Follow Us: facetwitter

Tom Flanary

Tom Flanary

Tom Flanary is a Director on the Board of Directors, and maintains the website for GCRM. He has been involved in GCRM as a volunteer since 2011, and has been a director since 2012. If you have comments, concerns, or questions, please contact him directly at Tom.Flanary@gcrm.org

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Saturday, 28 July 2012 00:24

Richmond Storm


First Hand Account of the
 
1945 Hurricane that demolished 
NAS Richmond

By Arch H. McCleskey Jr.

 


Hurricane Demolished NAS Richmond

September 1945, we heard that there was a hurricane in the Caribbean moving into the Atlantic and heading in our direction. First, all the blimps were moved into the hangars with the portable mooring masts. Next, all the military heaver-than-air (HTA) aircraft in the area parked in the hangar "for protection." Next, they parked all the government vehicles in the hangars. Then, they allowed all the base personnel to park our private owned vehicles (POVs) in the hangar "for protection." I had a beautiful 1940 Mercury that I had bought from my brother Fred. I had customized that thing so that there was not another one like it in the world. 

Due to the Florida heat, the plastic trim on the dashboard had deteriorated and looked bad. I replaced all the trim with marbled plexiglass that I had made at night in the plastic shop. It really looked sharp. So, I was very happy to get it in the hangar "for protection." There was still a little space in the hangar, so the Navy allowed some civilians to put their privately owned planes in the hangar "for protection." In addition to the blimps, there were a total of about 300 other aircraft and 100 cars and trucks.

On 15 September 1945, I had the Officer-of-the-Day duty in Hangar #2. We kept listening to the radio and plotting the hurricane course. At one time it was headed for Miami, but off the coast from us it turned due west. I advised folks that it was headed straight for us. We still felt pretty secure being we were in a "hurricane-proof" building. Then it hit! I had never heard such a noise. We were watching a wind speed indicator until the wind reached 175 mph. At that time the anemometer blew off. I don't know what speed the wind gusts actually reached. 

At that time, I could see breaks in the roof, and I headed for the radar shop, which was on the side of the hangar a short way from the duty office. About that time "all hell broke loose." I and my fellow technicians dived under a large heavy duty workbench by a four-foot brick wall at the side of the Hangar. That terrific wind ripped that huge arched roof, which made up 90% of the building, to pieces. Unfortunately we were on the lee side of the building, so the falling structure came our way; however, most of it went over us and piled up outside. At that time, the side walls of the building, up to the top of the shops, were still standing.

NAS Richmond after the 1945 Hurricane. 

After the hurricane and fire. This is what was left of the debris 
that I had to climb over.
 

Picture courtesy The city of Surfside, FL



After the majority of the hangars blew down, that terrific wind started blowing the blimps, autos and airplanes all over the place, causing gas tanks to be ripped apart spilling gasoline all over the deck. Then, the gasoline ignited, probably due to the metal scraping the concrete producing sparks.

While this was happening, we were under a heavy workbench and my fellow chief was really praying out loud. I was doing some praying also, but mine was silent. It was pitch dark and so noisy you couldn't hear yourself think. I crawled out from under the bench to try and see what was going on. One of the technicians asked "What can I do chief?"

I answered "For now, get back under there and help the chief pray." Then "POW!" the whole hangar lite up in flames. I told the men who were with me "Guys, you are on your own, I'm going to try to get the hell out of here. Good luck!" I threw a chair through the window and started climbing out, while the other chief discharged a fire extinguisher toward the door of the shop keeping the flames back.

Being on the lee side of the hangar that blew down, broken hangar beams from the main structure of the building fell on that side. I started climbing over that wreckage. At one point, I fell down through that wreckage. The sharp splintered beams cut me to pieces; however, that didn't bother me at the time. In fact, I hardly realized I was cut; my thoughts were on getting out of there. I still remember some of the thoughts that came to my mind at that time. I was wearing an ID bracelet on my right wrist. I visualized my right arm sticking up above the wreckage and rescuers coming by the next day identifying my body by that ID bracelet. I thought, "Because I have no wife or children, it's not as bad for me as for some of the other guys who do have wives and children." 

Anyway, I managed to work my way up to the top of the wreckage again and across the debris and wreckage of the building. By that time I was out to the runway and felling the full blunt of the storm. The rain drops felt like shots or small pebbles hitting my body with great force. Then, "swash!" a gust of strong wind actually lifted me off the runway and was blowing me through the air like a leaf. I remembered hearing about winds so strong that they could drive a straw through a tree. I could just see ole' Arch being driven through a tree at the end of the runway. I knew I had to do something to get down. So, I arched my body like going into a dive and dove to the ground. This may have been when I broke my hand. I may have landed on it. I was now laying on the runway listening to the roar of that terrible wind and still being hit by flying debris.

