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PHOTOS: Gainesville's Midland Engine 209 train moves across town to new park
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The Engine 209 coal car is moved Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021, onto Jesse Jewell Parkway from its former train park site in Gainesville to a new location at the corner of Grove and Davis streets where a new train park is under development. - photo by Scott Rogers


It was only a mile and a half, but Engine 209 rode again for the first time in 30 years. 

The historic Gainesville train moved Saturday, Aug. 14, away from its visible downtown spot, to its new park a mile and a half away near the Midland Greenway. 

The move to the corner of Davis and Grove streets is part of a $2 million renovation project for the Midland Greenway area that includes a new Engine 209 Park with a plaza, playground and swings. Other improvements to come include a boardwalk over a detention pond, benches, tables with seats and area lighting, according to Gainesville spokeswoman Christina Santee. 

"More improvements are coming to the Grove Street section of the Midland Greenway, which could include a large accessible playground, new stage, food truck and sitting plaza, shade structures and potentially, a splash pad," Santee wrote.

The plan to move the engine has been in the works for more than three years, and city officials have said it is not in response to the new B Entertainment venue and restaurant, which will begin construction soon on the site on Jesse Jewell.

The move cost about $350,000, Santee wrote in a statement Monday. The general contractor for the move was Savannah Construction and Preservation. Other parties who helped are: Guy M. Turner Inc., a trucking company out of Greensboro, North Carolina, Tim’s Crane & Rigging Inc., who provided the cranes and Steam Operations Corporation, out of Birmingham, Alabama, a special consultant for the contractor, Santee wrote. 

Though the train’s new location might not be as visible to passing cars, Gainesville Mayor Danny Dunagan said he expects the train and its park to get used more often in the new location.

“It’s going to be nice when they get the park all fixed up and finished,” Dunagan said. “It’ll be a lot more usable.”

The new Engine 209 Park could be used for kid’s birthday parties or other events, Dunagan said. The city also plans to install a roof over the train eventually to help preserve it longer, he said.

The engine bears the name “Gainesville Midland,” which was the name of a railway connecting Gainesville to Athens. In 1904, Gainesville, Jefferson and Southern Railroad became Gainesville Midland Railway. The railway started carrying passengers in 1906 and mail the year after that. The company was reorganized in 1936 under the name Gainesville Midland Railroad.

The Seaboard Air Line purchased the Gainesville Midland in 1959 for $550,000.

The railroad was unique in 1959, as it was still operating seven steam locomotives, a technology that was seen as outdated by that time compared to more efficient diesels. Six of those locomotives were preserved, including Engine 209.


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Engine 209 is moved Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021, from the former train park site in Gainesville to a new location at the corner of Grove and Davis streets where a new train park is under development. - photo by Scott Rogers
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The Engine 209 caboose is moved along Jesse Jewell Parkway Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021, from its former train park site in Gainesville to a new location at the corner of Grove and Davis streets where a new train park is under development. - photo by Scott Rogers
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Traffic is stopped at the intersection of E.E. Butler Parkway and Jesse Jewell Parkway Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021, as Engine 209 is moved from its former train park site to a new location at the corner of Grove and Davis streets where a new train park is under development. - photo by Scott Rogers
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Engine 209, on the back of an electric flatbed trailer, makes the turn onto Grove Street from Industrial Boulevard Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021, on route to a new location at the corner of Grove and Davis streets where a new train park is under development. - photo by Scott Rogers
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Spectators watch as Engine 209 is brought to its new home at the corner of Grove and Davis streets Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021, in midtown Gainesville. - photo by Scott Rogers
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The Engine 209 caboose travels along Industrial Boulevard Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021, on route to a new location at the corner of Grove and Davis streets where a new train park is under development. - photo by Scott Rogers
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Engine 209 is moved along Jesse Jewell Parkway Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021, from the former train park site in Gainesville to a new location at the corner of Grove and Davis streets where a new train park is under development. - photo by Scott Rogers
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An electric flatbed trailer moves Engine 209 along Industrial Boulevard Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021, on route to a new location at the corner of Grove and Davis streets in Gainesville where a new train park is under development. - photo by Scott Rogers

Though the train’s new location might not be as visible to passing cars, Gainesville Mayor Danny Dunagan said he expects the train and its park to get used more often in the new location.

“It’s going to be nice when they get the park all fixed up and finished,” Dunagan said. “It’ll be a lot more usable.”

The new Engine 209 Park could be used for kid’s birthday parties or other events, Dunagan said. The city also plans to install a roof over the train eventually to help preserve it longer, he said.

The engine bears the name “Gainesville Midland,” which was the name of a railway connecting Gainesville to Athens. In 1904, Gainesville, Jefferson and Southern Railroad became Gainesville Midland Railway. The railway started carrying passengers in 1906 and mail the year after that. The company was reorganized in 1936 under the name Gainesville Midland Railroad.

The Seaboard Air Line purchased the Gainesville Midland in 1959 for $550,000.

The railroad was unique in 1959, as it was still operating seven steam locomotives, a technology that was seen as outdated by that time compared to more efficient diesels. Six of those locomotives were preserved, including Engine 209.