Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Historical Markers

According to the Historical Marker Project website, there are 45 historical markers in St. Tammany Parish. They share a variety of historical highlights across the area, giving us an idea of the people and places that contributed to early St. Tammany. Here is their list, with links to the individual pages to the markers.



In 1699 Bienville visited the Colapissa Indians who lived in this area. The Indians called the Pearl River "Taleatcha" ("rock river") because of pearls found in shells from its waters. The French found the river water good to drink.  


Dedicated To The Memory Of Those Who  The Defense Of Our Country And All Who Served In The Cause Of Freedom 


In 1907, Guido Alexius and his sons Alfred, Cintio and John, founded Alexius Brothers and Company; and later his son Horace joined in the business. In 1915, this landmark establishment, originally a gym, was purchased. Later in the 20th century, Guido's grandsons G.C. and Haller Alexius operated the hardware store at this location until 1985. In addition, portions of the land were donated by the Alexius family for the construction of the Covington Trailhead.

The Old Railroad Depot- The original depot faced New Hampshire Street with a passenger and freight terminal facing east. During the mid-1900s, the depot was moved one block to the present site (now a restaurant). The St. Tammany Special line left New Orleans at 4:30 p.m. and arrived in Covington at 6:15 p.m. It would leave Covington at 6:45 a.m. and arrive in New Orleans at 8:30 a.m. daily. This train was composed of elegant coaches and contained parlor buffet cars. 


English side- Abbé Rouquette (1813-1887), poet and priest, lived as missionary among Choctaw Indians in region of Bayou Lacombe from 1859 till his death. The Choctaw called him "Chata Ima," meaning "Like a Choctaw."

French side"Abbé Rouquette (1813-1887), poéte et prêtre, vécut comme un missionair entre les Indiens Choctaws de la région Bayou Lacombe de 1859 jusqua'à sa mort. Les Choctaws l'appelérent "Chata Ima" qui est "comme un Choctaw." 



Public "Ox Lot" Parking

Unique to Covington's downtown business district and a credit to our forefathers, our original town grid layout allowed for public squares in the middle of each block for the purpose of trade and commerce. Farmers would bring their oxen-laden carts to town loaded with wares and conduct business in these designated center block locations. Traditionally called "ox lots" and largely responsible for Covington's designation as a national historic district, today's use provides free public off-street parking for downtown visitors and employees.

Founded July 4, 1876, H.J. Smith and Sons Hardware and Museum is the oldest hardware and general store in the parish, housing unique artifacts pertaining to the history of Covington. Of note are the dugout cypress canoe and lead coffin. It is a regular stop for school field trips. Cotton was brought in from north of town and Mississippi plantations to be shipped to New Orleans. As many as 40,000-50,000 bales went through Covington in a year. The wagons pulled by teams of oxen regularly lined Columbia Street from the cemetery to the landing. 


The St. Tammany Fishing Pier was built from sections of the original I-10 Twin Span Bridges which opened December 21, 1965. Tens of thousands of cars used these bridges to cross Lake Pontchartrain between Slidell and New Orleans until the morning of August 29, 2005 when Hurricane Katrina made its final landfall. A storm surge in excess of 16 feet, combined with that water's return to the Gulf of Mexico destroyed the twin bridges. This destruction became one of the storm's most iconic images. St. Tammany Parish Government, partnering with LA DOTD and the LA Dept. of Wildlife Fisheries, chose to create a fishing pier as a new public use for the remnants of the bridges and as a testament to the strength and resiliency of the citizens who call southeastern Louisiana their home. 


During the Reconstruction Period, trade was still slow as the main source of land transportation was still the ox and the wagon. From the mid-1800s, the railroads were primarily used access the area's vast timber reserves, but once built, they were quickly put to use by the burgeoning tourism and resort industry. On May 16, 1888, the East Louisiana Railroad reached Covington, heralding an economic boom. The flow of people and commerce that first came by river exploded with the arrival of the railroad. 


Three rivers and several Indian trails converged in the area where Covington was founded. These major trade routes are what placed Covington at the center of commerce. They became the lifeline of trade and transport between points north of Lake Pontchartrain and the markets in New Orleans and beyond. When the bridges periodically washed out from logs floating down the river, the community would rally to restore these vital links. 



Original Homestead of Walker Percy 

Homestead owned by Walker Percy, who was an American author and philosopher. He is best known for his philosophical novels set in and around New Orleans, the first of which, The Moviegoer, won the U.S. National Book award for fiction. Walker Percy along with 21 other noted authors created the fellowship of Southern Writers. 

Erected and Dedicated To The Soldiers Of World War I1920; Restored 2010 By St. Tammany Parish Kevin Davis, Parish President.


