Assignment of New Orleans Streetcars to Lines and Stations

1924-1929, 1945-1964


H. George Friedman, Jr.

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Louis C. Hennick, coauthor of The Streetcars of New Orleans, reports (private communication, April 7, 2016) a table of car assignments dated January 8, 1924:

Streetcar Assignments, January 8, 1924
Arabella 95 large cars, 80 small cars
Canal 36 large 2-motor, 18 large 4-motor, 65 small cars, 42 trailers
Carrollton65 large cars, 26 small cars
Poland 76 large cars, 41 small cars
Prytania 29 large cars, 26 small cars
Totals 319 large cars, 238 small cars, 42 trailers
Esplanade Work equipment only: 1 sprinkler, 7 sanders, 8 wreckers, 4 freight, 2 tower, 10 work cars,
1 water car, 1 fire car, 2 motor differential, 2 4-motor differential, 1 Brown hoist, 29 flat cars

"Small cars" refers to single truck cars numbered below 400.  "Large cars" refers to double truck cars numbered 400 and above, including the Barney & Smith and Morris motor cars (500-518, 18 cars not 19), the Brill semi-convertibles (450-474), the Palace cars (600-723), the Southern Car Co. arch-roof cars (400-449), and probably the Perley Thomas and Brill arch-roof cars (800-899), a total of 317 cars.  The 318th and 319th cars may have been the first of the Perley Thomas cars 900-972.

Just a few years later, circa 1929, by which time all of the 900-972 series cars were in service, Hennick records the assignment of lines to stations as follows:

Route Assignments to Stations, circa 1929
Arabella Louisiana, Laurel, Jackson, Freret, Dryades, Napoleon, Magazine
Canal Broad, City Park, Canal Belt, Esplanade Belt, West End, Frenchman bus, St. Bernard bus
CarrolltonSt. Charles Belt, Tulane Belt
Poland Gentilly, Desire, N. Claiborne, St. Claude
Prytania Prytania, Clio, S. Claiborne

There is a roster of streetcar assignments as of about 1945, thanks to an article in E R A HEADLIGHTS for July 1945, which reported data from railfan R. S. Korach.

Streetcar Assignments, 1945
400-449Carrollton Station for Tulane & St. Charles Belts
800-818Carrollton Station for Tulane & St. Charles Belts
819-883Canal Station for Cemeteries, West End, Desire, Gentilly, & St. Claude
except 970
Arabella Station for Freret, Jackson, Magazine, Napoleon, & S. Claiborne
970Canal Station for St. Claude (unique 4-motor car)
1000-1019Canal Station for St. Claude (4-motor cars)

Reassignment of cars became necessary in the period 1946-1953.  The lines out of Arabella Station were gradually converted to bus, beginning with Freret and Jackson in 1946 and 1947, followed by the Magazine line and Arabella Station itself in 1948.  NOPSI then had more streetcars than it needed, and so scrapped the oldest, the 400s, in 1948.  When St. Claude was bussed in 1949, the 1000s were also scrapped.

We are fortunate that one photographer, recently identifed as Fred Victor DuBrutz, took a large number of photos of the streetcars on June 10, 1947, and that those photos have become available to railfans in recent years.  At this date, Arabella was still open, and all of the cars that were operating in 1945 were still in service.  Taking inventory of the car numbers and the routes they were serving on that date, we can extrapolate the following 1947 roster.  The only assumption is that NOPSI continued the practice of assigning cars in blocks of consecutive numbers.

Streetcar Assignments, June 1947
400-449St. Charles & Tulane Belts (Carrollton Station)
800-816St. Charles & Tulane Belts (Carrollton Station)
817-818Not seen (probably at Carrollton Station)
819 Not seen (probably at Canal Station)
820-879Cemeteries and West End (Canal Station), with a few anomalies (see below)
880-881Not seen (probably at Canal Station)
882-898Canal Station lines
899-900Not seen (probably at Canal Station)
901-907Canal Station lines
908 Not seen
909-964Arabella Station lines
965-969Not seen (probably at Arabella Station)
970 St. Claude (Canal Station)
971 Magazine (Arabella Station)
972 Not seen (probably at Arabella Station)
1000-1019St. Claude (Canal Station)

It is likely that changes from the 1945 roster were minimal.  Thus, 817-818 were probably still at Carrollton, with 819, 880, and 881 still at Canal Station, while cars 965-969 and 972 were probably still at Arabella.

The most significant change from 1945 is the group of cars 884-907 or -908, which had been moved from Arabella to Canal Station.  This makes sense, as the Arabella Station lines Freret and Jackson were gone.

The photos show a few anomalous car assignments, all to the St. Charles Belt.  Cars 857, 863, and 878 would be expected to be Canal Station cars, but are seen serving the St. Charles Belt line.  This suggests that some runs on the Belt lines were operated out of Canal Station rather than Carrollton.  There was a non-revenue track connection between Canal Street and Tulane Ave. along S. Dorgenois Street, just inward of Broad Street, which dated from the depression-era temporary closing of Carrollton Station, and which was still available for use.  A photo is known dated April 7, 1948 of an 800-class car (number unknown) turning from S. Dorgenois onto the outbound Tulane Belt track.  It appears that some Belt line runs, perhaps some trippers, were operated out of Canal Station rather than Carrollton.  Carrollton Station Shop was probably a very busy and crowded place at this time, and there may not have been enough room at Carrollton to house all the streetcars required to operate the Belt lines.
This April 7, 1948 scene is on Tulane Avenue at S. Dorgenois Street.  St. Charles Belt car 412 is inbound on Tulane Avenue.  At the left, an 800-class car coming from Canal Station is turning from Dorgenois into Tulane to begin a run toward Carrollton Avenue on the Tulane Belt line. New Orleans Public Library collection
Car 878 working the St. Charles Belt on Canal Street at University Place, with car 822 inbound on the West End line, June 10, 1947. Fred Victor DuBrutz photo
Napoleon Yard, showing four lines of 900s, headed by cars 954, 949, 968, and 948, available for service on the Napoleon and S. Claiborne lines, February 12, 1950. Otto Goessl photo

By 1949, Arabella Station had been closed to streetcars, and the Magazine, Freret, Jackson, Desire, Gentilly, and St. Claude lines had been converted to bus.  Also, the 400-449 and 1000-1019 series cars had been scrapped, and some surplus 800s were also gone.  The only line closed in 1950 was West End, at the beginning of the year, followed by the Tulane Belt line in 1951.  The author owns a number of photographs taken by Otto A. Goessl that date from the period 1949 to 1951.  An inventory of these photos shows that cars 900 through 940 were assigned to Canal Station for the Canal and West End lines.  It appears that most of the surviving 800s were assigned to Carrollton Station (i.e., to the St. Charles & Tulane Belt lines), with some high-numbered 800s (884 through 899 are seen in photos) at Canal Station.  From 1948, the S. Claiborne and Napoleon lines, which survived into early 1953, were being served by high-numbered 900s (941 through 972).  (Cars 901, 917, and 970 were retired around this time after serious accidents.)  In 1950, Goessl also photographed 900s stored at Napoleon Yard, apparently ready for service on Napoleon and S. Claiborne.

Streetcar Assignments, 1949
Most 800sSt. Charles & Tulane Belts (Carrollton Station)
High 800sWest End & Canal lines (Canal Station)
900-940West End & Canal lines (Canal Station)
941-972S. Claiborne & Napoleon lines (Napoleon Yard)

A few photos are known of 800s serving Napoleon and S. Claiborne.  One photo is known of car 877 on S. Claiborne, dated by internal evidence to late 1952, and one is known of 844 signed Napoleon with date January 29, 1953 very late in the life of both of these lines.  Car 844 was scrapped in April 1953, but 877 survived until February 1955.

Photos are also known of 800s signed for S. Claiborne on the tracks around Carrollton Station.  It appears that some runs on S. Claiborne and/or Napoleon, perhaps some trippers, were operated out of Carrollton Station.  It is also possible that toward the end, the 900s were withdrawn and replaced by 800s, some of which were retired with the lines in 1953.

Car 877 at the S. Claiborne line terminal at Carrollton Ave.  The activity visible in the foreground appears to be the construction of the terminal for the bus line which replaced the streetcar line in early 1953.
Car 809 leaves Carrollton Station for a run on the S. Claiborne line.  Unfortunately, this photo is not dated. D. R. Toye, S. J., Kenner Train Shop (Chris Rodriguez) collection, courtesy of Mike Palmieri

After the S. Claiborne and Napoleon lines were abandoned, leaving only the Canal and St. Charles lines (each in its own car station), it appears that the 900s were divided somewhat arbitrarily between the two surviving lines, with all the remaining 800s assigned to Carrollton for the St. Charles line.  There is another E R A HEADLIGHTS article, a column by Arthur Schwartz in the December 1959 issue, which records the following car assignments:

Streetcar Assignments, 1959
Carrollton37 cars803, 804, 814, 816, 821, 823, 827, 832, 836, 846, 848, 850, 857, 865, 866, 871, 946-949, 951, 953, 957-969, 971, 972
Canal48 cars900, 902-915, 918-945, 950, 952, 954-956

A group of photographs of the New Orleans streetcars dated August 1963 has recently become available.  These depict many, though not all, of the cars still active on the Canal and St. Charles lines.  This is in a period when a rebuilding program was in progress, the most obvious changes being the installation of standee windows with rounded corners (from standard bus parts) and doors with similarly rounded windows in both the upper and lower panels (made in Carrollton Station Shops).  Some changes in the car assignments are noted.  Some of these might have taken place when cars were temporarily withdrawn from service for rebuilding, after which they were not necessarily returned to their previous assignment.  The table below shows the assignments noted; it does not list all active cars in the system, but only those observed in this group of photos.  Boldface numbers represent cars which had been rebuilt.  Italic numbers represent cars having different assignments from the 1959 table.

Streetcar Assignments, 1963 (incomplete list)
Carrollton803, 816, 827, 832, 836, 866, 871, 946, 947, 948, 949, 951, 954, 961-963, 968, 971, 972
Canal905, 906, 908, 910, 911, 913, 914, 915, 920, 922, 926, 927, 930, 931, 935, 938, 940-942, 945, 952, 957, 959, 960

When it was decided to abandon the Canal line and remove the rails from Canal Station, the car assignments were revised, with the best 900 series cars (many of which had been at Canal Station) sent to Carrollton Station, and the rest, including all the surviving 800s, sent to Canal, to be scrapped with the line.  Aside from a few cars from Canal that were transferred to museums and other private operations, all the cars that ended service from Canal Station were therefore scrapped in 1964.  The cars remaining at Carrollton Station, however, were extensively rebuilt, and continue in service today after yet another rebuilding.

The thirty-five 900 series cars which continue to serve the St. Charles car line are:

900, 903, 904, 905, 906, 907, 910, 911, 914, 915, 920, 921, 922, 923, 926, 930, 932, 933, 934, 937, 940, 945, 947, 948, 951, 953, 954, 961, 962, 963, 965, 968, 969, 971, 972

Copyright 2014, 2015, 2016, 2020 H. George Friedman, Jr.  All rights reserved.  Permission is hereby given for the QUOTATION of SHORT excerpts, as long as credit is given to H. George Friedman, Jr.

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