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A look at New Orleans Streetcars in April 1993 and December 2004

by Chris Guenzler

New Orleans April 1993 a completely unexpected layover!

New Orleans 4/6/93-4/10/93

This trip was going to be the first Transcontinental Sunset Limited eastbound to Florida. I had talked my friend Bill into taking the trip with me. In New Orleans where two Amtrak police officers boarded to escort me off of train after I had gotten sick from drinking too much. At first they were going to remove Bill too but he convinced them that he was sober and that I could take care of myself when I sobered up. Bill asked them if they could get me a taxi to the nearest hotel and they agreed. He asked me for his ticket back from Hollywood, Fl to New Orleans which I gave him. Then the four of us walked off the train through the station where they put me in a taxi cab and the driver drove me away. The taxi cab driver took me to the nearest hotel which wants nothing to do with me as it's Final Four NCAA Basketball Final Weekend. I sat down thinking of what I was going to do when the bell boy came up to me wondering what was wrong. I told him my sad tale and he said he was once in a situation like mine so he would call around for a room for me. He made one call and told me there's a room at the Le Meridian waiting for me but it will cost me a hundred and fifty six dollars a night. The taxi cab driver comes in and I told him the new plan and he drove me to the Le Meridian. We pulled up at the hotel and out to the taxi rushed a bell boy who took my bag and escorted me to the front desk. I said, "Hello, I'm Chris Guenzler and I believed a call was made on my behalf." "Yes, Mr. Guenzler, we have a room for you and how many nights would you like to stay with us?" "Three!" I said and they booked me in for a three night stay. A bellhop took me up to my room and I excused myself for the evening. I needed to sleep to recover from my drunkenness and my stupidity. The one good thing was I would get to see this city that I had never been to before!

I woke up that next morning realizing where I was at and what I had done. I laid in bed just thinking about what happened to me and what I could do to change things. I stared up at ceiling thinking about where Bill should be now and what he must think of me. I'm really depressed. I decided I needed to talk to someone about it so I called a Lutheran Church and asked to speak with a Pastor. I was told he would make a call at my hotel room in about thirty minutes so I got up, showered and changed into some new clothes. He arrived and we talked for about twenty five minutes. He ended with, "You see your mistake clearly that you made, plan a change and now go out and enjoy New Orleans." I thanked him for his words and time before I sat back and started thinking. It was really quiet but I was hearing bells, almost like trolley bells so I went outside to investigate.

Around the corner on the next street was the St. Charles Street Car Line, that at least explained the bells I was hearing. I rode out to it's end and the driver told me about the Riverfront Street Car Line to which he sold me a day pass so I could ride both as often as I wanted.

I rode the line to the west end and detrained for a picture of RTA 923.

I waited for the next car which was RTA 904. I rode that car back into town and then walked down Canal Street to find the Riverfront Streetcar.

Two views of Riverfront Streetcar 456. I took a round trip on this car.

After my ride I set up to get the two Riverfront Cars passing each other. I walked back up Canal Street in search of food. Once I was full, I went back for another ride on the St. Charles Line before setting up for pictures near my hotel.

RTA 963.

RTA 923 turning off Canal Street.

RTA 972 on Carondalett Street.

RTA 972.

RTA 948.

Another view of 948.

RTA 904.

Two views of RTA 904 on Canal Street.

RTA 965.

RTA 937 leads a string of cars one after another. That is all I took on this unexpected trip to New Orleans.

For this complete trip click here.

New Orleans December 2004 another unexpected layover!

With no one from Amtrak to help sleeping car passengers any place to be found in the building after they had terminated the Sunset Limited here due to extreme lateness and a long line at the ticket counter, I decided to walk to the Maison St Charles Quality Inn to get a room for two nights. The nice front counter lady gave me a rate of $62 a night. After putting my stuff in my room, I was off to ride the new Canal Street Streetcar Line.

Out in front of my hotel is the Erato Street stop of the St. Charles Streetcar Line which took me downtown to Canal Street where I got off to ride the new streetcar line.

