The Old Vero Beach Train Station and Museum

    By Steve Winston

    The last train pulled out of the Vero Beach train station in 1968. It's now the Vero Beach train museum.

    But once, this little wooden building was the lifeblood of this town.

    These tracks were built in the late 1800’s. But there was no station here — you had to “whistle stop” the train so it would stop to pick you up — until Florida pioneer Henry Flagler built a stopping place in 1903.

    For the next 65 years, this was a terminal not only for passengers, but also for the abundant citrus crops produced nearby. 

    But by '68, of course, travelers were coming to Florida by automobile and by plane. So the Vero Beach train station, once brimming with life, stood empty until 1983. That’s when a Florida historian named Dr. Eugene Lyons bought the station from the Florida East Coast Railroad – for $1.

    Now it’s the home of the Indian River County Historical Society. And, happily, it’s brimming with life once again as the Vero Beach train museum.

    In 1987, the Vero Beach train station became the first building in Indian River County to be named to The National Register of Historic Places. And it provides a great peek into life in this county from the late-1800s to the mid-1900s.

    Vero Beach train station

    The Vero Beach Train Station is home to memorabilia from the sleepy beach town and the people who lived in it.

    Willie J. Allen Jr. for VISIT FLORIDA

    Vero Beach Old Train Station

    The Vero Beach Train Station was originally built in 1903 and it's located at 2336 14th Ave.

    Willie J. Allen Jr. for VISIT FLORIDA

    Vero Beach train museum

    A mechanical telegraph instrument is one of the many vintage items at the Vero Beach Train Station in Vero Beach.

    Willie J. Allen Jr. for VISIT FLORIDA

    Vero Beach old Train Museum

    An old souvenir score card from a baseball game in Vero Beach.

    Willie J. Allen Jr. for VISIT FLORIDA

    “This is a treasure trove for us in Indian River County,” says Ruth Stanbridge, County Historian and a member of the Board of Directors of the Historical Society. “It’s a living record of how those who settled here before us lived, worked, worshipped, fought in our country’s wars, and  conquered a tough sub-tropical wilderness before air-conditioning. And it’s this little building that brought people to Vero Beach for so many years.”

    Here, visitors can come face-to-face with Florida history and see the day-to-day life of the people who lived here then and used the Vero Beach old train. You can see the waiting rooms, still with signs saying “Whites Only” and “Colored.” You can see the pot-bellied stove used by waiting travelers to keep warm in the winter. And you can see that there was no indoor plumbing until the 30’s — people had to go outside to go to the bathroom.

    You can see old paintings by local artists, and even older lithographs. You can pore through World War II training manuals and over photos of the landing craft in which GI’s trained on local beaches for the D-Day invasion, as well as military items such as lanterns and oil cans.

    And, you can see drawings of “Vero Man” and “Vero Woman,” prehistoric residents of this area discovered during land-draining excavations in 1915, along with ancient camels, mastodons, and armadillos.

    Vintage Oil Lamp at Vero Beach Train Museum

    A row of vintage Oil and kerosene lanterns rest on a shelf at the Vero Beach Train Station.

    Willie J. Allen Jr. for VISIT FLORIDA

    Vero Beach High School Memorabilia at the Museum

    Vero Beach High School can trace its roots back to a one-room schoolhouse which opened in 1905. Vero Beach High School officially opened in 1925. Yearbooks, pennants and other memorabilia can be found inside the Vero Beach Train Station.

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    Glass Insulators at Old Train Station Vero Beach

    These glass insulators were designed to keep telegraph and telephone wires from touching wooden poles.

    Willie J. Allen Jr. for VISIT FLORIDA

    Miniature Replica of Vero Beach Old Train

    A miniature replica of the train that once charged the Florida coastline now takes up a good portion of the restored Vero Beach Train Station. The restored station now houses books, memorabilia and more from the past as well as articles and information about days gone by in the sleepy beach town.

    Willie J. Allen Jr. for VISIT FLORIDA

    There’s also a huge model train that takes up most of a room, which will evoke wonderful memories for many. A physicians’ bag carried by one of the local doctors, back when they still made house calls. Hundred-year-old advertisements on the walls for Indian River County oranges and grapefruit. 

    “This is a really interesting place,” said Mark Wittle, a visitor from Newton, Maine. “Those of us from up north tend to think of the big cities — Miami, Orlando, Fort Lauderdale — when we think of Florida. But it’s fascinating to see what life was like back then in a small town.” 

    If you go…

    Vero Beach Train Station
    2336 14th Ave., Vero Beach, Florida 32960
    Indian River County Historical Society
    772-778-3435

    Old Train Station Tender

    Station Tender Janice Sellers greets visitors at the station.

    Peter W. Cross for VISIT FLORIDA

    Old Picture at Vero Beach Old Train Station

    The Brooklyn Dodgers were one of the first major league baseball teams to conduct spring training in Florida, establishing their operations in this quiet beachside town in 1948. In this photograph of a photograph taken at Holman Stadium are, from left to right: Jackie Robinson, Charles Dressen, Bud Holman, an unnamed coach and Duke Snider.

    Peter W. Cross for VISIT FLORIDA

    Vero Beach old train

    A large model train that takes up most of one room.

    Peter W. Cross for VISIT FLORIDA

    Old Train Station Vero Beach Memorabilia

    You can pore through World War II training manuals and photos of the landing craft in which GIs trained on local beaches for the D-Day invasion, as well as military items such as lanterns and oil cans. And you can see prehistoric residents of the area discovered during land-draining excavations in 1915 along with ancient animals.

    Peter W. Cross for VISIT FLORIDA

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