locked Re: Info requested on the "Florida Sunbeam" and Through Cars at Cincinnati

C J Wyatt


Have you seen the consist for the Florida Sunbeam departing Miami on December 25, 1940 published in Wayner's Passenger Train Consists of the 1940? The Pullman names could be crossed checked with the Pullman A/C register assignment, but one definitely assigned to NYC car was the 6 DB Buffet-Lounge, Dover Plains (which I photographed in the early 1990s). Southern Rwy. cars are represented by a heavyweight combine, coach, and diner. SAL's contribution was an American Flyer coach. Its AF coaches and combines appeared frequently in the Florida Sunbeam over the years.

The consist that Chuck gave of  no. 5 on December 11, 1949 actually should be December 17, 1949 and the source was Louis Newton in his Rails Remembered Vol.2, page 482.

Jack Wyatt

On Tuesday, June 9, 2020, 02:00:57 PM EDT, George Eichelberger <geichelberger@...> wrote:


I attempted to copy the following series (some omitted) of posts from ther Passenger Car LIst but apparently I "fat fingered" the process. Here is attempt number two....


I am putting the finishing touches on an article about the “Florida Sunbeam” for the Southern Railway Historical Association’s “TIES” magazine. As usual, the Southern Railway Presidents’ files in the SRHA archives have provided correspondence between the NYC, Southern and Seaboard and internal SR memos about the train over the years.

The seasonal "Florida Sunbeam" (known as the "Suwannee River Special" prior to the 1937 season), year-round "Royal Palm", "Royal Palm DeLux”, and "Ponce DeLeon" on the Southern and the “Flamingo” on the L&N were promoted by the New York Central as their “Florida” trains. The Central interchanged through cars or passengers to and from those trains from Detroit/Grand Rapids, Chicago, Cleveland, Indianapolis and Buffalo at Cincinnati.

I have been able to research all of the sources I am aware of “Guides”, PTTs, books, etc., not to mention Bob Piety’s fabulous spreadsheets, on the Sunbeam and NYC Florida services but would like to find more on specific consists over the years. (Of course I am aware of the equipment descriptions in PTTs but I am not certain if they are sometime provided more as advertising than actual operating data. For example, PTTs saying a Detroit-Miami train has a dining car does not say (or care) if NYC, Southern and Seaboard diners were changed along the way.)

So…my question. Is anyone aware of train consist information from any of the NYC terminals, Cincinnati, Chattanooga, Atlanta, Jacksonville (for the ACL and FEC trains), Tampa or St. Pete? As a seasonal train, the Fla Sunbeam used Pullman pool equipment, were specific cars more or less assigned to the seasonal trains? …and many more questions.

Thanks in advance for any ideas….



Hi Ike,
I have a consist of a New Royal Palm in Chattanooga, SB 12-11-1949, A NB Royal Palm from http://www.canadasouthern.com/caso/passenger-consists-122151.htm
Are they of interest to you?

Take care,


Thanks for the info!

The December 21, 1951 consist of the NB “New Royal Palm” at Cincinnati (?) is very interesting.
At first, I thought the passenger count was very low but as the second section of a NB train that originated in Florida in late December, the number of Pullman passengers (only 14) shows people were heading to Florida, NOT Detroit. The five, mostly empty, sleepers could be basically deadheading north for their next SB trip. (The July, 1951 “Guide” shows three Cincinnati-Detroit sleepers on train 302, were these through cars?)

I do not see if there is a “first 302” listed but the fact this is the consist of a second section tells us something. (?) Was the Southern train into Cincy so late, the Central ran #302 ("The Michigan Special”) with the through cars on the second section? I speculate the NYC express reefers originated in Cincinnati although shipments of Florida Citrus for Christmas would still be high in late December. Considered basically a NYC “train” on the Southern and FEC, the cars may have been sent south to handle the NB shipments? Even for that business, many express shipments from the south went to Cincinnati to be sorted and forwarded there for midwest destinations. Also, in 1951, the “New Royal Palm” was considered an important train on the Southern, it would not have carried a lot of express cars.

I would not expect the NB “Palm” would have carried a heavyweight NYC diner into Cincinnati. Was a Southern diner normally cut off there? Does the fact it was a NYC heavyweight tell us it was a backup car needed for the second section? Lastly, the only (Southern) coach on the train had a heavy passenger load. Were those through passengers or (College students?) “on at Cincinnati”?

I would very much like to see your consist of the SB “Palm” at Chattanooga. The “Florida Sunbeam” operated in 1950 so that consist would show activity at the beginning of the season. (More SB Pullmans were added to the Florida trains on the Central a couple of weeks after New Years when the “high season" in Florida was getting underway.)

I suspect train consists would give us as many questions as answers but everything adds to our knowledge. Thanks again!



