About us

Our Mission:

Our mission is to educate the people of Florida about the value and experience of Railroading, Past, Present and Future.

The Railroad Education and Learning Center of Florida, Inc, (RealRail) will be the educational and historical hub for teaching and illustrating the impact of railroading in Florida and the U.S.  RealRail will achieve this through a Center that provides an entertaining , interactive learning experience to the community through models and exhibits.  RealRail is committed to excellence of product, good management, and fiscal responsibility .

Our History:

In 1975, under the leadership of Herb Goetschius, a group of approximately 20 individuals interested in model railroading decided to form a model railroad club and incorporated as the Sarasota Model Railroad Club, Inc.  Suitable space was found near downtown Sarasota.  Subsequent events caused several moves until more permanent quarters were obtained on 15th Street East in south Manatee County.

Three large layouts were planned in 3 gauges: O (fine scale), HO, and N – plus large modular layouts in N and HO.  Later another O gauge (Lionel) layout was added .   As these layouts neared completion, interest grew in having greater public access for Open Houses and educational events (Clinics).  Also, in 2006,  the  Internal Revenue Service approved SMRC for a 501(c)(3) classification.  Consistent with that it was felt that a name change should be made to more accurately reflect the public interest – hence, the corporate name became “The Railroad Education and Learning Center of Florida, Inc.” – d/b/a/ Real Rail.

In 2009,  RealRail moved to our present location,  6804/06 14th St. W & 68th Ave. W.  which has achieved our desire for better public access, but, unfortunately, at a sacrifice in space.

Throughout our history we have many times set up our modular layouts at area shopping centers and held Model Railroad Expositions at least annually.   These events at the Manatee Civic Center have drawn regularly 1500 adults and children.  Also, RealRail has had displays during the Christmas Holiday Season at the South Florida Museum, Crosley Estate, and downtown Lakewood Ranch.

Our Values:

Our values are the heart of our organization.  They define who we are and what we want to bring to the community we serve:

  • Museum Quality Exhibits.


  • Preservation of Florida Railroad History.


  • Educational resources to the community on the Historical, Cultural, and Economic impact of railroading in Florida.


  • Educational programs and resources for elementary education professionals in our community.

We look forward to seeing you at the Center!