Amtrak Route Scrapbooks

Crescent

amtk_route_Crescent The daily Crescent is a passenger train operated by Amtrak in the eastern part of the United States. It operates 1,377 miles between Pennsylvania Station in New York City and Union Passenger Terminal in New Orleans, as train numbers 19 and 20. Most of the route of the Crescent is on the Norfolk Southern trackage. The Crescent passes through more states, including the District of Columbia, than any other Amtrak route.

In the 1870s, the Richmond & Danville Railroad, predecessor of the Southern Railway, established the "Piedmont Air Line Route", which connected the northeastern states with Atlanta and New Orleans. The Southern Express operated over these routes on an advertised time of 58 hours end to end.

In 1891 the R&D launched the Washington & Southwestern Vestibuled Limited, which connected Washington with Atlanta and is thus the original ancestor of today's Crescent. Later the Washington-Atlanta routing expanded via the West Point Route from Atlanta to Montgomery and the Louisville & Nashville Railroad from Montgomery to New Orleans. New York City was was added to the schedule via a connection in Washington with the Pennsylvania Railroad's Congressional Limited. Scheduled time for the New York to New Orleans run was advertised as a "40-hour, unprecedented" trip. Because of the popularity of this service, the Vestibule eventually became a solid train between New York and New Orleans. It carried the first dining cars to operate between those two cities. After the R&D was succeeded by the Southern Railway in 1894, the train was called the Washington & Southwestern Limited southbound, and the New York Limited northbound. By 1906, the train had been renamed the New York & New Orleans Limited.

The train was re-equipped and renamed the Crescent Limited by the mid 1920s, now an all-Pullman extra-fare train. By 1938 the name was shortened to the Crescent. It was dieselized in 1941 and streamlined in 1949. The Crescent carried through sleepers of the "Washington-Sunset Route" in conjunction with the Southern Pacific west of New Orleans to Los Angeles and return.

By the late 1960s, as Southern's railway partners in the Crescent route sought to discontinue passenger services, Southern rerouted the train to an all-Southern route and operated it as the Southern Crescent between Washington's Union Station and New Orleans. The Southern Crescent inaugurated service in 1970 by combining two trains that had run separately between New York and New Orleans: the Southerner, which operated over the Southern Railway only, between New Orleans and Atlanta via Birmingham; and the original Crescent, which had previously used Atlanta & West Point Railroad, Western Railway of Alabama and Louisville & Nashville Railroad trackage in combination between New Orleans and Atlanta and Mobile. For the newly combined Southern Crescent, Southern moved the train to its Birmingham route and numbered it 1 southbound and 2 northbound.

Southern Railway initially opted out of Amtrak when it was formed in 1971. Amtrak, now assuming the services of the former Penn Central, handled the Southern Crescent between New York and Washington. During the mid-1970s, Southern only operated tri-weekly between Atlanta and New Orleans, carrying a run-through Amtrak sleeper on those days to connect to the Sunset Limited.

The Southern Crescent was one of the two last privately operated long-distance passenger trains in the United States. The other was the Rio Grande Zephyr, which operated until 1983. Lost revenue and equipment replacement expenses forced Southern to turn over operation of the train to Amtrak in early 1979. Amtrak once again shorteneed the name to Crescent, renumbering it 19 southbound and 20 northbound.

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Between the front door of America's Eastern Seaboard, Amtrak's famous Northeast Corridor, and the equally well-known delights of America's "Most Interesting City," New Orleans, lays the authentic gateway to the American South and its living history. From twinkling Northeast cityscapes to shining Blue Ridge foothills to "new South" cities like Charlotte, Atlanta and Birmingham, to the Deep South and its shimmering, subtropical Louisiana swamp country – the Crescent shoots for its namesake moon and hits the stars as well. See the bombast of Broadway, the rich Civil War history of the South and the magic of the "Crescent City." The Crescent doesn't just promise the moon – it delivers!

crescent_logo Today's Crescent is the lineal descendent of the Washington and Southwestern Vestibuled Limited inaugurated in 1891 by the Richmond and Danville Railroad. Advertised as providing "a service second to none," it carried drawing room and stateroom sleeping cars, dining cars, library and observation cars that were gas lighted and equipped with running water. Eventually the Southern Railway operated both the Southerner and the Crescent between New York City and New Orleans and the successor, the Southern Crescent. The Southern Crescent was a standout operation until the very end in 1979, when Amtrak took over the route and restored the historic Crescent name to the train.

