By Margaret Wheaton
Today a group of us met for lunch in the California Zephyr Silver Palm Dining car in Avon Park, Florida.
We first visited the museum located in the railroad Depot building to learn about the history of Avon Park. The community was founded in the days of ox-carts and horse-drawn buggies. It was first known as Lake Forest, but the wife of the early business manager from England said that it reminded her of her home in Stratford-on-Avon. The city name was then changed to Avon Park.
The Seaboard Coast Line railroad provided transportation for agricultural products and helped the growth of the area. When Amtrak took over the rail lines and closed the Avon Park train station, the building was given to the city. It was then leased to the Historical Society for use as a museum.
The Silver Palm Dining Car was originally a sleeper car on the California Zephyr Line. Next
it was converted to a dining car for the Auto-train line from Florida to Kentucky and then retired when that line went bankrupt. Several years later it was purchased and refurbished by the Avon Park Historical Society. It is operated by an enthusiastic team of volunteers. They are not visible in my sketch because they are busy inside, washing dishes and cleaning the car for their next guests.