Press Release Feb 21, 2006
Kansas City’s Union Station and the Louisiana Steam Train
Association announces the Sprit of Louisiana exhibit at Union Station. The Spirit of Louisiana exhibit showcases the history and traditions of Mardi Gras in antique railroad cars pulled by a 1921 steam engine. Both the repairs to the steam train and re-emergence of Mardi Gras after Hurricane Katrina result from strong traditions and deep history. The Mardi Gras exhibit will appear from Friday, February 24 through Tuesday, May 23, 2006.
Mardi Gras, French for “Fat Tuesday”, is the ancient last celebration before
the Christian pre-Easter season of penance and fasting known as Lent. But in New Orleans, Mardi Gras has also evolved into a broader celebration encompassing everything from jazz music, to the African-influenced festivities of the “Mardi Gras Indians”, to the parades both carefully planned and spontaneous, to the full-dress evening balls. Come and see the costumes, the parade throws, the bands, the marching groups, and other elements of this grand celebration.
The train containing the Mardi Gras exhibit includes the last surviving
steam engine built in Louisiana. Number 745, the former Southern Pacific
“Mikado”-type steam locomotive, was built in 1921 and served until 1956. It then retired to display in New Orleans’ Audubon Park. The Louisiana Steam Train Association restored it to operating condition in 2004 and completed repairs after Hurricane Katrina in early February 2006. Today the steam engine operates just as it did in 1921, and pulls antique coaches containing the exhibit.