom picture, one crewman is setting the switch, while the other walks the trolley pole around the car, as St. Charles car 966 passes at the left.  (Incidentally, car 966 is now resident and operated by the Seashore Trolley Museum at the Lowell, Massachusetts National Historical Park.) — Otto Goessl photos
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Pictures 17, 18, and 19.
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The chartered car shares the four-track terminus at the foot of Canal Street with Canal cars 905 and 927.  The venerable Custom House can be seen at the far right in the background of the top and middle pictures, which look out toward the lake.  The bottom photo looks in toward the river. — Sidney Silleck photo (top), Otto Goessl photos (middle and bottom)
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NOPSI__29+927+friend-Canal-foot-ERA-Goessl-09.jpg
Pictures 20 and 21.
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Car 29 negotiates the ladder track between the Canal Street neutral ground and Canal Station.  There were three tracks on Canal Street at this point.  The car is on the extra track, which had switches to connect to the various tracks of the car barn.  In the lower photo, a 900-series Perley Thomas car on the Canal line is passing the 29, coming toward the photographer, outbound. — Sidney Silleck photo (upper), Otto Goessl photo (lower)
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Pictures 22 and 23.
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The work car is sharing the Cemeteries terminal with regular Canal line cars at the outer end of the line. — Otto Goessl photos
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Picture 24.
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Car 29 operating along one of the beautiful neutral ground rights of way, either Canal Street, St. Charles Ave., or Carrollton Ave.  If one can ignore the dash panel stripes, the boarded up windows, and the big hole in the side of the car, this is just the scene that could have been observed in New Orleans around 1900 to 1915, when FB&D cars were the backbone of the car fleet. — Taetsch photo
Picture 25.
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This picture gives us a close up view of some of the construction of the car.  Note the steel sheathing for part of the wooden side of the car.  We can also see details of the single truck.  And then there's that very modern lawn chair inside the car.... — Sidney Silleck photo
Pictures 26, 27, 28, and 29.
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Car 29 was used around both of the car barns, though it's “home” was (and still is) Carrollton Station.  Here, we see it on the ladder tracks in front of Canal Station on July 8, 1961 (top view), basking in the sun on a storage track at Canal Station (second view), and waiting on the approach tracks to Carrollton Station along Jeanette St., September 1962 (third view) and around 1960-62 (fourth view).  Notice the extra right rail for the former dual-gauge trackage in the third photo, and the dual-wire trolley coach overhead at the far right in the third and fourth pictures. — Joe Guarino (third photo)
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Pictures 30, 31, and 31.5.
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Car 29 leads Perley Thomas car 961 down Carondelet Street toward Canal Street, about 1968 or 1969.  In the middle photo, 961 is stopped at the traffic light at Common Street, while 29 approaches Canal.  Car 29 is passing over the crossover that had once allowed cars to turn back upbound at this point, but by this time, the upbound track had had no trolley wire for years, and was considered abandoned.  (In just a few more years, it would be removed completely.)  The bottom photo is dated May 18, 1969.  — Howard J. Wayt photos
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Pictures 32, 33, and 34.
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It is May 1969, and car 29 is on Canal Street on the one block of remaining track, between Carondelet and St. Charles.  While the car paused there, a St. Charles streetcar turned in from Carondelet and pulled up behind the little car.  The only way to proceed was for both cars to continue forward into St. Charles Street up to Lee Circle. — Otto Goessl photos
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Picture 35.
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The photographer is standing at Canal Street, looking up St. Charles Street toward the 29 and 961, about 1968.  The 961 appears to have stopped for passengers, while the 29 has crossed Common Street and is in front of the old St. Charles Hotel. — Howard J. Wayt photo
Pictures 36, 37, and 38.
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Car 29 in operation along the St. Charles car line.  The top two pictures are on S. Carrollton Ave.  In the second picture, 29 is passing one-man car 963, which has stopped for a passenger who is very confused.  She is used to boarding at the rear, but the rear door won't open for her, and she will have to walk back to the front door in order to board.  In the third picture, the 29 is on St. Charles Ave., and has just passed Harmony Street upbound. — Photos by Earl Hampton
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Pictures 39 and 40.
