If you’re really wacko about trains and about the history of the U.S. railway system, then you’ll really want to check out the Gold Coast Railroad Museum in Metropolitan Miami on SW 152 Street. It’s more than just a museum about the historic railway system in the United States. It is the home of Dade County’s first National Historic Landmark: The Ferdinand Magellan.
And what the heck is the ‘Ferdinand Magellan?’ Thought you’d never ask. As described in the Museum’s brochure:
The Ferdinand Magellan is unique among Pullman Railroad Cars in that it is the only railroad car ever custom built for the President of the United States in the 20th Century. Originally built by the Pullman Company in 1928, the ‘Magellan” was rebuilt to afford “maximum” protection for the President and presented exactly fourteen years later to President Roosevelt on December 18, 1942. Until that time, the President rode in a standard private Pullman Railroad Car and did not use any specific car. White House aides, Michael Reilly and Steven Early originated the idea of a special-built railcar for the President, and President Roosevelt agreed after he was told that the car would not only be for him, but for future presidents as well.”
And it’s right here in Miami (the Magellan that is) at the Gold Coast Railroad Museum which, by the way, is the State of Florida’s Official Railroad Museum.
The ‘Ferdinand Magellan’ was declared Dade County’s first National Historic Landmark in 1985 just one year after President Ronald Regan used the Presidential Railroad car for a one-day ‘Whistle Stop Tour’ between Dayton and Toledo, Ohio. Prior to Regan’s use of the “Magellan” the last recorded official Government use of the Ferdinand Magellan was in 1954.
The Gold Coast railroad Museum is located on property previously owned by the Naval Air Station Richmond (NASR) – A World War 11 airship base in South Dade County. The museum is adjacent to another Miami tourist icon: Zoo Miami.
There is a lot of history that awaits the visitor to the Railroad Museum. However, some of the history associated with the Railroad era is not of a pleasant nature. Because of Jim Crow State and local laws which were enacted between 1876 and 1965, segregation ruled the day and like everything else, transportation too was impacted.
Especially in the segregated south, blacks and whites rode the trains in separate cars, for example. At the museum you will see a refurbished version of the Jim Crow Car Combination/Coach Railcar Number 259 with the wording ‘Colored’ on an upper mantle particularly visible for all to see. This Museum Railroad Car is somewhat unique and is one of the last remaining vestiges, still undamaged, of segregation as it was in the railway system.
The museum is open to the public 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Monday - Friday) and from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the weekend.