Bringing Two Ends of a Century Together

Bringing Two Ends of a Century Together

Posted by Robert Hendrick with an assist from Chat GPT on Mar 15th 2023

Cue up the Arlo Guthrie classic, “The City of New Orleans” because the railroad industry is headed to the Crescent City! It’s time again for the American Association of Short Line and Regional Railroads Conference (ASLRRA), and Rail Yard Studios will be there.

Amtrak still operates, The City of New Orleans, servicing the line from the Crescent City to Chicago by way of Memphis, Tennessee. But there’s much more to New Orleans than simply a train named after the “Big Easy.”

Some call it the Paris of the South with its ornate, wrought iron balconies and rich cuisine, topped off with a good number of different dialects all unique to the city.

Chat GPT has been abuzz in the tech world of late. We decided to put it to the test, and go high tech with the announcement of our booth at the upcoming ASLRRA Convention in New Orleans April 2-4, 2023.

We started by asking it to describe Rail Yard Studios, and it did a damn fine job.

About Us

Rail Yard Studios is a furniture company based in Nashville, Tennessee, that specializes in creating a variety of unique, handmade furniture pieces like tables, chairs, benches, and bed frames from reclaimed materials salvaged from historic railroad yards and buildings.

The company was founded in 2011 by Robert Hendrick and has gained a reputation for creating unique and high-quality pieces that reflect the history of the materials they use. The company has been featured in a number of media outlets, including HGTV, DIY Network, and The History Channel.

Rail Yard Studios' furniture is known for its rustic, industrial look, with many pieces featuring the patina and character of the original materials, such as weathered wood, steel, and iron. Some of the materials used in their furniture pieces include oak railroad ties, steel rails, and iron plates. The company's products range from tables, desks, and bookcases to lighting fixtures and decorative pieces.

In addition to creating unique furniture pieces, Rail Yard Studios also places a strong emphasis on sustainability and environmental responsibility. By salvaging materials that would otherwise be discarded and transforming them into functional works of art, the company is able to reduce waste and promote a more eco-friendly approach to furniture design.

Important Things Chat GPT Missed

Chat GPT tech definitely hit the nail on the head with regards to what we do and our dedication to eco-friendly practices, but it failed to mention that we would be at the ASLRRA Expo in booth 723.

Booth 723 in the Green Area at ASLRRA

The Rail Yard Studios booth will also include our new Graff Museum (a not-for-profit venture) that focuses on preserving railroad graffiti art and culture while also giving back to help promote recovery within the graffiti community.

Graff Museum

The Graff Museum is brand new, and Chat GPT struggled with that, so here’s the quick overview.

Through the museum we preserve art – railroad graffiti to be precise.

And we give back to the graff community through programming aimed to bring awareness to the issues of addiction and behavioral health which plague that community so deeply.

Safety represents a primary focal point for the museum, and even folks like Operation Lifesaver have shown up to participate because we’re able to offer them a voice in that community to promote safety around the tracks.

New Orleans Railroad History

We checked in with Chat GTP again for a little history on NOLA. It came up with a bit of high-quality facts about the good old days in the port city.

The history of railroads in New Orleans dates back to the mid-19th century when the city became a hub for transportation and commerce. In 1831, the Pontchartrain Rail-Road Company was established, and it built a five-mile railway line from the city center to Lake Pontchartrain. This railroad line provided a faster and more efficient means of transporting goods and people from the port to the city, making New Orleans an important transportation hub.

In 1852, the New Orleans, Jackson and Great Northern Railroad Company was founded, which connected New Orleans to Jackson, Mississippi, and later to Memphis, Tennessee. This line became a crucial link in the transportation of goods and people from the Midwest to the Gulf of Mexico. In the late 1800s, several other railroads were established in New Orleans, including the Southern Pacific Railroad, the Illinois Central Railroad, and the Louisville and Nashville Railroad, which further enhanced the city's importance as a transportation hub.

During the Civil War, the Union army occupied New Orleans and took control of the city's railroads, which helped them to transport troops and supplies. After the war, the railroads played a crucial role in the city's economic recovery and growth. In the 20th century, the railroads faced competition from automobiles and trucks, but they continued to play an important role in the city's transportation and commerce.

Today, New Orleans is served by Amtrak, which operates several passenger trains to and from the city. The city's historic Union Passenger Terminal, which was built in 1954, serves as a transportation hub for Amtrak and several other transportation providers.

Beyond the railroad – food, street cars, railroads and jazz!

But Chat GPT missed a few tasty tidbits – and we’re not talking beignets and chicory coffee, we’re talking significant details.

It failed to mention the classic New Orleans streetcars that still patrol up and down Canal Street and St. Charles (the neutral ground between English and French sections of the city back in the long-ago times. That street car line served as a dividing line between the different quarters of the city.

Today, New Orleans represents the only deep water point where all six class 1 railroads meet - BNSF, Canadian National (CN), CSX, Kansas City Southern (KCS), Norfolk Southern (NS), and Union Pacific (UP)

And since we started with a nod to music, let’s cap it off with a word about the music the city is so famous for. The New Orleans Jazz Festival draws some of the greatest musical talent in the country to its stages. The event goes for over a week and the party is non-stop during the entire event.

If New Orleans wasn’t already on your list of places to visit, with ASLRRA coming up and all the other attractions, now you have good reasons to add it.