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Car 29 at rest on Howard Ave., on the non-revenue trackage between Carondelet and Baronne.  In the upper photo, that's NOPSI maintenance worker Joe Ledet leaning out the center back window.  If the car pulls ahead about half a block, it can reverse direction and take the crossover visible at our left ahead of the car.  The lower photo is dated 1968. — Earl Hampton photo (upper), Howard J. Wayt photo (lower)
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Pictures 41, 42, and 43.
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It is an inconvenient fact that the little single truck car is slower than the big Perley Thomas cars.  This means that in operation along the St. Charles car line, passenger cars tend to catch up to the 29, which slows them down.  So standard operation calls for the 29 to “get out of the way” when it can, at one of the emergency crossovers found along the line.  Here is one such maneuver.  In the top picture, we see car 29 after it has crossed to the opposite track; it is waiting for St. Charles car 930 to pass (second picture).  Finally (third picture), the 29 crosses back over, to follow the 930. — Photos by Earl Hampton
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Picture 44.
NOPSI__29-vacuum_cleaner.jpg
This picture documents an experiment in leaf pickup.  The pipe hanging out the side of car 29 is the business end of a vacuum cleaner installed in the car.  It was supposed to draw leaves into a cage inside the car.  But the experiment was not a success, and the vacuum cleaner was removed from the car. — Photo by Earl Hampton
Picture 45.
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Car 29 at rest in its home base, the Carrollton Station car barn, early in 1971.  Perley Thomas cars 926 and 948, next to the 29, were the first two cars reconfigured for one-man operation. — Photo by Earl Hampton
Pictures 46 and 47.
NOPSI__29-1971-Carr+Claib.jpg
These two pictures of car 29 were taken in 1971 by Earl Hampton as he and Louis Hennick (coauthor of The Streetcars of New Orleans) “chased” car 29 in Hennick's yellow VW, visible behind car 29 in the second picture.  The top picture features car 29 on Carrollton Ave. near Claiborne Ave. as it awaits its turn on the stub track to reverse and head back down the St. Charles streetcar line.  We see a St. Charles streetcar, rebuilt with round-corner windows in the doors, pulled up behind car 29.  The second picture shows car 29 on Jeannette St. outside Carrollton Station.  Car 29 still sports “work car” dashboard striping. — Photos by Earl Hampton
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Picture 48.
NOPSI__29-Charlton+Maguire.jpg
Posing with car 29 are E. Harper Charlton, left, co-author of The Streetcars of New Orleans (with Louis C. Hennick), and Stephen D. Maguire, then editor of the Traction Topics Department of Railroad Magazine. — Wilbur T. Golson photo in Vane Jones, Traction Fan Directory, c. 1970, p. 29
Pictures 49 and 50.
NOPSI__29-Mardi_Gras_cleanup.jpg
Look at the litter left on St. Charles Ave. by a Mardi Gras parade!  Car 29 is doing its bit in the cleanup.  It is early 1983, and the car is just recently out of the Carrollton Station paint shop.  It has lost its “work car” dashboard striping, with a very neat result.  The entire car below the roofline, including the doors, is green save for the end window posts, the car numbers, and the dash stripe.  Also, rear-view mirrors have been added to both sides and both ends of the car, a very “un-FB&D” but important safety feature now that the car is operated by a one-man crew. — Photos by Earl Hampton
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Pictures 51 and 52.
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Car 29 is rounding Lee Circle in the upper photo.  In the lower, it is turning from Lee Circle into St. Charles Ave., upbound.  The approach to the Mississippi River bridge can be seen in the background.  These photos date from March 1986.
NOPSI__29-1986-03-01.jpg
Picture 53.
NORTA__29+fake.jpg
The track on St. Charles Ave. is being rebuilt, about 1989, and service is necessarily limited to single-track one-way-at-a-time operation along the segment being worked.  Car 29 is coming toward the camera, followed by a regular St. Charles car adorned in Christmas wreathing.  One of the little “fake trolleys,” usually used for shuttle service in the Vieux Carré, itself about the same size as car 29, is “helping out” along this stretch. — Photo by Earl Hampton
Pictures 54 through 57.
