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 Post subject: The Christmas Express....in Williston, FL
PostPosted: Sun Dec 30, 2012 9:21 am 
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I wanted to share with the group about our railroad on our farm in North Central Florida, just outside of Ocala and Gainesville. 2 weeks ago we were still laying track, but everything checked out and the last few days we have been having our Christmas Express nightly. We decided to offer a sneak peek when we were able to get our track ready prior to this Christmas.

We purposely didn't do much advertising this year as we knew we would have "kinks" to work
out. Word of mouth, friends, and social media has been our only outlets. This is the old Custom Fabricators train that was discussed on here. We found it in the woods, covered in weeds and now its on the track covered in Christmas lights in a years time! Lots of friends, volunteers, and labor have made this happen and we are very excited about our project!

It's been well received and with each night we are seeing more visitors. I'm told we have the 3rd largest narrow gauge (36") railroad in the State, behind Disney and Busch Gardens and the largest privately owned railroad in the state. It's a 12-15 minute ride through thousands of Christmas lights...my wife put over 5,000 lights just on our locomotive! Our farm railroad is part of our educational farm we are building and we always welcome advice, visitors, and of course volunteers!

We will run our Sneak Peek of our Christmas Express thru January 1st, then it will be time to start planning for our Easter EGGtravaganza! We are on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/TheChristmasExpress, if you are in the North Florida area, or want a roadtrip come see us! We are open thru Jan. 1st from 6-10pm, last ride leaves at 9!


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 Post subject: Re: The Christmas Express....in Williston, FL
PostPosted: Sun Dec 30, 2012 1:02 pm 
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That is just awesome! I remember that train so well from my childhood; Great America was the closest theme park to our home and I must have ridden it hundreds of times. I also remember seeing it go right by my office on highway 680 maybe 10-12 years ago, and I wondered if I'd ever see it again. To know that it's not only operating but is covered is Christmas Lights make me very happy.

Congratulations!


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 Post subject: Re: The Christmas Express....in Williston, FL
PostPosted: Sun Dec 30, 2012 4:59 pm 
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Location: Retired Air Force medic/ Las Vegas, NV
So which engine from Great America did they get? Or did they aquire both? I am actually happy that people who care got at least one of them and they are operating again. California's Great America currently has no train running as far as I know.


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 Post subject: Re: The Christmas Express....in Williston, FL
PostPosted: Sun Dec 30, 2012 8:23 pm 
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IDMT129 wrote:
So which engine from Great America did they get? Or did they aquire both? I am actually happy that people who care got at least one of them and they are operating again. California's Great America currently has no train running as far as I know.


Based on prior posts and what was for sale on the used train market, they got the only operating locomotive left from the park, the red one. The green locomotive was pillaged for spare parts at the park. (Originally the two locomotives were blue and red.) I saw and photographed it up close when I attended one of their roller coaster events and went on a behind the scenes tour.

I never saw the green locomotive, or what was left of it, up for sale. Its remains were on wooden blocks outside of the engine house at the park when I last saw it, about a season or two before all the train equipment was removed for sale.

You are correct, there is no train ride at the park any longer. All the track was removed in about 2000. Hometown Square Station was also demolished then. Fairgrounds Junction Station is still standing as the queue for Psycho Mouse. The tunnel by The Demon and the engine house are also still there.

It's great to see that train operating again. I grew up riding it! Thank you RailNole for saving it!

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 Post subject: Re: The Christmas Express....in Williston, FL
PostPosted: Mon Dec 31, 2012 9:58 am 
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Thanks guys! Locoboy has the history down pretty well. I'm told the remains of the Green/Blue train ended up at some place called Brooks Locomotive works? I found the website but could never get a good phone number or contact info.

Funny thing about ol' 19 is when we first fired (cranked~we're diesel hydraulic) her up she blew a bird's nest and some leaves out of the exhaust and has purred every since! Also, the old amplifier used to power the speakers every since it was new in 1976 still works also! If you could have seen this thing in person when I first found it covered in weeds! (You would have thought it was a squirrel condo complex!)

I feel uncomfortable when people congratulate me on getting her running again because there are a lot of people, and some very key people that made this happen and I don't want to sound like an acceptance speech but believe me when I tell you if it wasn't for them 19 wouldn't be rolling today.


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 Post subject: Re: The Christmas Express....in Williston, FL
PostPosted: Mon Dec 31, 2012 12:21 pm 
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Location: Pac NW, via North Florida
Any photos or links to the normal operations? I'd never heard of this before and a pal of mine in Florida would probably like to go see this (I'm no longer anywhere near Florida, myself)...

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