Mount Dora has tried this before.
Here is what I found to be the most helpful review of the Mount Dora Railroad (MDRR) on Yelp, published by Steven I. on 2/27/2010:
“I suppose a child who has never seen a train before might be curious, but on a scale of 1-10, these trains are 1’s. They have bought old commuter train cars from around the country and somehow got them down here. When they arrived, they are rusted hulks in need of windows, paint, chairs etc. Many came from electrified tracks. Well guess what, these tracks are not electrified. So they have to retrofit them with car engines to make them run. Track foundations are not frequently inspected by the government with sections washing away by rain and erosion. No routine maintenance is performed on tracks since it is cost prohibited. This tourist train has been leased out to several companies over the past ten years. None of them had any great success. Most of the track runs along side the road. Great scenery eh?”
History: steam locomotives are a relic of our nation’s past and part of our history. They deserve to be appreciated in their proper historical context. The steam engine is a symbol of rising American capitalism. It’s revival as a tourist industry in Mount Dora, FL under modern capitalism, is the nostalgic vision of decision-makers who think (& live) in the past.
The introduction of electric locomotives at the turn of the 20th century, and later diesel-electric locomotives, ended the era of 19th-century wood/coal steam locomotives.
Steam engines are considerably less efficient than modern diesels, requiring constant maintenance and labour to keep them safely operational.
According to the engineer and his assistants, the MDRR burns a cord of good wood per day, in its three trips to nearby Tavares & back.
For longer distances, water is required at many points throughout a rail network and becomes a major problem in drought & desert areas.
The reciprocating mechanism on the driving wheels of a two-cylinder single expansion steam locomotive tends to pound the rails, thus requiring more maintenance.
Smoke from steam locomotives is deemed objectionable, although diesels can not be considered “clean” by any modern rational standard.
Tip of the Cap— Ric Size, Tom Pearce, Craig Roy, Bill Pelick
As far as the railroad being a modern tourist attraction goes, consider this: How many Floridians do you think are interested in riding at a leisurely pace, without air conditioning in 90+ degree heat? Most Americans consider that a Third World experience, meaning they’re likely not up for much of it.
The city of Mount Dora tries to market itself as quaint, but that shouldn’t mean short-sighted and wasteful.
Over $1,000,000 was spent repairing the tracks which run from Mount Dora to Tavares.
Based on past history, and ongoing maintenance needs; what is this costing? How much of a deficit is it running? These are typical fair citizen/taxpayer questions that are never answered with honesty or accountability, anywhere.
The MDRR runs only on weekends (Fri-Sun), during the snowbird season (roughly Nov-April).
Snowbird (n.)– self-acclaimed, old folk know-it-alls with money, who vacation in Florida during the winter months; then leave when the going gets tough from heat & hurricanes, in order to migrate ‘home’ and gossip to their colleagues about how superior they are.
There has been an inherent lack of openness & coordinated planning in this whole railroad-as-tourist-attraction scheme.
The resources wasted on this effort would have been much better used for constructing sidewalks, as well as a much-needed FREE public-parking garage; so people can get around Mount Dora more easily & safely.
The owners of Mount Dora have proudly marketed their quaintness; and if that’s their way of saying: it’s the same corruption here as everywhere else since the dawn of capitalism, then Mount Dora is a picture of American quaintness.