Atlantic Coast Line Railroad

Florida Rails: Famous Streamliners to the Palms

ACL E7A #538

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Atlantic Coast Line logoACL #538 was one of a group of 20 E7A's (#524-543) delivered from 1945 to 1948 and assigned to ACL's new streamliners including the Champion. Already in the fleet were 29 earlier E3A's, E6A's and E6B's.

The famous New York-Miami winter-only flagship Florida Special received its streamlined consist in 1949. It was Florida's first all-Pullman all-room streamliner, with each trainset having 12 regularly-assigned Pullman sleeping cars, two dining cars, and two 6-bedroom-bar-lounges. The East Coast Champion was frequently its all-coach companion, running at similar times of day. Beginning in October 1955, both trains operated on a remarkable 24-hour schedule, routinely speeding at 100 mph over the double-track Richmond to Jacksonville main line with its advanced signaling.

Champion streamliner of 1939 by Media by McCann

  • The Champion entered service in 1939 as a daily New York to Miami all-coach streamliner. In 1941, once enough streamlined equipment had been delivered, the Champion began operating in separate sections to Miami and Tampa and so was renamed Tamiami Champion. The Miami section generally carried heavyweight sleeping cars in the summer, but the Tampa section operated with them all year. Following a horrible collision of two Champions in 1943, the Tamiami prefix was eliminated in 1944. As ACL re-equipped both trains with lightweight sleeping cars in 1949, they were sensibly renamed East Coast Champion and West Coast Champion.

  • In 1940, Atlantic Coast Line and their connecting railroads introduced three speedy all-coach streamliners between Chicago and Miami, the Dixie Flagler, City of Miami and South Wind. Each ran via a different route north of Jacksonville, then over the FEC to Miami. One set of each equipment was used, yielding daily service in both directions. Later, an additional consist of each train allowed the City of Miami and South Wind to run every 2 days out of 3 during the peak season.

  • The Champion post cards, Florida State Archives Photographic Collection

    fpc/pc0055n.jpg"Streamlining Through Wonderful Florida". Click for full size (56kb/600x376)
    fpc/pc5302.jpg"Speedy New York - Miami Streamliner". Click for full size (49kb/600x376)

  • In the summer of 1952, ACL operated three daily streamliners: the East Coast Champion, West Coast Champion and the every-third-day Dixie Flagler, City of Miami and South Wind. In all there were six named through trains from the Northeast and six more from the Midwest to Florida.

    In the winter of 1952/53, they were joined by the seasonal Vacationer, Miamian and the prestigious flagship Florida Special.

    Florida Special consist, Winter 1952-53
    Car #Car RouteCar Type
    FS-21New York - Miami10 Roomettes, 6 Double bedrooms
    FS-22New York - Miami10 Roomettes, 6 Double bedrooms
    FS-23New York - Miami10 Roomettes, 6 Double bedrooms
    FS-24New York - Miami10 Roomettes, 6 Double bedrooms
    FS-25New York - Miami10 Roomettes, 6 Double bedrooms
    FS-26New York - Miami6 Double bedrooms, Bar lounge
     New York - MiamiDining car
     New York - MiamiDining car
    FS-27New York - Miami6 Double bedrooms, Bar lounge
    FS-28New York - Miami10 Roomettes, 6 Double bedrooms
    FS-29New York - Miami21 Roomettes
    FS-30New York - Miami14 Roomettes, 2 Drawing rooms
    FS-31New York - Miami14 Roomettes, 2 Drawing rooms
    FS-32New York - Miami10 Roomettes, 6 Double bedrooms
    J-15New York - Jacksonville10 Roomettes, 6 Double bedrooms

  • There was no shortage of named trains on the Atlantic Coast Line in the winter 1956/57 season. The East Coast Champion and Florida Special ran on 24-hour schedules between New York and Miami accompanied on the north-south main line by the West Coast Champion, Miamian, Havana Special, Palmetto and Everglades. From the Midwest to Florida came the City of Miami, South Wind, Dixieland, Southland, Seminole, Flamingo and Dixie Flyer. Consists below are from the Official Railway Guide, December 1956:

  • For the 1964/65 winter season, the Florida Special was promoted with this special brochure and featured such novelties as television and fashion shows.

  • In the last winter season before the merger with Seaboard, the Coast Line's Florida streamliners included a 14-car Florida Special, 12-car East Coast Champion, 12-car West Coast Champion and alternating 16-car City of Miami and 14-car South Wind, in addition to five named secondary trains. Schedules and equipment are from the ACL timetable, December 1966:



Original line drawing art by Stan Lytle, enhanced with road colors and other details by Jack Bleiberg. 1939 Champion GIF image by Media by McCann.

About color schemes: The image of ACL #538 and the colors on this page show Atlantic Coast Line's purple, yellow and aluminum, used from 1939 to 1957.