High Springs Historical Society Museum
by Bob Watson
Every man has had toy trains at some point in his life. Now grown-up boys can drawl over antique rolling stock and other memorabilia of the pioneer life at this museum.
Not many people know that the High Springs was a big rail road hub. In 1895, the Plant System Railroad established its division headquarters in High Springs with roundhouse, turntable, repair shops, and two-story district hospital. Three branches of the Atlantic Coast Line converged in the town which became known as “The Railroad Center.” The town was buzzing with homes and apartments being built such as the Renfro Apartments, the New Florida Hotel and Rimes Boarding House that accommodated all the railroad men.
The High Springs rail yard exhibit is a 6′ x 20′ scale diorama of the Plant System Railroad. The replica was built by Jim Dyksterhouse from a 1917 blueprint and then scaled to HO size (1:87).
On exhibit are the crossing gates and warning lights that stood on Main Street in High Springs for years as well as many other railroad artifacts. In addition to the historic exhibits, a special room has been created with running model trains, animated scenes, and a Polar Express Train and Village.
The general store displays tools and utensils from the early 1900s including a meat grinder, milk jug, typewriter, glass bottles, farm implements, hand tools, and kitchen gadgets.
In the early 1990s, 290 bricks from the old High Springs Passenger Station foundation were engraved in memoriam for those who were involved with the railroad. The bricks were installed in a walkway along Railroad Avenue and have now been relocated to the front of the Museum.
The High Springs Fire Department has donated a 1924 Brockway-LaFrance fire truck. Plans are being made to restore the vintage fire engine and to erect a building in which to house it. Also on display are fire nozzles, hoses, fire axe, hats, gas mask and a hand-pull fire hose reel on wheels.
The Museum is located behind City Hall, the train caboose and St. Bartholomew’s Church.
Open Sat 10-4 Sun 1-4 HSMuseum@msn.com