By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
When Gainesville’s Engine 209 train is moving out of downtown
08132021 TRAIN 1.jpg
A crane is set up Thursday, Aug. 12, 2021, at the Engine 209 Park along Jesse Jewell Parkway to move the engine to its new site at the corner of Davis and Grove Streets. - photo by Scott Rogers

Engine 209 is finally on the move.

The Gainesville Midland train will be moved this weekend from its park at the corner of Jesse Jewell Parkway and West Academy Street to a renovated park at the intersection of Davis and Grove streets. 

One crane arrived Wednesday, Aug. 11, and another Aug. 12 to prepare to move the historic train engine in two stages from the park where it has been located since 1991. Friday night after rush hour, Savannah Construction and Preservation,  the general contractor hired by the city, will move the tender car and caboose using lowboy trailers. 

Then about 7 a.m. Saturday, they will move the engine using a 10-axle self-propelled trailer, City Manager Bryan Lackey said at the Gainesville City Council’s work session Thursday Aug. 12. 

The engine’s move should take about 35-40 minutes, Public Relations Manager Christina Santee wrote in an email. 

City officials cautioned the public to stay away from Engine 209 Park during the move. 

“That’s a lot of heavy objects being lifted,” Lackey said. “(We) don’t need people getting too close just in case something bad happens. We’ll knock on wood that it doesn’t.”

If people want to watch, they may do so from either Poultry Park next door or the Wild Wing Café parking lot across Jesse Jewell Parkway, Santee wrote. The sidewalks along Jesse Jewell Parkway and West Academy Street will not be safe while cranes lift heavy pieces into the air to load them onto trailers, she wrote. 

“(A)t the destination site, access and parking in the area is very limited and the same safety concerns exist for placing the train components onto the new rail section,” Santee wrote. 

Railroad tracks await the train at the corner of Davis and Grove streets, and the new spot will be called Engine 209 Park. This move is part of a $2 million renovation project for the Midland Greenway area that includes a new plaza, playground and swings. Other improvements to come include a boardwalk over the detention pond, benches, tables with seats and area lighting, Santee wrote. 

"There isn't a splash pad in this project, but there is a large grassed area on site," Santee wrote. "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."

08132021 TRAIN 2.jpg
Tracks are in place Thursday, Aug. 13, 2021, at the site of the new Engine 209 Park at the corner of Davis and Grove Streets. - photo by Scott Rogers

The plan to move the engine has been in the works for more than three years, Councilwoman Barbara Brooks said, and is not in response to the new B Entertainment venue and restaurant, which will begin construction on that site soon.

The name associated with the train, Gainesville Midland, was actually the 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.

08132021 TRAIN 5.jpg
A heavy crane is set up Thursday, Aug. 13, 2021, at the Engine 209 Park along Jesse Jewell Parkway to move the engine to its new site at the corner of Davis and Grove Streets. - photo by Scott Rogers