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
The SILVER CRESCENT was heavily damaged by hurricane ANDREW. It is open on weekends, but the interior has not yet been refurbished. Below is a cutaway drawing of the Silver Crescent. Below the image is a virtual tour of the car which references numbers and locations in the drawing.
Refer to this drawing for "Tour Locations"
You are now entering railroading's finest example of the "Streamliner Era." This magnificent round end "Visa-Dome" car was one of seven which always graced the rear of every "California Zephyr" train. The numbers shown along with additional notices will guide you on your tour. We are sure that you will have an interesting time exploring "Silver Crescent" from America's "Most Talked About Train" - The California Zephyr.
When built in 1948, this streamliner embodied the most modern systems and controls: 8 wheel disc brakes, anti-slide braking system, on-board brake indicators, tight-lock safety couplers, demand load electrical system, micro-switch controlled vestibule step lights, specialized draftless central air conditioning, carbon dioxide monitoring, electrostatic air purification, and much more. All this to make your journey aboard the "California Zephyr" the best trip possible.
"Built by BUDD", Red Lion Plant, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Year Built: December, 1948.
Order Date: October, 1945.
Lot Number: 9659-021.
Pullman Plan Number: 9511.
Length: 85 feet 0 inches (25.9 m).
Width: 10 feet 5 inches (3.12m).
Height: 15 feet 10 inches (4.82 m).
Weight: 159,000 pounds (72.121,1 k) 79-1/2 tons.
Construction: The body and frame are built of 18-8 stainless steel, assembled by a unique Budd patent called "Shotwelding" which eliminated the need for bolting or conventional welding.
Air Conditioning: 10 ton (176856,25 J/Wh), dual evaporator, water condenser, Frigidaire system.
Electrical Systems: 32 VDC from an axle driven generator.
32 VDC from 8 lead-acid storage batteries.
110 VAC from two motor alternators.
110 VAC from "shore power" connection.
220 VAC from "standby" shore power.
6 VDC from dry cell batteries.
Generator Capacity: 25,000 Watts, 32 VDC.
Electric Motors: 21.
Air Operated Motors: 6.
Light Bulbs: Incandescent - 106.
Fluorescent - 104.
Neon - 3.
Total All: 203.
Water Capacity: 500 Gallons (1.892,8 l) Potable.
150 Gallons (567,8 l) Air conditioning condenser.
Miles Logged: over 4,000,000 (6.437.360 + Km).
Time In Service: March 20,1949 to March 22, 1970.
Pullman Space Sold In This Car (alone): Over 15,000.
As you enjoy your tour of "Silver Crescent", you may hear music and announcements. The songs are all hits of the '50s and '60s - the period of "California Zephyr" service. The announcements on points of interest, equipment, and dining information are taken from the actual script of the "Zephyrette" hostess. Imagine that you are one of the First Class passengers traveling through the plains, deserts, deep gorges, and majestic mountains of the American West as you continue to explore one of the most famous trains in the history of railroading - the "California Zephyr".
This small seat was where your Pullman porter took short cat-naps during the 2-1/2 day trip through the West. A call enunciator panel across the aisle alerted him to the needs of his cabin passengers. He stored your luggage, put your beds down at night and up in the morning, and made your trip a pleasure. Also in this area are located the linen and folding table storage cabinets, public restroom, chilled water fountain, and the electrical locker.
As you now make a right and left turn you enter the aisle along which you will see a representative view of the type of accommodations available to First Class passengers onboard the "California Zephyr." Each room has individual controls for cooling, heating, three different channels of music, and a public address channel. There is a porter's call button in every room and a visitor's call button outside the door of each bedroom. Note that there is a large window in each room as well as another directly across the aisle on the opposite side of the car. This adds to the feeling of spaciousness.
All bedroom passengers had their own private bathroom. The bathrooms had all the normal amenities: sink with hot and cold water, soap, hand towels, circulating chilled water, cups, and flushing toilets. Only one public bedroom on the entire twelve car train had a shower. You will see it in the exclusive Drawing Room "D".
You may notice that these bedroom appear somewhat small, but remember that before this period in American rail history, public sleeping cars normally consisted of open-section accommodations with common bathrooms and little privacy. These bedrooms you are now viewing were the best compromise of space, revenue, privacy, and comfort. Their design has changed little over the past forty years. First Class passengers considered these rooms to be a wonderful improvement over what there had been before.
Most rooms were designed for one or two persons, but a few rooms had the ability to become a four person suite. This was possible by way of a folding wall partition dividing the two rooms. For traveling families, this was very convenient. Mom and Dad could enjoy their privacy at night by refolding the wall into place. They could still reach the other members of the family by means of a small lockable door located in the room divider.
Here in bedroom "C" is the same cabin layout you saw in cabin "A" but now configured for sleeping. Your porter most likely made up the beds while the occupants were at dinner in the diner. Just as the splendor of the Rockies and Feather River were scheduled for daytime, so the Nevada Deserts and Great Plains were timed for nighttime crossings. If the passengers had placed their shoes in the locker provided in each room, the porter would have shined them during the late night hours and returned them to the locker by dawn.
Drawing Room "D" was the most unique accommodation on the entire "California Zephyr." It was the largest bedroom, sleeping three persons. It was the bedroom closest to the bar (very important for some). But its most popular feature was the full functioning shower. No other bedroom on the CZ had one. All this luxury did not come cheap - the Pullman fare in 1970 was $98 per person for the 2-1/2 day, 2,525 mile (4,063.5 Km) trip between Chicago and Oakland. Despite the cost, this room was very popular, and difficult to reserve. But what a way to go!
Here in the Bar/Lounge, First Class passengers could relax enjoying tavern service before meals or spend the late night hours socializing with fellow passengers. Diner reservations could be made with the bartender who would then call them in to the Dining Car Steward. An enunciator panel located near the radio would alert the Bartender to the needs of passenger service both here, and in the rear observation lounge. The tavern area contains a sink, freezer, refrigerator, glassware, and dry storage. No food service was provided at the bar.
Three original works of art appear in the tavern:
1. Gold-backed, etched bar-back mirrors of songbirds by David Harriton.
2. Carved linoleum bar-front of wild game birds by Pierre Bourdelle. (Shown below)
3. Western Impressionistic wall paintings by Russell Patterson.
Each of the seven observation taverns, such as this one, had different variations on the above themes. Each was an original work.
This lounge was "THE" social meeting room for First Class "California Zephyr" passengers. Deep cushioned chairs and the high curved ceiling gave a wonderful air of quiet relaxation as passengers watched the miles retreat behind the graceful curves of this graceful rear observation car. While chatting with fellow travelers, one could summon the courteous attendant simply by pressing one of the call buttons located within easy reach of every chair. A writing desk was available with a good supply of post cards and stationary. A mail drop was located in the desk. Magazines supplied varied reading matter: Look, Colliers, Life, and the "Post" were always on hand.
