On September 27-29, 2013, an exciting new annual event, “Rifles, Rails & History: Steam Back to
the North and South” will take place at 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
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.
The schedule of activities will include a spectacular re-enactors parade down Main Street, the
distinctive sights and sounds of artillery, cavalry, infantry, and navy demonstrations, 19th Century
sutlers and merchants, a charming ladies tea and fashion show, an historic walking tour through
Tavares, a Friday night “rails and cocktails” party on board the Orange Blossom Cannonball, a
formal Saturday night ball, and many exhibitors 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
Special guests will include Gen. Robert E. Lee portrayer, Mr. Al Stone, who portrayed General Lee in
the History Channel’s documentary April 1865 and has portrayed General Lee at Stratford Hall,
Lee’s birthplace in Virginia, for several years.
“Rifles, Rails & History” is where you should “…expect to hear of crowning deeds of valor and of
victories gloriously achieved!” – Gen. Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson.