Riding the Audubon Park Train

Audubon Park Train. Audubon Park Commission Series.

(New Orleans) Municipal Government Photograph Collection.

While cruising through Pixabay this morning in search of an early morning sunlight photograph to use on my Facebook page, I chanced to come across this picture. It shows old rails  that surely carried a park train at some point. Now, of course, the rails are warped and twisted, some of the ties have rotted away, and ballast (gravel) is lacking. I hope someone will restore the old railroad and bring it back for people to enjoy.

I always enjoyed riding park trains when I was young, particularly the one at Audubon Park in New Orleans. The locomotive resembled an Electromotive Division E-8, and its livery paid homage to the Atchison Topeka & Santa Fe's war bonnet livery. Everything was as close to real railroading as it possibly could have been, from the engineer's overalls and hat to the covered platforms at each station stop. It was made extra nice by the moss-hung live oaks that shaded the route.

I'm trying to remember whether we rode the park train when my school class rode a real train, the Kansas City Southern's "Southern Belle," on our end-of-the-year outing to New Orleans. I loved that trip! To this day, I remember the train crossing College Drive and making its way through the lowlands between Gonzales and Lake Pontchartrain. We went to Audubon Park. I can't imagine taking a group of first graders to the park without letting them ride on the train, so surely we rode the park train on that outing. Sadly, the train is no more. The old Streamliner rolling stock surely wore out after carrying so many young passengers around Audubon Park for what surely must have been forty or more years (the only source I could find merely says the train was a mid-century feature of the park). 

You know me well enough by now to know that, when asked whether we should visit the zoo first or ride the train first, I always wanted to ride the train. I didn't get my way very often, but when I did, I loved every turn of the wheels.

Copyright (c) 2020-2021, Virginia Tolles

Banner photograph by Jill Wellington / Pixabay