Burton Altman


Historians describe the Florida East Coast Railway strike of the 1960s as one of the longest labor disputes in United States history. It was also one of the most violent episodes in recent American labor history. Expected to last only a few weeks, it began in January 1963, when 1,640 workers walked out, and did not end until late 1974. The early years of the strike were punctuated by numerous violent acts, particularly derailments and dynamitings of FEC railway freight trains. On October 20, 1963, four diesel locomotives and fifty-two cars piled up just south of New Smyrna Beach, Florida. Forty-nine of the cars overturned, causing an estimated $250,000 damage. In February 1964, an explosion blew a freight train off its tracks and set fire to liquid petroleum in a tank car. Woods in the vicinity caught fire, but no one was hurt.