The Canal Street Streetcar Line 12/20/04

After just a few minute wait, a Canal Street - Cemeteries Streetcar stopped to take me out to City Park Avenue. The car would make a total of 24 stops along its route from the Waterfront to City Park Avenue.

For the downtown areas the tracks are in the cement median of Canal Street. All stops along this part of the streetcar route are on the right.

Once the grassy medians were reached, the stops were then on the left in the middle of the medians.

The junction with the City Park Line{Carrolton Spur}.

The line ends at City Park Avenue with the above ground cemeteries in view.

The 1840 Cypress Grove Cemetery.

The 1852 Greenwood Cemetery.

The Canal Street Cars were built new in the shops and perform excellently. They are extremely quiet and comfortable to ride. My operator for my first trip was Richard Garnett and was very helpful pointing out things as well as giving information. I back tracked down Canal Street to Carrolton Street to wait for my next ride over some recently built tracks.

The Carrolton Spur 12/20/04

This route starts at the east end of the Waterfront Streetcar Line then comes up Canal Street to Carrolton where it turns east to Beauregard Circle. Just as I had gotten off the Canal Car then a City Park Car pulled in. After a brief problem with a switch, we turned onto Carrolton Street. The line runs in the left hand traffic lane along a grassy median with palm trees growing down the middle. The route has five stops and at City Park Avenue runs single track to the end of the line where there is a two track station.

Pictures at the end of this line.

GT Beauregard 1818-1893 General CSA 1861-1865. Also here is a railroad in the park and Bayou St. John is to the east and is quite beautiful. Reboarding car 2003, I returned to downtown and thought it would end at the Convention Center. Wrong, the streetcar kept going turning east on the Waterfront Line all the way to the French Market stop where I got off. Now I would wait for a Waterfront Streetcar to come to pick me up for a ride.

The Waterfront Streetcar Line 12/20/04

Car 460 pulled in and after changing poles, picked up three new riders with three already aboard and took off west leaving French Market. The operator gave us a fast ride skipping the Ursiline, Toulouse and Bienville Street stops. We did stop at Canal Street to let off those three passengers who had already been on.

Poydras and Julia Street stops were just a brief pause before we reached the west end of the line at Churchill Chase. Here I got off and waited a few minutes for Car 463 which the 460 had followed to here. I took the 463 back to Canal Street where I walked a short block to a waiting Canal Streetcar which took me to Bourbon Street. Here I walked across Canal Street to a waiting St. Charles Streetcar which took me back to the hotel.

Another St. Charles Streetcar Ride 12/20/04

After making some phone calls including one to Amtrak, I relaxed watching some television. I then rode a very full St Charles Line Streetcar out to the end of the line which I hadn't ridden yet on this trip. On the way back I rode the operator seat in the rear of the car which was really fun. We passed people waiting and they gave me looks like "Why didn't you stop!" I would point down the track so they would see the one coming behind us in a few minutes.

I enjoyed a KFC dinner which I brought back to my room. I made a few more phone calls including one to Richard of Lets Talk Trains fame. I watched Inspector Gadget 2 before calling it a night.

The Day of Rest 12/21/04

Slept in late for me{7:30 AM} before walking over to Amtrak to exchange my ticket and the like. With the station store closed. I walked over to the Hyatt Hotel for some post cards. I stopped on a bench, filled them out and mailed them off at the Post Office on the way back to the hotel.

I went to the St. Charles Tavern for breakfast. The Tavern is on the northeast corner of St. Charles and Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, a short walk for the hotel. Many St. Charles Streetcars rumbled by during my meal. I went to Walgreens for more Coca Cola for the trip home before returning to the hotel for my camera.

A short walk to Lee Circle gave me a chance to watch the St. Charles Line in action. After many different pictures, I returned to the hotel for a day of rest before I made an afternoon trip back to Lee Circle.

I gained some elevation for some of these pictures by standing on walkways of buildings built well above the street. I really do love the sound these old St. Charles Streetcars make! What a great visit I had with the New Orleans Streetcars on this trip!

For this complete trip click here.