Burnside & Donaldsonville Packet Company's Mule Tram at Burnside, Louisiana (1898-1923)  

Beginning in 1898, the Burnside & Donaldsonville Packet Company operated a ferry service on the Mississippi River between Donaldsonville on the Texas & Pacific Railway (T&P) and Burnside on the Yahoo & Mississippi Valley Railway (Y&MV). The service was concieved to enable Texas passengers traveling into Louisiana on the T&P to utilize the Y&MV's more direct route into New Orleans from Burnside. Passengers could disembark from the T&P at Donaldsonville, ride the Packet Company ferry about 6 miles downstream to Burnside, transfer to the mule-car for about one-quarter mile to the Y&MV depot, then continue on to New Orleans.

The entire equipment roster of the mule-car portion was a mule named "Preston" and an old coach common to animal-powered trolleys of the late 19th century. The company's steam vessels included the Gracie Kent, then in later years, the Virgie.

In 1923 the ferry service changed its route to move directly across the river to Darrow, thus ending the need for the mule-car service at Burnside. The last run of the mule-car was in May, 1923, making the Burnside tram the next-to-last such service in the United States. The last animal-powered trolley service was at Sulphur Rock, Arkansas, which operated until April, 1926.

Historical Timeline

October 21, 1909: The Burnside & Donaldsonville Packet Company, Ltd. filed a charter with the State of Louisiana.


The mule car is seen here at Burnside about 1910. (Texas Transportation Archive Collection.)

Burnside & Donaldsonville Packet Company at Donaldsonville, Louisiana 1898-1923

May 1923: The Burnside & Donaldsonville Packet Company mule-car made its last run (Hennick, 1962).

Bibliography and Further Reading
Hennick, Louis C., and Elbridge Harper Charlton. Louisiana, Its Street and Interurban Railways. 1962.
Lee, Aubra, Jill-Karen Yakubik, and Benjamin D. Maygarden. Site Testing at Darrow (16AN54), Marchand to Darrow Levee Enlargement and Concrete Slope Pavement, Mississippi River Levees. New Orleans, La.: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, 1997. Includes a good history of ferry service at Donaldsonville and Darrow and the Burnside mule-car.
Marchand, Sidney A. Across the Years: [Donaldsonville and Ascension Parish]. Donaldsonville, La: S.A. Marchand, 1949.
Text and images were digitized and proofread from the original source documents by Murry Hammond. Contact Murry for all corrections and contributions of new material.