Columbia Street meets the river at the Columbia Street Landing. It was the first place visitors saw when they arrived in Covington. It was also the last stop on land for the area's principal exports on their way to market via the Bogue Falaya River across Lake Pontchartrain to New Orleans. In 1890, Covington's new town hall was situated in the ox lot in the middle of the square bounded by Boston, Columbia, Rutland and Florida streets. This block of Columbia Street naturally developed as the principal commercial area in the town.  


The steam engine on display in Houltonville is typical of many such engines employed as portable power plants from the time of their introduction 1847 through the 1930's. This engine was built by the Geiser Manufacturing Company of Waynesboro, Pennsylvania, in 1908. This was their model "P", the largest portable engine the Geiser Company ever made. Only 82 such engines were built, and this one is the only known survivor. 

The engine was put back into operating condition in 1970 and is capable of running the sawmill attached to it today.The sawmill presently attached to the steam engine is a movable sawmill made in Chattanooga, Tennessee, by the Corley Manufacturing Company, and is commonly called a groundhog mill. 

Together with the steam engine it illustrates a small, country steam sawmill typical in America during the last half of the 19th-first quarter of the 20th-century. It was last owned and operated by the Varisco Brothers of Hammond, Louisiana.


In 1810 residents of Louisiana's Florida Parishes rose in an armed insurrection and overthrew the Spanish government.The Independent Republic of West Florida existed for 74 days before being forcibly annexed by American forces on December 10, 1810.

 Waldheim Church

Built be German Settlers, the Waldheim Methodist Church was dedicated September 12, 1875 as BONIFACE CHURCH by The Rev. J.B.A. Ahrens, D.D.Presiding elder, Louisiana District German Mission Conference of East Texas and Louisiana Methodist Episcopal Church, South.Services in German and English for Many Years. TABERNACLE of the GERMAN SETTLEMENT CAMP GROUNDS --Erected approximately 100 feet east of the Church under the leadership of THE REV. GABRIEL R. ELLIS. First service held September 22, 1887. Annual Camp Meetings which were held for 20 years drew thousands of persons to worship. 


Affectionately called Salmen Lodge by the Scouts, this French Creole cottage was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2006 and is one of a few early structures preserved along Bayou Liberty. Built by one of the early settlers with bricks made on site, evidence suggests this structure served as a trading post for Native Americans and early Spanish and French settlers. An 1885 property deed indicated the building was used as a store and that a ferry and landing operated nearby. 


The 130 acres of the Camp Salmen Nature Park were once part of the Salmen Brick and Lumber Company. Many bricks used to build New Orleans were manufactured on this site. The only remaining building in the camp is of historical and architectural significance. It is a French Creole residence and one of only 26 buildings in the parish which date before the Civil War. It has been named the Salmen Lodge, and is on the National Register of Historic Places. 

According to legend, in 1921 an unknown Boy Scout shared an umbrella with Fritz Salmen of the Salmen Brick and Lumber Company. The scout refused a tip, and this led to Salmen's company donating a 72.5 acre tract of land on Bayou Liberty for use as a scouting camp in 1924. In 1956, Fritz's son Fred donated another 35 acres adjoining Camp Salmen.
 
PRESENT CAMP SALMEN
 
Camp Salmen was a Boy Scout summer camp for nearly 60 years. In 2001, St. Tammany Parish entered into an agreement with the Trust for Public Lands to acquire the property. One of the primary goals of the Camp Salmen Nature Park is to restore a unique ecological treasure through a comprehensive management program. 
This will lead to the property being a living museum, housing both restored historic properties and the full collection of plants and animals which can flourish in this habitat. In the Grotto Garden, visitors may enjoy a variety of native flora.The camp is divided into six different management areas, according to the different landscapes and habitats found within each. There are four trail loops (called Interpretive Journeys) designated on the next map, and each trail loop will bring visitors to one or more different landscapes. 
Plants and animals native to these areas can be seen on the trail loops. The Interpretive Journey trail system will include approximately 32,500 linear feet of interpretive trails and boardwalks. Educational signs will guide hikers through the management areas and point out environmental and historical points of interest.

FUTURE OF CAMP SALMEN
 
By managing the different landscapes and habitats found in Camp Salmen, much of the park will be returned to how it appeared to early European settlers in the 18th century. The completion of all the Interpretive Journeys will provide visitors an opportunity to learn about this important part of Louisiana history and natural habitat. 
These trails will eventually link with the Tammany Trace, a 31-mile rails-to-trails recreational corridor which connects the St. Tammany cities of Covington, Mandeville, Abita Springs, Lacombe and Slidell.The ecological management areas will allow for growth and development of a variety of habitats, including a Long Leaf Pine Savannah.

