Sunday, July 13, 2014

Pontchartrain Railroad -- July 13, 2014

The Pontchartrain Railroad (Rail-Road) in New Orleans was one of the earliest railroads in the United States.  It was chartered and opened for business in 1830, using horses to hauls railcars from Faubourg Marigny, on the Mississippi, downstream from the French Quarter, to Milneberg, then a separate town, on the shore of Lake Pontchartrain. The line's first steam locomotive arrived in 1831 or 1832.  The line ran in the neutral ground (median) of Elysian Fields Avenue.

The railroad hauled passengers and freight and did well because Lake Pontchartrain offered a faster exit to the Gulf than did the river.  Around 1900, the freight business declined because larger ships could not call at Milneberg, but passenger traffic increased as Milneberg became a popular resort.  See Jelly Roll Morton's tune "Milneberg Joys." 

The line suffered from automobile competition in the 1920s, and then the city began a land reclamation project that caused most of the resorts to close.  The railroad stopped hauling passengers in 1931 and freight in 1935. 

I first read about the Pontchartrain Railroad when I was a kid.  As a Christmas present, I received a reprint of a 1930s anthology about railroads. 

The schedule is from the 03-June-1915 New Orleans Herald

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