Gulf Wind Observation car : LUSENET : ACL and SAL Railroads Historical Society : One Thread

On page 127 of Bill Griffin's new Seaboard book is a shot of the rear end of an lightweight observation car on the rear of the Gulf Wind. The caption states that the picture was taken in Jacksonville in 1964. The car is described as a 10 section buffet lounge, which is unlike any lightweight observation the SAL had. Looking at the photo, the car is clearly missing the rear Mars light and door, which SAL observations had. Any idea whose car this is (L&N maybe?)?

-- Paul Faulk (, June 14, 1999


Anyone interested in an article I wrote a few years ago about a 1956 era ride on the Gulf Wind and in a Royal series sleeper-lounge obs., can e-mail me for a copy. Royal Palace-last I heard- was owned by Don Primi of New Jersey and Fla. Royal Canal was in Ohio for years, privately owned. Royal Street rusted for years in private hands in Mobile until acquired by a restorer from St Louis. It now belongs to Jim Giganti of St Louis and is a real beauty-available for charter. Pix are available online, I believe at the AAPRCO / Private Varnish site. I used to see Royal Palace when it was in Panama City at the college.Joe Lanier left it to the College in the 60's or 70's. He was pres. of Westpoint -Pepperell textile co. and used it to go to his vacation property in P.C.(I believe). I wanted to buy the car and re- rail it but got distracted by other projects. Don Primi did it in the 90's when the college was expanding. The Bay Line Alco parked with it is now at the Junior Museum in P.C. The Royal Palace was in remarkably good shape, unlike Royal Street which had to be completely dismantled to replace all the rusted structure underneath the stainless fluting. For some reason the royals had obsolete E couplers on the round end which makes them unnacceptable on Amtrak which requires a tightlock on both ends. Royal Street may have had its coupler updated.

-- Maunsel White (, December 22, 2004.

Sorry to burst anyone's bubble, but I have to correct an error in a previous reply.

The Royal-series 5-duble bedroom/lounge/observation were NOT identical to either the "Creek" OR "Brook"-series observations on the 20th Century. The regular Century observations were Hickory Creek and Sandy Creek, Pullman plan 4126, smoothside. The protecting cars were Sunrise Brook and Wingate Brook, Budd plan 9508 (I think). Neither of these resembles the Pullman plan 4162 Royal-series cars anywhere except the "Lookout Lounge" at the rear. Hope this information helps!

-- Tim Totten (, February 22, 2000.

Bill Griffin did a fine job with his Seaboard book, but there are numerous errors, as Joe Oates points out. The problem is that a lot of the photographs used come from photo collections which have mislabled the photos. One uses the photo and assumes that the caption is correct. Once published, the photo gains a certain cachet of "respectability" and then the misinformation becomes cast in concrete. This is not to take away from Griffin-after all he did take the time to write the book and a few errors should not take away from the rest of the effort.

Here is my list: Page 156-The photos are of the interiors of car 6400 (top) and 6300 (bottom) respectively. 6400 was the coach observation of the original Silver Meteor while 6300 was the tavern coach. The clues here are the light fixtures. They are art-deco incandescent. All of the remaining cars in these series were delivered with fluorescent lighting. The late 1938 construction date of these cars was just before the commercial introduction of fluorescent lighting. Page 110-The shot of the diner was taken in car 6100-note the same light fixtures as described above. Page 152-this is car 6120 which was the FEC Fort Drum. SAL never had any diners constructed by PS. Page 151-The car is the 6263 which was the FEC Jacksonville. Page 149-The interior shot is not that of the 6218. The 6218 was a post war Budd car with different window spacing and interior fluorescent lighting. This photo originally appeared in the 1940 Car Builders Cyclopedia. It is a shot of a rebuilt American Flyer combine used in the St. Pete Silver Meteor connection. More on this in a Lines South letter. Page 138-The car is a coach observation and is either the 6401 0r 6402. The 1947 date precludes it from being the 6400 which was rebuilt to a flat end car in 1943. Page 120-The lounge car shot is the interior of one of the ACF built "Mountain" series of 6 double bedroom sleeper lounges. There may be other mis labled photos, but the above is what I was able to find.

-- Michael W. Savchak (Savchak, December 16, 1999.

I doubt seriously that the Obs in the photo of the Gulf Wind taken in 1964 was the WofA "Charles A. Wickersham" ("Royal Palace") as that car was removed from revenue service in 1953 and sold to a private owner, Joseph L. Lanier (who was on the board of directors of the WofA) in 1958. The car was moved to a Junior College Campus in Panama City, FL, in the early 1960's and stayed there until a few years ago when it was purchased by parties unknown to me(possibly the current owner.) The point is, the car has not seen revenue service since 1953. The car in the photo is likely the "Royal Canal" or the "Royal Street", sister cars owned by the L&N, originally for the "Crescent" pool (as was the "Wickersham").

Bob Hanson

-- Robert H. Hanson (, October 22, 1999.

If anyone's interested, I can offer a couple of personal observations on the Gulf Wind. In 1966-67, I rode the Silver Meteor/Gulf Wind numerous times between my divorced parents' homes in Miami and Pensacola, and I remember those trains vividly. While the Gulf Wind didn't have the panache of the Meteor, it was no slouch, either: it always carried a full-service dining car between River Junction and Jacksonville with the usual array of white linen, silverware, and friendly black waiters. In addition to the coaches, one of which I remember had a built date of 1940-something stenciled on a bulkhead, there were always two or three Pullmans. I remember an unusual rear observation car, which may be the one in the photograph under discussion. L&N ownership sounds right (yes, I was a railfan even then--I noticed such things), as does the word "Royal" in the name. This particular car was unique because it had a two-level floor plan. Walking from the bar towards the rear of the car, there was first a sunken area with chairs and tables, then you climbed a couple or three steps to the elevated seating area in the rounded end. There were railings between the sunken and the elevated areas, brushed steel, and the color scheme was a light or turquoise blue. It was a very nice, sophisticated layout, slightly more modern-looking than the obs interiors on the Meteors. My regret now is that, while I always traveled with a camera in my bag, I never once thought to take pictures of the trains I rode on! Wouldn't I love to have some photos of them now!