The preservation of the park will create one of the most important educational tools in Southeast Louisiana. The park will eventually provide a Welcome and Nature Center, with rooms available for instruction and presentations.Please enjoy the history and ecological treasure that is Camp Salmen Nature Park. 


This Tablet is erected in memory of Fritz Salmen - A pioneer industrialist who in 1924 gave this land to be used as a Boy Scout camp site. Dedicated to the development of good citizenship of American youth.


This sugar mill in Fontaintebleau State Park operated similarly to other steam-powered mills of the mid 1800's. Molasses was drawn out of raw sugar cane by heating it in five kettles known as the "batterie." The cane juice was transferred from the largest kettle called the ""grande" into the next four kettles repeatedly until the sugar was partially crystalized (sic)

Then the sugar is transported in a series of troughs and cooled for 24 hours. The sugar was then put into hogshead barrels with holes on the bottom called Potting-casts. Each hole in the Potting-cast was plugged with crushed cane which drew the molasses away from the sugar and into a cistern. After the molasses was drained away the hogshead barrels of sugar could be shipped by rail or canal to barges on Lake Pontchartrain.

Resting place of pre-Louisiana Purchase colonial settlers, veterans of the War of 1812 and the Civil War, and many men and women of great importance to local and national history. 



The Southern Hotel

At the turn of the 20th century, Covington was famous for its healthful, healing environment. Excursionists came by schooner and by rail to breathe the pine-scented air and drink the pure waters. To accommodate the many guests, Covington, like other towns on the north shore, offered a selection of hotels and home-like resorts. The Southern Hotel opened its doors on June 1, 1907. The hotel, designed in the shape of the letter "H," was constructed at a cost of $100,000. The chef and his assistants were formally in the employ of first class hotels and restaurants in New Orleans. There were 200 feet of galleries overlooking New Hampshire Street, a formal garden and a tennis court. Tame and exotic animals resided in cages in the central lobby surrounding an artesian fountain. The building houses government offices from the 1980's until a few years before its restoration began in 2012. …

John Slidell was an American politician and diplomat. Born in New York City in 1793, he later moved to New Orleans, where he practiced law from 1819 to 1835. He married Mathilde Deslonde, a member of a respected family. A member of the state House of Representatives, John Slidell unsuccessfully ran for Congress in 1828, but held the office of U.S. District Attorney from 1829-1833.
He was then elected as States Rights Democrat to the 28th and 29th U.S> Congress and served from March 4, 1843 until his resignation on November 10, 1845. In 1850, Slidell was elected to the U.S. Senate. He was reelected in 1853 and became a major influence in the administration of President James Buchanan. 
At one point, he was known as "the most powerful man in the United States"Upon Louisiana's secession from the Union, Confederate President Jefferson Davis appointed Slidell as a special envoy to France with a mission of seeking diplomatic assistance and procuring war resources. While on his mission, Slidell was taken from the RMS Trent, which was seized by the U.S. After his release, he arrived in Paris in January 1862. 
Through the banking house of Baron Emile Erlanger, Slidell arranged a major bond issue for the Confederacy. He remained in Europe after the Civil WAr. He died on July 29, 1871, in Cowes, Isle of Wight, England.

 In the course of Slidell's diplomatic and banking transactions, his daughter Mathilde met and married Baron Emile Erlanger's son, Frederick. Frederick Erlanger succeeded his father as Baron and participated in building the New Orleans and Northeastern Railroad. He named the first settlement in honor of his father-in-law, John Slidell. 



Slidell, Louisiana was founded in 1883 during construction of a major new railroad from New Orleans to Meridian, Mississippi. The New Orleans and Northeastern Railroad established a building camp at first high ground north of Lake Pontchartrain which eventually grew into the city. Slidell was chartered as a town in 1888 by the Louisiana Legislature. 

The town was named after John Slidell, a prominent state, U.S. and Confederate political figure. Sometime prior to Slidell's formal incorporation in 1888, its first streets were laid out in a grid pattern. The north-south streets were Bayou (now Front), First, Second, Third and Fourth. The east-west streets were Fremaux, Erlanger, Bouscaren and Cousin.Erlanger, slightly wider than the others and designated as an avenue, was named after Baron Frederick Erlanger, John Slidell's son-in-law and head of the banking syndicate which financed the railway. 

Col. Leon J. Fremaux, a prominent Louisiana engineer and planter, drew the original plans for Slidell and named Fremaux Avenue for himself. Bouscaren Street was named for G. Bouscaren, the chief engineering officer of the railroad. Cousin Street took its name from the locally prominent Cousin family.

In the thirty or so years after its founding, Slidell developed a creosote plant, one of the country's largest brick manufacturing facilities, a large lumber mill, and a shipyard. The Slidell Shipyard contributed significantly to the nation's effort in both World Wars. Slidell residents worked in a local ship, tank and airplane construction during World War II.

