Pontchartrain Railroad

The Pontchartrain Railroad was one of the first lines completed in the United States. First opening in 1831, and remaining opened uninterrupted for over 100 years, it ran the five-mile length of Elysian Fields Avenue, running from the river in the Marigny to Lake Pontchartrain in Milneburg. Initially, service was only available by horse-drawn omni-buses, until the first steam engine arrived in 1832. The omni-buses remained on the line until at least the 1860s, becoming less frequent as steam engines became more reliable. The infamous, sooty exhaust of the steam engine running this line inspired the name "Smoky Mary". The railroad transported both passengers and goods. Passengers reminisced exiting the train in Milneburg with a thick layer of black soot on their clothes. The railroad helped promote the early boom of Milneburg, which evolved from an industrial port to a popular resort.

Images

Early Pontchartrain Steam Engine

Early Pontchartrain Steam Engine

This is a mid 19th century artist's depiction of the Pontchartrain railroad. The steam engines and cars would become more sophisticated over the 104 years of service. Source: Louisiana State University Library, Public Domain, http://louisdl.louislibraries.org/uz/p15140coll21,378 View File Details Page

Summer of 1844 Schedule of Departure

Summer of 1844 Schedule of Departure

This advertisement from the Daily Picayune shows the schedule of departure for the Pontchartrain Railroad. Fares have been reduced to 25 cents one-way. Source: The Daily-Picayune, published as The Daily Picayune.; Date: 02-28-1844; Page: 1 View File Details Page

Engineer John White on Dealing with Drunkards

Engineer John White on Dealing with Drunkards

Along with carrying passengers for pleasure, the last coach was routinely filled up with drunkards. Engineer John White remembers the humorous manner by which these deviants were handled. Source: Evelyn Reid Griffith, Dixie, The Times-Picayune States Roto Magazine; Date: 10-14-1956; Page: 132 View File Details Page

The Camps at Milneburg

The Camps at Milneburg

Fishing camps were lined up on the Pontchartrain's shore at Milneburg. This 1880's photograph of a couple amongst the camps shows Smoky Mary billowing over an extension onto Lake Pontchartrain in the background. Image Credit: Campanella, Catherine. Lake Pontchartrain. '© 2007 View File Details Page

At the Milneburg Terminus, Boudro's Restaurant

At the Milneburg Terminus, Boudro's Restaurant

Boudro's Restaurant and Gardens was one of the first and most popular resorts, flourishing for decades from the ridership of The Pontchartrain Railroad. Built in 1830 and burned down in 1865, this is the immediately rebuilt Boudro's in the background of Smoky Mary's tracks. View File Details Page

Cite this Page:

Graham Cooper, “Pontchartrain Railroad,” New Orleans Historical, accessed July 26, 2017, http://neworleanshistorical.org/items/show/328.
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