Jim Flora Photo - 1960/1962

Venice Gondolier - 08/15/2020
by Larry Humes, Class of 1965

Venice, Florida 

Opened in 1927 by the Brotherhood of  Locomotive Engineers, the depot helped bring the Kentucky Military Institute, the Army Air Corps and Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus to Venice.  In 1932, the Kentucky Military Institute of Lyndon, Ky., selected Venice as its winter headquarters. As part of the yearly tuition, all students were given the opportunity to ride a special "L&N" train between Louisville and Venice, arriving in early January and departing the beginning of April.   KMI discontinued use of the Venice campus in 1970. Final Seaboard Coast Line passenger train service occurred in 1971. 

(Email from the author - 6/5/2016)

Midwest Florida Sunliners Paperback – 1979
by R. Lyle Key Jr.

"Over the years, various diverse types of specials operated between the Midwest and Florida, but perhaps the most unusual was the train that annually carried Kentucky Military Institute from Louisville to the school's winter quarters in Venice, Florida. KMI began wintering in Venice in 1932 after it purchased two old hotels from the BofLE..  The Brotherhood had planned to convert the former hotels into retirement homes for engineers, but the Great Depression forced it to abandon that venture and sell the properties.

After their Christmas break, the Institute's cadets, faculty, and staff reported to Louisville Union Station where they boarded the Florida-bound KMI Special.  The trains's consist naturally varied over the years, but the special that departed Louisville on January 5, 1951 was made up of 8 coaches, 2 diners, and a baggage car.  To facilitate loading, the latter car was spotted on a siding near the school which was about 13 miles from Union Station.  The KMI Special ran on L&N [to] Montgomery, ACL [to] Tampa, and SAL to Venice.  It used the Perry cut-off until 1957, when regular passenger service ceased on that line, and after that, it began running via Jacksonville.  Like most military schools, KMI fell onto hard time in the 1960's, and in 1964, the specials gave way to extra cars added to the South Wind.  KMI ceased its winter exodus altogether in 1968."

On page 155 of that book, I have a Charlie Castner photo of the KMI Special that departed Louisville Union Station in January of 1963.  The train appears to have five cars and was pulled by L&N E-unit #797.  The first coach behind the baggage car appears to be on of the light colored SAL cars.

SAL=Seaboard Air Line Railroad
ACL=Atlantic Coast Line Railroad
L&N=Louisville and Nashville Railroad


Venice Archives and Area Historical Collection
Venice Archives and Area Historical Collection

I can say positively that this picture was taken upon arrival of the KMI Special Train in Venice in 1953.  The 2nd Lt. at the left is John Nuzum, then of Akron, Ohio, and the captain handing his luggage up is Todd Brandon, formerly of Anchorage, Ky.  Both were members of the Class of 1953 as was I.
Edward D. Hagan
1152 Kristen Cove
Jacksonville, FL 32221
Fax & Voice: (904) 786-2776
E-Mail: edhagan@aol.com
Venice Archives and Area Historical Collection

1950 Saber
Venice Archives and Area Historical Collection

Venice train station during the winter of 1945
(All photographs taken from the 1944 Saber yearbook)

1944-45 school year

Notice the regular Army trucks. . . 

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