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In 1988, New Orleans RTA created the first new streetcar line in the City since 1926.  A section of unneeded freight railroad along the Mississippi River was converted into the Riverfront streetcar line.  With the aid of a railfan group called Bring Our Streetcars Home (BOSH), RTA reacquired several Perley Thomas 900-class streetcars which had been retired and sold off when the Canal line had closed in 1964.  In order to provide some cars with wheelchair access, RTA also purchased several Melbourne, Australia W-2 class streetcars.  All the cars were refurbished at Carrollton Station, painted in a new red livery, and renumbered into a new 450 series. 

On July 14, 1988, car 450 (ex-924) was taken on a test run along the St. Charles line tracks.  On the Riverfront line, it was to be mounted on standard gauge trucks, but on this date, it was still riding on wide-gauge trucks.  Car 29 proudly led the way for the 450 as it rolled along the route.  We see it here, first on the Willow Street track leading from Carrollton Station to Carrollton Ave.; second on Carrollton, just after turning from Willow, heading for Claiborne (moving away from the photographer); third on Carrollton, with the 29 leading (moving toward the photographer); and fourth at Lee Circle as the two cars round the curve from St. Charles Ave. onto the Circle, followed by a regular St. Charles car. — Photos by Earl Hampton

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Pictures 58 and 58.3.
NORTA__29-StCharles+Calhoun-1989-02-22.jpg
Car 29 on St. Charles Ave., February 22, 1989.  The upper photo was taken at Calhoun Street, downbound, with Loyola University buildings and Holy Name of Jesus Church in the background.  The lower photo was taken near Soniat Street.  Note the semicircular scratch in the paint on the front dash, which can also be seen in other pictures in this article. — © 2015 Peter Ehrlich, used with permission
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Picture 58.6.
NORTA__29-Howard+Carondelet-1991-02-28.jpg
Here is 29 on Howard Avenue at Carondelet Street on February 28, 1991. — © 2015 Peter Ehrlich, used with permission
Pictures 59 through 62.
NORTA__29-rebuilding-2003-06-1.jpg
It is June 2003, and car 29 is in the process of a thorough rebuilding.  The man in the third picture is Elmer Von Dullen, who is directing the rebuilding, and who directed the construction or reconstruction of just about every other streetcar in New Orleans. — Photos by Earl Hampton
NORTA__29-rebuilding-2003-06-3.jpg
NORTA__29-rebuilding-2003-06-5-ElmerVonDullen.jpg
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Picture 63.
NORTA__29-2005-02.jpg
Car 29 in operation along St. Charles Ave. in February 2005.  The car is now painted in the same color scheme as the St. Charles cars: green body, red doors, dashboard striping, etc. — Photo by Earl Hampton
Pictures 64 through 74.
On March 18, 2005, the author happened to be present on Canal Street when car 29 came down Carondelet Street and switched to the Canal Street tracks on its way from Carrollton Station to Canal Station.  These pictures captured the switching maneuver.
Pictures 64 and 65.
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St. Charles car 923 has come down Carondelet and turned onto the outer Canal Street track on its way to St. Charles Street to begin its uptown trip.  Car 29 has followed it down Carondelet and onto Canal Street, and pulled up to a stop behind its younger big brother.  Youngest of them all, a red Canal car is seen at the right, stopped at Bourbon Street to load passengers.  The photographer is facing out toward the lake from the St. Charles/Royal intersection with Canal Street. — Photos by the author
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Pictures 66 and 67.
05-03-18-Image078.jpg
In the upper picture, we see the operator aligning the track switch to take the car over to the inner Canal line track.  In the lower photo, he walked the trolley pole around to reverse the car.  We get a good view of the new paint job, which omits the old “work car” stripes on the front dash in favor of a silver outline such as is seen on the St. Charles passenger cars.  The doors are now in red, as they are on the St. Charles cars, instead of green, as in earlier work car liveries. — Photos by the author
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Pictures 68 and 69.
05-03-18-Image080.jpg
Car 29 took the crossover, operating “backwards” from the outer St. Charles line track to the inner Canal line track, but ending up facing out on the inbound track.  Another Canal car has passed on the outbound track (to our right), and another St. Charles car has pulled up at the terminal stop on Carondelet Street (to our left).  Fortunately for this maneuver, there was a momentary lull in inbound Canal line traffic. — Photos by the author
05-03-18-Image081.jpg
Pictures 70 and 71.