-- Bill Crockett (, October 16, 1999.

Last month while on a trip to Orrville,OH.I found the truckless burned-out hulk of one the L&N cars.I don't know which one it was. Does anyone know? It was among a historical group of cars that also had ex-SAL and ex-ACL coaches and diners. BTW While in Montana I spotted ex-SAL diner 6108 named "Missouri River" running on the "Montana Daylight" on MRL.Those old Budds are still running after sixty years!

-- Joseph Oates (, September 10, 1999.

I spoke recently with the owner of the WofA Royal Palace/Chas. Wickersham round end sleeper/lounge/observation car from the Crescent set that has been discussed here. He claims that the car in that photo of the Gulf Wind in Griffin's book is the WofA car. He bases his claim literally on rivet counting. I don't know how much difference there would be in rivets between the L&N cars and the WofA car, but I found his claim at least interesting.

-- Andrew Waldo (, September 03, 1999.

The cars you refer to were originally built by Pullman in 1949 for service on the Crescent Limited and New Royal Palm of the Southern, Louisville & Nashville, Pennsylvania, New York Central, A&WP, Western of Alabama(I think that's all who participated. The Royal Canal and Royal Street were owned by L&N. The Royal Palm, Royal Arch, and Royal Court were owned by Southern. Royal Palace was owned by A&WP. Royal Crest was owned by New York Central. Azalea was owned by Florida East Coast. Originally the cars ran through from New York to New Orleans on the Crescent, and Detroit to Miami on the New Royal Palm. The Royal Crest didn't last long however. It was on lease to Union Pacific in 1952 and involved in a wreck and destroyed. After that, the cars operated only between Cincinnati and Jacksonville. The L&N cars continued to operate on the Crescent along with the A&WP car and one of the Southern cars. In 1956, Southern began combining the Crescent with the Aiken-Augusta Special north of Charlotte, NC and discontinued the cars. The Southern cars were then re-built into 11 Double Bedroom Cars and operated on the Crescent between New York and Atlanta. The L&N cars were then orphaned, so L&N and Seaboard began using them on the Gulf Wind between Jacksonville and New Orleans. When that assignment went by the wayside in the middle 1960's, they were used for a season on the SCL Florida Special along with an ex-Broadway Limited Observation. Also, the New York Central car was identical to the observations used on the 20th Century Limited. The only difference was that they had flutted sides rather than the smooth-sided Century cars. I remember seeing these cars on the Crescent when it came through my hometown of Greenville, SC in the 1950's. It's ashamed Southern rebuilt their cars because they lasted into the Amtrak era on the Southern Crescent. One of them was renamed Luther Calvin Norris but Royal Palm and Royal Court survived until Amtrak took over the service.

-- Barkley Hendrix (, July 06, 1999.

SAL did have an all stops local on this route trains 36 and 37. Listed as "passenger,mail and express"

-- Joseph Oates (, June 16, 1999.

Thanks, guys. I did not think this looked like an SAL car. I can confirm that the observation car was off the Gulf Wind by the first part of 1967. I have a shot of a heavyweight diner on the Gulf Wind in Tallahassee in February of 1967. The car is on the end of the train. The same shot appears in my book Color Guide to SAL Freight and Passenger Equipment. I was under the impression that the Gulf Wind was little more than an all-stops local that ran the Panhandle line. From your answers, it seems the train was more than that.

-- Paul Faulk (, June 16, 1999.

Jack is correct in that the car in question is an L&N car. Joe is correct in saying that it is not a 10-section car. It is a 5 Double Bedroom, Lounge Observation built for the Crescent in 1949 or 1950. Sister cars were built for SouRy, NYC, WofA, and FEC. Several cars, including the WofA's "Royal Palace" (later "Charles A. Wickersham") and FEC's "Azalea" still exist. The "Azalea" is still in service, albeit with interior modifications making it suitable for business car use.

Bob Hanson

-- Robert H. Hanson (, June 15, 1999.

That caption is not the only mistake in the book,there are many others.I'm in the process of reading it now and will report others later. A 10Sec buffet-lounge would have to be a heavyweight car.Ther was no such thing as a lightweight car like that. This car(OBS-LOUNGE) first shows up on the timetable in Sept.1954 and is still on as of Apr. 1966,but gone by Jan.1967.

-- Joseph Oates (, June 14, 1999.

Jack is correct that the Gulf Wind used L&N's Royal Canal and Royal Street. I don't know when the practice started. The cars came off some time around 1966. The next issue of Lines South should have a color cover shot of the G. W. arriving in Jax in 1964 with one of these cars on the end. Larry Goolsby

-- Larry Goolsby (, June 14, 1999.

The caption is confusing. I believe the 10-sec buffet-lounge referred to were original equipment on the train in 1949. The car pictured is a 5 double bedroom-buffet-lounge-observation originally built for Crescent service. L&N owned two such cars - Royal Canal and Royal Street.

-- Jack Wyatt (, June 14, 1999.

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