Early Railroads

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Railroad Currency - Image
New Orleans, Jackson & Great Northern Railroad Company currency. (Courtesy of Phyllis Mayhall Barraco)
Sunday Excursion
Sunday Excursion. (Courtesy of Phyllis Mayhall Barraco)

The first railroads were built in the 1830s. Early railroad travel was dangerous as construction was unbelievably crude. Poorly installed rails worked loose and were forced through floors of coaches and cars. The boilers of locomotives would sometimes explode, animals strolled onto the tracks, flying cinders caused fires, heavy rains and floods washed out bridges, and railroad cars would jump the rails. At times, passengers were asked or forced to help get the train going again. To add insult to injury, the railroad crews would occasionally stop the train en route to enjoy a bit of hunting or fishing. Travel improved for German Coast residents when the first railroad lines were opened through St. Charles Parish probably in the early 1850s. Railroad spur lines were of great benefit to plantation and business owners because they connected those sites to the main line.

Bird\'s Eye View
Father Paret’s watercolor painting depicts the Little Red Church and its surroundings in the heart of St. Charles Parish. The area displays present-day locations of Dufresne (Esperanza) and Hahnville on the west bank, across the river from Destrehan and New Sarpy on the east bank. The east bank Little Red Church, its cemetery, and the presbytery are surrounded by several dependency buildings. A visual of pre-Civil War St. Charles Parish.

Train Depots in St. Charles Parish

This text is copyright © material by Marilyn Richoux, Joan Becnel and Suzanne Friloux, from St. Charles Parish, Louisiana: A Pictorial History, 2010.

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Further Reading

Early Railroads Excerpt – New Orleans, Opelousas, and Great Western Railroad
Courtesy St. Charles Parish Planning and Zoning Department