Orange Blossom Special (passenger train)

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The Orange Blossom Special was a named passenger train service operated by the Seaboard Air Line Railway between New York City, New York and Miami, Florida.

The train went from New York via Philadelphia, Washington, Richmond, Raleigh, Columbia, Savannah, Jacksonville to Miami, a section went to Tampa and St. Petersburg. This was a winter season only service.

Inaugurated on November 21, 1925, the service was the brainchild of SAL president S. Davies Warfield, who wanted to capitalize on the booming development that was taking place in Florida at the time. Warfield believed that Florida was a land of opportunity, and with the addition of fast, luxurious train travel, he could lure influential (not to mention wealthy) business leaders to the Sunshine State.

Spurred on by the success of Henry Flagler and his Florida East Coast Railway in attracting travellers to the southeast, the Orange Blossom Special became quite famous in its own right.

In 1938 the train was operated as a streamliner with air conditioning, hauled by the first diesel-electric locomotives on the east coast of the United States. The service was suspended during WWII to free the equipment for wartime use in carrying troops. The last run was in 1953.

The train and the song

It happened during the maiden run of the new streamlined train at the Jacksonville Seaboard Railroad Station that Ervin Rouse and Robert Russell "Chubby" Wise saw this train. Rouse and Wise wrote the song as a fiddle tune. It has been called the best known fiddle tune of the twentieth century. The tune was first recorded by Ervin and his brother Gordon one year later in New York. Bill Monroe recorded Rouse and Wise's tune in 1942 (with Art Wooten on fiddle) and popularized the tune. Johnny Cash named his 1965 album after the song. The song was also recorded by Bill Ramsey and Don Paulin.

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