By Amanda Hatfield Anderson
BREVARD -- All aboard!
Mark your calendars for Saturday, July 26, as the Central Brevard Library in Cocoa hosts "Trains, Trains, Trains" from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
This free program, which is staged by the Florida East Coast Railway Society, is sure to have something for everyone from train and history enthusiasts to children, who are sure to enjoy participating in hands-on demonstrations.
Incorporated by Henry Flagler in 1895, the Florida East Coast Railway is still operated to this very day and has played an essential role in shaping Florida's history.
During the program, the FECRS will recreate history with speakers and elaborate, computer-driven N-scale model train running on a 80-foot track that replicates the 351-mile railway that runs from Jacksonville to Miami.
Beginning at 10 a.m., Caboose Mikey will narrate the running operations of the model trains on-hand at the Central Brevard Library.
There will also be a section of the program called "Train Talk: History of Trains in Florida" from noon until 1 p.m., where recognized train expert Jerry Groothouse will give a talk about the trains that have shaped the history of Florida.
"I plan to show the progress of the railroad in Florida from the 1830s to the present," Mr. Groothouse said in a press release. "There are lots of interesting stories to tell about its development. For example, the earliest rail cars were trolleys, pulled by mules. Their wheels ran on tracks, carved from logs."
Following "Train Talk," Mr. Groothouse, who is also a collector and dealer of model trains, will offer free appraisals of model and antique trains from 1 to 3 p.m.
There will also be a fun, hands-on portion of the program that will allow the young and young-at-heart to be a train engineer themselves.
Jan Erickson, adult program coordinator at the Central Brevard Library, said that the trains will begin running at 10 a.m. when the model train display opens.
Florida East Coast Railway Society members will operate trains according to a schedule similar to the actual train schedules used throughout Brevard County and across the state.
From 1 to 3:30 p.m., junior engineers ages 7 and older, will be able to run the trains using a remote control. Upon finishing the track, the child will be given a card, certifying them as a qualified junior engineer.
Tom Chaffee, vice president of the FECRS, said that what makes this event so unique is that it not only illustrates how trains operate, but it may also spark an interest in trains and modeling. He also emphasizes the importance of maintaining a respectful distance from real trains.
"Freight trains typically travel at 60 miles per hour, and that may increase to 80 miles per hour with the advent of high-speed passenger trains traversing in Brevard," Mr. Chaffee said in a press release.
Of course, next weekend's event is sure to be a fun, safe and exciting time for all who attend.
"This is my favorite program all year," Mrs. Erickson said. "The model trains and the buildings and the landscaping along the track contain so much detail, but on a much smaller scale. I've never seen anything like it. It's fun because it's interactive, especially in the afternoon, when they can run the trains themselves. And programs about Florida history, like the one at noon, are always popular. 'Trains, Trains, Trains' appeals to all ages, and best of all, it's free."
The Central Brevard Library will host "Trains, Trains Trains," a free program, on Saturday, July 26 from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
The Central Brevard Library is located at 308 Forrest Ave., Cocoa.
For more information, call (321) 633-1792.