When the "California Zephyr" concept was formed in 1945 by the Burlington, Rio Grande, and Western Pacific, it was decided to use the car naming system then being used by the Burlington for its stainless steel trains: a car name always prefixed by the word "Silver." The "CZ" used 77 "Silver" names in its fleet of beautiful stainless steel cars. "Silver Crescent" has six sister observation cars. They are: "Silver Horizon", "Silver Penthouse", "Silver Sky", "Silver Planet", "Silver Solarium", and "Silver Lookout."
Almost all of the "CZ's" 77 car fleet survives, but virtually every one has been modified by their new owners. Most are in Amtrak, Canadian, Mexican, or private service. An unrestored diner rests in a California museum. "Silver Crescent" and "Silver Stag" reside here at the Gold Coast Railroad Museum. "Silver Crescent" is the only "CZ" passenger car to survive in its "in-service' appearance. You see her now just as you would had you been riding her in the 1960's. She is the finest example of the "Golden (or should we say "Silver") age of the Streamliners".
While most trains of the '50s and '60s provided great on-board services, the "California Zephyr" added unmatched daylight scenery. The fabulous climb up the Front Range of the Rockies; paralleling the grand Colorado River while passing through the great canyons of Byers, Gore, Glenwood, and Ruby. The beautiful passage through the Sierras and the wonder of Feather River Canyon. All this great scenery was timed to be passed in daylight, both West and East bound. The best of the West at "See" level on the "California Zephyr."
For brief times, the "CZ" needed to be operated in reverse as when backing into Denver Union Station. By opening the top of the cabinet at the right rear of the observation lounge, the brakeman had access to full braking and signaling controls. The controls:
Orange handled "Air Horn."
Blue handled "Trainline Signal Valve."
Brass handled "Air Brake Control Valve."
The hand operated windshield wiper kept the rear window clear on those rare rainy days.
It was common for trains to carry their name on the rear car. The "CZ" was no different. On the rear of each of the seven Dome Observation Lounge cars of the "CZ" was installed a stainless steel box with the words "California Zephyr" emblazoned in red tubular neon. Between the words was an enameled painting of the Golden Gate Bridge and the San Francisco skyline. You may see the sign illuminated on occasional weekends. A beautiful finale bringing up the rear of America's most popular "Cruise" train.
Protection of its trains from rear end mishaps was always on the minds of the railroads. As one effective deterrent, a unique anti-collision light was designed by the Mars Signal Light Company. A bright red beacon which swept the sky with a horizontal figure eight pattern was used on the rear of all "California Zephyr" trains. In addition, the unit could be electrically rotated to become a solid white headlight to aide in backing into stations such as Denver. This light is still operational on "Silver Crescent."
As you will notice, the handrails of the stairway leading to the famous Vista-Dome are made of solid clear Lucite plastic. Of the 31 Vista-Domes of the "California Zephyr", only the seven dome observation cars had this unusual feature. During evening hours, lights at the top and bottom of the stairway transmitted a soft amber glow through these beautiful handrails. It produced a wonderful effect while ascending into the star filled night of the "Vista-Dome". It still functions today at it did on those nights long since passed.
During the first ten years of the "CZ" the space over the writing desk was a bare painted wall. In the early '60s a large, beautiful photograph of the famous "Golden Gate" and San Francisco was installed. A reminder to the Westbound passengers of the magnificent Bay Area soon to be their destination - to the Eastbound, fond memories of "The City By The Bay."
The "Vista-Dome" was developed for the great scenic route over which the "California Zephyr" operated between Chicago, Illinois, and Oakland, California. The "CZ" was equipped with five "Vista-Domes" on each of its six trainsets - more domes than any other train in the world. The first three domes in each train were for coach passengers and the last two, including this one, were for Pullman sleeping car passengers. None of the dome seats were individually reserved. Imagine those fabulous views that were seen from these most famous of the "Vista-Domes!"
You now stand in the only "Vista-Dome" showing its complete "In-Service" appearance. The seats, carpets, and paint are just as you would have seen them when the "CZ" cruised the Rockies and Sierra. Each of the train's five "Vista-Domes" had 24 chairs, a total of 120 unreserved dome seats. The chairs have the ability to swivel, so that parties of four could sit facing one another. Looking forward along the roof, you see the AM radio antenna. This was used with the signal seeking radio located in the tavern.
When the "CZ," America's most famous "Cruise" train was launched in March, 1949, windshield wipers were considered necessary to keep the front and rear dome windows clean. But very soon it was realized that the locomotive exhaust mixed with splattered bugs and a little rain made an impossible mess when the wipers were turned on. Also the blades of the wipers became damaged when the cars were being washed with the rotary brushes. Soon after the "CZ" was introduced, the wipers were removed, never to be used again. Well, not until now. You are standing in the only "Vista-Dome" to have its windshield wipers restored to its 1949 appearance. Four of the six air actuated "Trico" wiper motors are the originals installed in 1948!
Now that you have toured this unique streamliner, "See" the "California Zephyr" in actual action! Two complete trips from Chicago to Oakland, taken in the '50s and '60s are available on one VHS cassette. These professionally produced films give you a beautiful ride through the towering Rockies and beautiful Sierras. You'll see the "CZ" from inside out. You'll see the coaches, diner, sleepers, and the famous observation lounge, all in actual service. Watch the "CZ" as it climbs the Rockies as filmed from the roof of the cars! See why the "CZ" was called "The Most Talked About Train In The Country", and why at one time it was considered for "National Landmark" status.
"Silver Crescent" was on the rear of the final Westbound "CZ" run, March 20, 1970. This was the end of passenger service on the Western Pacific. A short time later, the WP sold off its "CZ" cars. William Harmsen bought "Silver Crescent" and "Silver Stag" in July 1972 and moved them to his business in west Denver. He used the cars for business meetings and gatherings over the next nine years. On March 1, 1981, he offered the cars to the "Gold Coast Railroad." Extensive preparation for the move took five months. On August 20, 1981, they arrived at the museum. Restoration work began immediately.
The pre-hurricane, fine condition of "Silver Crescent" was due to the untiring efforts of the "Gold Coast" volunteers who devoted their time and money to this unique car. Since acquisition in 1981, countless hours and thousands of donated dollars have gone into this on-going restoration which you have enjoyed seeing today. Your TAX DEDUCTIBLE DONATIONS help these efforts to continue.
Narrative written by John F. McLean, Curator, SILVER CRESCENT
For more information on the California Zephyr trains, history, and equipment, visit The California Zephyr Museum Online at http://www.californiazephyr.org/
Please click on the following links to order books about the California Zephyr:
A portion of the sale price every book purchased from AMAZON.COM through these links is donated to the Gold Coast Railroad Museum.
Type: Round-end observation, bar lounge.
Status: Open, On display.
Acquisition Date: August 20, 1981.
