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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in Streetcar Fans' LiveJournal:

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Sunday, February 1st, 2009
8:37 pm
Trams in Bern, Switzerland

I got around Bern on the tram, specifically the #9 line.  It terminated right across the street from my hotel and took me right into Bern Zentrum (downtown).  Fare was &euro3.80 each way.

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Wednesday, March 12th, 2008
4:45 pm
Wednesday, February 27th, 2008
1:43 pm
CanalStreetCar (dot com) Feature Photo: Canal Street, 1857

Canal Street before streetcars! This is an illustration from an 1857 magazine, before the New Orleans City Railroad Company constructed their streetcar line along Canal from White St. to St. Charles Ave.

The original plan was indeed to construct a navigation canal down the middle of Canal St., which is why it is so wide. Had that plan been followed, Canal would look more like Ponchartrain and West End Blvds. looked before the New Basin Canal was filled in. Canal construction was more difficult than the original planners realized, so it was decided to build a canal that extended Bayou St. John to downtown rather than build a full river-to-lake canal. With the Carondelet Canal following a back-of-town route, Canal St. was poised to become the city's main boulevard.

This illustration shows the wide "neutral" ground between the Vieux Carre on the right and Faubourg Ste. Marie on the left. Since the Creoles and the Americans both needed a shopping district, the central location of Canal St. made it perfect for this role. The buildings along Canal at this time are no more than three or four stories high at this time. The church in the background is the original Christ Church. The Episcopal congregation was located on Canal until Isadore Newman bought the corner of Canal and Dauphine from them in 1883 and built his first Maison Blanche store.

Public transportation along Canal at this time was provided by "omnibus" carriages. These carriages were horse- and mule-powered.
Wednesday, February 20th, 2008
10:22 am
CanalStreetcar (dot com) Feature Photo: Orleans-Kenner Railroad

An interurban electric car operated by the Orleans-Kenner Railroad, at the company's barn at Tulane Ave. and S. Dupre St. in 1928.

The O-K railroad ran from what is now Williams Blvd. and Jefferson Highway in Kenner to Canal and S. Rampart Streets downtown. The railroad followed Jefferson Highway to the parish line. When it crossed into Orleans Parish, the O-K ran down S. Claiborne, then turned left on S. Carrollton to follow the Tulane Belt path to Canal St. The return was via the St. Charles belt. The O-K ran from 1915 to 1929. NOPSI converted the St. Charles and Tulane Belts to wide gauge in 1929, making the track incompatible with the standard-gauge O-K. Buses were substituted for the interurbans, running from S. Carrollton and S. Claiborne.

One of the most significant differences between the interurban rail cars and traditional streetcars is the baggage compartment between the cab and rider seating. This area enabled farmers from Kenner to bring bushels of produce into town easily. Once at Canal and Rampart, it was an easy trip by wagon or truck to the French Market.

The O-K RR was the city's only true interurban line. Unlike other parts of the country, the geography of the Isle d'Orleans is such that it was too expensive to run electric interurbans through the swamp to higher ground. Connecting the tri-parish (Orleans/Jefferson/St. Bernard) to the rest of the world was the job of traditional railroad service.

We had a great discussion about the O-K Railroad at the East Jefferson Regional Library last week. I'll be posting more info about the O-K RR in the NOSRA wiki in the near future.
Wednesday, February 13th, 2008
8:59 am
CanalStreetCar (dot com) Feature Photo: 2020 at Carrollton Shops

Von Dullen streetcar 2020 at Carrollton Shops. The work the craftsmen of Carrollton are doing to get the Von Dullens and the 400s back on the lines is incredible. Here, 2020's body is on the lift so the undercarriage can be inspected. The trucks are still the ones damaged by the Federal Flood. Those will be replaced by new trucks and a new propulsion system from Brookville Mining Corporation.

The "red ladies" that were damaged in the storm are all up at Carrollton (except for 2013, which is at BMC). They've been cleaned out, the bodies are being stripped and sanded all the way down to the bare metal. They are then run through the paint shop, for new primer and exterior coats. 2020 has completed this process, all the way down to the lettering, striping, and detail work. As soon as the new propulsion systems are fabricated and shipped down, the Von Dullens will be back at work on Canal St. and N. Carrollton Avenue.

