Since it’s December 1950 re-opening of the Castle Warden Hotel as “Ripley’s Believe It or Not!”, Ripley Entertainment, Inc. has continued it’s investment in making St. Augustine a premier tourism destination. 58 years later, they are still at it.
The red trains, now owned by Ripley Entertainment, were the original franchised tour train operators in St. Augustine; started in 1953 by Joe McClure and his partner, Raymond Bravo. This summer, they are expanding their fleet to ‘Celebrate America’.
Fourteen passenger coaches and two ‘locomotives’ will be joining the fleet over the next month as safety and road tests are completed. The coaches will feature the patriotic designs shown above, perfect for the season during which Ripley plans to ‘Celebrate America.’
The trains will be painted to match the original Sightseeing Train fleet following the summer season.
‘We will be retiring some of our older equipment as we bring the new online,’ said Phyllis Calloway, GM and director of attraction services for Ripley Entertainment Inc. ‘We have a very busy fleet, using it for sightseeing and ghost tours as well as charters and school groups, and now, our two new enclosed coaches are perfect for birthday parties and weddings, year-round.’
The narrated tour transports guests along a seven-mile circuit, with more than 20 stops at the city’s most exciting and historically significant attractions.
Photo credit: Historic City News staff photo