Due to lightning or the light from the burning hangar, I saw a mound of dirt beside the runway so I rolled behind that mound of dirt. This protected me from the wind and flying debris. I watched large pieces of wood and other junk fly over my head. I was downwind from the hangar; so, as the fire from the burning gasoline, aircraft, autos etc. increased, so did the smoke coming my way. The smoke became so intense that I had to give up my safe haven behind that pile of dirt. There were some woods nearby, so I worked my way over to them. The wind had broken most of the trees off about two feet from the ground. I crawled behind the largest stump that I saw. Then with the flashing of lightning, I saw a larger stump and worked my way to behind it. I repeated that several times until I found a tree stump that was large enough to protect me from the fury of the storm. I stayed there until the eye of the hurricane arrived.

Suddenly the howling winds stopped blowing and it became deadly still and calm. There wasn't a breath of air stirring. I came out of the woods to see what was going on. The hangars were engulfed with flames; I didn't want to go back there. About that time six other guys who had been weathering the storm in the woods came by. One of them knew where the ammunition dump was and said that we could find safety there for the other part of the hurricane. That sounded good to me, so I was happy to join them. To get to the ammo dump, we had to leave the base by the back gate. Of course, there was no guard on the gate at this time. Starting down this road we passed a home that was still standing. This was a low, flat roof, wooden building that was well built and had previously been a store. It had withstood the first half of the hurricane and the family was out surveying the damage when they saw us in the road. They insisted that we come in and ride out the other half of the storm with them. They took one look at me and said "Oh my God! We must do something for you." They started cleaning my cuts and bruises. They cleaned the cuts with hydrogen peroxide and bandaged me up stopping most of the bleeding. This was done using a flashlight and a kerosine lamp for light. They put me to bed, gave me some medicine for pain and I don't remember much about the other half of the hurricane except for the noise and feeling the building rock. 

As the wind subsided, base rescue personnel were out looking for survivors. They put me into a jeep and rushed me to the base hospital, which was still standing and using emergency power. To my surprise, there were not a lot of injuries, only thirty-eight, and only one death. Sailors on the opposite side of the hangar from us were able to get into the stairways of the hangar's concrete pillars for protection from the storm. The death was a civilian fireman who was out in the hangar inspecting the early roof damage, when the whole thing came down. Falling timbers got him.

Soon after I arrived at the hospital, two bus loads of volunteer doctors and nurses arrived from Miami. But, due to the relative small number of casualties(32), the Navy didn't need a lot of help. The chief surgeon started working on me. He was working using emergency lights and power, but that didn't slow him down. He was displeased that the nice people at the farm house had used hydrogen peroxide to clean my cuts, but I was happy that they had. He gave me a shot and knocked me out. Then, he cut away some of the torn skin and tissues and sewed up all my serious cuts. They found a large bone broken in my left hand; so, they put a cast on that.
The above is what was left of the debris that I had to climb over.

After a few days in the hospital, I learned that our Chief's Club, which was in our barracks, was going to close and needed to get rid of all our stock. To do this, they had decided to open the bar to all chiefs - free drinks! Anything, any time we wanted it until the stock was gone. When the doctor came by I asked him "Being that I'm just lying around here doing nothing, why can't I do the same thing in the chief's quarters?" He said "O.K. Chief! If you will promise to just lie around, take it easy and come back here once a day so we can check you over." Then he laughed and said "You probably won't need as many pain pills there." He was right and that was a much nicer atmosphere for recovering than lying around in a hospital.
The following weekend I went on liberty, even if I did look like a mummy. My hand was in a cast, both arms and both legs were bandaged up and one knee bandaged so I couldn't bend it. Of course, I couldn't drive, but I didn't have anything to drive anyway, because the hurricane and resulting fire had completely destroyed my Mercury. I rode a bus and my family was shocked to see me in that condition.

Auto insurance became an interesting issue. In the spring of that year while I was still in Houma, La., I took out auto insurance with Government Employees Insurance Company (now known as GEICO). About a month later, I received a notice stating that I had taken out collision and liability but not comprehensive. They recommended that I add comprehensive for a cost of only $4.50 a year. They included a form to check if I wanted it, and said I would be billed later. I checked the form and mailed it back but never was billed for it. 

When the car was destroyed by the hurricane, I filled a claim. The company wired the adjuster that I was not covered by comprehensive. When I told them about the form that I had sent back six months earlier, they apparently found it and wired the adjuster to pay for the total lost. I decided that GEICO must be a pretty good company to pay on such a thin claim; so, I have been with them ever since and never disappointed.