Carrollton Station, located on Willow Street (the rear is on Jeanette Street) just off of S. Carrollton Avenue, is the home base of the Rail Department. The 2000-series Von Dullens as well as the 400-series Riverfront streetcars were fabricated here. The craftsmen who work here are some of the world's best experts on both "conventional" streetcars as well as LRVs (Light Rail Vehicles). They're good at both the old and the new because they maintain the fleet of 35 900-series streetcars from 1923 as well as the newer red ones. The 2000-series Von Dullens may look like "conventional" streetcars, but they have modern trucks, propulsion, and electronics, just like the slick LRVs you see in cities like San Diego and Baltimore. We just like our streetcars to have that classic, arch roof look that everyone associates with New Orleans.
Wednesday, February 6th, 2008
4:22 pm
CanalStreetCar (dot com) Feature Photo: Bayou Bridge, 1865

PGT Beauregard was alive and well when this photo was shot, which is one of the reasons you don't see his statue on the City Park side of Bayou St. John. The bayou was still a navigable waterway at this time, a "back door" to the city. Fishing boats and others would come in from the Gulf of Mexico, into Lake Borgne, then Lake Pontchartrain, finally coming down Bayou St. John. That's why the bridge at the end of Esplanade Avenue was a drawbridge. Shrimp boats and oyster luggers would go out from the old turning basin near Congo Square, up the bayou to the lake, and return with their catches.

At this time, the New Orleans City RR Co. ran streetcar lines up to either side of the bridge. On the west bank of the Bayou left in the photo), the Bayou Bridge & City Park line operated from the Half Way House to the bridge. On the eastern side, the Esplanade line ran the length of that beautiful street, turning into barn, looping around the block, along the bayou on Moss St., then re-joining the Esplanade tracks for the inbound run. The NOCRR had just begun streetcar operations four years earlier, in 1861. Even though the Civil War was raging in other parts of the country, New Orleans was an important port, and opportunities abounded for entrepeneurs. Because the city did not oppose the Union occupation after the naval battles were lost by the Confederacy, New Orleans was spared the fate of many other southern cities. Commerce and development continued throughout the war, in spite of the harsh rule of Maj. Gen. Benjamin Butler, USA, whom the locals called "Beast."

This area was referred to as the "back of town" in those days. As the neighborhoods of Mid City and Faubourg St. John spread out this point at City Park, the term "back of town" came to refer more to the neighborhoods around S. Carrollton and Tulane Avenues.
Wednesday, January 23rd, 2008
10:06 am
CanalStreetCar (dot com) Feature Photo - 904 Passing the Pickwick Club

Perley A. Thomas streetcar 904 passing the Pickwick Club, at the corner of Canal St. and St. Charles Avenue.

The Pickwick Club is an all-male, all-white lunch/social club. The club was originally affiliated with the Mistick Krewe of Comus, the oldest Carnival organization in the city. Comus has been around since 1857, when their two-float parade was the first of its kind in New Orleans. While the official connection between the club and Comus was broken in the 1880s, the membership of both organizations is reputed to be closely linked. Nobody knows for sure, however, because neither the Krewe nor the club make their membership public.

That lack of openness was the subject of a 1991 ordinance passed by the New Orleans City Council. That body decreed that, to get a permit to use public facilities like streets, an organization had to show it did not employ discriminatory practices in determining its membership. Rather than make its membership list public, Comus, along with two other Carnival organizations (Momus and Proteus) withdrew from the parade lineup. Proteus returned several years later, but Comus and Momus have steadfastly refused to comply, even though Comus won a lawsuit against the city, validating their right to freedom of assembly.

The Pickwick Club building is often confused with the Boston Club, which is actually down the street. While the Pickwick Club is closely aligned with Comus, the Boston Club is aligned with the School of Design, the organization which names Rex, King of Carnival, and parades on Mardi Gras morning. The Boston Club (which gets its name from the card game, not the city) is actually down the street. Prior to the 1991 blow-up, the Pickwick Club erected reviewing stands in front of the club on Canal St. Rex would roll down St. Charles and turn left onto Canal St., in front of the club. The king's float would stop there, and Rex would toast his queen, who watched the festivities of the day from that vantage point. Since the passage of the 1991 ordinance, however, the School of Design switched venues for their court, and now the toasts take place at the Intercontinental Hotel, at St. Charles and Poydras.

Monday, December 24th, 2007
4:01 pm
CanalStreetCar (dot com) - Streetcars in 1958

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We're not all the way to this point yet, but it's the ultimate goal of rebuilding the St. Charles line--the terminal at S. Carrollton and S. Claiborne Avenues. This 1958 photo, from the collection of Mr. Irwin From, shows Perley A. Thomas streetcars 967 and 908 at the end of the line, ready to begin the inbound run, and 927 is approaching the terminal, concluding her outbound run.

