Join us for Historic Jefferson Railway’s Civil War Weekend May 19-21, 2023
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Friday, May 19th, there will be a Day of Learning for school groups, sponsored by the Jefferson Railway and Wetlands Foundation, to draw attention to the history and romance of the Civil War way of life. The Living History Camps will demonstrate Camp Life and Military Activities and includes a train ride aboard the Historic Jefferson Railway alongside the Big Cypress Bayou. See a gunboat with real live cannons. Visit Diamond Don Gator Pit with live gators and see ruins from the 1800’s. Price for Living History is $4 per student; train ride is additional $6 per student. Trains will depart from the Diamond Don RV Park at 10:30, 11:30 and 12:30. You’ll experience living history and what it’s like to see historic type tent avenues filled with folks sitting by the fire sharing stories and tales of battles fought and those to come. In these encampments, you’ll see cooking items from the past being used today. In fact, everything is of a historic nature, from the tents to the cots and bedrolls, buckets, pots and dishware from the past.
The Great Locomotive Chase and Civil War Battle will be held on Saturday and Sunday, May 20 & 21 and depart from the Historic Jefferson Railway in Downtown Jefferson. The Historic Jefferson Railway recreates the battle of The Andrews Raid & Great Locomotive Chase with reenactors from the North and South. The living history camps along the Big Cypress Bayou come alive as the cannons fire and the battle rages to gain possession of the train. The Virginia, a civil war ironclad replica complete with five working cannons, joins the skirmish firing its cannons on the banks of the Big Cypress Bayou River. Scouting probes and skirmishes can be viewed from any of the train rides scheduled on Saturday and Sunday. Train tickets are $15.00 Saturday and $12.00 Sunday plus tax (lap children free), available online but space is limited so get yours now. The Andrews Raid and Great Locomotive Chase will be held on Saturday, May 20, with train rides aboard departing from the Historic Jefferson Railway in downtown Jefferson at 11:00, 12:30, and 2:30; and Sunday, May 21 at 12:30.
There are a lot of other activities for reenactors at the Diamond Don RV Park including living history camps, sutlers, Friday evening Dutch Oven cook off, judging will be at 6pm in the Pavillion, awards will be given. A Saturday evening supper and social, cannon night firing and fireworks. Reenactors are welcome to camp at the RV Park which will have a designated period camping area (included in registration) as well as modern camping (for an additional fee). The public is also welcome to camp in the modern section of the RV Park.
Re-enactors can camp free at Diamond Don RV Park with lots of space, trees and plenty of amenities for re-enactors, including free WIFI, water, hay, split wood, restrooms, showers and powder bounty – guns and cannons. Registration fee is $15, per military or civilian reenactor and includes military camping, noon-day meals, Saturday evening supper and social. Limited RV sites with water and electric are available to re-enactors for $35, per night. Call or text Melissa for reservations. 903-742-2041. Participation in train skirmishes on Saturday and Sunday is required in order to receive these reenactor amenities. All reenactors are encouraged to participate in Friday’s Day of Learning-Living History. For those with physical limitations, you can participate in the train skirmishes right from your campsite along the Big Cypress Bayou.
Famous campaigns were planned and conducted for the primary purpose of capturing or destroying railroad lines of value to the enemy. On the morning of April 12, 1862, the most famous locomotive of the Civil War, the General, was hijacked by the Union civilian spy, James J. Andrews, and his men. After a nail-biting eight hours and 87 miles, the Southerners captured the General, James Andrews and several of his men.
Experience true civil war scouting probes and skirmishes aboard the Historic Jefferson Railway’s train. Keep your seat on the train as you see history in action near the railroad track and see the gunboat engage in battle with the train.
Take a step back in time as the Historic Jefferson Railway takes you on an excursion that circles the Piney Woods along the scenic Big Cypress Bayou. You’ll view a Confederate Powder Magazine from the Civil War era and remains of many sites from the 1800’s still visible along the track. The open-canopied observation cars provide an excellent view of this exciting event along the river.
There are many more things to see and do in Jefferson during Civil War Days