Some reports years later stated that the hangars withstood the hurricane and all the damage was due to fire. Well, I'm here to tell you "that isn't so, as I was in one of those hangars I know that the hangars blew down then the fire started." Perhaps the discrepancy was due to a report that stated "just the roof blew off." The way that hangar was made, the roof was the hangar.


TOTAL DAMAGE: 

One fatality and 38 injuries
25 blimps
212 navy aircraft
21 non-Navy U.S. Government aircraft
125 privately owned airplanes
An unknown number of privately owned automobiles 
(Most all of us on the base that owned cars)
One chief couldn't get his car started to get it in the hangar. 

I think that it was the only privately owned vehicle left on the base after the hurricane.

The hurricane which hit South Florida in September of 1945 devastated NAS Richmond. Shown here is the debris surroundings what was left of Hangars One and Two. 

Picture courtesy The city of Surfside, FL


Source of information on this page is from http://www.kilroywashere.org/003-Pages/Arch/Arch.html
Wednesday, 25 July 2012 14:58

Events, Meetings, Weddings

 

Events, Meetings, and Weddings

The Museum's plaza area, main display shed, and several air-conditioned lounge cars are available for meetings, weddings, and other events.

Wedding of Bill and Lourdes MetzOver the past five decades, in close cooperation with the Miami Dade County Parks Department, the Gold Coast Railroad Museum has grown into a remarkable historic train and industrial arts collection. The Museum offers train rides on historic rail equipment and is open seven days a week to the public, 365 days a year. The railroad museum is not just a collection of trains. It is about families, community, schools and the joy of learning in a historic environment. On its fifty acres of historic property the Museum provides train rides and hosts increasing numbers of guided school field trips with an orientation presentation, lectures, bus tours, birthday parties, weddings, receptions, business and corporate meetings, film shoots and special events that bring the history of trains to life. The mission of the Museum is to serve by educating all the youths and adults who walk through its doors. Its commitment to education focuses on hands-on interdisciplinary and intergenerational exhibits, programs, outreach activities and special events which speak to the richness and diversity of our Florida heritage.

 

Wedding under the Shed

The Gold Coast Railroad Museum can work to meet your catering needs and can work with your prefered caterer.

For more information, please call the museum store at (305) 253 - 0063.

The area of Museum property desired for the service or reception must be approved by the Museum in advance. Generally, most of our train cars are not available for events with the exception of our lounge cars (see Lounge Car rental section). Tax will be added to total bill.

Large events and/or multi-day events requiring significant use of the grounds, including closing the Museum during the event, require significant lead time (a minimum of one month is recommended).

 

Business Meeting

ACL 254

The Museum has a lounge car which is now available for rent. The ACL Observation Bar Lounge #254 is sure to offer a very unique place to conduct your next business meeting. The air-conditioned lounge car can accommodate up to 45 people and is ready for catered events such as business meetings. After hours use can be arranged. Please follow the link to see photos of the car.



ACL 254

Full Day "Table" Package - (meeting may start as early as 9 a.m. and run until 4 p.m.)
Don't need a lounge car? You may use up to five of our picnic tables that are located within the main exhibit building to host your meeting.

   

Please consult the Party and Event Information Sheet or call for more details.

Please see our Reservation Information section for availability and details on booking your rental.

 

Reservations Information

For reservations, availability, or other information, call 305-253-0063 during regular weekday hours, or e-mail  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

 

 

 

Wednesday, 25 July 2012 14:57

Field Trips

 

Field Trips

The Museum welcomes school groups and field trips. We offer a unique educational experience for students of all ages. Your groups will enjoy:

  • Train Rides.
  • Educational Tours.
  • Historic Artifacts.
  • Picnic Areas.
  • Interactive Games.
  • Model Trains and Thomas Tables.

 

Palmetto Pre-K School

 

Please call us at (305) 253 - 0063 to book your field trip. You may also email us at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Wednesday, 25 July 2012 14:57

Birthday Parties

Birthday Parties

The Museum invites you to plan your birthday celebration in our nostalgic, family friendly, atmosphere. Amenities include exclusive use of one of our designated Picnic Party Areas consisting of a group of picnic tables under our train shed or use of an air-conditioned Lounge Car (depending on package). During your party, guests can enjoy the Museum's exhibits, including the Model Train room.