Ferdinand Magellan “ U.S. No. 1 Presidential Railcar has been removed from open exhibit. While the exterior of the car is still available for viewing, the interior has been secured due to the preservation needs of the car. The many years of the public passing through the railcar have taken their toll. In order to preserve the car for future generations to study and enjoy, this step has been necessary. We do conduct guided tours of this car! Please go to the admissions page, located here: Hours & Admissions Information Page. The admissions page shows the tour information for the Magellan, and times that we conduct the tours.
Right: The Great Seal of the President of the United States as displayed in bronze on the rear gate of the FERDINAND MAGELLAN
The Ferdinand Magellan is unique among Pullman railroad cars in that it is the only car ever custom built for the President of the United States in the 20th century. One other railcar was built for President Lincoln in the early 1860's, however Lincoln refused to ride in it calling it "too fancy and ornate." The car was used to carry the president's body to his burial place after he was assassinated. Originally built in 1928, the Ferdinand Magellan was one of the last cars ever built as a private car and was one of a group of six cars named after famous explorers. The six cars were; Ferdinand Magellan, David Livingstone, Henry Stanley, Marco Polo, Robert Peary and Roald Amundsen. These cars were all placed in the Pullman general service pool at about the same time and were operated by the Pullman Company over many of the nation's railroads.
Until late 1942, the President of the United States rode in a standard, private Pullman car when he traveled by train. He did not use a specific car, although the Roald Amundsen was frequently assigned to him. In early 1942, just after the United States became involved in World War II, white house aids Michael Reilly and Steven Early suggested that the President of the United States should have a custom built railroad car to afford him maximum protection when he traveled by rail. President Franklin Roosevelt approved of the idea after he was told that the car would not only be used for him but for future Presidents as well. After consideration, the Ferdinand Magellan was chosen to be the Presidential car and was withdrawn from general service and returned to the Pullman Company's "Calumet Shops", near Chicago, Illinois, for complete rebuilding.
The car was originally painted "Pullman Green", a color similar to that of this page. This color was chosen for the Pullman fleet for several reasons, not the least of which is it's ability to not show the type of soot and dirt that accumulates on railroad cars painted in a lighter livery! It is 84' - 0" (25.2 m) long, 15' - 0" (4.57 m) high, and 10' -0" (3.05 m) wide. President Roosevelt's only request for the design was to "make it a little more comfortable", so the interior of the car was redesigned. At the Calumet shops, the number of bedrooms was reduced from five to four to create more room for the dining room and the observation lounge. Nickel-steel armor plate 5/8" (15 mm) thick was riveted on to the sides, floor, roof and ends of the car in a manner that made it undetectable when the car was viewed from any distance. 3" (76.2 mm) thick, bullet resisting glass, manufactured by laminating 12 sheets of 1/4" (6 mm) thick glass into one piece, was installed and sealed into the window frames, replacing conventional safety glass in the windows.
Two escape hatches were built into the car, one in the ceiling of the observation lounge and one on the side wall of the shower/bath in the Presidential bathroom, near the center of the car. Special trucks, wheels and roller bearings were installed to support the additional weight. A "standard," heavyweight, Pullman car of the Magellan's era weighed about 160,000 pounds (72,563 kg). The rebuilt Ferdinand Magellan weighed 285,000 (129,252 kg). At 142.5 tons (129.3 metric tons), it is the heaviest, passenger railcar in the United States!
The Ferdinand Magellan is the only passenger railcar ever designated a "National Historic Landmark" by the United States government. This honor was bestowed on the Ferdinand Magellan by the United States, Department of the Interior, National Parks Service in February. 1985.
To enter the car from the rear, one climbs the steps to the open platform enclosed with polished, brass railings. This platform was often used by the President for making speeches, especially when the car was used for "whistle stop" campaign trips. The famous news photo of Harry Truman holding up a copy of the Chicago Tribune with a banner headline stating "Dewey Defeats Truman" was taken on this platform on Wednesday, November 3, 1948, at the St. Louis, Union Station. (The St. Louis Union Station has been preserved and converted to a shopping mall. It's a beautiful facility worthy of a visit!) A copy of this photo is displayed in the car.
Inside (below), through the armored rear door of the car, is the spacious and restful observation lounge. It is decorated using cream colored woodwork, green carpeting and light brown, tufted wall covering resembling leather. All furnishings, fixtures and equipment throughout the car, are the original equipment that was onboard when the car was turned over to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1942. Although portions of the interior have been repainted as part of the Gold Coast Railroad Museum's restoration and preservation program, the paint has been carefully matched with the original color so that the decor remains unchanged.
Each room in the car has a telephone. When the presidential train was standing in a station, the telephone system was connected to a trainside telephone outlet provided by the local telephone company. When the train was moving, external communications were handled by Army Signal Corps personnel in communications car number 1401, a converted, Baltimore and Ohio combine car, which was used for the president's communication equipment. In later years, this car was replaced by a converted hospital car renamed the General Albert J. Myer.
Between the observation lounge and the dining room are four bedrooms, lettered "A" through "D". Rooms "A" and "D" are identical guest rooms. Each contains an upper and lower berth, vanity, closet, dresser, wash basin, toilet, and medicine cabinet. The lower berth converts into a double seat with a table, while the upper berth retracts into the ceiling. Rooms "B" and "C", with their connecting bathroom, form the presidential suite. Bedroom "B" is the First Lady's bedroom. It has a single bed, larger than a standard Pullman berth, dresser, closet and wash basin. The connecting bath has a shower, bathtub, toilet, and wash basin. Room "C" is the President's bedroom. It is the largest of the bedrooms and contains, in addition to the standard equipment, a commode chair which was installed for President Roosevelt who was a semi-invalid due to polio. Also exhibited in the room is a special wheelchair built for Mr. Roosevelt's use onboard this railcar. The chair is narrow enough to have adequate clearance through the doors and hallways of this railcar.
The dining/conference room is the largest room in the railroad car. The solid mahogany table is 38" x 72" (96.3 cm x 183 cm) and seats eight. This is where the president entertained official visitors while aboard the Magellan. Among the many world leaders entertained in this room was Sir Winston Churchill, who visited both President Roosevelt and President Trumanaboard the car on different occasions. This room also contains the small writing desk which was used by the president when needed for official business.
Through the door at the front end of the dining room is the hallway and door that divides the presidential area from the staff area of the car. Located here is the pantry and steward's quarters, the latter containing a small upper and lower berth, a lavatory and shower and a small closet. Overhead are hot and cold water storage tanks and ventilation equipment. Next is the galley, containing a charcoal stove and an ice box (not a refrigerator). This where the meals were prepared for the presidential party. Finally on either side of the front entrance aisle are an ice hatch and storage compartments. Air conditioning was provided throughout the car by filling the ice storage bunkers with 12, 500 pound (227 kg) blocks of ice. As the ice melted, the chilled water runoff was pumped through copper coils in the ceiling. The air inside the car was circulated over these coils and the cooled air was used to ventilate the car. The warm water that had flowed through the coils was pumped back to the ice bunkers and sprayed over the blocks of ice. In the 1970's the system was converted to mechanical refrigeration, using some of the original cooling coils as part of the chiller system.
