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Tuesday, 12 June 2012 17:27

Florida East Coast Railway (FEC) Coach "Belle Glade"

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Florida East Coast Coach "Belle Glade"

Ordered in May 1943 from the Budd Company, but not delivered until July 1946, the Belle Glade and her sisters were a direct response by the Atlantic Coast Line (ACL)/Florida East Coast (FEC) railroad partnership to increase competition. By 1938, ACL's passenger traffic was in decline. Ridership was being hammered by both new competition from the automobile and new streamlined equipment from the Seaboard Air Line Railroad. Beginning in 1939, ACL/FEC placed large orders with the Budd Company to begin to upgrade their premier trains and introduce new streamlined equipment on trains such as The Champion and The Florida Special. These trains were just two of the many trains that provided service between New York and Florida.

The Belle Glade was billed by the FEC as a luxury, long distance coach. The car was equipped with 52 reclining seats with leg rests, each seat having its own individual reading lights, and a conductor's desk. The car was mechanically air conditioned and steam heated. Both ends of the car contained smoking lounges and both men's and lady's restrooms. As with many railroads, the FEC maintained the tradition of naming its cars for on line cities and throughout its career on the FEC, the Belle Glade never received a number.

By the early 1960's the FEC was anxious to exit the passenger business. The long strike of 1962 would begin the process. All long distance passenger trains were transferred to the Seaboard Air Line. While the FEC was legally required to maintain intrastate passenger service, the railroad was effectively out of the passenger business. The intrastate service was discontinued by 1963.

The Belle Glade continued to ply her familiar New York to Florida routes. In 1962, the car was sold to the SAL and became Seaboard "6262". Later, in 1967, the 6262 was transferred to the newly formed Seaboard Coast Line railroad and continued to operate in revenue service until the formation of Amtrak in 1971.

The Seaboard Coast Line opted to join Amtrak in 1971, and again the Belle Glade was operating for a new owner. The SCL 6262 became Amtrak 5417. The car was rebuilt by Amtrak in 1977, and could be found operating both in New York to Florida service as well as Washington, D.C. to Montreal.

The future of the 5417 appeared bleak in 1981 as Amtrak's new Amfleet cars rolled off the Budd assembly line. The 5417 was soon bumped from her New York - Florida assignment and by 1983 retired from service. In the following year, 5417 was consigned to a Buffalo New York scrapper.

The car was purchased by the Eagle Canon Passenger Car Company of Pakersburg, West Virginia and placed in charter service. Later, it was sold once again to Mr. David Ross and renamed the "Frank L. Kerr". The Frank L. Kerr regularly operated on the now famous, Norfolk - Southern Corporation steam trains and made frequent runs throughout the Midwest on Operation Lifesaver trains. Frank L. Kerr was a Pennsylvania Railroad conductor in service from Pittsburgh to Crestline, Ohio, for almost 40 years, and was the grandfather of Mr. Ross.

The car was purchased by the Gold Coast Railroad Museum in the Spring of 1995. It's named was changed back to Belle Glade and is currently in use on regular revenue trains at the Museum.

Details

Type: 54 seat coach.
Built: 1946
Status: Open, Operational, Used in regular revenue service at the Museum.
Acquisition Date: Spring 1995.

Read 5271 times Last modified on Tuesday, 24 July 2012 20:02
Tom Flanary

Tom Flanary is a Director on the Board of Directors, and maintains the website for GCRM. He has been involved in GCRM as a volunteer since 2011, and has been a director since 2012. If you have comments, concerns, or questions, please contact him directly at Tom.Flanary@gcrm.org

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