Amtrak

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1930 Southern Crescent schedule notes / JCH

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Crescent route map / web

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Crescent schedule comparison notes / JCH

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1977 timetable / collection

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Queen & Crescent Route map / 1890s / collection

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1965 timetable / collection

sou_time_1974

1974 timetable / collection

tag_pinLynchburg, Va

tag_pinMeridian, Ms

journal_rwh
December 2016

meridian20 My daughter and I made a major holiday road trip this season, from Pittsburgh to Baltimore to Bristol to New Orleans ... and return to Pennsylvania through Nashville, Cincinnati, etc. two weeks later. Road warriors, we. I try not to overdo the railfan stops with my family, but I manage to work some into the agenda. Thinking to myself midday, in Alabama, that the Crescent -- assuming she's on time -- should be somewhere in our vicinity. I fired up the Amtrak app on my phone and discovered, to my delight, that the Crescent and we would be arriving in Meridian at just about the same time.

We arrived at the attractive Meridian station in time to do some exploring before #19 rolled in for her station work. When the consist pulled in for a stop, I was delighted to see two Genensis movers in "elephant" lashup, a tired old Heritage era diner still serving meals, and a brand new Viewliner II 4-door baggage car on the rear. All in all, that day's Crescent was a fine looking train. The conductor did his work in about 10 mins, and off again 19 went for points south in the Magnolia State ... with a Crescent City arrival by day's end.

Amtrak #85

  • builder:General Electric
  • model:P42DC
  • type:B-B passenger unit
  • built:May 1997, GE #49623
  • series:321 produced 1992-2001
  • engine:GE 7FDL16 (16 cyl, 4250 hp)
  • notes:
  • 1 of 207 at top of AMTK roster
  • builder

    Amtrak #118

  • builder:General Electric
  • model:P42DC
  • type:B-B passenger unit
  • built:Sep 1997, GE #49970
  • series:321 produced 1992-2001
  • engine:GE 7FDL16 (16 cyl, 4250 hp)
  • notes:
  • 1 of 207 at top of AMTK roster
  • builder
    meridian7a meridian7b meridian7c

    Meridian, Ms / Dec 2016 / RWH

    tag_listAmtrak #19 consist - December 21, 2016
    all photos above Meridian, Ms / Dec 2016 / RWH
    Click to see the Meridian Union Station area plotted on a Google Maps page
    meridian21

    postcard / collection

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    The renovated Amtrak station (also called Meridian Multi-Modal Transportation Center and locally Union Station) is part of the Meridian Downtown Historic District, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The original Union Station was completed in 1907 in Mission Revival style and at a cost of $250,000. It included a central tower and east and west wings along Front Street. The tower was demolished in 1940, and the west wing in 1966. The remaining east wing served as the Amtrak station prior to renovation.

    Great American Stations

    meridian_map

    Meridian railroad notes / JCH

    tag_pinSlidell, La

    journal_rwh
    December 2016

    slidell6 While visiting family for Christmas in the New Orleans area, I made a couple of trips over to Slidell to catch some Amtrak action at the depot and on the lake crossing. On the first attempt, a late start from the house plus morning interstate traffic meant I missed the northbound altogether. On my second attempt, I found the depot full of holiday travellers but also surrounded by a thick morning fog. A call on the scanner revealed that #20 had cleared the drawbridge and would be rolling up in town soon enough. Soon the familiar triad of Genesis headlights broke through the pea soup fog only about a block away and the movement braked into the depot area with a long squeal. No matter the throttle setting, the trailing unit that morning was smoking like a steam engine taking coal. #10 belched black throughout the station work, and belched even more -- channelling its inner Alco, perhaps -- when the cabman notched out for points north. New York City, here comes a smoking Crescent ... just in time for Christmas Day.

    tag_listAmtrak #20 consist - December 23, 2016
    all photos above Slidell, La / Dec 2016 / RWH

    Slidell, La / Dec 2016 / RWH

    Click to see the Slidell depot area plotted on a Google Maps page
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    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.

    Great American Stations

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    Slidell, La / 2000 / JCH

    tag_pinLake Pontchartrain

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    Norfolk Southern's Lake Pontchartrain Bridge is a bridge that carries a single-track of Norfolk Southern rail line between Slidell and New Orleans, Louisiana. At 5.8 miles long, it is the longest railroad bridge in the United States and likely the longest rail bridge over water in the world. The bridge is heavily used by Norfolk Southern freight trains, and Amtrak's Crescent passenger train crosses the bridge once daily in each direction.

    Wikipedia

    tag_spot Crescent Crossings

    Lake Pontchartrain, La / Dec 2016 / RWH

    Click to see this railfan location plotted on a Google Maps page
    See also our New Orleans Union Passenger Terminal collection

    Southerner

    The Southerner was a streamlined passenger train operated by the Southern Railway between New York City and New Orleans, Louisiana. It operated from 1941 to 1970. In 1970, the Southern combined the Crescent with the Southerner to form the Southern Crescent. This train became Amtrak's Crescent on February 1, 1979.

    southerner_postcard

    postcard / collection

    southerner_postcard

    Southerner timetable / 1960s / collection

    Links / Sources

    This page was updated on 2017-08-04