The newly rebuilt Ferdinand Magellan was presented to President Roosevelt on December 18, 1942, exactly 14 years from the day it rolled out of the Pullman Company shops as a new unit. During World War II, for security reason, only the word "Pullman" appeared on the outside of the car so that from a distance, the rolling fortress looked like any other private rail car. Whenever it was part of a train, however, the train moved under the commodity code "POTUS" (the first letters of President OfThe United States.) Every railroad official knew that "POTUS" had the right of way over all other rail traffic. To lessen the chance of sabotage during the war, the car did not have a permanent storage location in Washington, D.C. It was moved around when not in use and stored on various sidings at Washington's Union Station, the Potomac Railroad yards, the Naval Gun Factory at the Navy Yard and in the sub-basement of the Bureau of Printing and Engraving. At the Navy Yard, a special elevator was installed on the observation platform at the rear of the car to aid the president in boarding the car while in a wheel chair. This elaborate device was removed from the railroad car after the death of President Roosevelt, however, photos of it are on display in the lounge.
On January 9, 1943, a five car train was quietly assembled in Washington's "Ivy City" yard. The president's Navy stewards were summoned from the presidential yacht to perform the duties ordinarily handled by Pullman porters. Officials preparing this special train were told not to issue any special instructions that might cause suspicion. The train left Washington, D.C. at 10:00 P.M. (22:00) with President Roosevelt aboard the Ferdinand Magellan and headed north. The train, however, only went as far as Fort Meade, Maryland. An hour later, it was headed south, beginning President Roosevelt's journey to the now famous Casablanca summit meeting. Before dawn, on January 11, the train arrived at southwest 27th avenue and south Dixie Highway in Miami, Florida. The president was driven, by automobile to Pan American Airways, Dinner Key terminal (now used as Miami's City Hall) where he boarded a seaplane for the flight to Africa via South America. This was the first time a seated, U.S. president ever flew in an airplane outside U.S. borders. Reports and papers from this trip are also displayed in the car.
Franklin D. Roosevelt traveled about 50,000 miles (81,500 km) in the Ferdinand Magellan during his presidency. He preferred to travel at 35 miles per hour (56 kph). On March 29, 1945, he left Washington, on the Ferdinand Magellan for a trip to the summer whitehouse at Warm Springs, Georgia. He died 14 days later of a stroke. On April 13, the funeral train bearing the President's body left Warm Springs for Hyde Park, New York. Mrs. Roosevelt was riding in the Ferdinand Magellan, which was the second car from the rear for the first time since it was placed in presidential service. The casket containing the President's body, was placed aboard the Conneaut another Pullman car, by removing a window to make an opening, large enough to place the casket inside. This was done since the bullet resistant windows of the Ferdinand Magellan could not be removed. This car was then placed last in the consist for the trip to New York. Reports and photographs of this special train are on display in the car, including a photograph of Southern Railways (now Norfolk Southern Corporation) steam engine number 1401, which pulled the train part way. This engine is now on display in the National Museum of American History of the Smithsonian Institution.
President Harry S Truman used the car more than any other president. Unlike Roosevelt, Truman preferred to travel at speeds around 80 miles per hour (128 kph). According to a letter to the Gold Coast Museum from then former president Truman (which is on display), the very heavy car "gave nightmares to every railroad engineer who had to pull it on the rear of his train". During Truman's famous whistle stop campaign tour of 1948, he traveled more than 28,000 miles (46,284 km) and made nearly 350 speeches from the rear platform of the Ferdinand Magellan.
The third and last president to utilize the Ferdinand Magellan while it was still the property of the United States Government, was Dwight David Eisenhower , who used the car very little. He would use the car for occasional trips to his farm at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, one time on a trip to upstate New York and on a state visit to Canada in November, 1953 to address the Canadian Parliament at Ottawa. The last trip for the Ferdinand Magellan in government service was in 1954 when Mrs. Eisenhower traveled in it from Washington, D.C. to Groton, Connecticut to christen the world's first nuclear powered submarine, the U.S.S. Nautilus. After this trip, the car stood idle for four years. It was declared government surplus in 1958 and was offered to the Smithsonian Institution. The Smithsonian, however, did not take the necessary steps to acquire the car. The Gold Coast Railroad Museum, then only one year old, learned of the car's availability through a railroad trade publication and, ultimately, acquired the car through a complicated transaction involving several government agencies. The Ferdinand Magellan arrived at the Gold Coast Railroad Museum on January 15, 1959, where it has been on exhibit with few movements. In 1978 the Ferdinand Magellan was listed in the National Register of Historic Places and the next year, the Museum received permission to place the Seal of the President of the United States, back on the rear platform of the car.
In September, 1984, the Gold Coast Railroad Museum decided to take the Ferdinand Magellan to Washington, D.C. to participate in a national convention of railroad enthusiasts and for inspection by the National Park Service to determine it's eligibility as a National Historic Landmark. Since the car was going to be in Washington during the presidential election campaign, the Museum asked the whitehouse staff if President Ronald Reagan would like to make a speech from the rear platform of the famous car. The whitehouse suggested that the President use the car for a one day, whistle stop campaign trip between Dayton and Toledo, Ohio.
The arrangements were made and the trip took place on October 12, 1984, leaving Dayton at 9:00 A.M. (09:00) and traveling 120 miles (197 km) to Toledo, making five stops along the way. At each stop, President Reagan made a speech to a large crowd gathered around the rear platform of the railcar. In each speech, he made reference to the historical significance of the car from which he was speaking. The trip was very complicated from a security standpoint. It involved about 1,000 police and Secret Service agents. An officer was stationed every .25 mile (400 m) in the woods alongside the railroad right of way and heavy equipment blocked every roadway grade crossing. President Reagan said that the trip was the highlight of his campaign and that he would rather travel by train than airplane any day. At the conclusion of the trip, the President met with representatives of the Gold Coast Railroad Museum and extended his thanks for the use of the car. The car then returned to Miami and was placed back on public display.
In August, 1992, South Florida was devastated by hurricane ANDREW. The Gold Coast Railroad Museum was severely damaged by the fury of the storm. The train shed collapsed on the museum cars stored inside. All were heavily damaged and two were literally, snapped in two. Although massive steel support beams crashed into the Ferdinand Magellan, the car sustained relatively little structural damage. The roof was dented and the paint was "sandblasted" from the sides, but the massively heavy construction of the car protected it from destruction. After a two and a half year restoration, the car was placed back on public display during October, 1996.
CLICK ON THE FOLLOWING LINK TO ORDER BOOKS ABOUT PRESIDENTIAL TRAIN TRAVEL:
A PORTION OF THE SALE PRICE EVERY BOOK PURCHASED FROM AMAZON.COM THROUGH THIS LINK IS DONATED TO THE GOLD COAST RAILROAD MUSEUM.
Be an Engineer—Opportunities to Become Part of Our Crew
The Gold Coast Railroad Museum offers several opportunities for visitors and members to take part as a crewmember on Museum trains.
