New Orleans History -- Lake Pontchartrain
Monday, May 27, 2024
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Smokey Mary a.k.a. the Pontchartrain Railroad

Dear Julia and Poydras,

In the early 1930s, there was a train that ran in and about the New Orleans area. It was called “Smokey Mary.” Do you know the route and time this train was in operation?

Wilton L. Clay
New Orleans

The name Smokey Mary didn’t refer to a single railroad engine but was the popular name for any of the Pontchartrain Railroad engines that ran along Elysian Fields Avenue from Decatur Street to Milneburg, a once-popular resort area in the vicinity of the present-day University of New Orleans. According to The Streetcars of New Orleans by Louis C. Hennick and E. Harper Charlton, the Pontchartrain Railroad Co. introduced horse-drawn train service April 23, 1831. Less than a year later, on Sept. 17, 1832, the company introduced a steam-driven train. Passenger service on the Pontchartrain Railroad, one of the nation’s oldest lines, ended about a century later, on March 15, 1932, when Smokey Mary made a final trip from Milneberg.

New Orleans Magazine. •

May 1998 - Vol. 32 - Issue 8 - Page - #328