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Riding history's rails

An exhibit of photos and railroad memorabilia, Florida's Railroads, opens Friday at the Old Courthouse Heritage Museum.

The exhibit has some rare photographs of trains that used to make the run from the Silver Springs train depot in Ocala to stops in Citrus County in the late 1980s.

Early photos show the train stations in Hernando and Istachatta, both long gone. The wooden depots shared a distinctive architectural design: scalloped sides of their gabled roofs.

Another local artifact is a steering wheel from the steamboat Kitty Bell, which also used to make regular runs on the Withlacoochee, docking at Steamboat Springs near Floral City.

The exhibit will be up through Jan. 24. It joins two permanent exhibit rooms, the Brannen Family Exhibit Room, Footprints in Time, with artifacts of ancient civilizations; and the Mary MacRae Exhibit Room, Local History, with more contemporary artifacts. The centerpiece is an old face of the Courthouse Clock.

The Old Courthouse Heritage Museum is at 1 Courthouse Square, Inverness. It is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. Admission is free. Call 341-6436.

Here is the schedule of exhibits for the John Murray Davis Gallery at the Old Courthouse Heritage Museum.

Jan. 26 to April 27: The Highwaymen _ Highwaymen art on loan from the Orange County Regional History Center. A "meet the artists" reception with Highwaymen artists James Gibson, Mary Ann Carroll and Roy McClendon will be at 2 p.m. Jan. 29 in the courtroom on the second floor of the Heritage Museum. Another Highwayman, Robert Lewis, will give a demonstration at 1 p.m. March 12 in the upstairs courtroom. The Highwaymen (Carroll is the only female member of the group) were roadside Central Florida artists known for their speed in turning out Florida landscapes, notably sunsets and sunrises.

May 1 to June 30: Crate Expectations _ Exhibit about the citrus industry featuring a display of collector's orange crates and labels.

July 1 to Aug. 30: Printed Florida _ Images from Harper's Weekly magazine from the Civil War era depicting life in Florida.

Sept. 1 to Nov. 15: Warriors: Navajo Code Talkers _ Photographs and stories about the World War II Marines who used a code based on the Navajo language to help defeat the Japanese. The photos are by Kenji Kawano, official photographer of the Navajo Code Talkers Association. The display comes on loan from the National Atomic Museum in New Mexico.

Jorge Sanchez covers arts and entertainment in Citrus County. Call 860-7313 or e-mail

This model of the engine of a train from CSX, currently the dominant railroad in Florida, brings a contemporary touch to a look at the history of railroads in Citrus County displayed at the Old Courthouse Heritage Museum.

The display also includes maps, uniforms and tickets from several railroads of earlier eras that served Citrus County and the surrounding area.

A train station from Inverness' past is shown in one of numerous photographs cataloging various depots around Citrus County over the decades.