In the 1960's Slidell began to assume its modern profile as one of the major sites for NASA's lunar landing program. In the 1980's and 1990's Slidell became a regional retail center.Slidell is located at the southeastern tip of St. Tammany Parish in Louisiana's famous "Ozone Belt." It is about three miles from the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain and is surrounded by rivers and bayous. 

The largest municipality in the Parish, Slidell has grown from a population of 364 in 1890 to 24,142 in 1990. Slidell's 1999 population is estimated to be 32,000. Today, Slidell continues to deal with urban growth while preserving a sense of its history. 

Flags Over Slidell. The United States of America 1810-1860:1865-PresentII. The State of Louisiana 1812 - PresentIII. The City of Slidell 1888-Present1. The Kingdom of France 1682-17632. The United Kingdom (Great Britain) 1763-17833. The Kingdom of Spain 1783-18104. The Republic of West Florida 18105. The The Republic of Louisiana 18616. The Confederate States of America 1861-1865 … 
 
Oldest Methodist Assembly in Slidell. Founded in a brush arbor on Sept. 26, 1887, as Methodist Episcopal Church South. Joined the Louisiana Conference in 1894. Present site dedicated July 16, 1961. 

In 1883, Baron Erlanger named our city in honor of his father-in-law, John Slidell. Slidell had been a confidant of two American Presidents and a powerful member of the U.S. Senate from which he resigned in 1861, when Louisiana seceded from the Union. Confederate President Jefferson Davis appointed him commissioner to France. Slidell nearly succeeded in bringing France and England to the assistance of the Confederate States of America. Had he been successful, the war between the States would have taken a different course. After the collapse of the C.S.A., Slidell never returned to Louisiana. He and his family are buried in Villijuif, France.

Named for diplomat and U.S. Senator John Slidell of Louisiana by son-in-law Baron Frederic Erlanger, one of the financiers of New Orleans and Northeastern Railroad. Incorporated Nov. 13, 1888. 

Built in 1907, this building replaced the original wooden Jail and Mayor's Office. It was Town Hall until 1954 and the Jail until 1963. The town's fire engine was located in the addition from 1928 until 1954. 

Fontainebleau Plantation Sugar Mill

These ruins are all that remain of Fountainebleau Plantation, once the summer home and plantation of Bernard de Marigny. Born in 1785 to a family closely tied to the earliest colonial efforts in Louisiana, Marigny accumulated and lost a fortune in his lifetime. The grounds that make up Fountainebleau State Park are just a part of the vast land holdings he acquired on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain. He operated Fountainebleau Plantation, brick kilns and a sugar mill between 1828 and 1852. 

Although his major residence was in New Orleans, he chose to spend much of his time at his summer residence, cooled by the breezes of the lake and free to enjoy the simple pleasures of life. During his ownership of the plantation he participated in the early development of sugar cane and the refinement of sugar. The nearby town of Mandeville was owned and developed by Marigny as part of his extensive real estate interests. An unsuccessful candidate for governor three times, he remained active in politics until his death in 1868. 



Courthouse Square and Historic Oaks Historical

Courthouse Square and Historic Oaks These graceful oaks were planted hundreds of years ago, predating the street plan of 1813. The WWI monument seen in the image on the right is all that remains at this site following the demolition of the old courthouse in 1958.As the parish (county) seat since 1819, Covington was the center of commerce, industry and government on the north shore for many years. The first courthouse was built on the east side of the Bogue Falava River at what is now called Claiborne Hill. The location was later moved to this site where a more permanent brick courthouse was built in 1885. It served until it was replaced by the "modernized structure" which ws completed in 1960. The St. Tammany Parish Justice Center was constructed just up the street in 2003.



Probably the most significant economic development, not only for Covington but for the parish as a whole, was the establishment of the bank. The Covington Bank & Trust was established in these original quarters. It is the oldest commercial building in Covington.Two fires destroyed most buildings built before 1880. Rebuilt shortly after the Great Fire of 1898, the downtown buildings provide a beautiful example of turn-of-the-century commercial architecture. In 1909, there was a fireman's parade, which included several fire companies. These organizations united to form the Covington Fire Department. 