Package #1—Sheltered Picnic Party Area

Use of four (4) large picnic tables under the Main Exhibit Building from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. 
Scheduled Private Train Ride on our two-foot gauge Edwin Link “Steam” Train.
A museum staff member will be on hand to assist you.
Your guests may tour our historic trains, historic artifacts and grounds, and have access to our Model Display building, home to our hands-on Thomas the Tank Engine play tables.
 

Call us for pricing and information!

 

 

Package #2—Air-conditioned Lounge Car

 

package 2.JPG

Exclusive use of the air-conditioned Lounge Car #6300 on Track #1, as well as two (2) large picnic tables alongside the car, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Lounge Car is a guaranteed memorable experience, as well as an excellent way to avoid those  hot Florida days.
Scheduled Private Train Ride on our two-foot gauge Edwin Link “Steam” Train.
A museum staff member will be on hand to assist you.
Your guests may tour our historic trains, historic artifacts and grounds, and have access to our Model Display building, home to our hands-on Thomas the Tank Engine play tables.
 

Call us for pricing and information!

 

 

 

 

 

Package #3—Air-conditioned Lounge Car

Exclusive use of the air-conditioned Lounge Car #254 on Track #1, as well as two (2) large picnic tables alongside the car, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Lounge Car is a guaranteed memorable experience, as well as an excellent way to avoid those  hot Florida days.
Scheduled Private Train Ride on our two-foot gauge Edwin Link “Steam” Train.
A museum staff member will be on hand to assist you.
Your guests may tour our historic trains, historic artifacts and grounds, and have access to our Model Display building, home to our hands-on Thomas the Tank Engine play tables.

Call us for pricing and information!

 

Big Kid Birthday Party—Air-conditioned Lounge Car

Who says that a railroad party is just for kids? Here is a package for the young at heart. Prior to the Museum opening the "Big Kid" will be trained on basic railroad operating rules and familiarized with the controls of a standard gauge locomotive. Guests will then arrive to celebrate with the "Big Kid" on board the air-conditioned lounge car. Guests will have the opprtunity to explore the Museum and, at the appointed time, climb on the train as the conductor shouts "All aboard." The train departs with the "Big Kid" at the throttle for a special train ride. Two guests will be able to ride in the cab with the "Big Kid" as they engineer the train (under supervision of a certified locomotive engineer).

Price includes a membership to the Gold Coast Railroad Museum for the "Big Kid," training at the controls of a standard gauge locomotive for the "Big Kid," exclusive use of our Atlantic Coast Line #254 Lounge Car, admission and standard gauge train ride for its guests, and a cab ride for 2 guests.
 

 

Please call or email us today to book your party!

Wednesday, 25 July 2012 14:53

Photo & Film Shoots

All after-hour photo shoots must be scheduled at least 48 hours in advance. Any changes made to a reservation must be done at least 24 hours in advance. Please call us at (305) 253-0063 to make a reservation.

Film Shoots

       Film Shoot

The Gold Coast Railroad Museum offers a variety of different scenic backdrops for filming all located on its 50 acre site.  The Museum, which is located just over a mile off of Florida’s Turnpike in South Miami-Dade County has historic railcars, a railroad yard, operating rail equipment, pineland forests, industrial-looking brick structures, and open fields.  We are easy to work with and can accommodate most any shooting schedule.  The Museum even has railcars that can be rented to serve as dressing/make-up rooms or on site production offices.

Download our Photoshoot Rules for more information.


For more information, please contact Lilia Fontana, Executive Director, at (305) 253-0063 or email  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Model/Still Shoots

 


 

Mini Photo Shoots

Monday thru Friday 10 am to 4:00 pm
$50 per hour plus tax 

Monday thru Friday outside of above hours
 $75 per hour plus tax

Saturday/Sunday 11 am to 4 pm
 $75 per hour plus tax

Saturday/Sunday outside of above hours
$100 per hour plus tax

Maximum of 8 people

 

Film projects for SCHOOL CREDIT can be discussed in person with the executive director- 305-505-5405

Reservations are not required but suggested. If a photoshoot is to be after 4pm, there must be a reservation on file, before 4pm that day.

 
Commercial Photo Shoots
(We offer trains, brick building backgrounds and forest and grassy field settings)

8:00 am - 4:00 pm
$100 per hour plus tax

(This fee includes: A staff member to assist you, reservation fee, gate entrance fee, equipment usage fee (for photographic purposes – non-operating), and fixed costs (electrical, restrooms, etc…)

6:00 am - 8:00 am and 4:00 pm - 7:00 pm
$125 per hour plux tax
(This fee includes: A staff member to assist you, reservation fee, gate entrance fee, equipment usage fee (for photographic purposes – non-operating), fixed costs (electrical, restrooms, etc…), and after-hours staff costs.