For adult visitors, we offer a Train Crewmember For-A-Day Program providing for anywhere from a half-hour to an all-day adventure at the controls of historic railroad equipment. This program may also be utilized by Museum members who may not desire to actively participate as a permanent crewmember.
The Museum also offers a Junior Trainman Program for children under age 18 who are interested in learning about operating trains and railroading in general.
For General Members who desire to become an active part of the Museum's Operating Crew, we encourage enrollment in our Crewmember Program. The Museum depends on the dedication of volunteer crewmembers built from within its general membership to operate its trains as part of its endeavor to educate our visitors.
Train Crew Member For-A-Day
The Gold Coast Railroad Museum "Train Crew Member For-A-Day" program enables the general public to act as a part of the Train Crew on Museum trains. The program will provide for thirty minutes or more of run time (actual throttle time) in one of the Museum's active locomotives. All participants in this program will be under the strict supervision of instructors at all times.
At this time the Museum operates our ACL GP-7 #1804. Other locomotives are rotated into active service from time to time including, ALCO S-2 #1, EMD E-8A #1594, and EMD E-9A #9913.
"I want to thank [the crewmembers] very much for an excellent and exciting "Crew" day. The experience of actually running the #1804, with switching and excursion duty thrown-in for good measure, was a totally unique experience. In all my years of rail-fanning, this is the only time that I have seen a museum offer this kind of interaction. I hope you can continue to offer this opportunity, and have a successful museum for many more years ahead. I certainly hope to visit your museum again during my next visit to Florida, and of course be a crew member again." - John Majkot, December 2003
The Bronze Spike - $85.00
The Bronze Spike package will provide the following:
The Silver Spike - $145.00
The Silver Spike package (operating weekends only) will provide the following:
The Golden Spike - $185.00
The Golden Spike package (operating weekends only) will provide the following:
Pricing and Method of Payment
Bronze Spike Package: $85.00
Silver Spike Package: $145.00
Gold Spike Package: $185.00
Extra Half-hour: $50.00
Extra Hour: $85.00
Prices and equipment are subject to change.
A deposit of 50% will be required to reserve/guarantee a date and price. Deposits are nonrefundable, however, dates may be changed subject to availability and a $20.00 fee. Method of payment will be cash or credit card.
Instruction will begin by 10:00 a.m. Participants interested in taking part in pre-start inspection and locomotive starting procedures will need to arrange their program to begin prior to opening of the Museum. Locomotive familiarization will begin after the locomitive is ready. Switching activities will be arranged around available schedules. Bronze Spike operating times are more flexible depending on crew and equipment availability.
The Gold Coast Railroad Museum is in need of the following items and you can Help. You or your organization can donate the specific item needed or donate money to the designated Fund. Please keep in mind that ALL DONATIONS of specific items or money are Tax Deductable. Please call Michael Hall or the store museum for information how you can donate items. We can be reached at 305 - 253 - 0063.
Items that we need:
Click Above to donate money to the museum through Paypal
The Gold Coast Railroad Museum offers several opportunities for visitors and members to take part as a crewmember on Museum trains.
For General Members who desire to become an active part of the Museum's Operating Crew, we encourage those interested to call the museum, or stop by on a weekend. The Museum depends on the dedication of volunteer crewmembers built from within its general membership to operate its trains as part of its endeavor to educate our visitors.
For adult visitors, who do not wish to be members, we offer a Train Crewmember For-A-Day Program providing anywhere from a half-hour to an all-day adventure at the controls of historic railroad equipment.
The Museum also offers a Junior Trainman Program for children under age 18 who are interested in learning about operating trains and railroading in general.
To become part of the operating crew, it is first necessary to become a Museum member. Insurance considerations require that only members of the Museum may operate our equipment.
Interested volunteers will learn the basics of railroad operation at the Museum. Attendees will spend approximately two hours in classroom instruction covering the Museum's Operating Rules including whistle/horn signals, hand signals, railroad safety, and operating procedures.
The remainder of the class is conducted outside, in and around the Museum's cars, equipment, and right-of-way, where railroad terminology is discussed and the physical properties of the railroad are explained, including coupling cars, brakes, switches, and more.
After completion of the course, attendees may take the class materials home to review and study. When they feel ready, attendees can schedule to take the Operating Rules Written Exam. If attendees obtain a passing grade on the exam, they will gain the title of Trainman, become an official crew member.
Upon becoming a Trainman, new crewmembers can assist with operations at the Museum and begin further training in the various positions.
New Trainmen will first be instructed on the operation of the "Link" Train. Trainmen will work alongside qualified crewmembers and learn the mechanics of operating a small scale steam locomotive on compressed air during regular train operations. This training will also familiarize new Trainmen on the general operating procedures at the Museum and day-to-day activities.
Operating the Link Train will teach the principles of safety, responsibility, judgement, and equipment care, that will be required for advancement to standard gauge operations. At the same time, learning on this relatively small scale equipment ensures that any errors, mistakes, or accidents during training are not exacerbated as they might be with standard gauge operations.
In addition, the steam locomotive is perhaps the most difficult piece of equipment to learn to operate smoothly and effectively and thus will provide an excellent base for further advancement. To some, it is the most difficult piece of equipment to master at the Museum.
After sufficient training, Trainmen will gain the title of Link Engineer and will have the authority to operate the Link Train on their own. Link Engineers will be monitored for a period of time before advancement to standard gauge equipment can begin.
Concurrent with Link Training, Trainmen who have demonstrated responsibility and adequate knowledge of the Museum's Operating Procedures may be trained by qualified crewmembers in the Fireman position on Cab Rides and other standard gauge operations.
After sufficient training, Trainmen will gain the title of Fireman and will have the authority to act as Fireman on their own on standard gauge trains.
After acting as Fireman for a sufficient period, training may begin in the positions of Engineer and Conductor. Written and practical exams may be required for each position.
Engineer training is engine specific and qualifications will be issued per engine, and further, for specific operations (i.e., cab rides, coach rides, switching, etc.)
Engineer trainees will work alongside qualified crewmembers to learn the operating and physical characteristics of each engine, including handling and braking, as well as safety and dealing with emergency and unusual situations.
Conductor trainees will learn the groundwork required in making and breaking trains, moving equipment, and working effectively with groups of crewmembers.
Qualified Conductors hold the highest rank on Museum trains; collecting tickets, attending to the needs of passengers, guarding the rear of equipment during reverse movements, and control train movements.
While it is possible to become qualified in various positions without participating in the care and maintenance of equipment, it is strongly preferred that crewmembers assist in these activities wherever possible.
Engines may only be started by crewmembers qualified by the Mechanical Department and specific training is arranged for each piece of equipment.
All mechanical work is arranged through the Chief Mechanical Officer, and all crewmembers and members are invited to assist wherever their skills may be useful. The Museum depends on volunteers to help maintain our collection.
Becoming an active crew member may be considered a free "bonus" for members who volunteer time and/or services at the Museum and is not a privilege of membership. In return for the opportunity to become and remain an active crewmember, we offer a free museum membership to the individual who volunteers his or her time.
There is no defined contribution requirement, but we aim to ensure that the program is fair and crewmembers have an equal opportunity to operate equipment given consideration to personal schedule, physical ability, and level of commitment to the Museum.
Our members' skills are as varied as their interests and we understand that not every member is mechanically inclined, and we also understand that time is always a premium resource. We offer to teach people the following areas, and some examples of crewmember contributions are:
For members who may not desire to actively contribute and participate as a permanent crewmember, but desire to operate our equipment on a one time basis, we offer a Train Crewmember For-A-Day Program.
Museum Grounds Use Information
The Museum grounds are routinely used for a variety of functions including:
Please see our Reservation Information section for details on booking your event.
The Museum welcomes school groups and field trips. We offer a unique educational experience for students of all ages. Your groups will enjoy:
Field Trip/Group Rates:
Price includes a ride on our Link Train for all guests and Guided Tour. Allowances may be made for schools on tighter budgets. Field trips require a $60.00 non-refundable security deposit at least two (2) weeks prior to scheduled arrival.
Please see our Reservation Information section for details on booking your trip.
The Museum invites you to plan your birthday celebration in our nostalgic 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
Package #2—Air-conditioned Lounge Car
Package #3—Air-conditioned Lounge Car
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 up to 20 guests, and a cab ride for 2 guests.
Requirements for the "Big Kid" are:
We have the room to host multiple parties at the same time and can offer special rates for schools and other special needs.
Please see our Reservation Information section for availability and details on booking your party.
Feel free to download the more detailed Party and Event Information Sheet.
6:00 am - 8:00 am and 4:00 pm - 7:00 pm - $125 per hour
7:00 pm - 6:00 am - $175 per hour
All Commercial Photo Shoots must be self-contained and insured.
Download our Scouting Guide for more information.
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.
Over 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 six days a week to the public (10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday-Friday and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday-Sunday), 350 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.
The Gold Coast Railroad Museum can work to meet your catering needs and can work with your preffered caterer.
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).
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.
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.
Please consult the Party and Event Information Sheet or call for more details.
*****Fun for the entire family*****
For more information, visit us at www.gcrm.org or call telephone number (305) 253-0063 or call Gerry at telephone number (786) 344-4228 or visit him at www.southdadecarshow.com
The history of today's Gold Coast Railroad Museum is rather unique. The coming together of persons and events in a rare mix that helped shape today's premier railroad museum in the state of Florida and one of the finer rail museums in the United States.
It all began in August, 1956. William J. Godfrey was a Business Administration student, attending the University of Miami (UM). He was also a bit of a "rail enthusiast." He had heard that the University's "South Campus" contained miles of unused railroad tracks. That site was 2,100 acres of high pineland located in southern Dade County. The property had been Naval Air Station Richmond (NASR) - A WWII airship base. A few years after the war, the Navy left the base and the land was leased to the University of Miami from the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) for non-profit educational and research purposes. The University used the base as a remote campus for returning GI's and for botanical research. Being an all male campus, the students could use the same barracks that the Navy had recently abandoned.
Bill reasoned that, with over three miles of tracks, the old base would be a great place to have an operating steam engine. It could be used as an engineering, educational, and historical attraction. He presented the idea to Dr. Jay F.W. Pearson, President of the University who just happened to be a rail fan. President Pearson liked the idea and thus the seed of a South Florida institution was germinated.
The U.S. Sugar Company (USSC), based in Clewiston, Florida had a few steam engines which they were considering for retirement. Mr. R.M. Hare of USSC was contacted. President Pearson and Dr. James M. Godard, Executive Vice President went to Clewiston and "picked out" former Florida East Coast (FEC) locomotive #153 as their choice. USSC agreed to donate the locomotive to the UM. Months of preparations for the movement were completed, and on February 19, 1957, the locomotive left USSC on its trip to Miami. The engine moved "cold" over Atlantic Coast Line, Florida East Coast Railway, and Seaboard Air Line trackage to reach the South Campus. On Friday, April 12, 1957, at 2:30 p.m., the #153 acceptance ceremonies were performed at the South Campus. Dr. Charlton Tebeau, Chairman of the University's History Department, was the master of ceremonies. The gathering took place on a portion of the old Navy blimp landing pad. In attendance were UM President Pearson, US Sugar Executive V.P., H.T. Vaughn, as well as representatives of the FEC, ACL, and SCL. At the same time the Miami Railroad Historical Society (MRHS) was created under the umbrella of the UM to oversee the maintenance and operation of the locomotive on the university property.
The MRHS was "steamed-up" and "ready to roll." The persons originally involved were: William J. Godfrey - President; Henry G. Dooley -Vice President; and Charles H. Rose III - Secretary/Treasurer. The original Board of Directors: Robert L. Beekman, Lois Beekman, Joan Lea Godfrey, Nina Creel Taylor, Erle B. Nelson, and John R. Edmonds. Additional early supporters were "Johnny" Johnson, Bill Moneypenny, Wayne Whistler, Walter Locke, Leo DeSola, and Charles Flygare.
Over the next year, more equipment is added.
1958: Seaboard Air Line donated a ”Jim Crow" combine car (part baggage - part passenger) #259.
August 1958: Apalachicola Northern blue caboose #X3.
The MRHS set up their operations in a small portion of one of the former Navy wooden warehouses and called it "Dogpatch Station." The society members named their rail operations the "Gold Coast Railroad." On those Sundays when the MRHS operated for the public, many members would dress up in "period" clothing to add to the visitors' experience. Walter Locke, later to become President of the organization, often dressed as a convincing railroad hobo. Visitors were treated to train rides behind a real operating steam locomotive. The train was called the "Gold Coast Special." The cost to ride in 1961 was 50 cents including admission. The engineers paid $2.00 per half hour to cover the cost of fuel oil.
In April 1958, the former Presidential Pullman "Ferdinand Magellan" was declared "surplus" by the U.S. Government. This was the armor plated railcar used by Presidents Roosevelt, Truman, and Eisenhower. Mr. Godfrey learned that the car would be going on the surplus list and with knowledge that surplus items must be first offered to any of the 48 states willing to request the object. Wasting no time, Bill again approached the President of the University of Miami, Dr. Pearson with the idea of obtaining this unique car. The UM president agreed, and on August 11, 1958, Dr. James M. Godard, made the formal request to Mr. R.B. Beard of the Florida Development Commission that the "Ferdinand Magellan" be acquired by the State of Florida for the UM. Apparently, no other state made a request and the car was transferred to the State which then passed ownership to the University of Miami, as a non-profit educational organization. On January 17, 1959, the "Ferdinand Magellan" arrived at the South Campus and drew much attention. The car arrived with very little to identify it as the former U.S. Car #1; no speaker cones on the roof; no presidential seal on the rear platform - not even its name on the side of the car, but what a wonderful prize for the still small MRHS. Shortly, the car was opened to visitors.
