Gulf Coast Model Railroad
Shell Point's Model Train Display
The 40'-by-40' Gulf Coast Railroad, in the shape of the state of Florida, was originally built at Shell Point by a small group of residents who enjoyed model railroads as a hobby and wanted to share their interest with others. To this day, resident volunteers continue to operate and maintain the railroad for thousands of visitors each year.
The table this exhibit rests on measures approximately 41 feet east to west (Pensacola to Jacksonville) and about 43 feet north to south (Jacksonville to Key West).
There are approximately 750 feet of track and about 100 turnouts or switches. All the switches and trains are motivated electronically from four console control panels. Two of the panels contain two individual control modules each. The remaining two panels control switchyards and turntables. There are perhaps a few hundred buildings, automobiles, trucks, tractors, and people in this exhibit.
Most model buildings have lights inside, and when the exhibit room is darkened, it looks like you are in an airplane flying over Florida.
A separate exhibit was constructed to show the four different gauges of track used in model railroading. There are working models with O (1/48 scale), S (1/64 scale), HO (1/87 scale), and N (1/60 scale) gauges. Visitors are allowed to flip switches and become engineers on the four test tracks. (HO is the gauge used in the main Florida display).
» Click here to read an exhaustive early history of this exhibit
Train Room Update:
General layout upgrades have been completed this summer on the train room exhibit, making it bigger and better than ever. These improvements include the addition of new trains as well as extensive build-out of the Panama City downtown area. There has never been a better time to visit.
The Gulf Coast Railroad is open to visitors Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. (The display is closed May 1 to October 1). It is located on The Island at Shell Point, in the tunnel underneath the Resident Activity Center. Directions can be found here.
• Tallahassee's old Capitol Building and new Executive Building
• Gator Bowl in Gainesville, with working message board on Goodyear blimp
• Disney World attractions
• Bok Singing Tower and Citrus Tower
• Kennedy Space Center, with space shuttle Columbia taking off from the launch pad
• Resort buildings and hotels along the east coast (Palm Beach and Miami)
• Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Fort Lauderdale, with audible organ
• Everglades, with wildlife
• Sanibel lighthouse
• Shell Point itself