Hi Ike,
Here is the SB at Chattanooga, 12-11-1949.
12/11/1949 New Royal Palm SOU #5 NYC Chattanooga Baggage-Coach LW Railway Classics Cincinnati Miami
12/11/1949 New Royal Palm SOU #5 FEC Chattanooga Coach-56 seat Dania 9613-005 Budd LW Walthers 6380, Riv Budd coach, both close Detroit Miami
12/11/1949 New Royal Palm SOU #5 SOU Chattanooga Chair 56 Sweetwater 7457 6646 PS LW Rivarossi, fluted coach Detroit Miami
12/11/1949 New Royal Palm SOU #5 SOU Chattanooga Chair 34, Bar-L 951 9621-030 Budd LW NKP Car Company Cincinnati Miami
12/11/1949 New Royal Palm SOU #5 SOU Chattanooga Diner 48 Seat 3308 9624-030 Budd LW NKP Car Company Cincinnati Miami
12/11/1949 New Royal Palm SOU #5 SOU Chattanooga 10 Rmt-6 DB Rappahannock River 4140 6814 PS LW Union Station Products, NKP Car Company, Walthers Chicago Miami
12/11/1949 New Royal Palm SOU #5 SOU Chattanooga 10 Rmt-6 DB Coosa River 4140 6814 PS LW Union Station Products, NKP Car Company, Walthers Cleveland Miami
12/11/1949 New Royal Palm SOU #5 SOU Chattanooga 10 Rmt-6 DB Flint River 4140 6814 PS LW Union Station Products, NKP Car Company, Walthers Buffalo Miami
12/11/1949 New Royal Palm SOU #5 NYC Chattanooga 4 Cpt-4 DB-2 DR Imperial Emblem 4069E 6617 PS LW Athabasca, Laser Horizons Detroit Miami
12/11/1949 New Royal Palm SOU #5 NYC Chattanooga 10 Rmt-5 DB Cascade Spray 4072C 6610 PS LW Union Station Products Detroit Miami
12/11/1949 New Royal Palm SOU #5 FEC Chattanooga 10 Rmt-6 DB Chile 4140 6814 PS LW Union Station Products, NKP Car Company, Walthers Detroit Miami
12/11/1949 New Royal Palm SOU #5 SOU Chattanooga 1-2-Buf-Lng Crescent City 4160 6814 PS LW NKP Car Company Detroit Miami
12 cars
I am sure it will be scrambled when you get it. If so let me know and I can send the spreadsheet.

Take care,


I'm pretty sure it was an exceptional situation if the Royal Palm caused a second section on the NYC.  At its peak, there were six Detroit cars on the New Royal Palm, five sleepers and one coach.  You can see this in the FEC equipment listings.  I'm looking at the 2/51 listing.  On the same trains, NYC 302 and 309, there was a Detroit-Tampa sleeper that ran on the Royal Palm from Cincinnati, also a Detroit-Cincinnati sleeper.  Southbound, the Royal Palm departed Cincinnati 15 minutes after the New Royal Palm and took three hours longer to get to Jacksonville.  Six cars added to the regular train would not have justified a second section.
I noticed a few comments about diners.  The New Royal Palm carried a diner and a diner-Lounge between Cincinnati and Miami.  The schedule between Detroit and Cincinnati was entirely within sleeping hours, so only three cars were needed to cover all of the trains.  Four cars were needed to cover the Chicago, Detroit and Cleveland services.  According to Wayner, the dining-lounge cars were delivered by ACF to the FEC(1) and SOU(2) in Aug-Sep 1950.  The 50-51 season was the first full season of operation of the whole NRP train.  The observation cars came from Pullman in Feb-Mar 1950 to the NYC(1), FEC(1) and SOU(2).  SOU received two diners for the train in SEP-OCT 1949, and according to Wayner, one diner was contributed to the pool by NYC but did not operate on the NYC.
Malcolm Laughlin


Statements like that about the Florida Sunbeam always trigger my skepticism.  I've been searching the on-line NYC timetable collection and could find none for the Big four between 1930 and 1941.  Unfortunately, y Official guide collection is mostly summer season.  I did find one for winter of 1937 and looked at the Florida Sunbeam consist.  There are ten sleepers listed, one each from Cincinnati and Indianapolis and eight from Cleveland, Chicago and Detroit.
There was no NYC train named the Florida Sunbeam.  From the NYC perspective,  it was only the name of a sevice that included cars from three of their trains and not more than four from any one of them.  Why would NYC care at all about one sleeper not from them in a train made up at Cincinnati ?  I note that the NYC train with the Sunbeam cars from chicago also carried two Florida sleepers for the Royal Palm.



I am not sure your comment about "one sleeper" refers to my comment about the NYC not wanting Pullmans from non-NYC cities in the Sunbeam. In case it is...one of the great things about the Southern Railway Historical Association's archives (at TVRM in Chattanooga) is that they contain more than 17,000 SR Executive Dept files that span the entire history of the Southern. I can argue that those files make writing articles easier or harder because guesswork or speculation (even when facts are missing) are not usually needed.

In the case of the NYC and Pullmans at Cincinnati, I don't believe the attached 10-7-46 memo leaves much room for interpretation, at least for the postwar Sunbeam. (HAD is SR President Harry A DeButts)



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