The Railroad Museum of South Florida is located in Lakes Regional Park in south Ft. Myers, FL. The Railroad Museum houses many displays of Southwest Florida's Railroad history in it's new Lakes Park Interpretive Center. Our mission is to educate our visitors about how the railroads helped shape the growth of SW Florida.
The Lakes Park and Gulf Railroad and Train Village, is a 1/8th scale railroad. The Miniature Railroad train ride leaves from the Lakes Park Depot and travels 1.5 miles around lakes, and towns as it travels through the park. Trains depart the station about every 30 minutes on the quarter hour. Trains are powered by gasoline-hydraulic systems and approximately 30 people can board each train.
The museum area also features ACL 143. Baldwin Locomotive Works of Philadelphia, PA built the #143 in 1905. #143 was a part of a large order of locomotives placed by the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad. It is a 0-6-0 type, class E-4. The locomotive was used at various locations on the ACL system in the southeastern U.S. The 0-6-0-type switch engine was used to make up trains in rail yards and do local spotting of cars to industry. In 1944, the #143 was sold to 143's restored tender. Photo courtesy Michael Mulligan. the American Agricultural and Chemical Company of Pierce, FL. There the locomotive was put to use in the phosphate mine industry hauling trains from the mines to the main line railroads. It finished its operational career in 1959. It was subsequently put on display outside the Company's office in Pierce. From there it went to a short-lived tourist line (in Trilby, FL?). In 1974, the locomotive was donated to the Tampa Bay Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society and moved to San Antonio, FL. It's tender was re-attached to 143. Photo courtesy Michael Mulligan. 1979, it was donated to a private citizen and moved to Tampa. The #143 was then acquired by the Florida Gulf Coast Railroad Museum. In 1992, the Floida Gulf Coast Museum was told to move the derelict locomotive from the storage site in Tampa. Lacking funds to move the #143, the FGCR offered the #143 to the newly established Railroad Museum of South Florida located in Ft. Myers. At a cost of $16,000, the #143 was loaded on to a truck trailer and hauled to Ft. Myers. For over two years the #143 was stored under roof at Dean Steel Buildings. It was relocated to the Railroad Museum of South Florida at the Lakes Park and Gulf Railroad Train Village in 1995.
In 2001 Lee County Parks and Recreation in conjunction with the Railroad Museum of South Florida announced the completion of the cosmetic restoration of historic locomotive #143. Restoration work was performed by Great Atlantic Boiler Services of Jacksonville, FL. To facilitate the project, the work was done in phases, as funds were available. Phase one restored the tender car, phase two refurbished the rest of the locomotive excepting the cab and phase three work replaced the rusted out cab with a new one. Total cost was about $86,500. Work on the tender car started June of 1999. It was finished in November of 1999. Phase two & three work started January of 2001 and work was completed on April 28th. The locomotive resides at Lakes Regional Park in South Ft. Myers.