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Seaboard Air Line Railroad

Streamliners to the Palms

S.A.L. E4A #3011

Seaboard Air Line Railroad logo 1939 Owing to the phenomenal public enthusiasm for the new Silver Meteor, inaugurated Feb. 2, 1939 as Florida's first streamliner, S.A.L. 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 seven cars to Miami every day, plus every third day an additional three 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

1940 Seaboard Air Line Railroad brochure In 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

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

1952 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. Advertisement, schedules and equipment from the Official Railway Guide, March 1953:

1956 Seaboard ordered three unique Sun Lounge cars for the 1956 Silver Meteor, named "Miami Beach", "Hollywood Beach" and "Palm Beach". They each had five 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.

1957 In the 1957/58 winter timetable, Seaboard promoted their dining cars, a rental car at your destination and the credit card to pay for it all!

1966 Winter 1966-67 was the last peak season before the merger with A.C.L., but the Seaboard fleet of passenger trains retained their popularity to the end. Advertisement, schedules and equipment from Seaboard timetable, December 1966:

1967 Watch a vintage 3½ minute 8mm color film of a 1967 round trip from Miami to Winter Haven aboard the Miami section of the streamliner Silver Meteor. It also includes a cameo appearance by the Sunland local. This was just before A.C.L. and S.A.L. merged to become Seaboard Coast Line, and still four years before Amtrak. The Winter Haven passenger station remains in service, but the old 1927 stub-end Seaboard Miami passenger terminal was demolished after Amtrak moved out in 1978, except for the original entrance portico standing at 2206 NW 7th Avenue.

A 1967 Trip from Miami to Winter Haven aboard the Silver Meteor on the Seaboard Air Line RailroadCLICK FOR VIDEO


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 S.A.L. #3011 and the colors on this page show Seaboard's original diesel "citrus" green, orange and yellow, used from 1938 to 1954.