Gulf Coast Model Railroad

Shell Point's Model Train Display

The 43'-by-41' 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.

Exhibit Facts

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).

Free Tour
» Click here to read an exhaustive early history of this exhibit

Special Dates

1971: Ted Richards retires to Shell Point, bringing his love of model railroading with him. Shell Point provides a furniture storage room as a location for the "Train Room."

1973: A guest register is begun to document the hundreds of visitors who come to Shell Point to tour the railroad. Since then, over 34,000 guests have registered, from all 50 states and 45 foreign countries.

1981: A viewing ramp and stand are constructed to aid small children and people in wheelchairs.

1997: Extensive renovation and refurbishment is completed.

Today: The entrance to the room now resembles an old-time train depot with wood-plank flooring, a ticket booth with iron grill, tracks laid across the floor, quaint wooden benches, and a beautiful mural painted by artist Martha Dodd.

Trains of the past come to life as children hear the story at the Gulf Coast Model Railroad…

Visitor Info

The Gulf Coast Railroad is open to visitors Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. It is located on The Island at Shell Point, in the tunnel underneath the Resident Activity Center. Directions can be found here. If you would like to arrange a tour of 10 or more people, please contact Beth Crenshaw at (239) 454-2290.

Request Information
• Freight yards in Pensacola

• 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

Train Room Train Room Train Room
Shell Point Retirement Community • Independent Living • Assisted Living • Skilled Nursing
15101 Shell Point Boulevard • Fort Myers, Florida 33908 • (239) 466-1131 - (800) 780-1131
A non-profit ministry of The Christian and Missionary Alliance Foundation, Inc.