A scrapbook kept by Colonel William E. Cadman holds newspaper clippings about the completion of the Sugar Belt Railway to Narcoossee and the celebration held on July 19, 1889 – the day the first train arrived. The scrapbook is housed in the Orange County Regional History Center archives in Orlando.
The noon train originated in Sanford and was filled with people from there and other points along the way, including the Orlando Cornet Band. The train traveled through rich muck lands, prairies, oak hammocks, past orange groves, the St. Cloud sugar plantation and the town of Runnymede before arriving in Narcoossee. The town had been laid out five years prior by two Englishmen, E.N. Fell and W.B.M. Davidson, and was marketed to the English as a place where they could settle and make their fortune in the citrus industry.
Festivities began at 1:05 p.m. when a reception committee greeted arrivals, and carriages took the ladies to the Club House. Shortly after, dinner was announced and more than 500 people feasted on the “three beeves, two sheep and two hogs barbecued in Jack Evans well known style.” Two hundred loaves of bread were sliced to make sandwiches with the sliced meats and 60 gallons of lemonade was available. A large brush arbor constructed at the rear of the club house served as the dining area. Music during the meal was provided by the Cornet Band, assisted by Prof. Boardman and Dr. Elkins of the Kissimmee Band.
No celebration was complete without speeches. Following a welcome and brief speech given by Master of Ceremonies Col. Cadman, other speakers from neighboring towns praised the citizens of Narcoossee and told stories of bygone days. Dancing then began at the schoolhouse, races were held on the race course near the lake, and a tug of war was won by the 20 men from Narcoossee against the team of 20 men from Kissimmee and Orlando.
The final selection by the band was “God Save the Queen” with the Englishmen removing their hats and singing while one gentleman from Kissimmee burst forth with the well-known words of “America.” As the 6:15 p.m. train left for Kissimmee, the day was declared a success and well wishes were given for Narcoossee’s future and prosperity.
Train Day at Pioneer Village
The train depot at Pioneer Village at Shingle Creek is a replica of the Narcoossee train station.
Osceola History will celebrate the 131st anniversary of the arrival of the first train with a special event on July 19, 2020, from 10 am. to 3 p.m. at Pioneer Village.
The day’s festivities will include live music by Will Yancy. Monica Leibacher will present spinning demonstrations at the Tyson House.
Guided tours of Pioneer Village will be available at 10:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 2 p.m.
And in keeping with the tradition of ice cream being served at the Train Day celebration, guests will be treated to free ice cream and can watch homemade ice cream being churned at 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.
Admission is $8 for adults and includes admission for 2 children (under age 12) with each paid adult admission. Admission for additional children is $4 per child. Pioneer Village is located at 2491 Babb Road in Kissimmee.
Written by Anza Bast
“The Florida Times-Union” July 21, 1889, news clipping
Orange County Regional History Center archives
Osceola History archives