The Gold Coast Railroad Museum is a result of the coming together of persons and events that helped shape what is now one of today's premier railroad museums in the United States.
It all began in August, 1956. William J. Godfrey, a Business Administration student attending the University of Miami (UM), and "rail enthusiast," had heard that the university's 'south campus' contained miles of unused railroad tracks. That site was 2,100 acres of high pineland located in southern Miami-Dade County. The property had been Naval Air Station Richmond (NASR) - A WWII airship base. A few years after the war, the Navy left the base and the land was leased to the University of Miami from the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) for non-profit educational and research purposes. The University used the base as a remote campus for returning GI's and for botanical research. Being an all male campus, the students could use the same barracks that the Navy had recently abandoned.
Bill reasoned that, with over three miles of tracks, the old base would be a great place to have an operating steam engine. It could be used as an engineering, educational, and historical attraction. He presented the idea to Dr. Jay F.W. Pearson, President of the University, who just happened to be a rail fan. President Pearson liked the idea and thus the seed GCRM was planted.