On September 25-27, 2015, an exciting new annual event, “Rifles, Rails & History: Steam Back to
the North and South” will return to Wooton Park on the shore of beautiful Lake Dora in Tavares.
This Living History Encampment will transport visitors and guests of “America’s Seaplane City” back
150 years to that extraordinary period of time in American history – The War Between the States!
One of the unique aspects of the event is that it will not be held in a distant battlefield, but right in
the heart of downtown Tavares, a city committed to honoring its heritage and building upon its rich
history. Tavares has its roots in the War Between the States, being founded by Confederate
veteran, Alexander St. Clair Abrams, and being home to Confederate cavalry captain, Melton
Haynes, builder of the famous Woodlea House.
One of the “star” attractions during the three-day “Rifles, Rails & History” event will be the
Orange Blossom Cannonball "movie train" featured in the Civil War-themed miniseries “North and
South” and “The Blue and the Gray.” Participants, visitors, and guests will have an opportunity to
be part of movie history riding aboard the coaches where famous TV and movie stars filmed,
powered by the 1907 steam locomotive #2.
When you walk around Wooton Park, absorbing the atmosphere of life 150 years ago, you'll
experience how the soldiers lived in their camps and witness the "Skirmish at ALS Sandbar" battle
between the North and South. You'll see, hear, and feel the distinctive sights and sounds of
artillery, cavalry, and infantry demonstrations. 19th Century sutlers and merchants will be there
selling their wares and goods, as well as souvenirs for you to remember your memorable visit.
Generals Robert E. Lee and Ulysses Grant will make appearances and will reenact their meeting at
Appomattox. A special presentation of "Fashions and More", the amazing Florida Confederate
Veterans Memorial Wall, a Saturday night Cotillion under the Big Tent, and many educational
exhibits to enhance your journey Back to the North and South of the 1860s.
One of the featured exhibits comes from Kirby-Smith Camp 1209 of the Sons of Confederate
Veterans, based in Jacksonville, who will make the voyage to Tavares to showcase their replica of
the H. L. Hunley, a Confederate submarine that mysteriously disappeared, with all hands, shortly
after sending the USS Housatonic to the bottom of Charleston Harbor on February 17, 1864.
“Rifles, Rails & History” is where you should “…expect to hear of crowning deeds of valor and of
victories gloriously achieved!” – Gen. Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson.