We have all heard one version or another of the song “The City of New Orleans”. The song performed by the likes of Arlo Guthrie, Willie Nelson and John Denver was actually written by Steve Goodman about riding the rails in an observation car.
I knew the song but had never ridden a train, much less a renowned Pullman, so you can imagine my excitement when I had the opportunity to do just that. My husband was invited to a business function being held on the railcar, and spouses were included. Think Jim West and Artemis Gordon’s ‘rail-ride” on Wild, Wild West, but better.
Built in 1927 by the illustrious Pullman Company, The City of New Orleans parlor observation railcar is used primarily for charitable auctions and business-related meetings supporting New Orleans-area commerce and business development. Acquired by Gregory Dodd and relocated to New Orleans in 1998, the railcar had had a long and colorful life that spanned states and rail companies. In 2002 the New Orleans Public Belt Railroad acquired and renamed it The City of New Orleans.
The railcar has raised over $800,000.00 for local charities since its renovation in 2002. Accommodations include seating for up to 20 persons and full service catering capabilities for both food and beverage. Our group included 40 people so they hitched on a second car, The Louisiana.
Plush club chairs, beautiful brass appointments, wood wainscoting and marble ledges were only topped by the food-laden waiter and bartender at our beck and call. The 3 hour route took us from the rail yard in Metairie, to the top of the Huey P. Long Bridge, all along the river to the French Quarter and even slightly past the curve of the river beyond the French Market which is a restricted area. The view looking back on the city is amazing!
by Sharon Denise Talbot
For more information on how to hitch a ride on The City of New Orleans see the following website: