Built in 1913 for the Seaboard Airline Railway (SAL), this type of car was often referred to as a "combine." This car was operated over the entire Seaboard system. Numbered the "259," it was routinely found in service during 1956 and 1957, between Tampa and Venice, Florida, providing connecting service to the SAL New York-Tampa / St. Petersburg streamliner, "The Silver Star." In 1959, the 259 was retired from service and donated to the Gold Coast Railroad Museum and has now been restored after being damaged by Hurricane Andrew.
This car is unique in that it is one of the few remaining examples of a "Jim Crow" car. In the segregated South, the SAL was mandated by law to provide "separate but equal" facilities. The coach section of the car is divided into two, identical sections; one for white patrons and one for blacks. A small, "flip-over" sign, mounted on either side of the bulkhead separating the two sections, reads "WHITE" and "COLORED." In the convoluted thinking of the times, this sign made the accommodations of the car suitable for white passengers. Few realized that at the end of a run, the car was not turned around; only the signs were flipped over. The seats that were "good enough for blacks" now became perfectly acceptable for whites.
The baggage compartment is located at one end of the car with a sliding door on each side. Typically, the car's location in a consist was to the rear of the locomotive/tender or rearward of the last baggage car, as there was no provision for passengers to walk through the baggage area of the car. The baggage area is relatively small, as it was generally used only for the baggage of the "Colored passengers" or for the few items moved between stations on lightly traveled routes.
The term "Jim Crow" comes from a series of laws that enforced racial segregation in the Southern U.S. between the end of the Reconstruction Period (1877) and the beginning of a strong civil rights movement (approximately 1950.) "Jim Crow" was the name of a minstrel routine (actually "Jump Jim Crow") performed by its author, Thomas Dartmouth ("Daddy") Rice, as well as many imitators, beginning about 1828. The term "Jim Crow" came to be a derogatory epithet for Negroes and a proper noun designating their segregated life.
By the end of the 1870's, Southern state legislatures passed laws requiring the segregation of whites from "persons of color" in public transportation facilities as well as almost all other types of public accommodations. In 1954, the U.S. Supreme Court declared segregation in public schools unconstitutional and in later decisions, ruled similarly on other types of "Jim Crow" legislation.
Type: Combine (Combination) Baggage/Coach.
Status: Open, On display.
Acquisition Date: Donated by SAL In 1959.