Several months ago I was given a stack of photographs and papers for the Louisiana History Museum. I am like a kid with a new toy when that happens. What can I learn from this material? It never fails to amaze me that I can get lost in material from our city's past.
This month's inspiration comes from Camille Lacy by way of her late father Neil Daspit, who was a history buff of sorts. In the papers was a map of the Alexandria Electric Railway Line (see map below). It seems Mr. Daspit did a bit of research on the trolley lines of Alexandria.
History is somewhat like a jigsaw puzzle. As time goes by you get a piece of the puzzle and put it in place. I remembered getting a stock certificate from an anonymous donor a while back. It was for 15 shares of the Alexandria City Electric Railway Company Limited at $100.00 a share, dated the 9th of June, 1898, made out to a Sam Neil (see image of the stock certificate below).
So the sections of the puzzle come together. The map of the railway system, the stock certificate and several pictures of the trolley cars from the museum's photo collection.
Unused ticket of the Alexandria Electrical Railway Company
Also a lone photograph of an unused trolley line ticket. I had been under the impression that the trolley system did not come into operation until about 1901 or 1902. The stock that was issued places the beginning of the system around 1897 or 1898. But that will remain an open issue as to the precise date of the system's beginning.
Once again I remind you that in 1898 Alexandria was actually two separate cities: West Alexandria and Alexandria proper, separated by the Missouri Pacific railway track. They were incorporated together after 1900.
The map of the trolley system is dated 1921. At that time there were two separate routes of the trolleys: The Belt Line and the Levin Street Line.
Trolley Number 4 of the Alexandria Electrical Railway Company
This line was created about 1911 by the Alexandria Electric Railways. Co, using existing track. This route was serviced until the advent of the motor coach in Alexandria in 1926.
It started on 2nd Street from Lee Street to Beauregard Street. Beauregard Street to 4th Street, 4th Street to Monroe Street. Monroe Street To Rapides Avenue (known as Gould Avenue earlier). Rapides Ave. to Levin Street. Levin Street to Bolton Avenue, down Bolton to Lee and then back to 2nd Street.
This line was built and opened to service in 1908 by the Alexandria
Electric Railway Service Company. This line was first a shuttle line from Bolton Avenue to Kent Park (a popular swimming park at that time).
Under municipal ownership the line extended down Levin Street to Essie Street in 1916. For a few years in the late teens and early twenties, the Levin Street line was combined with the Park or Lee Street line. The long through town line, operating along Levin Street, Rapides Avenue, Monroe Street, 4th Street, Beauregard Street, 2nd Street, Lee Street and Masonic Street, was known as the Levin-Lee Line.
Automobile competition ended the lines and they finished their operations in 1926.
Concrete lines covering the trolley tracks, Alexandria, LA
The Power Station was located on Thorn Street at the head of Winn Street. It was built in 1905 and used until 1916. The original power plant consisted of one 200kw generator supplying the over head trolley system with 550Watts of DC current.
I remember as a young boy asking my grandfather what those concrete lines were in the brick streets. His answer ... "that’s where the trolley ran".