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Monday, December 17th, 2007
8:51 pm
Streetcars in Mid-City

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Perley A. Thomas streetcar 922, departing Beauregard Terminal.

New Orleans streetcars in operation today are "double-ended" cars. When they reach the end of the line and are ready to go back, the front becomes the back and vice-versa. At the end of the line, like Beauregard Circle near City Park in this photo, the operator will pull the streetcar into the terminal, stop it, and then change the trolley pole from which the streetcar gets power. The one in what was the rear of the car coming into the terminal is pulled down so it doesn't make contact with the electrical wire overhead. The pole at what was the front of the streetcar is released, so it makes contact with the wire. The poles are wired to the motors on the streetcar such that the motor will turn one way or the other depending on which pole is active. When the switch is made, the streetcar is powered back on, and the operator will leave at the scheduled departure time.

Beauregard Circle is where City Park Avenue, Wisner Blvd., and Esplanade Avenue come together. The circle also feeds into City Park, to the New Orleans Museum of Art. The streetcar terminal at this location was constructed in 2002-2003. In the early part of the 20th century, streetcars ran on the short stretch of City Park Avenue seen above, when the Canal and Esplanade lines ran as belt service.

Riding the streetcar to Beauregard Terminal is one of the best ways to get from downtown to City Park to see the lights of "Celebration in the Oaks," or in the spring, to get over to the Fair Grounds racetrack for the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.

Monday, December 10th, 2007
12:44 pm
CanalStreetCar (dot com): single-truck streetcars, 1901

Two Ford, Bacon & Davis streetcars pass each other on S. Carrollton Avenue at Willow Street in 1901. This car is still configured as it was delivered: open vestibule, Lord Baltimore truck. Car #197 is one of the 70 FB&D cars built by the American Car Company.

The New Orleans & Carrollton Railroad Company (NO&CRR) built two new facilities upon electrification in 1893. One was a power station at Napoleon and Tchoupitoulas (later to be come the NOPSI Training Facility), and the barn and shops of Carrollton station, at Dublin and Willow Streets. Carrollton Station was one block into the neighborhood from the location of this photo.

At this time, a small stand had been constructed at Carrollton and Willow. Car 197 is blocking the view of the stand in this photo, but you can see it in a sequence of photos on the NOSRA website.

Monday, December 3rd, 2007
9:30 am
CanalStreetCar (dot com): Feature Photo of the Week

Von Dullen car 2021, fresh out of the paint shop, sits next to Perley A. Thomas car 903, which is up on the rack in the shop.

There are two components to Carrollton Station. The larger building is the streetcar barn, where the 900s operating on the St. Charles line have been stored and serviced for decades. The barn is open on either side--streetcars enter the barn from the rear, on Jeanette Street, and exit onto Willow Street. Next to the barn are two buildings that are accessible only from Jeanette St., and these are the shop areas. The purpose of the shops for years was to fabricate parts for the 1923-vintage green streetcars. The shops were heavily renovated in the 1990s, as their role changed from just parts and repair to being a full-blown streetcar fabrication facility. Both the 400-series Riverfront and 2000-series Von Dullens were built at Carrollton.

This photo shows the routine work done on the Perley Thomas cars as well as the progress being made on getting the 2000s back out on the street. All the red Von Dullen cars are being stripped, then re-painted, then wrapped in plastic until the re-design and re-build of their propulsion systems is complete.

[Canal Streetcar (dot com)] (Permanent link to this entry)
Sunday, November 11th, 2007
10:06 pm
New Orleans: First revenue run on the St. Charles line

Perley A. Thomas streetcar 921 arrives at St. Charles and Napoleon Avenues, completing the outbound leg of the first revenue run of the St. Charles line since the storm. 921 left Canal Station around 0515CST on Sunday morning, 11-November-2007.

The St. Charles line has been in service since 1831. The storm caused the line's longest service outage, having blown down a significant portion of the overhead wiring and damaging the track. On Saturday, 10-Nov-2007, NORTA ran a three streetcar "parade" to welcome back the line, and revenue service began today.

It's impossible to describe just how important having the 900s back running on St. Charles is to the morale of the city of New Orleans. About the only thing that would create this level of excitement would be a Super Bowl win by Da Saints.

9:25 pm
New Orleans: The Return of the St. Charles Streetcar Line
The St. Charles Streetcar line began operations in 1831 and had not been out of service for more than a few days at a time since the storm two years ago. The storm blew down a significant portion of the overhead wiring for the line. A project to upgrade the electrical system for the streetcars that was planned before the storm has been completed up to Napoleon Avenue. Yesterday, service on the line returned up to the Garden District.

