Did you hear it? It was hard to miss the sound of communal jaws dropping in Lake County when it was announced the area's vintage trains, the Orange Blossom Cannonball and Lake Dora Limited, will permanently depart the station on January 31. The last train rides are scheduled for Sunday, January 29, 2017.
The train romanced passengers with its short excursions for almost six years on the tracks that connect Mount Dora, Tavares and Eustis. However, the tracks owner, Pinsly Railroad Company, is changing their business strategy for the tracks so it didn't renew the train operator's lease.
"The excursion train just didn't fit in to what we hope to develop in the future," said Pete Petree, Pinsly's vice president. Petree said it was premature to elaborate on those plans as they are not eminent. Reportedly, the tracks between Tavares & Mount Dora will be used for storage.
Currently, there are no plans for the Orange Blossom Cannonball to operate elsewhere in Florida, according to Derek Osgood, manager of the train. However, there is a possibility of it being used again soon in a motion picture which would likely shoot in the southwestern United States.
The ceasing of the trains' operation is unrelated to The Wekiva Trail, an impressive bike trail project that will share the track's path and connect with other Central Florida trails. Due to the logistics of the project and different companies owning the tracks, land and trains, the trail isn't expected to be complete for approximately 5 years. (Read article)
During the train's final two weeks in Lake County, Saturday trains will be steam-powered with the exception of Saturday, January 21.
Orange Blossom Cannonball Engine No. 2 is celebrating its 110th 110th anniversary. The imposing locomotive was built in January 1907 by the Baldwin Locomotive works in Philadelphia. Its career began in the East Texas log woods and eventually began pulling excursion trains in various tracks in Arkansas. Later the black engine had an impressive run in films "North and South", “True Grit”, “3:10 to Yuma”, “Appaloosa”, and “There Will Be Blood.”
To celebrate the anniversary, Engine No. 2 will head the trains January 27 to 29 and cake will be served to passengers. Stations are located in downtown Mount Dora and Tavares. Passenger reservations can be made at OrangeBlossomCannonball.com. For more news and events in Mount Dora, Tavares & Eustis, click here. Download the free Mount Dora Buzz mobile app here for a convenient calendar of events. Free subscriptions to the monthly issue of Mount Dora Buzz are available here.
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