A Brief History of the Ferdinand Magellan Presidential Railcar in Miami, FL

Dining room inside the Ferdinand Magellan railcar
Dining room inside the Ferdinand Magellan railcar | © Diannaa / WikiCommons
Karina Castrillo

The only passenger railcar ever designated a National Historic Landmark by the U.S., the Ferdinand Magellan Presidential Railcar served as the train transport for presidents throughout the years. A Pullman railroad car, it is now housed in the Gold Coast Railroad Museum in Miami, Florida. Here’s your need-to-know guide.

Background

The railcar dates back to 1928, and was one of six cars named after famous explorers – the other railcars include David Livingstone, Henry Stanley, Marco Polo, Robert Peary and Roald Amundsen. But it was not until 1942 during World War II, that it was selected as the presidential railcar for President Franklin Roosevelt. Secret Service agent Mike Reilly and White House Press Secretary Stephen Early suggested the president needed an armored car for maximum security, and President Roosevelt only acquiesced to having a special car rebuilt for him when it was said the railcar would serve for future presidents after him.

Bedroom

Adaptations

Presidential use

President Roosevelt’s first trip on the Ferdinand Magellan was to Miami, Florida in 1943. He boarded the railcar several times during his tenure as president until his death in 1945. The Ferdinand Magellan then went on to be designated to President Harry Truman who gave his famous whistlestop campaign speeches from the open platform of the rear end of the car. The photograph of President Truman and the infamous issue of the Chicago Daily Tribune that mistakenly announced in its headline the win of Republican candidate Thomas E. Dewey in the 1948 presidential election (when it was Truman who had won) was snapped on the Ferdinand Magellan platform.

View of the railcar in Gold Coast Museum

The railcar today

After President Truman, it was then allocated to President Dwight D. Eisenhower who made little use of the train. The train was used for the last time in 1954, when it was declared surplus and acquired by the Gold Coast Railroad Museum which still houses it today. Visitors to the museum are able to get a tour of the exterior of the Ferdinand Magellan U.S. Car No.1 Presidential Railcar. The interior however, has been secured for preservation needs.

landscape with balloons floating in the air

KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?

Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.

Winter Sale Offers on Our Trips

Incredible Savings

X
Edit article