March 1959: Florida East Coast Railway donated passenger coach #136.
1960: Atlantic Coast Line donated wooden caboose #0322.
Late 1960: The switch and 50 feet of track on north leg of the wye connecting to Seaboard Air Line Railroad were removed.
1961: Frisco Line donated a Gondola freight car #60053.
1961: Southern Railway System donated Baggage-Express car #359. This became the "museum car" filled with small railroad items on display.
1962: Florida East Coast donated a Track Section Car.
1965: Southern Railway donated freight boxcar #260909. This became the "spare parts" storage car.
Everything seemed to be rolling along nicely. The public was invited to come ride the train on certain Sundays. Plans were being made to erect a shelter for the steam engine to allow work to be done out of the weather. The MRHS was increasing its membership. Then, the Cuban Missile Crisis occurred. The G.S.A. determined that some of the land leased to the University would be needed for a large "listening post" for the C.I.A. The University, under pressure from the G.S.A., and raising the issue of liability of running a steam locomotive, informed the MRHS that the museum would no longer be able to operate the "Gold Coast Railroad" on the South Campus and would have to look elsewhere to find a new home for its activities.
As a result, on November 13, 1966, at 11:30 a.m., the Gold Coast Railroad (MRHS) chugged off the South Campus property heading for a new found home in Ft. Lauderdale, Broward County. The UM transferred ownership of all rail locomotives, cars, and rail objects to the MRHS. The train was pulled by the #153 under steam.
While arrangements were being made for a long-term home in Broward County, the Beekmans made arrangements with the Broward Port Authority to call Port Everglades, at least temporarily, the museum's new home. There was no running of the locomotive at the port. The museum had become a static display. The name of the organization was changed to the Gold Coast Railroad, Inc., (GCRR) on January 4, 1967.
Running along the north side of Ft. Lauderdale airport was a rail track that connected the Seaboard Coast Line (SCL) Railroad to Port Everglades. The SCL was agreeable to the museum operating on the line so long as there was no interruption in their schedule. The Beekmans, being well "connected" in Broward County, contacted a Mr. Snyder who had a small rock quarry along the side of that track. An agreement was worked out whereby the museum would be located on a portion of his property. There was not much usable land on the property. The Beekmans brought in fill to bring the area of the museum up to the grade of the adjacent track and make enough land for the buildings and a parking lot. They then set about to build a three-track, concrete train shed which could hold approximately 9 pieces of rail equipment. They also underwrote the building of a beautiful "turn of the century," country-styled, passenger station of brick and detailed wood trim. It was named Loisville for Mrs. Beekman.
The remainder of the quarry property, along with the Gold Coast's portion, was to become a part of the Ft. Lauderdale park system known as Snyder Park.
The land area of the GCRR was quite limited, and as a result the museum's rail collection could not expand to any great degree. Over the next few years it would have two operating steam engines and trains that would operate on the weekends back and forth along the north side of the Ft. Lauderdale airport. At times there were bandits who would "rob" the train on foot or on horseback. The train rides were a popular attraction for the South Florida residents and visitors.
1968: William Godfrey donated a 1909 operational Case steam traction engine.
1969: U.S. Sugar donated a second steam locomotive FEC #113.
Port Everglades donated a freight flatcar #1103.
Port Everglades donated a Track Section Car.
1981: Liquid Sugars donated Western Pacific #881, Vista-Dome, Observation, "Silver Crescent."
1981: Liquid Sugars donated Western Pacific #802, Baggage Car, "Silver Stag."
Seaboard donated wooden caboose #5292.
In 1983, the Florida Department of Transportation notified the museum that plans were being finalized to build an east-west expressway to be know as I-595. The elevated route would run through the museum's location. Once again the museum had to look for a new home.
In Dade County, the National Park Service (NPS) was looking to acquire land on the bottom of Biscayne Bay for a National Monument. It was learned that the federal prison adjacent to the new MetroZoo had surplus property it did not need. Through the assistance of U.S. Representative Dante Facell, a land "swap" was arranged. The NPS got the bay bottom it wanted and Dade County got 56+ acres of park land to be leased to the Gold Coast Railroad. It was a portion of the same property that the museum had occupied in the 1960's at former Naval Air Station Richmond.
Once more the museum was on the move. Packing began and with all the museum items loaded onto flatcars, gondolas, and into boxcars, the train was assembled. Pulled by a Seaboard Coast Line (SCL) diesel-electric locomotive, the Gold Coast "Special" train headed south, back to its old home.
So in 1984, the next "new" home for the museum would be the areas of hangars #1 and #2 of former airship base. Over the years since the museum had moved away, many shrubs, Florida Holly, and grasses had taken over the old hangar floors. These were scraped away and three additional tracks were constructed into the concrete pad of what was hangar #1. Rail was re-established to connect to CSX's mainline at the western end of the property. A large "butler building" was erected over a third of the length of the four tracks now in hanger #1's floor.
In 1904, the "Princeton Station" had been built on the mainline of the Florida East Coast Railway (FEC) between Miami and Homestead. In the 1950's it had been moved and preserved at Crandon Park on Key Biscayne. The station was now to be relocated to the Gold Coast's new home. As the roof was too high to make the road trip, a new roof was constructed on the station after arrival at the museum. The station became the entrance and museum store for the "new" Gold Coast.
An "old time" patio clock was acquired and added a nice look to the museum.
Using steam engine #113, a steam trip to the city of Homestead was operated with the hope of making many more in the future. Insurance costs "killed" those plans, but the museum did have enough track to operate short trips on their property.
For a year or so, Civil War re-enactors would occasionally "detain" the trains and look for traitors, valuables, and money.
In 1977, the Ferdinand Magellan was designated a "National Historic Site." A short time later and for many years thereafter, paperwork was filed to have the car nominated as a "National Historic Landmark." While the museum was still in Ft. Lauderdale, in the summer of 1984, plans were made to have the car travel to Washington, D.C., where it would be inspected by the Park Service and possibly visited by then President Ronald Reagan. While these plans were being finalized, the White House contacted the museum and proposed that the Magellan be used as the centerpiece of a one day, whistle stop re-election campaign train for President Reagan to be run in Ohio. This new plan was further developed and when the car arrived in Washington in early October it was put under the control of the United States Secret Service which "prepared" the Magellan for Presidential use. The car soon left on the positioning move to Dayton.
The Ferdinand Magellan was officially back in Presidential service, if only for one day. The date: October 12, 1984. Once the trip was completed, the Magellan returned to Washington and was on display at Washington Union Station. The Magellan was available for visitations by many Washington politicians as well as the local and national press. It then returned to Ft. Lauderdale, and was moved to Miami as the museum relocated.