(Photo credit: Historical Marker Database


The original 23.86 mile-long structure, which now carries the Southbound traffic, was designed by the firm of Palmer & Baker. When opened in 1956, the structure was the longest bridge in the world by more than 15 miles. In building the bridge, which took just fourteen months, assembly-line, mass-production methods were utilized for the first time in the construction of a bridge. It was designed to employ hundreds of identical, hollow concrete pilings, concrete caps, and pre-stressed deck sections manufactured at an on-shore facility and barged into place. Engineering News-Record acclaimed the project to be "a bold venture requiring unusual foresight, ingenuity and resourcefulness." 
Opened: August 30, 1956      
Dedicated: October 18, 2003



These six men of the 2nd Division 13th Regiment Louisiana Militia fought at the Battle of New Orleans during the War of 1812 and are buried in unmarked graves Auguste Badeaux, Samuel Ott, William Cooper , Charles  Parent, Jr. James Johnson and Lawrence Sticker 


One of two lines of fortifications excavated from January to March 1864 by Union forces "on fatigue duty" soon after their capture of Madisonville. Intended to defend the town from Confederate attacks coming from the surrounding countryside. The earthworks originally consisted of a trench protected by an "abatis" or barrier of felled trees with sharpened ends laid pointing out along its edge. The line meandered from approximately Rene and Covington Streets in a westerly direction to about this point on Johnson Street. Property records for the lot adjacent to this site mention "breastworks" on the land from the 1870s forward. Madisonville was occupied to obtain war supplies in the form of timber, lumber, logs, turpentine, tar and bricks for the federal Department of the Gulf. 

Built 1846 by Jonathan Arthur of London for descendants of English settlers in British West Florida. Consecrated by Bishop Leonidas Polk, April 11, 1847. Christ Church is the oldest public building being used in Covington. 


At 23.87 miles long, the Causeway is the world's longest bridge over water. The first span was completed in August 1956. Due to increased traffic, a second span opened in May 1969. The Causeway piloted major construction of prefabricated, prestressed concrete bridges in the United States. It is supported by more than 9,000 pilings. Construction of the Causeway expanded the Greater New Orleans area to include the northshore of Lake Pontchartrain. 

An active harbor where schooners and steamers once docked. Established in the early 1800's, providing a vital link to other river cities transporting cotton, lumber, bricks, whiskey and mail. Oyster luggers brought fresh oysters regularly through the late 1930's. Many early settlers of the community arrived at this destination.

St. Tammany Parish was among the Spanish-governed West Florida parishes and not included in the Louisiana Purchase of 1803. Residents revolted against Spanish rule September 1810, creating the Republic of West Florida. The republic lasted 74 days, raising a new flag and electing a president, before being forcibly annexed by the U.S. in December 1810.


Originally called "Cokie" (from Coquille) because of the abundance of shells in the area. Renamed for Pres. James Madison, c. 1811. Site of Navy Yard in early 1800's. According to legend, Gen. Andrew Jackson, enroute to New Orleans in Nov. 1814, stopped here at the home of Gen. David B. Morgan. 

Saint Peter Church Historical 

L'Abbé Jouanneault built the predecessor of St. Peter Church on the Bouge Falaya in 1843. The first resident pastor was Fr. J.M. Giraud, appointed in 1863 to serve Covington, Madisonville, Bedico, and Abita Springs. In 1892 Fr. Joseph Koegerl, pastor, who was also Canon of St. Louis Cathedral, built a new church and rectory on Massachusetts St. The Jefferson Ave. church was erected in 1940 during the pastorate of Fr. Aemillian Egler, O.S.R. Two Benedictines have served the parish continuously since 1922.


On October 16, 1779, the British living between "Bayou La Combe and the River Tanchipaho," surrendered to Captain William Pickles who had won a naval battle off this shore on September 10, 1779, and thereby ended the Revolutionary War in Louisiana. 


Unique to Covington's downtown business district and a credit to our forefathers, our original town grid layout allowed for public squares in the middle of each block for the purpose of trade and commerce. Farmers would bring their oxen-laden carts to town loaded with wares and conduct business in these designated center block locations. Traditionally called "ox lots" and largely responsible for Covington's designation as a national historic district, today's use provides free public off-street parking for downtown visitors and employees. 



Old Choctaw village which derived name from nearby medicinal springs. Last Choctaw burial and execution grounds, used until about 1880, located nearby. 


Early in the eighteenth century, Catholic missionaries evangelized Choctaw, Chinchuba and other Indian tribes and sub-tribes on the northern shore of Lake Pontchartrain, among pioneer priests was Fr. Michael Baudouin, S.J., superior of the Jesuit Mission in Louisiana and Vicar General to the Bishop of Quebec, Canada. Fr. J. Outendrick was the first resident pastor when the Mandeville Congregation was organized in 1850. Fr. Adrien E. Rouquette, "Chahta-Ima," also labored here and elsewhere in St. Tammany Civil Parish. The present church was dedicated in 1953 during the pastorate of Fr. Canisius Bluemel, O.S.B., one of several Benedictines serving here since 1890.  

