Trains might not be as useful as they once were, but they still hold a certain place in our collective imaginations in the same way old bookstores do for some people. The Florida Railroad Museum brings trains to life with their weekend train rides and other events. This year (2016) there will be opportunities to learn how to drive (operate? pilot? captain?) a train, as well as murder mystery dinner theater. On Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, there are no rides, but the gift shop and exhibits are open. This is when I went. At the time, only the interior of the sleeper car was open to the public while the others had to be viewed from the outside.
I was surprised how narrow the hallways were and how small the rooms. Most were just a sink, chair, and pull-down bed. The larger compartments had toilets while the smaller ones shared. Obviously the passenger trains of old didn’t cater to the claustrophobic or those more than a little heavy. I was also told that the windows were never meant to be opened, making me wonder how often they let the place air out between trips and how often they emptied the ashtrays.
Outdoors there are several cars exhibited. They do not let humans climb on them (insurance reasons), but do not stop the lizards. Picnic tables are provided under the canopy, though if one doesn’t mind sunburn and ants, one could always picnic in the grass I suppose. There is plenty of parking. The gift shop is full of every kind of shirt, hat, cup, mug, patch, pin, whistle (four-tone and five-tone), model, toy, and book even remotely train-related. Though the facility lacks the space for a lot of information-dense exhibits like the kind you might see at a more traditional museum, the books are rather informative.
12210 83rd street east, Parrish, Florida
Written by Daniel Noe, InkDoodler.com
LOCAL TAMPA BAY