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ACL Passenger Service

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Atlantic Coast Line Passenger Service: The Postwar Years, by Larry Goolsby, TLC Publishing Company, Lynchburg, Virginia, 1999, 142 pp., photographs and illustrations.

review by Malcolm R. Campbell

Down in the Florida panhandle, we didn't know Southern served the South.

Where the red clay of Georgia disappeared into a world of cypress swamps, sandy pine forests, and a high number of moonshine stills per capita, we knew the Bay Line, L&N, and SAL, and just a little to the north and east of us, we knew "the standard railroad of the South."

Memories of the last days of the purple flag have been captured by Larry Goolsby in "Atlantic Coast Line Passenger Service: The Postwar Years." When you step inside this large format book, you are stepping into a twilight time of great trains and fine equipment running a fast, safe line: Everglades, Palmetto, East and West Coast Champions, Gulf Coast Special, City of Miami, Dixie Flyer, Seminole, South Wind.

The book begins with a historical overview and then chronicles the period from ACL's 1946 reinstatement of its pre-war schedules through the 1967 merger with Seaboard and the dawn of Amtrak. Subsequent chapters cover local, connecting and mixed service, special passenger trains, sample consists, and heavyweight and lighweight passenger locomotives and equipment.

The excellent selection of over 250 photographs includes those by Hugh M. Comer, Frank E. Ardrey, Jr., David Salter, Howard Robins, and the author. Examples of advertisements and brochures appear throughout the book and there's a selection of color photographs in the back.

"ACL cemented its position as a premier passenger carrier through its creative marketing efforts and strong emphasis on top-quality passenger service," writes Goolsby in the book's foreword. The tradition would continue into the Amtrak era long after the last person said, "Thanks for Using Coast Line."

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