The Warren Easton Senior High School Marching Band led off a 3-streetcar opening run of the St. Charles line on Saturday afternoon. Their post-storm uniforms look fantastic!

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Monday, November 5th, 2007
5:10 pm
New Orleans: 932 on N. Carrollton

Perley A. Thomas streetcar 932, outbound on N. Carrollton, heading to Beauregard Circle. We've had some gorgeous afternoons this Autumn, perfect days for hopping on a streetcar and going out to City Park.

Note that the rollsign on 932 is empty. The rollsigns for the operating 900-series streetcars are as they were when they were added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1971. That means they only have "St. Charles" and "Special," since all the other streetcar lines had been discontinued at that time.

The arch-roof architecture of the 900s dates to 1915, when the 400-series cars designed for Southern Car Company by Mr. Thomas hit the streets of New Orleans. This distinctive design continues to this day, with not only the 900-series but also the 400-series Riverfront and 2000-series Von Dullens.

[Canal Streetcar (dot com)]
(Permanent link to this entry)
Monday, October 22nd, 2007
10:12 am
RTA Streetcar #29 at Carrollton Station

From 2003, this Earl Hampton photo shows NORTA being fully restored in 2003. The metal covering has been mostly removed, exposing the wooden frame. The wood of the 1899-vintage Ford, Bacon & Davis single-truck streetcar was replaced from top to bottom. Car 29 was restored in the shops at Carrollton Station uptown, under the supervision of Elmer Von Dullen.

This photo is a great illustration of just what we want to accomplish with the New Orleans Street Railway Association. While NORTA had the funds back in 2003 to fix up 29, there simply isn't any money to restore the three additional streetcars in storage at Carrollton Station. Even if NORTA could get funding to restore the two Perley A. Thomas streetcars (ex-NOPSI 919 and 924), there's no possibility of getting money to restore 453. Like 29, 453 has a wood-frame, and would not be suitable for regular revenue use, so it wouldn't meet FTA's requirements.

One of the things we'll be looking at doing with NOSRA is holding a conference on the "craft of streetcar construction" at some point. New Orleans has a long tradition of streetcar construction and restoration, and we want to show that off.


[Canal Streetcar (dot com)]
(Permanent link to this entry)
Monday, October 15th, 2007
10:28 am
New Orleans: Von Dullen Streetcars at the Cemeteries Terminal

Von Dullen streetcars 2011 and 2020, along with a bus on the West End line at the Cemeteries Terminal. 2011 is on the single-track stub at the end of the line. When 2011 is ready to depart, the operator will flip the traffic signal to stop autos turning onto Canal from City Park Avenue. 2011 will then switch onto the inbound track and 2020 will be able to pull into the stub track.

Riders coming in from Lakeview on the West End bus line must cross into the Canal Street neutral ground to continue downtown on the streetcar. Keep in mind that Canal street is three lanes wide here, and there is a lot of traffic coming in both directions. There are no "don't walk" signs to safeguard riders who are transferring.

The family walking towards 2020 at the right of this photo is one of the main reasons most of the objections to the various proposals for an new streetcar terminal in this area ring hollow. There is no way those kids should be walking that close to automobile drivers who are preparing to make the left turn onto City Park Avenue to reach points west.

The red Von Dullen streetcars shown in this photo are currently undergoing repairs to replace parts damaged by flooding in the storm. They'll still be a year or two coming back to Canal Street. In the meantime, the 900-series streetcars continue to get riders from downtown to the Cemeteries.

[Canal Streetcar (dot com)]
(Permanent link to this entry)
Monday, October 8th, 2007
11:22 am
New Orleans: Streetcar 866 on the Tulane Belt, 1940s.

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Peley A. Thomas streetcar 866, on Tulane at S. Carrollton Avenue. The direction and roll sign indicate that 866 is running on the Tulane Belt line. The railroad grade crossing gates and the switch tower in the neutral ground are for the tracks leading into the Illinois Central's Union Station at Loyola Avenue. There was a small station at Carrollton Avenue so Uptown passengers could board or leave trains without having to go all the way downtown. (Union Station was torn down in the 1950s to make way for the Union Passenger Terminal complex.) NOPSI 866 ran on various lines in the city, including Canal and St. Charles, until the Canal line's discontinuance in 1964, when it was scrapped.

