As parents we have learned kids are more cooperative when given choices. Today we gave Aria the choice between a train ride and a boat ride. She picked a train ride so off to Jefferson we went for a ride and to (hopefully) feed the alligators. There was plenty of parking. At the train depot staff brought out a baby alligator to pet and pose for pictures. You can’t hold this one but it seemed to enjoy a head rub.
The train is open air, more like a tram and the stream engine wasn’t in operation. They use that for special events. We were pulled by what looked like a converted truck. According to the website it’s a gas-powered Plymouth Locomotive. When it was explained how much it takes to power the steam engine we understood why it’s not used all the time.
The train departs a couple of times per day and kids are free under 6 years old. You are going to be outdoors and aside from mosquitos look out for wasps. 2 kids on our train got stung. The young lady was doing her best to recite historical facts about Jefferson but the train was drowning her out. She earned her keep by scaling train benches to bring some cream to crying wasp stung kids. It was a beautiful day and a pretty train ride but would have been better if there were some signs with short fast facts about Jefferson or a little map to refer to. The town has quite a bit of interesting history and many houses in the area have historical markers.
We stopped at the gator pit and got out of the train to watch Don toss some chicken to the gators. Now that I have up-close gator experience from Gators and Friends I have to admit I was expecting more. There were a few lazy gators, on the small side. Only one seemed interested in food. I guess they are well-fed.
We made a loop and headed back for the depot. I was hoping to find some postcards or something to commemorate the trip but they didn’t have any souvenirs. Conductor hats, train whistles, gummy alligators – kids love that stuff but there wasn’t anything to purchase other than chips and drinks. The staff was pleasant. Aria liked it and it’s reasonably priced. I think they could make the experience better with a few minor improvements like more focus on the history of Jefferson with pictures at the depot. Plus some signs or handouts on the actual ride. They should give up on the guide part because it’s impossible to hear. Everyone loves a good photo op so it would have been memorable to get to take some pictures on the steam engine. It looks like the train participates in various holiday themed rides so maybe we will give one of those a shot.
Website and Tickets: Historic Jefferson Railway