A leading attraction at the Naples Depot for over 35 years, the streamlined Budd Observation Car, will finally undergo an extensive year-long restoration to bring the car back to its 1947 roots. Don Whatley, of Shadow Transit Service, Inc., will oversee this complex restoration.
The Budd Car, #6601, was one of six built for the Seaboard Air Line Railroad in 1947 and was primarily used in New York–Florida service in trains such as the “Silver Meteor”. The car was originally configured with a tavern section seating 34 people and an observation section seating 24 individually. Included in the observation end was a hostess room, a writing desk, magazine rack and radio. The train later saw service on Amtrak, which redecorated the car in its purple and orange color scheme of that era before being donated to the Naples Depot by Joseph and Olga Hirshhorn.
After three decades sitting in the searing Florida sun, the car has been deteriorating for some time, and is badly in need of this refurbishment. The restoration will involve replacing rotted window sills, new windows, new flooring, repainting the interior, era appropriate furniture and window coverings, updating the lighting and air conditioning, new tabletops, and a redone bar area. The tropical artworks that once impressed passengers will also be replicated and hung on the walls once more.
This is one of the few examples left of a car of this era, and the staff of the Naples Depot and the Collier County Museums, are excited to undertake this project to bring our visitors back to the golden age of train travel. This restoration has been made possible by the Board of Collier County Commissioners.
Set in Naples’ first passenger train station, the restored Naples Depot Museum takes visitors back to Florida’s railroading heydays of the Roaring Twenties and tells how technology and transportation helped Naples grow from a village of 300 souls to today’s glittering Gulf Coast resort. For more information about the Naples Depot please contact the museum at (239) 262-6525 or visit www.colliermuseums.com
About Collier County Museums: More than 10,000 years of Southwest Florida History is on display at Collier County Museums’ five locations – the main museum location in Naples, four additional museum facilities in Everglades City and Immokalee, the historic Naples Depot, a former train station and local favorite in the heart of downtown Naples, and the newly opened Marco Island Historical Museum. Admission to all the museums is free and the sites are handicapped accessible. For more information, visit www.colliermuseums.com or call (239) 252-8476.