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The Florida Railroad Museum

This authentic Florida Railroad Train takes you on a 90-minute journey through some of Florida's most beautiful scenery. Whether you are a train enthusiast, a nature lover, or just looking for a pleasant afternoon trip, the Florida Railroad Museum offers all of the above. Take a journey into Florida's past aboard the Florida Railroad Museum authentic railroad train. Ride the train! Ride a train in Florida through swamps and forests! This is an enjoyable day trip for adults and children to learn more about the history of Florida, and the history of the Florida Railroad!
12210 83rd Street East
Parrish, FL  34219
The Florida Railroad Museum
Saturday and Sunday Only, excluding some special events
(check website for departure times)

To say the least, the Florida Railroad Museum was not what I expected. I assumed that this train ride would be, at best, eye-rollingly dull, fit only for children and train nuts … and at its worst, hokey. However, I was surprised to find it was none of these things! Quite the contrary, it was a quite enjoyable 90-minute excursion.

Located in the small country town of Parrish, off SR 301 halfway between Sarasota and Tampa, this collection of old railcars – some still operational, some permanently stopped – is a real treat.

The ride itself, while only 6 1/2 miles, tootles along at 15 miles an hour through Florida swamps, Spanish moss-festooned forests, and “you pick-em” fruit fields. We boarded through an air-conditioned restaurant car from the 50s, and sat in a reconditioned baggage car on secondhand school bus seats. The windows were removed to afford al fresco contact with the countryside. No yellowed windows here!

Don’t expect a guided tour with some guy on a bullhorn, though. You can get information about these trains only by asking the all-volunteer staff. And they will go on about railroad history if you continue standing next to them. It was from them that we learned that the curiously divided car ahead of us was a former “Jim Crow” car with separate partitions for blacks and whites, decommissioned after the Civil Rights Movement. (The segregated water fountains had been removed.) The fourth one was a converted phosphate hopper car that provides a bumpier ride than the others. The train traveled up to Willow, a ghost town that was formerly a prosperous sawmill town until the Great Depression. There are about a dozen train cars parked there, some being worked on.

Back in Parrish, the parked cars are more presentable and include a Tropicana refrigerator car and a Pullman sleeper whose compartments still have their bedsprings and cloth covers from 1948. Although a bit musty and in need of restoration, it is open to the public. Tickets (for non-special events) are $14 for adults and $10 for children. If you are in Tampa Bay, this museum is definitely worth a trip!

Also, you can consult the web site for special events such as a “Murder Mystery Dinner Train” and “Hobo Saturday.”

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This article was contributed by in May 2014 and updated in November 2014. It has been viewed 3,215 times.

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