Soon thereafter, word was received that the Presidential Pullman was indeed to be designated a "National Historic Landmark," as well as to be Miami-Dade County's first National Landmark. The official date: Monday, February 4, 1985. A short time later, with a color guard in attendance, the National Park Service presented the "National Historic Landmark" plaque to the Gold Coast Railroad during official ceremonies held on the Magellan's rear platform, under the train shed of the museum. Today, the Ferdinand Magellan remains "available" for Presidential service.
ALCO RS-3, Ex-Long Island #1555 *
Ex-SAL Streamlined Diner #6112
"Norfolk" Streamlined Passenger Car *
Erie Lackawanna Commuter Car *
EMD SW-1 Switch Engine #167 *
Steam Engine #9 "Saddle Tanker"
ALCO S-2 Diesel Switch Engine, Ex-NASA #1
ALCO RS-1 Diesel Switch Engine #106 *
1998: EMD FP-7 Diesel Locomotive, Ex-Tri-Rail *
ALCO "Slug" Diesel Locomotive Ex-RF&P
Passenger Baggage Car, Ex-C&O
1996: Display Car, Ex-FEC Maintenance-of-Way Car
Late 1980's: U.S. Army Hospital Car #89436
"Castleblayney" Ex-D&PH Business Car *
1987: Steam Crane, Ex-SCL #765157
Burro Crane #15
Freight Box Car, Ex-SR #27416
Freight Box Car, Ex-SCL #126307
Oil Tank Cars, Ex-BEPX #105 and #121
Freight Flatcar, Ex-USAX
Ballast Freight Car, Side Dumping, Ex-USAX
American LaFrance Fire Truck
"East Swamp & Gatorville" 2-Foot Gauge Steam Train, Donated By Mrs. Edwin Link
* No longer on roster - damaged, scrapped, or sold.
It has been said that "into life a little rain must fall." Yes, but not at 170 miles per hour! August 24, 1992. Hurricane Andrew roared into southern Dade County. The Gold Coast was hurt "bad" by the storm. The display shed was uprooted from its foundation and the building collapsed over the collection of equipment. One of the building's overhead beams pierced the roof of the Ferdinand Magellan. The "Silver Crescent" had a beam crush down on its "Vista Dome." The car also had a window blown out allowing the monstrous winds inside. On the South Pad a long string of coupled equipment were flipped onto their sides. The historic Princeton Station lost its roof and the remaining structure collapsed, never to be rebuilt. The site of the museum was of great devastation. It took a heavy emotional toll on the members, some of whom would not be seen at the museum again. The most costly storm in United States history might well have brought the Gold Coast Railroad to the "end of the line" - except for the "help" of the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA).
A mandate from FEMA claimed that they would put all non-profits back to their pre-Andrew condition. In the case of the museum, that would end up being a multi-million dollar promise and take over 8 years to accomplish. Rebuilding the museum was to become a very long and arduous process. Along the way many rough times were encountered. A very small core of museum volunteers would "hang in there" through that time to see the project completed. It was not to be an easy job. All the equipment had to remain outside in the tropical environment, sun, rain, and heat, suffering much as a result. During this time the museum did not look very presentable. The entrance and store was a cheap house trailer. Visitors had to endure the sun and rain as they walked the museum grounds.
Equipment arriving during the eight years of reconstruction:
"9001" Streamlined Passenger Sleeping Car, Ex-SP
"Silver Vale" Ex-CB&Q Streamlined Passenger Car
Metro North, Long Island Passenger Commuter Car
"Belle Glade" Streamlined Passenger Coach, Ex-FEC
Fruit Growers Express Freight Car, Ex-SAL #593188
In April 1998, the museum changed its name to "Gold Coast Railroad Museum, Inc." to more accurately reflect its educational goals.
Finally, at LONG last, the new, and much strengthened museum display building was completed and ready for the equipment to be placed inside. This was a major joy and relief for all who had worked for so many years to bring the museum to that point. The new museum store came shortly thereafter. Finally, the Gold Coast was "looking" again like the first class museum that it is.
July 2002: Helium Transportation Freight Car built In 1962
December 2002: E-8A Diesel Locomotive, Ex-PRR #5794 (Now Painted In FEC Colors #1594)
December 2002: GP-7 Diesel Locomotive, Ex-Alaska #1804 (Now Painted In ACL Colors #1804)
December 2002: E-9A Diesel Locomotive, Ex-CB&Q #9913 (Painted in CB&Q Colors #9913)
January 2003: "Silver Slumber" Streamlined Passenger Car built In 1956
June 2003: SAL Streamlined Coach Lounge Passenger Car built in 1939
June 2003: ACL Streamlined Observation Lounge Passenger Car built in 1941
January 2004: F-3/F-10 Diesel Locomotive, Ex-GM&O 800A (Now Painted In SAL Colors #4033)
In April 2007, the Gold Coast Railroad Museum reached its 50 year anniversary. Expansion of the MetroZoo's master plan is hoped to increase the museum's attendance and importance as an educational destination for students, residents and visitors. As the museum continues to expand and grow, we strive to reach out to more community members and rail enthusiasts, to educate and enlighten each individual.
In addition to the railroad locomotives, cars, and equipment permanently on display at the Museum, there are special exhibits on display within our cars and buildings. Since we are an operating Museum using historic rail equipment, our "rides" are working educational exhibits.
Train rides on the "Edwin Link Children's Railroad", or Link train, are regularly offered on weekends at 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. The rides are suitable for both children and adults and consist of a 20-minute ride on 2-foot gauge track. The cost is $2.50 per persons of all ages.* Children under 1 are free.
Trains may run more frequently depending on crew availability and ridership. In cases of inclement weather, trains may be cancelled or rides may be substituted on standard gauge equipment when available.
The Link train is available for birthday parties, groups, and special events with advance notice.
Standard Gauge train rides using a diesel locomotive with the air-conditioned "Belle Glade" passenger coach are offered on some weekends or our Classic Caboose which has become very popular with our guests.
The cost is $6.00 per person for all ages for a 25-minute ride. Train schedule varies daily when operating.
Availability is dependent on crew, equipment, and other considerations, and is subject to change without notice. Please call ahead to see if the "Belle Glade" will be in operation during your visit or if the Caboose will be in service.
Standard Gauge "Cab Rides" using diesel-electric locomotives are available on most weekends. This unique experience places guests in the operating cab of a locomotive, with the engineer, to experience the feel and operation of a diesel-electric locomotive. During the ride, crewmembers will detail the history and operation of the locomotive used as well as describe the importance of the Museum grounds in Florida's history.
The cost is $12.00 per person for all ages for a 25-minute ride. Cab rides depart generally on the half-hour when operating. Seating is very limited (2-6 persons depending on the active locomotive). In addition, guests must be able to climb steep locomotive stairs/ladders and be willing to ride in a noisy environment without air-conditioning.
Cab ride availability is not scheduled, nor guaranteed, and is subject to crew and equipment availability.
Typically the standard gauge trains run most weekends. The Link Train generally runs both weekend and weekdays. During the weekdays, the Link runs on a reduced schedule.
Please call ahead to check availability.