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These days, American presidents travel around the country on Air Force One,
but in the 1940's, there was no Air Force One.
Actually, there wasn't even a U.S. Air Force,
they were still part of the Army.
Franklin D. Roosevelt was the first sitting U.S. President
to fly in an airplane, back in 1943.
But for most of his presidency, he used a very different form of travel.
This is the Ferdinand Magellan, officially known as U.S. Car Number 1.
120 tonnes of armor-plated, bulletproof rail car.
- The rail car is the heaviest U.S. rail car ever built.
They had to build special trucks just to support the extra weight.
The reason it only weighs 285,000 pounds is that was the weight limit
for U.S. railroad bridges and trestles at that time.
So, the entire car is not armor-proofed, only where the President is.
The car has ⅝-inch thick bulletproof steel through most of the car,
up to this point here.
You can see where the rivets change from double rivets to single rivets.
Regular steel here versus the bulletproof steel here.
So, there's bulletproofing, there's 12-ply laminated glass,
there are two escape hatches in the car to get the President out.
It was never painted red, white, and blue like Air Force One.
It was always painted Pullman green.
When they had to park it somewhere,
they would hide it with other Pullman rail cars,
so it was basically hiding in plain sight.
- After Roosevelt's death, President Truman used the Magellan for a while,
asking the engineers to get the train up to 80mph, if they could.
Before television was a way to reach the masses,
Truman toured America in this train,
campaigning for re-election, travelling tens of thousands of miles
between tiny stations known as whistle-stops, and making up to eight speeches a day.
And it worked. The famous moment where he held up the newspaper
that wrongly announced his defeat,
that was just there, on the back of this train.
- Now in 1928, air-conditioning was accomplished by ice.
There are ice bunkers in the car, blocks of ice were put in there,
and ceiling fans across the whole car
would then blow the cold air as it dropped down.
So, now we're heading into the armoured part of the car
where the President stayed.
Here, we have the dining room.
All the rooms in the car had a phone in them.
When the car was underway, the phones were
hooked up to a radio car called the General Myer.
And when they were in stations, they were hot-wired
into the phones in the station.
This is the desk the President would use, he could sign papers.
This is what the windows look like.
This is 12-ply, laminated glass, about three inches thick,
so all the windows from this point to the rear of the car
are sealed, you cannot take them out,
which is why they have air-conditioning.
Stateroom C here, this is the President's quarters.
The President has a fixed bed, giving him a little bit of extra leg room.
That is what a commode chair looks like.
The back folds down as a sink
and the seat folds up to be a toilet underneath.
The wheelchair was built specifically for Roosevelt's use in this car,
so he could get up and down the narrow hallway.
Here we have the Presidential bathroom,
and the first of the two escape hatches are here.
What would have been a window has been converted to a steel plate
that they could push out and they could get
the President out that way if they needed to.
What looks like a soap dish hanging by the door here,
is actually a cigar holder.
Roosevelt would sit in there and smoke cigars.
Here we have the observation lounge of the car.
This is where Presidents would sit in the back of the car
and watch the rails pass behind them,
entertain their guests that were on the car with them.
We also have the second escape hatch.
This was fashioned from a submarine.
It was designed if the car was ever knocked over on its side,
they could open this door and go out it.
This door leads to the rear platform.
The door alone weighs 1500 pounds.
That's about half the weight of the car
that most people come to visit our museum in.
It was fashioned after a bank vault.
Out here is the rear platform.
This is where Presidents would give their speeches.
When Truman ascended to the presidency,
after Roosevelt died,
he pretty much lived in this car for a few months
as he did a run across the campaign trail,
and he made more than 350 whistle-stop speeches
from this back platform.
That's what allowed him to connect with the American people.
- Of course, air travel became easier and cheaper and safer
and eventually the Ferdinand Magellan fell out of use.
Nowadays it's a museum piece,
but in an era where the "Trump Train" is just a metaphor,
it's interesting to note that there were other Presidents
whose train was... a little more real.
- America as a country, except for certain parts of the country,
doesn't embrace rails the way that we used to.
This piece is historic, it is unique,
it is hearkening back to a simpler place and time,
and a simpler pace of life.
And that's what I wish we could kinda... get a little piece of that back.
Still keep our cell phones, I'm not giving that up(!)
- Thank you to everyone at the Gold Coast Railway Museum.
Pull down the description for more about them
and about the Ferdinand Magellan.