Story of the Museum of America's Freedom Trains
MAFT was founded
in 1998 by Mr. Larry Wines and dedicated to the preservation of
the memory of the two Freedom Trains that toured the United States
during the 20th Century. The museum's early displays and traveling
exhibits were designed by Larry Wines and built by Jim Hogben, Wayne
Hollowell, Charles Hepperle, Doug Moon, and Todd Schannuth, with
financial support from honorary AFT crew members Mary Jayne and
John Z. Rowe, together with Al Phillips and several AFT alumni.
The museum exhibited
artifacts and historical materials and participated in historical
forums in several states. At its peak, the museum had members in
23 states. Despite enthusiasm from the initial members of MAFT,
it proved unable to attract adequate financial support as a nonprofit.
MAFT then voluntarily surrendered its charitable (nonprofit) status.
Without a doubt, the accomplishments of the museum were substantial:
of the last existing display car of the American Freedom Train.
The Museum of America's Freedom Trains was instrumental in the preservation
of the AFT's Exit Car #111. It was the last car of the train with
interior displays, and of all the cars through which over 7 million
Americans passed on their journey through the American Freedom Train,
it is the sole survivor that escaped the scrapper's torch. The generosity
of Walter Ferguson, along with that of Mary Jayne and John Z. Rowe,
was key to saving the car. Read
more about saving the AFT Exit Car.
of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Museum's former collection
of AFT artifacts. In 1998 when the B&O Museum decided
to part with its collection of AFT artifacts, Larry Wines stepped
in to make sure the artifacts got preserved rather than lost or
discarded. These artifacts became the basis for the Museum of America's
Freedom Trains. They included:
- The 20 large
plexiglass panels that adorned the "left" side of the
American Freedom Train.
- The final
milepost created to celebrate the AFT reaching its final destination
-- Miami, Florida after 25,388 miles.
- The boatswain's
mate carving carried in the AFT's parlor car.
Most of the
Museum's former collection, including VIA baggage car 9654, is now owned by -- and is being preserved
by -- the Fillmore & Western Railroad, awaiting a time when
it can be displayed.
railcar and logo design by Mr. Charles Hepperle.