During first half of the 20th Century, New Orleans had an extensive streetcar operation. But by 1964, only two streetcar lines remained in operation in New Orleans: Canal Street and St. Charles Avenue. Early that year, the decision was made to convert the Canal Street line to bus operation and retain the St. Charles line as a tourist attraction. This rendered 40 cars surplus; from that group, 12 cars were donated by NOPSI to preservation groups and the rest were scrapped.
The compatibility of track gauge and the age and excellent condition of the equipment moved the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum to express interest in obtaining one of these cars, eight years before they became available. Because of its long-standing interest, PTM was given first choice of the cars being retired.
The Museum’s interest in car 832 came from the fact that in December 1947, it had been featured in a Life Magazine article when Tennessee Williams’ play “A Streetcar Named Desire” debuted on Broadway. Three years later, a magazine article identified 832 as the car regularly assigned to operation on the Desire line. Although the Desire Street line quit operation in 1948, the play and movie continue to bring fame to New Orleans streetcars. Sister car 922 was featured in the 1951 movie version staring Vivian Leigh and Marlon Brando; 922 was restored along with the other 34 ‘Thomas” cars and is still operated regularly on the St. Charles line in New Orleans.
New Orleans 832 was delivered to the museum by railroad in June 1964 and was almost immediately placed into operation because our museum track is the same gauge as New Orleans. NOPSI 832 is very similar in design to PRT 5326, having somewhat taller windows but with no protective guards.
Today, car 832 continues on in the same way as its sister cars that still operate in New Orleans. Designation on the National Register of Historic Places has made the New Orleans streetcars and the 160-year-old St. Charles line an operating museum much like ours. Their fame makes our 832 an even more valuable piece of history which we are very proud to be able to display for you.
|Car Builder||Perley Thomas Car Works Highpoint, NC|
|Car Type||DE City Streetcar|
|Motors||Westinghouse 306CV4 (2@)|
|Status||Restored 1998, in operation|
4. What’s one of the greatest ways that students can learn about the Trolley Era?
Hint: When you are in school you are always excited for a day away from the classroom!