05-03-18-Image082.jpg
These two pictures look in opposite directions.  In the upper picture, which looks out, car 29 had pulled up to the intersection at Carondelet Street and was awaiting the green traffic light to proceed “wrong direction” into the next block.  A St. Charles car had pulled up to its terminal stop on Carondelet Street, where it was loading passengers.  The lower picture looks back from the next block toward the waiting car.  The automobile which pulled up on the neutral ground next to car 29 is an RTA official car. — Photos by the author
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Pictures 72, 73, and 74.
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The work car completed the maneuver by taking the crossover in the block between Carondelet/Bourbon and Baronne/Dauphine, switching to the outbound Canal track.  From here, it proceeded normally out to Canal Station. — Photos by the author
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Pictures 75, 76, and 77.
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On March 19, 2005, the author was aboard an upbound St. Charles streetcar near Napoleon Ave. when it came up behind car 29 performing sand car duty.  Note the accumulated sand near the rails.  However, the work car was too slow to keep ahead of the Perley Thomas passenger car, so the 29 pulled up at a crossover, reversed ends, and pulled to the opposite track to let the passenger car go by.  It then reversed again and returned to the upbound track, now following the St. Charles car.  These pictures were taken from the left front window of the St. Charles streetcar. — Photos by the author
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Picture 78.
05-03-19-Image010.jpg
A good view of car 29 in its latest livery (note the red doors) as it passes upbound along St. Charles Ave. in front of Loyola University, March 19, 2005.  Audubon Park is in the background.  The car's ceiling lights, arranged in clusters of bare bulbs, can be seen through the side windows of the clerestory roof. — Photo by the author
Pictures 79, 80, and 81.
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Car 29 on Carrollton Ave. near the end of the St. Charles line at Claiborne Ave., March 19, 2005.  The top picture looks toward Claiborne Ave., the other two away.  The actual terminal of the St. Charles car line is out of sight, to the right of the top picture. — Photos by the author
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Picture 82.
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This picture, taken January 7, 2009, shows car 29 at rest in the Canal Station Service, Inspection, and Storage (SIS) facility of the restored Canal line.  After the streetcar lines were returned to service in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, all working cars were based at Canal Station, with Carrollton Station completely devoted to the remanufacture of the red Canal Line cars. — photo by the author
Pictures 83 through 88.
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On January 13, 2009, photgrapher Earl Hampton found car 29's crew busily refilling sand barrels at strategic locations along the Canal Line.  In the first two pictures, we see the car outbound on Canal at Carrollton Avenue.  The third and fourth pictures show 29 proceeding down N. Carrollton toward the City Park terminal.  In the last two photos, car 29 is near the City Park terminal, almost meeting passenger car 2009 ahead at the end of track. — photos by Earl Hampton
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Picture 89.
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On October 2, 2011, “Streetcar Mike” Strauch happened to be at Carrollton Station as the 29 was taken out of the car barn to switch it to a different track.  Here is one of his photos of the occasion.  More can be found at the Car 29 page in the Streetcar Mike web site. — Michael Strauch photo
Pictures 90 through 93.
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In January 2016, Carrollton Station Shops began a thorough overhaul of car 29.  Among other items, the axle bearings and wheels got a checkup, and a frame crack was found and welded.  The top photo shows the car jacked up over a work pit in the shop, and the second picture is a closeup view of the car on jacks with its truck removed.  In the third photo, the photographer has stepped back a bit to show the truck where it has been rolled out from under the car.  The bottom picture is a closeup of the truck itself, with many details visible.  Note the gleaming, obviously fresh paint job. — Rob Kate Von Dullen photos, RPV Photography
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References

Louis C. Hennick & E. Harper Charlton, The Streetcars of New Orleans, Pelican, 1975.
Louis C. Hennick, The Streetcars of New Orleans, “Appendix III,” unpublished manuscript, 2005-2016.
For Human Needs - The Story of Ford, Bacon & Davis, FB&D, 1967.

Picture credits are given where known.  All pictures are in the author's collection, except as noted.

Text, captions, and photos by the author, © 2005, 2006, 2009, 2011, 2014, 2015, 2016 by H. George Friedman, Jr.  Photos by Earl Hampton © 2005, 2009 by Earl W. Hampton, Jr.  Photos by Michael Strauch © 2011 by Michael Strauch.


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