The stadium in the background is Pelican Stadium, home of the New Orleans Pelicans from 1915 to 1957, when it was demolished. The Pelicans played two seasons at Tad Gormley Stadium in City Park, before the team shut down in 1959. The "Pelicans" name was used again briefly in the 1970s, when the city had a AAA team playing in Da Dome, but that venture failed. The current AAA team for the city is the New Orleans Zephyrs. They kept that name when the team moved from Denver. Because the wooden roller coaster at Pontchartrain Beach was named the "Zephyr," the name stuck.

Pelican Stadium was also home to the "New Orleans Black Pelicans" of the Negro League. For more information on baseball in New Orleans, check out www.neworleansbaseball.com, by S. Derby Gisclair, who has written two books for Arcadia on the subject. (Arcadia was my publisher for the Canal streetcar book.)

This part of New Orleans was still referred to as "back of town" by many, as Mid-City was still a developing neighborhood. Now, Mid-City is a neighborhood in recovery, still working through the aftermath of the storm.

[Canal Streetcar (dot com)] (Permanent link to this entry)

Current Mood: awake
Monday, September 10th, 2007
9:18 am
New Orleans: Experimental Streetcar, 1880s.
From this week's CanalStreetCar (dot com) Weekly Newsletter...

The "Moving Beam" Car

In the 1870s and 1880s (before the electrification of street railway lines), streetcar operating companies were constantly working on methods to run the cars without using animal power. Steam power wasn't usually acceptable, because steam locomotives were too noisy for street railway operations. Anybody with an idea for a propulsion system could get an interview with a streetcar company.

One of the ideas that made its way to New Orleans was the "moving beam" streetcar, seen here being tested near Canal Station. The operator on the left-hand side of the photo would crank up the weel at the end of the car, which would move counterweights and turn gears, which would in turn move the overhead beams. The beams would then turn the large wheel at the back of the streetcar. That big wheel had blocks which came in contact with the ground. As the blocks pushed off on the ground, the car moved forward.

There were a number of problems with this propulsion method. It relied on the operator to occasionally crank it up, which could make for a long work day. The propelling wheel (which looks to me like a land-locked paddlewheel) did not adjust or compensate for irregularities in the street or gorund (such as potholes), so the ride could be bumpy.

The New Orleans City Railway Comnpany never took the "moving beam" car out of the testing phase, so the mule-powered "bobtail" cars continued to be the mainstay of Canal Street operations until electrification.
Monday, September 3rd, 2007
5:19 pm
New Orleans Traction: Perley A. Thomas Streetcars on N. Carrollton Avenue

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Perley A. Thomas streetcar 969 heading inbound on N. Carrollton Avenue.

Prior to the return of the Canal line in 2004, streetcars had never run on N. Carrollton Avenue. The Canal Belt line ran along City Park Avenue to Wisner, then across Bayou St. John to Esplanade Avenue, and the Esplanade Belt line ran in the opposite direction. The City Park line made its way through the neighborhood to City Park Avenue, N. Carrollton Avenue itself never had streetcar trackage.

The idea of the Carrollton Spur was to entice visitors who stay downtown to venture into Mid-City. Attractions such as City Park, the New Orleans Museum of Art, as well as a number of neat restaurants and interesting pubs await those who want a break from Da Quarters.

Since the storm put the Von Dullen cars out of commission, the 900s have been pressed into service once again outside of Uptown. Seeing the Green Ladies in Mid-City is a treat for the streetcar fan, since almost every photo of these streetcars in the neighborhood from the 1940s and 1950s is in black-and-white.

[Canal Streetcar (dot com)]
(Permanent link to this entry)
Monday, February 26th, 2007
11:55 pm
Canal Streetcar (dot com): Feature Photo: Canal Street, 1905

A splendid Alexander Allison photo of Canal Street, looking lakebound from Camp Street. The large building in the background is the original Maison Blanche building, constructed in 1898 and torn down in 1910, to make way for the existing MB building (now the Ritz Carlton Hotel).

There's a lot of streetcar activity here! The larger, double-truck streetcar in the foreground is a "Palace" car on the Canal line. The smaller, single-truck streetcars are a mix of Brills and Ford, Bacon & Davis, running on the various feeder lines coming to Canal Street. There were four tracks running down Canal from Rampart to the terminal trackage in front of the Custom House. Canal trackage was scaled back to two tracks in 1958, ripped up entirely in 1964, and returned to two tracks with the return of the Canal line. The terminal trackage running from the Custom House to the foot of Canal consists of the two tracks that turn onto the Riverfront line, plus a third, center track, for reversing the direction of streetcars during peak hours.

[Canal Streetcar (dot com)] (Permanent link to this entry)

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