The Railroad Museum of South Florida’s Train Village miniature railroad at Lakes Regional Park, South Fort Myers has been operating since December of 1994. Operating as Lakes Park and Gulf Railroad, the 1/8 th scale trains run on a 7.5 inch gauge track that takes riders for about a mile-long ride around a lake to the north section of the park.
The trains travel past four full size operating grade crossing signals, through a 100’ tunnel (with lights and sound), by a waterfall, operating windmill, goes over a 20’ trestle and a 20’ pedestrian bridge. Along the way, the train passes numerous scale sized buildings that make up the villages along the route, many providing historical perspective in depicting local Southwest Florida communities as they were circa 1950.
From mid-October through October 31st, and again from mid-December to December 30th of every year, the Train Village route comes alive with holiday decorations and lighting for our nighttime rides! Our volunteers spend hundreds of hours decorating the entire route with tens of thousands of lights and decorations, including our famous “Dancing Lights” synchronized to music, creating a truly spectacular display unique in Southwest Florida.
Our fleet of six locomotives provide the pulling power for the four trains that make up the passenger car rolling stock of the railroad. Each six-car passenger train has 17 comfortable passenger seats, and each seat includes a cushioned bench area in front of it, to accommodate small children riding with an adult. Typically, one train is operated to handle the daily schedule, but additional trains are added to meet demand at peak periods, and as many as four trains run continuously for our Halloween and Christmas night-time events. A new locomotive is scheduled to roll out in late 2017, and a fifth passenger train is planned for 2018.
Each locomotive is powered by a 16.5 horsepower, two-cylinder, four-stroke gasoline engine (much like those typically used in larger riding lawn mowers) which in turn powers the hydraulic motors which make the train go. The train’s steel wheels, running on the steel rails, make it inherently fuel-efficient; a fully-loaded train cane weigh more than four tons, but the locomotives pull them easily, using an average of less than eight ounces of fuel per round trip!
Safety rules and restrictions:
- Please keep your feet on the foot rests (we call them running boards) at all times while the train is moving, one foot on each side of the train.
- Please do not reach out from the train. Keep your arms, legs, hands and feet as close to the center of the train as possible.
- Please do not lean to either side, or turn around in your seat. Try to balance on the train as if it was a bicycle.
- If you accidentally drop something from the train (cell phone, hat, keys, etc.), please DO NOT try to reach for it, or leave your seat while the train is moving. Instead, pass word up to your engineer and he or she will stop the train and recover your item for you.
- If your engineer stops the train for any reason, please remain in your seat, unless he or she instructs you otherwise.
- When the train returns to the disembark point, please wait for the engineer to sound the train horn before stepping off the train.
- Enjoy the ride!
NOTE: Sorry, but insurance rules prevent us from allowing pregnant women and infants under one year of age from riding the train.