Louisiana August 19, 2019
Most People Don’t Know The Oldest Operating Streetcar Is Right Here In Louisiana
For history buffs, Louisiana is a bit of a gold mine. From the many
plantations that line River Road to Poverty Point, there’s certainly no shortage of history in Louisiana. There’s one landmark that’s been in operation for over 180 years, and you can climb aboard this historic streetcar whenever you’d like! Today we’re taking a look at the St. Charles Streetcar line in New Orleans; the oldest continuously operated streetcar line in the world.
The St. Charles streetcar line in New Orleans began in 1835 as a passenger railway between New Orleans and a small town called Carrollton, which has since been absorbed as a part of New Orleans.
The line was one of the first passenger railroads in the country, and it remains the oldest continuously operated streetcar in the world.
In its earliest days, the streetcar line was powered by steam locomotives.
However, as the area along the streetcar line became more populated and the housing market continued to grow, complaints about the noise and the amount of soot left behind by these locomotives began to rise, prompting the companies to look to new methods of transportation.
Transportation was then switched to cars that were powered by mules and horses.
Towards the latter part of the 19th century, the city began to experiment with new methods of transportation that was more powerful than horses, but without the problems of locomotives.
The city began to experiment with electric-powered cars in 1884 and then developed for widespread use in 1893.
All the while, competing streetcar companies were operating various lines throughout the city which resulted in poor service, inconsistent streetcar service, and overall a messy and inefficient transportation system.
By the 1920s, the city formed the New Orleans Public Service, Inc.
This consolidated all public transit, eliminating the inconsistent service that was a growing frustration to New Orleanians. As a result, service became more reliable and repairs became more cost-effective.
The St. Charles line was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973.
In 2014, the National Park Service added the streetcar line to the list of National Historic Landmarks, joining the San Francisco cable car system as one of only two moving streetcar National Historic Landmarks.
The St. Charles Streetcar line operates 24 hours a day, passing through some of the most scenic parts of New Orleans.
The vintage, dark green streetcars run along the six-mile stretch from Carondelet at Canal through Uptown, around the Riverbend to Carrollton at Claiborne. It’s quite the scenic ride and one that every Louisianan should take at least once.
Have you ever taken a ride on the St. Charles Streetcar line? Let us know in the comments below!