Palatka, Florida: Railrodeo - Animated Miniature Railroad

A 1970s traveling miniature railroad exhibit in a stationary 21st century miniature railroad attraction.

Browning Railroad Museum

222 N. 11th St., Palatka, FL
Browning Railroad Museum. On the east side of N. 11th St., just north of US Hwy 17/Reid St., in an operating railroad station.
1-4 PM 1st Sun, 3rd Sat, also by appt. (Call to verify) Local health policies may affect hours and access.
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Miniature Railroad.

Railrodeo - Animated Miniature Railroad

The Palatka Railroad Preservation Society runs a railroad museum and model train displays housed in a historic and still functioning railroad depot. There is also a red caboose on display outside (you can climb up on the platform but you can't go inside it). As I and my family were walking up, an Amtrak train stopped and unloaded some passengers, very cool. Admission is free and donations are accepted. The museum is one room with railroad memorabilia and photos and some models. Walking through it, one comes to a large, multi-level layout that is under construction. It is intended to model the area during the heyday of rail traffic.

Most impressive, however, is that down the hallway from the layout under construction is the last (or latest) resting place of "Railrodeo", a large travelling HO scale layout that was created in the 1970s by Irvin P. Saylor. He took it to fairs and events in a tractor trailer.

I paid some small sum (maybe .50) as a youth to see this at a fair. The layout represents the side of a mountain range, and while not interactive, it contains a dozen or more animations in addition to many working trains and a fascinating amount of detail. It has been here since 1995. And of course it does not represent the local topography at all (no mountains in Florida).

[Greg Vincent, 02/09/2007]

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