Thanks to Arlo Guthrie, most of us are more familiar with this train’s sister, the City of New Orleans. The train connecting North and South was an icon long before that for travelers. But for the Illinois Central to get Chicago passengers all the way to Miami, they needed the help of some other railroads as well.
The City of Miami
From its inception in 1940, the City of Miami was an interesting train. It was one of three “City” trains on the Illinois Central and received an all-new streamlined consist and diesel locomotive. From Chicago, the train traveled 690 miles south on the Illinois Central to Birmingham. Here the train was handed over to the Central of Georgia. The Central took the train 250 miles to Albany, GA where the train changed hands again – to the Atlantic Coast Line. While in the station at Albany, the train’s timetable moved from Central to Eastern time.
The Atlantic Coast Line carried the passengers for about 190 miles before handing it over one last time to the Florida East Coast in Jacksonville. From here, the FEC took the passengers the final 360 miles to Miami. Despite the frequent railroad changes, passengers were never required to change cars.
At first the train’s Illinois Central consist and locomotives stayed together all the way to Jacksonville where the FEC supplied its own power. The consist remained unchanged. In later years, the CofG also supplied power – painted to match the IC’s brown and orange trains. And still later cars from connecting roads were mixed into the consist to handle demand at the expense of the unified color scheme. Videos of the train in the 1960s show the train often running in excess of a dozen cars, with little head-end traffic to inflate the consist.
Change on the FEC
The Florida East Coast has long been a leader and a harbinger of changes to come on the railroad industry as a whole. In the 1960s this manifested itself as an incredibly long and bitter fight between management and labor. Many of the changes pushed through by management through the hiring of non-union employees eventually came to the rest of the country. This included the end of the caboose and nearly all passenger service. From 1963 until 1971 the train was handed to the Seaboard Air Line from the ACL for the last leg of the trip. At the start-up of Amtrak, the City of Miami route ended.
FEC’s historic trends are interesting to note and one might hope that now they continue to be a crystal ball for the future. Not only is the railroad’s freight service stellar by any standard, it has recently announced plans to begin its own passenger service between Orlando and Miami. This would be the first fully privatized intercity passenger rail initiative in the US in decades – and it is on a fast track to completion in 2015.
Now you can add a splash of Florida sunshine to your layout with the colorful locomotives and cars of the Florida East Coast. Astute followers of the FEC will note that the railroad never owned any E8s or E9s. They did however own E7s and like several other roads replaced the rectangular side windows with portholes giving them an appearance like that of the later models. Also, the Gold Coast Museum has acquired a former Pennsy E8 and given her an absolutely gorgeous and brilliant FEC paint scheme.
So if you’ll allow this train to take you on a bit of a vacation from rivet counting, you’ll find it more than captures the spirit and colors of this famous route.
The new E8s include one powered and one non-powered locomotive. Both engines feature:
- Fan-driven smoke unit with adjustable output
- Directional lighting including LED headlights
- Front ElectroCouplers
- Working front Marker Lights
- Illuminated number boards
- Lighted and detailed cab interior
- Die-cast metal trucks, fuel tank and pilots
- High level of separately applied details
- O-31 minimum curve
Powered locomotives also feature:
- LEGACY Control – also capable of running on TMCC or Conventional
- Odyssey II Speed Control
- LEGACY RailSounds including
- CrewTalk and TowerCom dialog
- 6 Railroad speeds
- 8 Diesel RPM levels
- LEGACY Quilling horn
- Single hit or continuous mechanical bell
- Sequence control provides sounds and dialog for an entire trip around your layout
- Current speed and fuel dialog and refueling sounds
- Dual motors with flywheels
- Refined Transformer Control with lower starting speeds
- Traction Tires
- Engineer and Fireman figures
Passenger cars feature:
- Die-cast sprung metal trucks with operating couplers featuring hidden uncoupling tabs
- Extruded aluminum bodies with flush-fitting windows
- Operating end vestibules with flexible diaphragms
- Separately applied metal roof vents and grab irons
- Interior lighting with on/off switch
- Detailed interiors with passenger and crew figures
- Operating marker and end lights on observation car
- Lighted drumhead on observation car
- Metal frame
- Metal underframe details
- O-54 minimum curve
The locomotives retail for $929.99 and the passenger car 4-packs for $639.99. See your dealers today to pick up your own set and let it brighten your layout like a ray of Florida sun.