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Florida to Michigan Passenger Train Trip - 1963

PostPosted: Sat Feb 26, 2011 7:39 am
by HarryB
My family immigrated to the United States on December 11, 1963, arriving by ship at Port Everglades, FL. We traveled from there to Grand Rapids, MI by passenger train.

I'd like to find out what route, and on which rail line(s), we traveled.

The only other piece of information I have is that my mother seems to recall us stopping in Cincinnati, OH, possibly overnight. However, this may not be accurate.

Does anyone know where I can find information about this trip?

Thank You,

Re: Florida to Michigan Passenger Train Trip - 1963

PostPosted: Sat Feb 26, 2011 12:32 pm
by mtuandrew
Hi Harry, there are not a lot of possibilities for your trip. Port Everglades was served by two railroads, the Seaboard Air Line (now part of CSX) and the Florida East Coast.

The FEC had just started a protracted strike, and their passenger service was discontinued as of January 23, 1963, so you couldn't have used that company's previously-excellent service. So, your first leg was on the SAL. You still would have had to change trains to go past Jacksonville, though.

Once in Jacksonville, you could have met the Louisville & Nashville's "Flamingo" or the Southern's "Ponce de Leon" or "Royal Palm" at Jacksonville for the trip to Cincinnati. It seems that the Southern had more frequent service, from what I can tell on Wikipedia.

At Cincinnati, I'd be very surprised if you didn't embark on the Pennsylvania Railroad north, on the "Northern Arrow", "Northland Express", or another train that stopped in Grand Rapids on its way north from Cincinnati to Mackinaw City. In theory, I guess you could have taken a Chesapeake & Ohio train, or a New York Central train, but the Pennsy was most direct and didn't involve a stopover.

Hope this helps!

Re: Florida to Michigan Passenger Train Trip - 1963

PostPosted: Tue Mar 01, 2011 8:08 am
by HarryB

This is by far the most information I have learned about our trip, and provides me with some leads in discovering more details.

Thank you for taking the time to help,

Re: Florida to Michigan Passenger Train Trip - 1963

PostPosted: Wed Mar 02, 2011 5:51 pm
by ExCon90
The closest Official Guides I can get hold of are November 1961 and December 1964. The PRR's direct route from Cincinnati to Grand Rapids was freight only by 1961, and the Ponce de Leon ran only between Council, GA, just north of the Florida line, and Cincinnati. (Looks like the Georgia Public Utilities Commission wouldn't let them take the train off in Georgia.) The Royal Palm, however, did run from Jacksonville to Cincinnati, so the following schedule would have worked in 1964, and thus almost certainly in 1963:

Lv Jacksonville 10.00 pm day 1 Royal Palm, Southern Ry., via Atlanta and Chattanooga
Ar Cincinnati 8.45 pm day 2
Lv Cincinnati 11.00 pm day 2 Night Express, B&O-Toledo-C&O
Ar Detroit (Fort St. Union Sta.) 7.15 am day 3
Lv Detroit (same station) 8.30 am day 3 The Pere Marquette, C&O
Ar Grand Rapids 11.35 am day 3

The trip was also possible via Chicago, but there was no train on the New York Central, even in 1961, leaving Cincinnati the same night, and an overnight stay in Cincinnati would have meant a later arrival in Grand Rapids, as well as possibly a higher fare than via Detroit. The Pennsylvania had an overnight train to Chicago, but the C&O had no departure before 5.30 pm day 3, so Chicago wouldn't have worked well in any case.

I was all set to write that things had started down the slippery slope even then, and suddenly reflected that it's a lot better than you can do today.

Re: Florida to Michigan Passenger Train Trip - 1963

PostPosted: Tue Mar 15, 2011 9:27 pm
by HarryB

Thank you so much for the detailed information - it was much more than I was able to discover so far.

This schedule does not show an overnight stop in Cincinnati as my mother seems to recollect. However, upon further thought it is possible we stayed overnight in Port Everglades because the train out of Port Everglades apparently left mid morning. We arrived there by passenger ship and I doubt we would have been able to clear customs in time to catch the Silver Meteor which apparently left at 9:40 am.


Re: Florida to Michigan Passenger Train Trip - 1963

PostPosted: Mon Mar 21, 2011 3:58 pm
by JasW
Harry, there were no passenger trains out of Port Everglades (though there were freight trains out of the port on the SAL before the tracks were removed in order to build I-595). You may have started your journey at the Dania SAL station, about 5 miles away. (The Dania station itself is no longer standing, having been replaced at the same location by what is now the Ft. Lauderdale Airport Tri-Rail station.) If you stayed overnight after disembarking from the ship (and did not stay at a motel in Dania), it's possible you left from the Fort Lauderdale station farther north. It is still standing.

Re: Florida to Michigan Passenger Train Trip - 1963

PostPosted: Tue May 24, 2011 3:30 pm
by NellieBly
I'm at work and don't have access to my 1964 Official Guide, but another possibility would be Southern's "Royal Palm", which was a morning departure out of Miami and could have been boarded in Ft. Lauderdale. As noted, all trains were on the SAL then, but ACL handled the through Royal Palm cars on the train that carried Chicago-Florida cars as well.

In any case, that would have given an afternoon/early evening arrival in Cincinnati. At one time, there were through cars to Detroit, Cleveland, and Chicago, but I believe they were gone by 1963, so that would explain the overnight stay. Then a morning train to Detroit the next day, connecting to an afternoon train to Grand Rapids. By 1963, I think the only service would have been B&O to Detroit, then C&O (Pere Marquette) to Grand Rapids.

Re: Florida to Michigan Passenger Train Trip - 1963

PostPosted: Wed Nov 02, 2011 9:31 am
by JasW
Just to correct the absolute nature of my earlier post -- apparently, there were passenger trains right out of Port Everglades -- shipside, no less! -- as this March 1932 photo shows. I'm guessing its the FEC because while the engine number looks to be 453, it may be 153, the FEC locomotive that's currently housed at the Gold Coast RR Museum in south Dade. Although I compared it against a current pic of 153 and the smoke box door on the front looks different. Of course, that could have been replaced. In any event, even if the FEC did continue to run this service for the next 30 years, it would have ceased at the time in question because of the strike.