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Heritage Trolley Site
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New Orelans Canal Opening - April 2004

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Canal Line Opening

The re-opened line runs the length of Canal from the Mississippi River to the Cemeteries, as it traditionally did until 1964, and adds a mile-long branch along North Carrolton to City Park. The cars serving the line were built by the New Orleans Regional Transit Authority under the expert guidance of streetcar legend Elmer von Dullen. This opening cemented New Orleans position as one of the leading operators of heritage trolleys, both historic and new. Click on the photos below to enlarge these views taken by Jim Schantz on the opening weekend:

New views of Canal Street now resemble images of decades ago as streetcars enter downtown after a 40 year absence.

Two of the new von Dullen cars pass near Interstate 10 at Claiborne looking lakebound along Canal Street.

During the trial peiod before opening the line advertising panels informed the public of testing.

An inbound car passes North Rampart Street where special trackwork has already been installed for the future Desire line.

Opening day riding was heavy--30,000 passengers reported on the 21 cars operating--and ridership has continued to be high.

A procession of cars along the grassed "neutral ground" reservation after a breakdown disrupted opening day service.

Riverfront line cars now enter service by running along Canal from the car barn. They carry passengers enroute to the Mississippi.

Along the new North Carrollton branch, the cars operate in traffic lanes, but passenger platforms are in the neutral ground.

The cars are equipped with handicapped lifts and they have been heavily used in the early days.

At the downriver terminus of the Riverfront line tracks have been added for Canal cars to reverse as well.

Some Canal cars reverse at the foot of Canal. Others turn and continue downriver (north) along the river.

The Canal terminus at the Cemeteries is quite tight. Plans call for an expanded terminus nearby if land can be obtained.

At the City Park terminus of the North Carrollton branch there are two tracks for cars to reverse.


Initial reports indicate the Canal line is exceeding its ridership expectations even though it is still suffering from a fare collection system that slows operation and several other teething problems. The following article from the Times Picayune on August 16, 2004 tells the story:

Canal Line Progress - October 2002

Construction of the heritage streetcar line on Canal Street and the cars to run on the line were showing rapid progress in late 2002. Construction was in evidence along the length of Canal from downtown to the cemeteries with rail in place on about half the route. Work had also begun on the branch along North Carrolton to City Park. As of October 14, 2002, 16 of the 24 cars for the line were under construction at Carrolton Station on schedule, with the remaining cars to follow. These views illustrate construction progress:

Track installation includes a crossover in downtown New Orleans.

Further out Canal, concrete is poured only halfway up the railhead to allow planting grass up to rail head.

The former bus garage at the Randolph Center being rebuilt to serve as the maintenance center for the new line.

The first rails appear at the outer terminus at the Cemeteries, in mid street exactly as with the original line.

Initial assembly of the frame sub assemblies illustrates the sturdy side sill and bolster structures.

A complete car body after mating to trucks and painting.

Clearly visible at this later stage of assembly is the roof-mounted air conditioning unit.

Modern equipment in a classic car form. Electronic control equipment is housed in bulkhead cabinets at both sides of one end.

Construction director Elmer von Dullen demonstrates the foldup seat next to the center handicapped entrances making space for wheel chairs.

The third Canal car complete except for destination signs and other minor features.


March 2001 Views

Click on the photos below to enlarge them to full size:

The prorotype car for New Orleans' new Canal line rounds Lee Circle on its way into service on the Canal starter route.

A modern bus, due to be replaced bya heritage streetcar, passes the Canal prototype car on the initial segment.

The interior of the Canal prototype car shows traditional seating, but with modern handicapped lifts, and a flat ceiling hiding air conditioning.

A profile of the Canal prototype in front of Harrah's Casino at the foot of Canal Street.

One of the Riverfront Streetcars, also built by RTA craftsman, in service along the banks of the Mississippi.

An interior view of a Riverfront car shows the arched ceiling as the car is not air conditioned, plus one of the handicapped lifts.

A 75-year old Perley-Thomas car rounds Lee Circle on the St. Charles route.

Two Perley-Thomas veterans pass on the tree-lined St. Charles "neutral ground" or center reserved track.

At Carrolton Station, the traditional New Orleans streetcar barn, one Perley Thomas original and two Riverfron replicas await service.


This news article from the Times-Picayune covers progress on the Canal line as of July, 2002:

The following press release and PDF images of a brochure were distributed by Brookville Mining Equipment at the APTA September 2002 transit expo in Las Vegas. (Viewing the PDF images requires Adobe Acrobat Reader - visit www.adobe.com to obtain a free copy if you do not have it).


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