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Museum of America's Freedom Trains
 
 

The 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:

-- Preservation 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.

-- Preservation 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.

Museum of America's Freedom Trains

Museum railcar and logo design by Mr. Charles Hepperle.

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