7:00 pm - 6:00 am
$175 per hour plus tax
(This fee includes: A staff member to assist you, reservation fee, gate entrance fee, equipment usage fee (for photographic purposes – non-operating), fixed costs (electrical, restrooms, etc…), and after-hours staff costs and  Metro Zoo main gate security fees.

Reservations for Commercial Photo Shoots required

All Commercial Photo Shoots must be self-contained and insured. 
( We have no available electric so generators are required for everything. 
We will need a copy of the Photographers’ insurance certificate a day before the shoot - specifying 
“The Gold Coast Railroad Museum" as additionally insured. )

 

 

Tuesday, 24 July 2012 21:54

TourOn

touronWe’d like to introduce you to our new TourOn app, available directly on your smartphone. Learn about the history of our trains, view upcoming events and check out photo galleries of our exhibits.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012 21:53

New Ferdinand Magellan Grant

Ferdinand MagellanWe'd like to thank the National Railroad Historical Society (NRHS) for a recent grant award to assist with painting and upholstery work in the presidential railcar Ferdinand Magellan.

Friday, 06 July 2012 22:55

Traincrew Member for a Day Application

GOLD COAST RAILROAD MUSEUM
Train Crewmember For-A-Day Application

To apply, print out and complete this form, and mail it with deposit to:

The Gold Coast Railroad Museum 
12450 S.W. 152nd Street
Miami, Florida, 33177-1402
U.S.A. 

Name: ______________________________________________________________________________

Address: ____________________________________________________________________________

City: ___________________________ State: ___________ Postal Code: ________________________

E-mail Address: ______________________________________________________________________

I am at least 18 years old: YES:____ NO: ____     Phone number: (________) ________-___________

Known medical conditions and/or Allergies_________________________________________________

____________________________________________________________________________________

Emergency contact: Name: _____________________________________________________________

Address: ____________________________________________________________________________

City: ___________________________ State: ___________ Postal Code: ________________________

Phone number: (________) ________-___________

Select a Program:

____ Bronze Spike ($85.00 = $50.00 Program Fee plus $35.00 Individual Memberhip)

____ Silver Spike (Weekends only, $145.00 = $110.00 Program Fee plus $35.00 Individual Memberhip)

____ Gold Spike (Weekends only, $185.00 = $150.00 Program Fee plus $35.00 Individual Memberhip)

Requested dates: 1st choice: ____/____/____   2nd Choice: ____/____/____   3rd Choice: ____/____/____

Method of Payment: ____ Cash     ____ Check     ____ Visa/MasterCard     ____ American Express

Account Number: __________________________________ Expiration Date: _______/_______

Signature and Name (printed) as it appears on card:___________________________________________

  • A deposit of 50% will be required to reserve a date. Dates are not guaranteed until a deposit is received.
  • Deposits are nonrefundable once a date is confirmed by the Gold Coast Railroad Museum, except as below.
  • Deposits may be refunded, or dates may be rescheduled, only if equipment failures or other extenuating circumstances prevent the Museum from honoring the reservation.
  • Dates are subject to availability and equipment is subject to change.
Thursday, 05 July 2012 22:27

Hours & Admissions

Hours of Operation

The Museum

Weekdays

10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. 

Weekends

11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Model Train Building

Weekdays

10:00am to 2:00pm

Weekends

11:00am to 4:00pm

MUSEUM ADMISSION

Adults & Children age 12 and up: $6.00
Children age 3 to 12: $4.00
Children under age 2: FREE

RIDE PRICES

Link Ride $2.50

Caboose or Coach Ride $6.00

Locomotive Cab Rides $12.00

Thursday, 05 July 2012 22:24

Hours & Admissions

Hours of Operation1- DSC0019

 

The Museum

Weekdays

10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. 

Weekends

11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Model Train Building
Weekdays

10:00am to 2:00pm

Weekends

11:00am to 4:00pm

Museum Admission Prices

Adults & Children age 12 and up: $8.00
Children age 2 to 11: $6.00
Children under age 2: FREE

RIDE PRICES

Link Ride $2.50
Caboose or Coach Ride $6.00
Locomotive Cab Rides $12.00

Link Rides Weekdays: 11:30am, 1:30pm

TOURS
Weekdays

11:00am and 2:00pm

Weekends

12:00pm, 1:00pm, 2:00pm, 3:00pm

Magellan Tours are available at $2 per person on any regular day. $5 per person on 1st Saturday events. All proceeds go towards refurbishing the Magellan. Private tours available on request for an additional fee. Rates & Fees subject to change without notice.

 

Children's Train artwork by Phil Fung