Walker Percy Historical 

Covington resident, where he wrote, among others, Lancelot, The Second Coming, Love in the Ruins, The Thanatos Syndrome, The Last Gentleman, and The Moviegoer, which won the National Book Award for fiction, co-founder Fellowship of Southern Writers, graduate of the University of North Carolina, buried at St. Joseph Abbey, 3 miles north. Google Maps 


This historical marker was placed in Bogue Falaya Park in Covington in August of 2018 to commemorate a new statue of Walker Percy .Also, several historical plaques were placed in front of the Madisonville library to spotlight Walker Percy's many literary contribuitons. CLICK HERE to see those plaques, which accompany another statue of the famed Covington resident.
 

Monday, December 30, 2019

Covington High Faculty Members 1953

From the 1953 Covington High Yearbook, here are the faculty members serving the school that year. Click on the images to make them larger. 






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Saturday, December 28, 2019

Slidell's Train Station

The Slidell Train Depot has been around since 1913, some 107 years, and while its use as a train station has lessened somewhat, it has become a community landmark and a symbol of why Slidell became a community in the first place. The railroad begat Slidell. 

There were two train depots in the Slidell area, the northern one which served one railroad, and the main Olde Towne one, which served the other railroad. That is the one we will be talking about in this article. (Eventually the two railroads worked out an agreement and both used this one.)
 

Today the train station dominates Front Street, offers food and beverages on the north end, community art classes on the south end, and an interesting waiting room and gallery of art in the middle. Tickets are no longer sold there, but the waiting platform still serves passengers from time to time. 

Here are some current day photographs of the historic old brick building, followed by an extensive description of its history and improvements. 

 Click on the images to make them larger. Color Photos by Ron Barthet

 










 

The Waiting Room 


The waiting room is an iconic American train depot classic, and its walls have been adorned with an impressive array of murals portraying a variety of St. Tammany trains over the years. While during its early years, the waiting room was a key gathering place, access to it is limited now.



The Murals

 
 



The murals were painted by Kenny Bridges




The benches are sturdy and individualistic


The Hallway Gallery

 In the interior hallway in the depot the walls are lined with interesting artwork, paintings, maps, and portraits of early community citizens.



Commissioner John Slidell, Baron Emile Fredrick d' Erlanger and Matilde Slidell, the Baroness of D' Erlanger


The interior hallway


Local artwork



Maps of area towns by Ron Barthet hanging on the walls


Art Resource Center

On the south end of the depot building is a community art resource center where art and music classes are taught. On display at "Lori's Art Depot" is a wide variety of art styles and motifs, including decorated upright pianos. 





To view more pianos (especially the Beatles piano), CLICK HERE


Local residents as well as out-of-town visitors stop in to create their own art.


The art center is run by Lori Gomez (lorigomezart@charter.net) and offers art classes, an art market, music classes, custom gatherings such as birthday parties, even Harry Potter Game Nights. It's an interesting use for the historic train depot building. 

The Time Capsule


On the other end of the building is the Time Capsule sealed in 2002.


 It is located in front of the other business occupying the train depot, the Times Bar & Grill, a popular place with its own parking lot. 

Times Bar & Grill



 

Historic Registry Application

 In 1996, the National Park Service received the application to have the train depot placed on the National Register of Historic Places. It contained a considerable amount of historical detail and a number of black and white photos taken in July of that year.

On the application, the building was called the New Orleans & Northeastern/New Orleans & Great Northern Railroad Depot. The application describes the building as following:

 The New Orleans & Northeastern/New Orleans & Great Northern Railroad Depot (1913) is an unstyled, one-story brick structure with a partial second story. Located within the St. Tammany Parish community of Slidell, the building stands west of the town's original business district on an extremely busy north/south thoroughfare known as Front Street.



 An active railroad track is situated nearby on the opposite side of the building. Alterations to the building have been relatively minimal, and it remains eligible for National Register listing.

The depot displays horizontal massing and a rectangular footprint broken only by a small first floor bay window facing the railroad track. The structure's low second floor does not extend the entire length of the building, but instead rises above the central section of the first floor somewhat in the manner of a New Orleans camelback house. 



Hipped roofs with deep overhanging eaves cover both stories. Large decoratively cut wooden brackets support these eaves. The building's low-slung horizontal massing and the overhanging eaves produce an overall effect reminiscent of the Prairie School style.

Other exterior details include a concrete water table and windows sills, windows containing subdivided upper sashes, and wooden doors. The treatment of the surviving original freight doors is interesting because the individual boards forming them are placed diagonally within rectangular frames.

Passenger and freight facilities are both located on the first floor. The passenger area is the larger of these two spaces. Although slightly altered, its original floor plan is easy to ascertain. 




As was typical of the period, it provided for segregated facilities. There are two waiting rooms served by a centrally located ticket office (where the small bay window is located), and four small restrooms.

