O-K Line: Railroad Collision at Southport, 1926

Stop 2 of 4 in the O-K Rail Line, Kenner to New Orleans tour

On the evening of November 18, 1926, a railcar of the Orleans-Kenner Traction Co. (popularly called the "O-K Line") was traveling through Southport when it was hit by the rear end of a Louisiana Railway & Navigation Co. train. An L. R. & N. engine was backing a string of boxcars toward the river on one of its switch tracks and collided with the O-K car, which had not yet cleared the crossing.

The impact flipped the streetcar on its side and derailed two of the L. R. & N. boxcars. Though one passenger was hurled through one of the windows and others were trampled in the overturned car, no deaths or serious injuries resulted. The sturdy steel construction of the O-K car was credited with saving the lives of all passengers on board. The L. R. & N. Railroad was blamed for the accident because they were reportedly operating without lights.

The accident occurred just west of the Orleans/Jefferson Parish line along present-day Jefferson Highway, which developed along the O-K tracks in the 1920s and immediately contributed to the line's decline.

Due to the industrial character of the Southport area, the O-K Line had to cross numerous railroad tracks upon entering Jefferson Parish. In addition to the L. R. & N., the factories and warehouses of Southport were served by the the Illinois Central (I. C.), Yazoo & Mississippi Valley (Y. & M. V.), and New Orleans Public Belt (N. O. P. B.) Railroads, among others. A few switch tracks and remnants of industry from this area remain and can be seen along Jefferson Highway in Southport.

Images

The collision made front-page news the morning after, but fortunately there were no deaths or life-threatening injuries to report. Though the body of the O-K coach was separated from its truck, its sturdy steel construction ensured that it did not cave in and was credited with saving the lives of the passengers. "The Times-Picayune," November 19, 1926. View File Details Page

O-K Line / L. R. & N. Wreckage

O-K Line / L. R. & N. Wreckage

This image was taken from the track of the O-K Line looking toward the city. The O-K tracks were located in what is now the median of Jefferson Highway, which was then in the process of being extended from Shrewsbury Road to South Claiborne Avenue at the parish line. November 18, 1926 photography by A. Pelle. Courtesy of Louisiana Division/City Archives, New Orleans Public Library. View File Details Page

O-K Line / L. R. & N. Wreck, Alternate Angle

O-K Line / L. R. & N. Wreck, Alternate Angle

This photo was taken by the same photographer but from the L. R. & N. track, showing the derailed boxcar as well. Louis C. Hennick and E. Harper Charlton's, The Streetcars of New Orleans. View File Details Page

Southport area, 1932

Southport area, 1932

A portion of the USGS Topographical map of New Orleans West quadrant showing the Southport area as it existed in 1932. The path of the O-K Line, which ceased operations two years earlier, is shown marked in red to highlight the numerous railroad lines crossed by the O-K. These grade crossings were often a source of conflict for the interurban line. Department of Geography and Cartography, Louisiana State University. View File Details Page

Cite this Page:

Jeremy Deubler, “O-K Line: Railroad Collision at Southport, 1926,” New Orleans Historical, accessed April 30, 2017, http://neworleanshistorical.org/items/show/312.
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