In June of 1925, a special train assigned by the Southern Pacific Railway carried the body of Julius Krutschnitt, Sr., railroad genius and empire buider, to Metairie Cemetery in his boyhood home of New Orleans. Judging by a trip to the gravesite this weekend, he still appears to be buried there, alongside alongside his wife, Elise Minna Kock (1857-1941), and his grandson, Ernest B. Kruttschnitt (1918-1991).
My great grandfather rose to become chairman of the railroad’s executive committee. The trains ran a little late on the day of his funeral. In a showing of respect, the railroad ordered a one-minute cessation of all activity, according to an article from the Houston Post. During the time-out, employees stood in silence, paying tribute to a man who had given 48 years of his life to the railroad. He retired two weeks before he died. He must not have felt well enough to work during those last 14 days.
Despite the man’s apparent celebrity during his day, it wasn’t easy to find the gravesite. In fact, it took the receptionist a good half hour on this Sunday morning to determine it was in section 11; one of the oldest parts of the cemetery, she assured me. For an anxious moment, it looked like he might not be buried in the cemetery. Many of the cemetery records were lost in the flood after Hurricane Katrina.
Trudging across the rain-soaked grass lanes, we were struck by how understated the Krutschnitt plot is, compared to some of the ornate monuments nearby. The Metairie Cemetery is the final resting place of nine Louisiana governors, three confederate generals, and seven mayors of New Orleans, along with many of the most prominent New Orleans business leaders of the last 100 years.
Though still a very beautiful place, the graveyard used to be an architectural wonderland, with a series of lagoons, stone bridges, and an entrance lodge. The graveyard site takes its oval shape from a vaunted racetrack that was originally here. Today, the noise of traffic on nearby I-10, rather than shouts of joy from wagers won, interrupts the calm.