It’s not just about locomotion at the Naples Depot Museum, which inhabits the circa-1926 Seaboard Air Line railway station in downtown Naples. Beautifully rendered exhibits take visitors down the road of all things transportation in Collier County, including the portion of the Everglades that fringes today’s posh resort community with still-raw wilderness.
The county-operated museum explores how Naples’ transportation developments shaped its destiny. Inside, throughout the depot’s various rooms, the museum time travels from Seminole Indian dugout canoes to the building of the Naples Pier, local boat-building industry, automotive era and opening of Tamiami Trail’s Alligator Alley to Miami.
It showcases a swamp buggy — Naples’ iconic form of Everglades transportation and tri-annual mud-racing competitions, a 1922 Model T Ford that was converted for transporting early guests from the depot to the historic Naples Beach Hotel, a cherry 1955 Chevrolet Bel Air and other real-life and replicated conveyances.
In the Stationmaster’s Office, a viewing screen is cleverly inset into the windows, which once faced the track that the Orange Blossom Special rode into town. Every seven minutes, a video shows the train pulling into the station with sights and sounds that make you feel you are watching the real thing through the window.
At the rear of the museum, traveling exhibits pull in throughout the year. Now through Oct. 24, local artist Kevin O’Brien will be displaying his interpretive works that capture the natural beauty of Naples and Everglades landscapes in an exhibit titled Through My Eyes.
Outside the depot, visitors can tour a vintage caboose. They can also have a look at a Budd Tavern Train Car, one of six built for the Seaboard Air Line Railroad in 1947. Silver and sleek, it currently is undergoing restoration, which museum officials estimate will be completed in a year’s time so that visitors can once again step in it and the golden age of railroads.
▪ Naples Depot Museum, 1051 Fifth Ave. S., Naples, 239-262-6525; www.colliermuseums.com/locations/naples_depot. The museum is open Monday-Saturday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is free; donations are accepted.
▪ Tip: Behind the Depot Museum, the separate, privately owned Naples Train Museum (www.naplestrainmuseum.org) adds its train displays and miniature railroad ride to the loco-maniac fun. In summer, open Saturdays only, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and closed during September. Admission is $7 for adults, $4 for children ages 6 and older.