The Steam Locomotive Association #253 maintains a 1924 FEC steam locomotive and the railroad museum which is the largest in the state of Florida. We give guided tours of the locomotive, the rail cars and the museum from 10:00 am until dark every Saturday. All ages are welcome to come visit and tour a significant part of the history and heritage of Fort Pierce. Admission is Free and donations are warmly welcomed.
Museum is located just south of the Taylor Creek Marina.
The general public can to make a gate donation of $3.00 for adults and $2.00 for children (under 3 free) and all proceeds will be applied toward the 253 steam locomotive. Steam Locomotive Association 253 is a 501(C)(3) non-profit organization and operates solely on donations provided by our patrons; if you are pleased with the progress of the organization, your guided tour, the event, etc. please consider a donation as your heart leads. Donation boxes are located adjacent to the locomotive and in the gift shop or please see the gift shop staff if you would like to make a donation and receive a receipt for your donation.
The American Locomotive Company in 1924 built the no. 253 for the Florida East Coast Railway. She is an 0-8-0 road switcher that was designed to assemble and move whole trains in the yard and do light work.
The no. 253 weighs 108 tons and is 70 feet long. She has 7 foot diameter oil fired boiler that develops 200 PSI of superheated steam which can pull a 5,100 ton train at 25 mph. Her driver wheels are 51" in diameter. She carries 8,000 gals of water and 2,000 gals of fuel oil.
Engine no. 253 is one of 6 remaining former Florida East Coast Railway locomotives on earth out of the 275 total steam engines owned by the FEC Ry, Co. She is the heaviest 0-8-0 (which means she has no wheels in the front -- 8 driving wheels in the middle -- and no wheels in the back) type engine remaining on this continent. She is also the only full size steam locomotive to be operated in the state of Florida and the only example of her type to be operating in the USA.
When the FEC went diesel, she and her sisters were retired and sold. Most fell to the torch, but the no. 253 and a few others escaped to work for some smaller railroads throughout the country. The no. 253 was "put on the back burner" in 1952 and retired in 1956 and put on display in Texarkana where she remained until the late 90s.
Various groups tried to move her and restore her with no success and she was once again facing the torch (30 days from the torch) when Steve Spreckelmeier and Bob Bates got word of her possible fate and purchased her outright and arranged for her to be returned to her home in South Florida.
The no. 253 was fairly well cared for and therefore after several inspections was deemed a prime candidate for complete restoration to operating condition. Of course it is going to take a long time to do this depending on the number of volunteers we have to do the work of restoration.
The no. 253 is a part of our nation's and particularly Florida's past and our legacy. Steve and Bob's and the rest of the crew's reason for doing such a big project is not just for the sense of personal accomplishment but also to be able to create something that is so much a part of our legacy to share not only with South Florida but throughout the country. The restoration project of the no. 253 is supported by the State of Florida Historic Preservation Department and will be showcased for decades to come. We are awaiting our National Historic Registration designation at this time.