Tavares, Eustis & Gulf Railroad
|Locale||Lake County, Florida, USA|
|Dates of operation||October 8, 2011–January 29, 2017|
|Track gauge||4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge|
The Tavares, Eustis & Gulf Railroad (TE&G), advertised as the Orange Blossom Cannonball, was a tourist railroad company operating excursion trains on historic track owned by the Florida Central Railroad, from October 2011 to late January 2017. It had stops in three cities in the northern portion of Central Florida. The TE&G was a subsidiary of the Reader Railroad, based in Arkansas.
The TE&G ran within Lake County, Florida on track built in the late 19th century. The oldest segment of track on which the TE&G routinely operated, between Eustis and Tavares, was originally constructed by the St. Johns & Lake Eustis Railway Company between 1882 and 1883. The segment of track that the TE&G used most often, between Mount Dora and Tavares in Lake County, was originally constructed by the Sanford & Lake Eustis Railway Company between 1886 and 1887.
The Orange Blossom Cannonball was a train service run by the TE&G using a wood-fired steam locomotive. The excursion was a 1-hour & 45-minute trip between Tavares and Mount Dora. The trip took 30 minutes each direction with a 45-minute stop in between at each town.
Special excursions were also offered, with the trains decorated according to theme. These included Trains of the Wild West, The Great Pumpkin Limited, and The Cannonball Christmas Express.
- No. 2: 1869 Baldwin 2-6-0 steam locomotive. It was the only operational standard gauge steam locomotive in Florida and the oldest operational steam locomotive in the state of any gauge at the time of its operation under the TE&G. It has been featured in several recent Hollywood movies, including O Brother, Where Art Thou? and True Grit (2010 film).
- No. 33: 1941 GE 45-ton switcher diesel locomotive. When this engine was pulling the train, it was listed as the Lake Dora Limited.
End of operations
On January 6, 2017, the Tavares, Eustis & Gulf Railroad announced that they would be withdrawing from Lake County, Florida on January 31, 2017, with the last trains scheduled to run on January 29, 2017. No official details on the future of the company or of the rolling stock were provided.
Orlando & Northwestern Railway
In November 2017, the Orlando & Northwestern Railway (ONWX), advertised as the Royal Palm Railway Experience, began operating excursion trains using historic diesel locomotives and former Amtrak passenger cars on the same routes used by the former TE&G. In April 2019, the Florida Central Railroad closed the line from Tavares to Mount Dora to passenger rail traffic and began using it for train car storage. The ONWX continues to operate excursion trains between Tavares and Eustis.
- List of heritage railroads in the United States
- Florida Railroad Museum
- Gold Coast Railroad Museum
- Inland Lakes Railway
- Orange Blossom Express
- Serengeti Express
- TECO Line Streetcar System
- Walt Disney World Railroad
- Federal Railroad Administration Press Releases - FRA Announces $2.2 Million Grant for Central Florida Rail Upgrade
- "The Railroad", Saint Johns River Historical Society, Inc.
- "Florida's Little Railroads That Could", Orlando Sentinel, 16 July 1995
- "Surviving Steam Locomotives in Florida". Steamlocomotive.com. December 14, 2016. Archived from the original on December 14, 2016. Retrieved December 14, 2016.
- "All aboard! Cannonball express is ready to roll this weekend", Orland Sentinel, 02 April 2014
- Storey, Ken (January 30, 2017). "Orange Blossom Cannonball shuts down in Tavares after track lease isn't renewed". Orlando Weekly. Archived from the original on January 30, 2017. Retrieved March 17, 2019.
- "Orange Blossom Cannonball Leaving Lake County". Tavares, Eustis & Gulf Railroad. January 6, 2017. Archived from the original on January 10, 2017. Retrieved January 10, 2017.
- Fallstrom, Jerry (April 18, 2019). "Mount Dora Laments Loss of Tourist Train — Tracks Could Be Converted to a Rail-Trail". Orlando Sentinel. Archived from the original on April 18, 2019. Retrieved November 24, 2019.
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