SAL Business Car "Miami" : LUSENET : ACL and SAL Railroads Historical Society : One Thread

Does anyone know the disposition of the former SAL Business Car "Miami", formerly on display at Florida Southern College in Lakeland? The March 1979 Polk County Historical Quarterly has a photo of the car in use on the campus as the office of the chaplain.

According to the Quarterly,"The car was the last private, personal railroad car built in the United States(started March 5, 1929 and completed July 18, 1930). The car has been named by its succesive owners: Esperanza, Alicia, Helma, Sea Level, and Miami. It was moved to the Florida Southern campus in May, 1976".

As "Sea Level", I believe, it was owned by the West India Fruit & Steamship Co. based in West Palm Beach. A photo of "Sea Level" appears in Seth Bramson's "Speedway to Sunshine".

The car in no longer on the FSC campus and the current groundskeeper does not remember a railroad car being on campus. I saw the car on site in the late seventies.

-- scott young (, July 23, 2003


The car is in Fort Myers, at the Fort Myers Historical Museum, where it has been since the mid 80's. Happy Holidays to all.

-- Bill Donahue (, December 23, 2004.

Before Dan Taylor owned the car, it was called the "Helma" after the wife of the owner, Bruce Dodson, considered the last of the old time private car operators.(See Lucius Beebe's book, "Mansions On Rails".) I spoke with Helma Dodson of Kansas City some 15= years ago. She confirmed that that car was "HelmaI" They later had HelmaII which was also later sold to Dan Taylor . He moved it to Cuba , she said, and there it was supposedly wrecked.

-- Maunsel White (, December 22, 2004.

1967 was the years the ACL and SAL became the SCL. That is the year the railroad decided to sell the "Miami". Florida Southern College bought it for their President, Dr. Charles T. Thrift. When Dr Thrift passed away in 1884 it was put up for sale and the City of Fort Myers purchased it for $50,000 to compliment the vacant ACL depot. Mr Black, who had the car built, never lived long enough to use it. It was named after his second wife. "Esperanza" is "Hope" in Spanish. There is a very good history of the car written by Jeanne Hickman that can be found at the Ft Myers Historical Society. It was meant to be a guide as you walk through the car.

-- Dick Kearns (, July 25, 2003.

The car is still on display at the Ft. Myers Historical Museum which is the former ACL station. It was moved to Ft. Myers in the early eighties. It is in need of exterior and interior renovation estimated to cost around $350,000. The City of Ft. Myers is looking for anyone who can help with this project.

-- Michael Mulligan (, July 25, 2003.

I believe the car was brought to the campus of Florida Southern College by Dr. Thrift who was President of the College and a rail historian. He actually used it for his second office. When he passed away, it was moved to Ft Myers and now sits outside the old ACL station.

-- Dick Kearns (, July 24, 2003.

My cousin, Daniel Taylor, owned the car last before he sold it in 1964 to the Seaboard. He owned the West India Fruit & Steamship Co., as you stated, in West Palm Beach, Fla. I asked my cousin, Mrs. Susan Kilpatrick of the same town about the disposition of the car. She says last she remembered it was at a museum somewhere in Miami, but she doesn't know where.

-- Daniel Taylor Edwards (, July 24, 2003.

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