BEST MUSEUM - 2004
The Gold Coast Railroad Museum
Like any worth-his-salt railroad baron, Henry Flagler had his tracks laid and then proceeded to build a city around them. Several cities, actually, but we care only about Miami. It's not surprising a museum should honor, and document, this tropical "railroad" town's history. The museum began life under the auspices of the University of Miami at the Richmond Air Station, moved to Broward, then back again. It quickly grew, thanks to donations and wise purchases of old locomotives from around the nation. Included in the collection are gems like Roosevelt's presidential locomotive (Presidential Train One?) and a rescue train that arrived to help victims of the 1935 hurricane. (The museum itself took a direct hit during Hurricane Andrew.) As well as being displayed, several choo-choos are still operating on the property's tracks. Take the kids and explain how millions of Chinese, black, Native American, and other slaves suffered and died to build this great land of ours by driving spikes and laying rails.