Preserving Florida railroad heritage

Events, exhibits and special occasions abound at the Parrish museum

Florida Railroad Museum events
Western Shootout - The Hole-in-the-Head Gang engages the U.S. Marshals at Boot Hill

You can witness a vintage wild west shootout between U.S. Marshals and the Hole-in-the Head Gang. You can also participate in Von Kessinger's Express, a WWII re-enactment on your way to France with German soldiers on board your train. U.S. soldiers intervene to engage in an uncertain destiny for passengers. Be a part of the North Pole Express with Santa awaiting with carolers at the end of the first leg of your trip. It’s a good time for the entire family at these special events, interacting with actors on active trains at the Florida Railroad Museum in Parrish.

The scene begins as you board the train with U.S. Marshals, designated to guard a precious shipment of gold. The train begins to move, one car at a time, and begins its six-mile trip over lush foliage landscapes. Midway the trains slows, then stops at a small town named Boot Hill, home to the Hole-in-the-Head Gang. The gold is unleaded at gunpoint before the shootout begins. Adults support the actors with laughter while the children excitedly point out hiding gang members and a load of TNT designed to blow up the train. It’s all part of the fun as the train continues its journey with the gold safely on board and not a single scratch on any of the marshals. This Wild West Train Robbery continues on specified weekends with two shows on Saturday and Sunday, January 11-12 and April 25-26.

The North Pole Express continues the schedule with two shows a day at 5:30 and 7 PM starting tomorrow and running through December 22. The train travels to the North Pole where Santa is waiting to greet guests. There will be a group of carolers and many activities for the kids on this special presentation of live entertainment. The train does not run on Mondays during this schedule.

November through March there are other presentations, all with the goal of preserving Florida’s railroad history. On January 25 and 26 the special Hobo Campfire Cookout at 5:30 PM each night takes you on a diesel engine powered ride to the hobo camp grounds where guests roast hotdogs and marshmallows over an open fire.

Von Kessinger
WWII re-enactment - German soldiers board a train, only to be captured by American infantry at one of the stops in Von Kessinger's Express

Want to ride on a train pulled by a coal-fired steam engine? The restored Jeddo Coal Company #85 arrives at the museum in January and February. Engineers will be on board to discuss the operation of the steam engine and guests will experience steam escaping from the engine. The distinctive sound of the whistle is a thrill to the guests. Request a cab ride and see first-hand how the crew shovels coal into the burner. Special guests receive the thrill of operating the train as an engineer for 15 minutes on this special trip. Three trips per day are scheduled January 25-26, February 1-2 and February 8-9.

Get involved with a murder mystery and enjoy a catered meal February 14-16, February 21-23, February 28 through March 1 and March 6-8. Help solve the mystery with clues given by the actors on the train. Most of the trips are handicap accessible, this one is not.

The museum accommodates parties of 24 with car charters. The caboose is available for a party of up to 16 people with occupancy available in the upper level cupola. Ride with the engineer, a specially priced trip for those over 16 years and fit to climb ladders. You can actually rent the 1,500 horsepower locomotive that includes a 30-day associate membership. You must be 18 and over, have a valid drivers license and be physically fit. A companion passenger in the locomotive can ride along for the regular train fare. These opportunities are available as charters on regularly scheduled weekend trips. Tickets to any of these events are available on the Florida Railroad Museum website.

Florida Railroad Museum events
All Aboard - Museum passenger car exhibits

The sights and sounds of historic railroading at the museum preserve a heritage of a by-gone era. The museum continues its train operation throughout the year on Saturdays and Sunday with two trips at 11 AM and 2 PM. Operators and ushers are volunteers that work up the ranks. On the museum grounds are vintage railroad passenger cars that you can walk through, open Tuesdays through Sundays 10 AM to 7 PM. The gift shop covers the entire length of one car.

The track is the first operational railroad line in Manatee County, travelling past one of the largest solar fields in Florida operated by Florida Power and Light on its way from Parrish to Willow. FPL announced plans to double its size making it the largest in the country. The excursion is free of any public road crossings.

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Address List Price Media Slideshow
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Call us at (941) 387-1840 for an exclusive showing