While I was in Florida recently I was able to make it over to Tavares, FL to photograph Florida’s newest and only steam tourist railroad, the Orange Blossom Cannonball. The Tavares, Eustis & Gulf’s #2 is a Baldwin Locomotive Works 2-6-0 steam engine built in 1907. It began its life working in the backwoods of Texas as a logging engine. It was rescued from the scrap heap by the Reader Railroad, restored, and put to work hauling tourists and starring in Western films such as “3:10 to Yuma” and “True Grit”.
With it being my first visit to the new railroad I really had no idea what to expect photography wise, by looking at Google Maps I was able to find a couple locations that looked promising, including the above shot of the #2 traveling over Lake Dora.
The next location was this nice curve along the road which provide for a nice shot of the entire train.
The final location I came across was at Lake Jem looking across a small body of water. I was hoping for nice sunlit photos during my visit, the evening trip returns to Tavares near sunset and would have provided for some sweet light but, unfortunately, it stayed cloudy for most of the day. However, I had a backup plan and was able to score a ride in the cab back to Tavares, FL. I’ve been fortunate to ride in the cabs of many steam locomotives across the country, but this cab ride would be different. Most of the steam engines I have rode in are coal fired, a couple were oil fired, but the #2 was the first I’ve rode that burned wood for fuel. It was interesting watching the teamwork it took to fire a wood-burning locomotive, it is a nonstop process of gathering wood and placing it into the firebox.
Fireman Dean gathers and stacks wood in the cab so fireman Perkins can place it into the firebox.
In the photo above, Dean is seen placing a piece of wood into the firebox. This won’t be a fun job during the summer months!
Engineer Frank, with his hand on the throttle, keeps the small 2-6-0 running at a smooth pace allowing for an enjoyable ride for the passengers.
With the cooperation of the railroad and the help of friends, I was able to setup a little night session after arriving back to Tavares. Below are some various scenes from the evening.
The train crew poses with the #2. Left to Right: Ed Cantu, Richard Perkins, Dean Gordon, Steven Greathouse and Thomas East.
I greatly enjoyed my first visit to the railroad and I am looking forward to making it back soon. For more information visit http://www.orangeblossomcannonball.com!