Facebook Page

Seminole Gulf Murder Mystery Train 1/28/2022

by Chris Guenzler

Seminole Gulf Railway

The Seminole Gulf Railway is a short line freight and passenger excursion railroad headquartered in Fort Myers, Florida, that operates two former CSX Transportation railroad lines in Southwest Florida. The company's Fort Myers Division, which was previously the southernmost segment of CSX's Fort Myers Subdivision, runs from Arcadia south to North Naples via Punta Gorda, Fort Myers, Estero and Bonita Springs. The company's other line, the Sarasota Division, runs from Oneco south through Sarasota. Seminole Gulf acquired the lines in November 1987 and operates its own equipment. The Seminole Gulf Railway has a commonly-owned affiliated company, the Bay Colony Railroad Corporation, which is based in southeastern Massachusetts.

Current operations

Seminole Gulf Railway is one of two freight railroad operating in Southwest Florida (the other is South Central Florida Express, who operates tracks farther inland near Clewiston). Freight transported by Seminole Gulf Railway includes lumber, propane, stone, steel, scrap metal and other commodities. Freight is interchanged with CSX usually once or twice a week on each line. On the Fort Myers Division, freight trains between the yard in Fort Myers and Arcadia are known as the Desoto Turn. The Desoto Turn switches customers between North Fort Myers and Arcadia while industries in Fort Myers and south of there are switched locally from the yard.

Seminole Gulf Railway Murder Mystery Train

In addition to carrying freight, Seminole Gulf Railway also operates a popular Murder Mystery Dinner Train from Fort Myers. The dinner train runs five nights a week, year-round from a station at Colonial Boulevard north to a point just south of Punta Gorda before returning. The dinner train uses a fleet of 1930s era vintage rail cars named after nearby barrier islands (some of which were previously Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus rail cars). The dinner train includes a five-course dinner and has featured over 80 different murder mystery productions throughout its history.

Special holiday dinner trains also operate including Sweetheart Express on Valentine's Day, Halloween Ghost Train, New Year's Eve Gala and Christmas Rail-Boat (which runs to the historic Punta Gorda Atlantic Coast Line Depot for a Christmas boat tour through Punta Gorda Isles) to name a few.

Seminole Gulf has also operated general excursion trains in the past. Seminole Gulf introduced passenger excursion trains in 1991 after losing a major freight customer. Excursion trains and were initially based from a small platform in North Naples near Railhead Park, but moved to the current station at Colonial Boulevard in Fort Myers shortly after.

The dinner and excursion trains are often headed by one of two vintage EMD F-unit locomotives, SGLR 501 and SGLR 502. SGLR 501, an F9A, was previously operated by the Milwaukee Road, while SGLR 502, an F7, was previously operated on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. Both were later acquired by the Long Island Rail Road, where they were converted into cab cars and used from the 1970s until 1999, before being sent to the SGLR.

We left the Super 8 and with a major traffic jam on Colonial Blvd, I made a U-turn and at the railroad crossing, we were stopped by our dinner train.

The Seminole Gulf Railway Murder Mystery Train crossed the highway right in front of us.

The whole dinner train in this picture. We had to wait to turn onto the street which took us the the dinner train parking lot. We picked up our tickets and went to the head end of the train.

Two views of the Seminole Gulf Railway Murder Mystery Train.

Elizabeth and the train.

The author and the train. The consist of this train was Seminole Gulf F7A 502 (ex. Long Island Railroad 621, exx. Baltimore and Ohio 4599, nee B&O 955A), Table Car Sanibel, Table Car Pine Island, Kitchen Car Marco, Table Car Gasparilla, Table Car Captiva, Table Car Estoro and Seminole Gulf GP10 578 (ex. Illinois Central GP9 8327, nee IC GP9 9327:2). We went into the gift shop and bought a pair of T-shirts and coffee mugs then boarded the Pine Island, taking Table 11 and sitting across from each other.

The view outsde the train before departure.

My most beautiful wife Elizabeth and the program for tonight's Murder Mystery.

The play during the trip was called "A Killer Act".

The other end of the Pine Island.

Our end of the Pine Island.

We crossed two major roads in Fort Myers on the way to river. Cheese and crackers were at everyone's table and Elizabeth enjoyed some of these while waiting for the train to depart.

The train ran along the Caloosahatchee River before crossing it. The next course was Creamy Pototo Leek soup, which Elizabeth partook in.

The cast of characters were Lottie De Amore, the no-nonsense nightclub singer of the Landon Sisters played by Kristen Wilson.

Gene Tapin is a cool and collective straight man of the singing duo "Tarpin and Landis", played by Troy Nelson. Elizabeth then had the Caesar Salad.

Gary Landris is the zany, over-the-top comic was played by Troy Nelson.

Edie Allen is the naive and sweet girl of "The Landon Sisters" singing act played by Susan Dolan.

Lottie de Amora and Edie Allen.

Lottie de Amora.

Later we passed a lumber mill.

Lottie de Amora. The main course was served next, with Elizabeth choosing the Chicken Francese and I the Slow Roasted Prime Rib. Both meals we excellent. Dessert was Apple Spice Cake. If you want to know who the murderer was, come ride the train. Prizes were given out for correct answers and a tie-breaking question was asked. This was Elizabeth's first Murder Mystery Dinner Train and we both thoroughly enjoyed the whole expreience. The trip back was quicker than the outboune one and I tipped our waiter for the excellent service. We returned to the boarding location and detrained.

We returned to the north end of the train for a last picture of the F7A 502.

The absolute final picture of the evening was GP10 575. We returned to the Super 8 for the night.

1/29/2022 We checked out of the Super 8 and went to McDonald's for breakfast. After breakfast we went to find our first station of the morning.

Fort Myers Atlantic Coast Line station built in 1924.

The LaBella Seaboard Air Lines station built in 1927. From here we drove into Clewiston but that is the subject of the next story.