Seaboard Air Line Railroad

Florida Rails: Famous Streamliners to the Palms

SAL E4A #3011


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Seaboard Air Line Railroad logoOwing to the phenomenal public enthusiasm for the new Silver Meteor, inaugurated Feb. 2, 1939 as Florida's first streamliner, SAL ordered seven 2,000-hp E4 diesel locomotives (#3007-3013). This allowed expanding the single-trainset every-third-day schedule to daily operation. On Dec. 23, 1939, the Silver Meteor's E4s began hauling 7 cars to Miami every day, plus every third day an additional 3 cars to Wildwood FL, where streamlined steam Pacifics finished the Gulf Coast run to St. Petersburg (see consist below).
 
Silver Meteor streamliner of 1939 by Media by McCann

Seaboard Air Line Railroad brochureIn 1940, more equipment allowed full daily service to both coasts with a 14-car consist. In 1941, heavyweight sleeping cars were added and in 1942, a second section, the Advance Silver Meteor was introduced to help meet wartime demand. In 1947, new equipment for the Silver Meteor allowed the older cars to become a new companion train, the Silver Star. It offered year-round service to Miami with a winter-season section to St. Petersburg. Both trains received streamlined, lightweight Pullman sleeping cars in 1949. Seaboard's signature winter-season Florida train, the Orange Blossom Special, was discontinued in 1953 and the Silver Meteor was completely re-equipped for the last time in 1956.

Silver Meteor consist, Winter 1939-40
Car #Car RouteCar Type
1-ENew York - Miami22-seat coach - baggage - dorm
7-WNew York - St.Petersburg60-seat coach
8-WNew York - St.Petersburg60-seat coach
 New York - St.Petersburg48-seat diner
2-ENew York - Miami60-seat coach
3-ENew York - Miami30-seat coach - tavern
 New York - Miami48-seat diner
4-ENew York - Miami60-seat coach
5-ENew York - Miami60-seat coach
6-ENew York - Miami48-seat coach - observation

  • The "Silver Meteor at West Palm Beach" post card, Florida State Archives Photographic Collection. The famous streamliner is pictured southbound in it's early years almost at the end of its run from New York to Miami.

    fpc/salpcwpb.jpgClick for full size (69kb/600x383)

  • Orange Blossom Special "By Streamliner Through Tropical Florida" post card mailed on Jan 1, 1948, Florida State Archives Photographic Collection. Actually the train was never a streamliner, which led to its falling out of favor and discontinuance. It was diesel powered in its later years.

    fpc/pc2948.jpgClick for full size (66kb/600x376)

  • Five daily passenger trains ran through to Miami and four to the Florida Gulf Coast in the winter of 1952-53. The Orange Blossom Special still reigned as the deluxe all-Pullman heavyweight flagship of the fleet, the Silver Meteor and Silver Star were the flashy lightweight streamliners and the Palmland and Sunland were conventional through trains making the local stops enroute to the sunshine state.

  • Seaboard ordered three unique Sun Lounge cars for the 1956 Silver Meteor, named "Miami Beach", "Hollywood Beach" and "Palm Beach". They each had 5 bedrooms and a buffet lounge complete with a colorful beach motif, oversized windows and panes of curved ceiling glass. This clever interpretation of a dome car was practical enough to fit through the Washington and New York tunnels.

    fpc/pc2952.jpgClick for full size (45kb/600x375)

  • Winter 1966-67 was the last peak season before the merger with ACL, but the Seaboard fleet of passenger trains retained their popularity to the end.

  • Watch a vintage 3½ minute 8mm film of a 1967 round trip from Miami to Winter Haven on the streamliner Silver Meteor. It also includes a cameo appearance by the Sunland local. This was just before ACL and SAL merged to become Seaboard Coast Line, and still four years before Amtrak. The Winter Haven station remains in service, but the old 1927 stub-end Miami Seaboard station was demolished after Amtrak moved out in 1977, except for the original entrance portico standing at 2210 NW 7th Avenue. The sound track is "Orange Blossom Special" by Johnny Cash live at Folsom Prison.

    A 1967 Trip from Miami to Winter Haven aboard the Silver Meteor on the Seaboard Air Line RailroadClick for video

 

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

About color schemes: The image of SAL #3011 and the colors on this page show Seaboard's original diesel "citrus" green, orange and yellow, used from 1938 to 1954.