Two train lines, one museum: Micanopy Historical Museum is on the right tracks
Since 1983, the town of Micanopy has preserved much of its history in its historical museum. With limited space, the museum’s volunteers are hoping to reach out to more people about the rich cultural impact that Micanopy had on Alachua County.
Local museums in north central Florida have been struggling to stay afloat since the start of the pandemic. Alachua County’s High Springs museum closed for over a year before reopening by appointment only due to a lack of volunteers. However, Micanopy’s Historical Society took advantage during the pandemic. The museum’s team leader Jean Stream said this was a perfect time to renovate and add new exhibits.
“During the pandemic –the first year– we decided to get in here and do some work,” Stream said. “So docents jumped in and we redid some of the exhibits, we put a couple brand-new exhibits in here– we had a great time.”
Stream and her docents, the historical society’s volunteers, plan on participating in more events that get the word out about the history of Micanopy. Stream also said that they hope to get more volunteers to run their archive building that features town-related documents.
“Old families will give us photos and records and letters and bank statements and all kinds of paper documents,” Stream said. “All of that gets filtered through the archives.”
The museum features history on trains that used to run through Alachua County. Jonathan Nelson, the railroad expert for the museum, loves to share stories about the two train stations that were once a part of the town.
“We had two train stations; one, the Atlantic Coastline, was about three blocks away, right behind the Franklin crate company,” Nelson said. “The other one, the Tug and Jerk, also known as the Tampa and Jacksonville, that one is still here. One of the docents in the Micanopy Historical Museum organization is very active with us, and he’s the owner of that building and he’s doing the best he can to preserve it. “
Nelson hopes that more people will come to the museum to learn about the old rail lines and depots of Micanopy, and they will help him preserve the history.
The museum is home to some incredible artifacts about trains, the civil war in Florida, movie props, and a diorama of a fort similar to Fort King in Ocala. Ultimately, however, the museum is open to anyone from anywhere who wants to learn more about the real parts of Florida.