A Ride into History on the Cannonball
Located in central Florida, the Orange Blossom Cannonball is the states only steam powered tourist railroad. The Cannonball is powered by a Baldwin, 2-6-0 type steam locomotive originally built for the Lufkin Land & Lumber Company of Lufkin, TX. The locomotive later saw use on other railroads before being purchased by the tourist hauling Reader Railroad in Arkansas. It was there that the engine began to see use by Hollywood in various films such as This Property is Condemned during the mid-1960’s and more recently 3:10 to Yuma and True Grit.
The Orange Blossom Cannonball departs from Tavares on one and two hour trips during Saturdays and Sundays. The railroad also hosts special holiday themed trains and other special event. More information can be found on their website at www.orangeblossomcannonball.com
I visited the Cannonball during their special 9:10 to Lake Jem Photo Train. The trip is aimed towards photographers who want to get photos of the train in action and offers photo runbys at four locations along the line.
Tavares Eustis & Gulf #2 passes through orange groves in the town of Beauclair, FL during a photo runby.
The #2 passes by a small lake along County Rd 448 in Lake Jem, FL.
Passengers photograph the #2 during a photo runby.
Following the photo trip, I caught back up with the train on the first regular run of the day. The train crosses the Apopka Beauclair Canal as the 2-hour trip makes its return trip back the Tavares, FL.
I once again visited the train the following Friday as crews prepared for the evenings Christmas trains. Engineers Thomas East and fireman Dean Gordon post for the camera.
Engineer Thomas East looks over the train orders before departing.
The train departs the yard before shoving North to Tavares where it will greet the passengers of the evenings three, sold out trips.
The sun glints off the train as it backs into the depot before being turned on the WYE.
With the sun moments from setting, the #2 arrives at the depot.
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