The railroads played an important part in shaping what is today the United States. This museum gives you a wonderful taste of what long distance travel must have been like in the first half of the 20th century, before the advent of commercial air flight. The museum is struggling to upkeep itself, but some of the pieces on view make the journey more than worthwhile.
Take for instance the Ferdinand Magellan railcar that was effectively a predecessor on wheels of Air Force One. Used intensively by President Roosevelt, it is said that Winston Churchill wrote his famous “Iron Curtain” speech at the car’s dining room table. You can feel the weight of history as you are shown through the railcar which was also used by Presidents Truman and Eisenhower.
Another remarkable set of carriages make up an original 1950’s California Zephyr which used to cover the route from Chicago to Oakland, California in two and a half days, from 1949 to its demise in 1970. You can sit in the Vista Dome end carriage and get an impression of what it must have been like to travel through mountains and valleys in wonderful comfort.
A more sombre aspect of US history can be found in a passenger car from the segregated era. It had signs which could be turned over, indicating whether a passenger area was reserved for “WHITE” or “COLORED”. See my photos, and go touch this history.
It is a shame that the museum does not have enough funds to maintain in pristine condition these original and irreplaceable jewels of US history. It is unique in the Miami area and well worth a visit.
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