Louisiana Division/City Archives   New Orleans Public Library

Image of the Month
March 2009

Before the Huey P. Long Bridge opened in 1935 the only way for railroads to cross the Mississippi River in the New Orleans area was by ferry. The Southern Pacific, operating between New Orleans and the West Coast, used massive barges that were fitted out with rails. Trains were broken down at River's edge, cars were rolled onto the ferry in sections, and the whole was reassembled on the other side after the crossing was completed. The action took place near Avondale, just upriver from where the Huey stands today.

The Huey P. Long Bridge was not the first to carry railroad trains over the Mississippi but it is surely among the most impressive such structures. It rises 153 feet above the River and measures just under 23,000 feet in length (that's the railroad length--the highway portion is a mere 8,076 feet long). The Huey is now in the middle of a seven-year improvement project designed mainly to upgrade the highway portion of the structure to modern standards. The upgrade is being done by the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development but the Bridge itself is owned by the Public Belt Railroad Commission, an agency of the City of New Orleans. All of that aside, perhaps when the improvements are completed sometime in 2012 or 2013 the past service of the Mastodon will once again be remembered?!

Click the image to see a larger version.

Click HERE to visit our old (1996-2007) Images of the Month Gallery archives.

Back to Home