Three additional spaces possibly served as offices, and there are two small storage rooms with walls made entirely of brick. Interesting features within the passenger section include tongue and groove beaded board ceilings, the placement of wooden members upon concrete walls to create a paneled wainscot, and a screen with geometric designs above one of the interior ticket windows.

The second floor is even more plain than the first. Its original plan consisted of one large open space, as did the plan of the freight section. Of interest in the latter is the roof which is supported by a series of large laminated wooden beams and braces. A narrow concrete platform adjoins the building's north (freight) side.




Alterations to the depot have been relatively minimal. They include the subdivision of both waiting rooms and the second floor space, the subdivision of the freight area to create a small office, the installation of dropped tile ceilings and tile floors in the passenger section, the replacement of two original sliding freight doors with doors which rise like garage doors, the covering of a few windows with wooden panels, and the loss of a wooden freight platform connected to the building.

None of these changes seriously impacts the building's historic identity as a railroad depot. Thus, the depot would be easily recognized by any railroad employee, passenger, or Slidell citizen from the historic period when the railroad made possible the industries which formed the mainstay of the local economy. 



The Ticket Window in 1996

 
 

Historic Overview

The New Orleans & Northeastern/New Orleans & Great Northern Railroad Depot is locally significant in the area of transportation because it represents a very important force in the history of the town of Slidell.

Although the present depot does not represent the founding of Slidell by the New Orleans and Northeastern Railroad (N.O. & N.E.) in the 1880s or the arrival of a second line, the New Orleans & Great Northern (N.O. & G.N.), in 1905, it does represent railroading as a crucial force in the town's economy from its 1913 construction date through 1946, the fifty year cutoff (The railroad continued to be the principal method of transporting goods into the post-World War II era. A portion of the depot is still in use as an Amtrak terminal).

Research in available primary and secondary sources has failed to answer the question of whether the New Orleans & Northeastern Railroad or the New Orleans & Great Northern Railroad actually built the 1913 Slidell depot. 



A captioned photograph published in the St. Tammany Farmer at the time of the depot's completion credited its construction to the Great Northern. However, Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps for 1911 and 1926 indicate that both companies used the tracks which ran through Slidell and terminated in New Orleans after crossing Lake Pontchartrain.

Slidell was one of the last towns to be founded in St. Tammany Parish. Its birth coincides with the construction of the N.O. & N.E., which was organized in 1881 with the twin goals of opening the eastern portion of St Tammany Parish to development and linking southeast Louisiana with the northeastern United States.

Apparently, the site which became Slidell first served as a camp for railroad construction workers. The company actually surveyed the townsite when rail service began in 1883. The community was named after Confederate diplomat John Slidell, whose European son-in-law was a principal investor in the railroad.

Although telephone and telegraph communication were established in 1884, the community did not incorporate until 1889. Census records indicate that the town had grown from 364 persons in 1890 to 1,129 in 1900.

Late nineteenth century businessmen were seldom satisfied with only one rail connection to outside markets, and residents of Slidell were no exception. Thus, they welcomed the 1905 chartering of the New Orleans and Great Northern, whose goal was to establish a rail link between New Orleans and Jackson, Mississippi.

 This line also contributed to the town's growth, with the population reaching 2,188 in 1910 and 2,958 in 1920. By then Slidell was the largest town in the parish.

This growth was spurred by the presence in Slidell of several businesses which were dependent upon the two railroads for transportation of their products to outside markets. The first was a creosote company which was originally founded to treat the many pilings and crossties needed to build a railroad bridge across Lake Pontchartrain. Sanborn Fire Insurance maps for the historic period indicate that it was a large concern and, thus, an important source of employment for the community's residents. 




In January of 1922, numerous press photographers gathered at the train station to take pictures of the thousands of guests arriving for the wedding of Ella Rose Salmen, daughter of Fritz Salmen, to William H Sullivan, founder of the city of Bogalusa and The Great Southern Lumber Company. Guests arrived on trains from "various states South and East" as one newspaper described it.

Another significant and long-lived business was the Slidell Grocery and Grain Company. However, the largest and most important of these businesses was the Salmen Brothers Brick and Lumber Company, which operated from 1887 until the 1920s. Sanborn maps clearly indicate the company's role as the economic basis for Slidell's survival during the community's early years. Later in the twentieth century, a Coca Cola Bottling works, a Texaco oil depot, and a manufacturer which extracted oils from wood also located along the line.

The relationship between the railroad industry and these businesses is vividly portrayed in the Sanborn maps. Because all of these businesses needed the fast and relatively inexpensive transportation which the railroad could provide, each was located directly adjacent to the track which the two railroad companies shared.

As a result, the track line served as a manufacturing corridor similar to today's modern industrial parks. In addition, most of the Slidell businesses mentioned above had a number of spur lines on their properties.

