Tavares, Eustis & Gulf Railroad

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Coordinates: 28°48′07″N 81°43′32″W / 28.801960°N 81.725600°W / 28.801960; -81.725600

Tavares, Eustis & Gulf Railroad
TE&G - Tavares Station Front Door.jpg
HeadquartersTavares, Florida
LocaleLake County, Florida, USA
Dates of operationOctober 8, 2011–January 29, 2017
Track gauge4 ft 8+12 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,[1] 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.[2] 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.[3]

Train services[edit]

The Orange Blossom Cannonball.
A scene from the Trains of the Wild West special excursion.

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, boiler cracks and all, under the TE&G. [4] It has been featured in several recent Hollywood movies, including O Brother, Where Art Thou? and True Grit.[5]
  • 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[edit]

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.[6] No official details on the future of the company or of the rolling stock were provided.[7]

Orlando & Northwestern Railway[edit]

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, while the ONWX continued to operate excursion trains between Tavares and Eustis.[8] In 2020, the ONWX began advertising itself as the Georgia Coastal Railway and moved its operations and rolling stock to the St. Mary's Railroad based in St. Marys, Georgia, with excursion trains running to Kingsland, Georgia, and back.[9][10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Federal Railroad Administration Press Releases - FRA Announces $2.2 Million Grant for Central Florida Rail Upgrade
  2. ^ "The Railroad", Saint Johns River Historical Society, Inc.
  3. ^ "Florida's Little Railroads That Could", Orlando Sentinel, 16 July 1995
  4. ^ "Surviving Steam Locomotives in Florida". Steamlocomotive.com. December 14, 2016. Archived from the original on December 14, 2016. Retrieved December 14, 2016.
  5. ^ "All aboard! Cannonball express is ready to roll this weekend", Orland Sentinel, 02 April 2014
  6. ^ Storey, Ken (January 30, 2017). "Orange Blossom Cannonball shuts down in Tavares after track lease isn't renewed". Orlando Weekly. Retrieved March 17, 2019.
  7. ^ "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.
  8. ^ 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.
  9. ^ Georgia Coastal Railway – official website
  10. ^ St. Marys Railroad – Ride the Train!

External links[edit]