The Seminole Gulf Railway Excursion Trains

The Seminole Gulf Railway, located in Fort Myers, Florida is a shortline freight railroad that also hosts excursion trains, which have become quite popular over the years. Today, you have your choice of a standard excursion train run during the day or the very popular Murder Mystery Train that includes a fine dinner and show (it is certainly their premier event as they feature the mystery train directly on their homepage). The Seminole Gulf’s excursion trains also offer you a beautiful look at southwest Florida by rail as trains travel north out of Fort Myers. If you are looking for a relaxing alternative to the nearby hustle and bustle whether you’re a vacationer or local resident, a trip aboard the Seminole Gulf is most definitely a memorable experience.

Florida Tri-Rail's colorful livery is on display here as GP49 #813 leads its train past an equally colorful mural in Palm Beach, Florida on the evening of May 11, 2007.

The Seminole Gulf Railway started out in 1987 as a shortline freight railroad in 1987 when it took over an ex-CSX Transportation line, originally built by CSX predecessor Atlantic Coast Line that totaled 118 miles in length. Today, the freight side of the railroad's operations handle a wide variety of freight as it interchanges with CSX and proudly proclaims that it can handle "286 rail cars" (meaning that its rails are capable of supporting 286,000 pound freight cars, their standard weight today). Additionally, Seminole Gulf transload operations and car repair services as well as offers property development for potential industries interested in shipping by rail. The railroad has certainly came a long way since CSX threatened to abandon the line during the late 1980s.

According to Carl Appelberg, current manager of passenger operations for the railroad, owners Gordon and Susan Fay began excursion operations on the Seminole Gulf Railway (with the help of Mr. Appelberg) just a few years after its startup, in 1990. Originally its tourist trains only included the daytime excursion with the railroad later adding its now very popular Murder Mystery train. It is difficult to say if Seminole Gulf's murder mystery is the finest in the country. However, if it is not it is certainly very close as the train attracts thousands of visitors and vacationers annually.

Florida East Coast GP40 #410 switches a stone plant in Stuart, Florida on April 19, 2002.

Today, all of the railroad’s excursions are quite popular with the public for both their great on board services and dinners and spectacular seaside and tropical scenery of southern Florida. It should be noted that the railroad is well known for its five-course dinner with three different entrée choices that range from prime rib, Atlantic Salmon, and chicken (a selection which constantly sees changes to preparation).  The Seminole Gulf’s excursion trains are powered by streamlined EMD F units (an F9Am and F7Am), whose heritage date back to the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad and Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul & Pacific (The Milwaukee Road). For equipment you can ride in vintage streamlined passenger cars dating back to the 1930s and 1940s. The Seminole Gulf runs a total of four cars on its excursion trains whose names include the Sanibel, Marco, Gasparilla and Captiva.

For an idea of what each excursion train the Seminole Gulf offers includes please read on below:

Daytime Excursion Trains - A 1 to 1 ½ hour ride through splendid tropical Florida with a history provided of the state’s rail operations in the region.

The Dinner Train - The Dinner Train includes a fine onboard meal and murder mystery show. This train has become quite a real hit over the years so be sure and get your tickets as they usually sell out pretty quickly!

Specials - Throughout the year the Seminole Gulf runs special trains like the Father’s Day Train, Halloween Ghost Train, New Year’s Eve Gala, and much more. These trains feature particular themes and services, and are also very popular.

A pair of worn South Central Florida Express GP16s, #9017 and #9016, roll westbound through Sebring on February 19, 2010. The two Geeps started out on the Atlantic Coast Line as GP7s in 1951.

All in all, since the Seminole Gulf Railway operates its excursions year round you have a chance to ride its trains whenever you wish. You certainly should not be disappointed if you do decide to take a ride aboard one of its trains as the trip and passing scenery are very much well worth it! For more information regarding the Seminole Gulf Railway's dinner and excursion trains please click here to visit their website. There you can find out pricing, dates the trains will be running, their dinner menu, and much more. Also, consider joining their Facebook fan page to keep up with the latest with the train.  For more information about excursion trains like the Seminole Gulf Railway you might want to consider the book Tourist Trains Guidebook, which is put together by the editors of Kalmbach Publishing's Trains magazine. 

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