These lines connected specific buildings where products were stored to the main track, eliminating the need for the expensive extra step of transporting products to the local depot for shipment.

Because the two railroads were critical to Slidell's economy, as described above, the depot is obviously of considerable significance in the town's history. It is the very symbol of the railroad and what it made possible.

Thus, the New Orleans & Northeastern\New Orleans & Great Northern Railroad Depot was a strong candidate for National Register listing.

The parcel of land included with the depot when the building was donated to the City of Slidell is of an unusual size and shape. It is well over 700 feet long but only roughly 50 feet wide. The boundaries chosen for this nomination follow the property lines on the depot's east and west sides and are cut close to the building on the north and south in order to exclude unnecessary acreage.


That concluded the text narrative on the historic registry application.  


Slidell Train Station Stats

Extensive information about the Slidell train depot can also be found over at the Great American Stations website. Here is the description offered on the webpage about Slidell. 

According to the Great American Stations website, the Slidell Train Station was renovated in the 1990s to house a waiting room and commercial spaces. The depot connects Olde Towne Slidell, known for its shops and restaurants, with popular Robert's Landing Park.

"The brick Olde Towne Railroad Depot in Slidell was built around 1903 for the New Orleans & Northeastern/New Orleans & Great Northern railroad, supplanting an earlier wooden passenger depot which was located on the west side of the tracks between Maine and Pennsylvania Streets. In the early 1990s, the city of Slidell submitted a grant application to the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (LDOTD) to receive funding under the Intermodal Surface Transportation Enhancement Act (ISTEA) of 1991 to renovate, preserve and operate the depot.

"Before renovations began, the Norfolk Southern Railway donated the depot and about two acres of land to the city, and resolutions were made authorizing the mayor to enter into agreements with the LDOTD for depot renovation. Later that same year, the building was put on the National Register of Historic Places, protecting the historic character of the building.



"Renovations to the depot were made in three phases. Phase I funding consisted of the $204,000 ISTEA grant matched by $56,000 of city sales tax funds, and was completed in less than a year. N-Y Associates Inc. /Architects, Ltd. performed the design and Edel Construction did the work, including replacement of the roof and support beams, replacement of windows, lead paint abatement, new electrical service, and installation of the trunk line for the fire suppression sprinkler system. Additionally, 90 years of neglect was cleaned from the interior.

"Phases II and III were funded by $200,000 from the state and $200,000 in city funds, and continued the gutting and rebuilding of the station to compliment the Olde Towne street landscaping that was underway. The Amtrak office, waiting room, and rest rooms take up about 1,000 square feet of the station today. Also currently located in the depot are two restaurants, the Times Bar & Grill and the Beignet Station.



"The city successfully established an Olde Towne–Train Depot–Robert’s Landing Park connection that served to revitalize the city’s older core. However, it was fall of 2006 before the city had recovered sufficiently from Hurricane Katrina’s ravages to begin to pick up with its cultural life in Old Towne as before.

"About three miles from the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain, scattered houses had been built near Robert’s Landing as early as 1852; the landing allowed the Spanish, French, and later, Americans to travel by boat along the bayou Bonfouca to Lake Pontchartrain. The need for better overland transportation to the north and east of New Orleans, however, encouraged the New Orleans and Northeastern Railroad to build through the present site of Slidell, at Roberts’ Landing, and continuing on to Jackson, Mississippi. The first survey team came in 1881 and the first train traveled along that line through the area on October 15, 1883.

"In 1883, railroad surveyors mapped the town and named it Slidell Station in honor of John Slidell, a U.S. Senator and Confederate official. The Town of Slidell was incorporated on November 3, 1888, and it enclosed about 2,320 acres. The railroad, from 1903 through 1946, formed the mainline of Slidell’s prosperity. In the thirty years after its founding, Slidell developed a creosote plant, one of the country’s largest brick manufacturing facilities, a large lumber mill, and a shipyard—which contributed significantly to the national efforts in both world wars. Slidell boomed in the 1960s due to the location of NASA’s Slidell Computer Complex there, in 1962, to support the Stennis Space Center in Mississippi and the Michoud Assembly Center in New Orleans."


In the numbers section of the article it noted that Annual Station Revenue (FY 2018) was $874,986, and Annual Station Ridership (FY 2018) was 9,100.
To visit  the Slidell train station webpage on Great American Stations, CLICK HERE.

The website also offers a number of ideas of preserving old train stations as historical landmarks. CLICK HERE to go to that page. 


See also:

Early Photos of the Slidell Train Depot 

Slidell Flag Plaza

History of Slidell   

The Beginnings of Slidell 


For a PDF File of this article, CLICK HERE.