Tradewinds & Atlantic Railroad
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Frequently Asked Questions

What exactly is a "live steamer" anyway?

A “Live Steamer” refers to a person who is interested in the worldwide hobby of Live Steaming. A catchall phrase, “live steam” refers to the fact that the engine or locomotive is running on real steam, generated by burning propane, coal, oil, or using electricity to boil water. But that’s not all Live Steamers do. We are generally metalworking hobbyists, covering the gamut from building and running our own model trains (usually one-eighth life-size, like the ones at Tradewinds Park), to pattern-making and foundry work, live steam cars (like Stanley Steamers), stationary steam engines, steam boats (like the “Delta Queen”), to welding and metal forming are just some of the things we cover in our hobby. And not all the locomotives are steamers, many are models of Diesel-Electric locomotives

It is not necessary to have all the tools for these trades to participate in the Live Steam hobby, or have a shop to work in, or even know how to do what it is you want to do. That’s what we’re here for – to teach about the hobby of Live Steam and teach each other new methods to enable us to make new things!

A typical scene at Goodwin Station
A typical scene at Goodwin Station

About our organization

The Tradewinds & Atlantic Railroad, Inc. was formed in 1972 as the Florida Live Steamers-Southern Division. Track-laying at Tradewinds Park started in 1987 and was completed in 1990. We are a 501-c-3 non-profit corporation dedicated to educating folks of all ages in the importance and history of railroads and keeping the spirit of mechanical engineering and innovation alive!

About our trains

The trains that you can ride on in Tradewinds Park are one-eighth life-size, or scaled at 1-1/2″ per foot. This makes them eleven times bigger than the typical HO scale train you might have in your home. The track gauge is 7-1/2″, a world-wide standard that allows us to host visitors from all over North and South America, England, Europe, Australia, and Africa. Steam, batteries, or small gas engines power the locomotives. Steam locomotives might burn coal, propane gas, or fuel oil depending on the whims of the builder. Models of Diesel-Electric locomotives using batteries give quiet, dependable operation, while gasoline-powered locomotives give the ability to operate all day. Why 1-1/2" scale? Because that size is large enough to ride on comfortably yet still small enough so we can load our trains into a pickup truck or trailer and take them to one of the many other tracks across the country.

The “little” trains operating on the elevated track are either “O” gauge or “G” gauge. Commonly referred to as”garden scale”, these trains are powered by electricity or steam. These trains are not big enough to ride on so they are controlled remotely or by radio command. The scale of these trains varies from 1:48 for “O” gauge to 1:20 for the “G” gauge.

About our people

All of the people you see working on the trains at the Tradewinds & Atlantic Railroad, Inc. are volunteers and not employees of Broward County Parks Department. In fact, we have no connection with Broward County Parks except for the fact that they graciously allow us room to build our facility in order that we may share our hobby with you. The money that we make from ticket sales goes strictly to help maintain and improve our facilities, insurance coverage, and educational programs for members and the general public. We have no paid employees, only volunteers.

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TARR Volunteers rebuilding the Logan Trestle.
TARR members rebuilding Logan's Trestle

Volunteering at the Tradewinds & Atlantic Railroad

Did you ever want to be an engineer? Large-scale model railroading is as close as you’ll ever get without getting a job with a real railroad. New volunteers are always welcome, and you don’t have to know ‘diddly’ about trains or anything else, nor do you do not have to own any equipment. You just have to have an interest in one of the many fields we cover. Please ask one of the volunteers at the track for more details.

What gauge are your tracks, and is visiting equipment welcome?

Our "big" track is 7-1/2" gauge, mainline 2,200' with many sidings and yard tracks; IBLS wheel standards. The elevated tracks are 2-rail "O", 3-rail "O", and G#1. Members of other clubs are always welcome at our run days and are not required to haul passengers if they do not wish to. Please contact us in advance if bringing in equipment.

See you at the track!