Florida East Coast Railway

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Florida East Coast Railway
Florida East Coast Herald.png
Fecmap.png
FEC route map
Reporting mark FEC
Locale Florida
Dates of operation 1885–present
Track gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Headquarters Jacksonville, Florida
Website www.fecrwy.com

The Florida East Coast Railway (reporting mark FEC) is a Class II railroad operating in the U.S. state of Florida and since 2007 has been a subsidiary of Railroad Acquisition Holdings, LLC, itself a subsidiary of Fortress Investment Group, LLC.

The FEC was historically a Class I railroad owned by Florida East Coast Industries (FECI) from 2000-2006, FOXX Holdings from 1983-2000, and the St. Joseph Paper Company prior to 1983.

Built primarily in the last quarter of the 19th century and the first decade of the 20th century, the FEC was a project of Standard Oil principal Henry Morrison Flagler. Flagler originally visited Florida to aid with the health issues faced by his first wife, Mary. A key strategist who worked closely with John D. Rockefeller building the Standard Oil Trust, Henry Flagler noted both a lack of services and great potential during his stay at St. Augustine. He subsequently began what amounted to his second career developing resorts, industries, and communities all along Florida's shores abutting the Atlantic Ocean.

The FEC is possibly best known for building the railroad to Key West, completed in 1912. When the FEC's line from the mainland to Key West was heavily damaged by the Labor Day Hurricane of 1935, the State of Florida purchased the remaining right-of-way and bridges south of Dade County, and they were rebuilt into road bridges for vehicle traffic and became known as the Overseas Highway. However, a greater and lasting Flagler legacy was the developments along Florida's eastern coast.

During the Great Depression, control was purchased by heirs of the du Pont family. After 30 years of fragile financial condition, the FEC, under leadership of a new president, Ed Ball, took on the labor unions. Ball claimed the company could not afford the same costs as larger Class 1 railroads and needed to invest saved funds in its infrastructure, fast becoming a safety issue. Using replacement workers, the company and some of its employees engaged in one of the longest and more violent labor conflicts of the 20th century from 1963 until 1977. Ultimately, federal authorities had to intervene to stop the violence, which included bombings, shootings and vandalism. However, the courts ruled in the FEC's favor with regards to the right to employ strikebreakers. During this time, Ball invested heavily in numerous steps to improve its physical plant, installed various forms of automation,was the first US Railroad to operate two man train crews, eliminate cabooses and end all of its passenger services (which were unprofitable) by 1968.

In modern times, the company's primary rail revenues come from its intermodal and rock trains. Since 2007, it has been owned by Fortress Investment Group,[citation needed] which acquired it for over US$3 billion (including non-rail assets). Fortress previously owned conglomerate short line railroad operator RailAmerica, which for a time operated FEC but the two companies never merged; Fortress no longer owns RailAmerica and RailAmerica no longer operates FEC. A former CSX official, James Hertwig, was named as President and Chief Executive Officer of the company effective July 1, 2010.

History[edit]

Henry Flagler: Developing Florida's east coast[edit]

The Florida East Coast Railway (FEC) was developed by Henry Morrison Flagler, an American tycoon, real estate promoter, railroad developer and John D. Rockefeller's partner in Standard Oil. Formed at Cleveland, Ohio as Rockefeller, Andrews & Flagler in 1867, Standard Oil moved its headquarters in 1877 to New York City. Flagler and his family relocated there as well. He was joined by Henry H. Rogers, another leader of Standard Oil who also became involved in the development of America's railroads, including those on nearby Staten Island, the Union Pacific, and later in West Virginia, where he eventually built the remarkable Virginian Railway to transport coal to Hampton Roads, Virginia.

Henry Flagler's non-Standard Oil interests went in a different direction, however, when in 1878, on the advice of his physician, Flagler traveled to Jacksonville, Florida for the winter with his first wife, Mary, who was quite ill. Two years after she died in 1881, he married Mary's former caregiver, Ida Alice Shourds. After their wedding, the couple traveled to St. Augustine, Florida in 1883. Flagler found the city charming, but the hotel facilities and transportation systems inadequate. He recognized Florida's potential to attract out-of-state visitors. Though Flagler remained on the Board of Directors of Standard Oil, he gave up his day-to-day involvement in the firm in order to pursue his Florida interests.

When Flagler returned to Florida, in 1885 he began building a grand St. Augustine hotel, the Ponce de León Hotel. Flagler realized that the key to developing Florida was a solid transportation system, and consequently purchased the 3 ft (914 mm) narrow gauge Jacksonville, St. Augustine and Halifax River Railway (JStA&HR) on December 31, 1885. He also discovered that a major problem facing the existing Florida railway systems was that each operated on different gauge systems, making interconnection impossible. He converted the line to 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge in 1890 and the small operation was incorporated in 1892.

The earliest predecessor of the FEC was the narrow gauge St. John's Railway, incorporated in 1858, which constructed a now-abandoned line between St. Augustine and Tocoi, a small settlement on the east bank of the St. Johns River, midway between Palatka and Green Cove Springs. In 1883, Henry M. Flagler, now retired from Standard Oil, moved to St. Augustine and built the previously mentioned Ponce de Leon and the Alcazar Hotels and purchased the Casa Monica, just east of the Alcazar, changing the name to Cordova. The East Coast of Florida was relatively undeveloped at that time, and Flagler found it difficult to obtain the construction materials he needed. His purchase of the JStA&HR Railway was intended to make it faster and easier to supply his building projects.

The JStA&HR Railway served the northeastern portion of the state and was the first operation in the Flagler Railroad system. Before Flagler bought the line, the railroad stretched only between South Jacksonville and St. Augustine and lacked a depot sufficient to accommodate travelers to his St. Augustine resorts. Flagler built a modern depot facility as well as schools, hospitals and churches, systematically revitalizing the largely abandoned historic city.

Flagler next purchased three additional existing railroads: the St. John's Railway, the St. Augustine and Palatka Railway, and the St. Johns and Halifax River Railway so that he could provide extended rail service on standard gauge tracks. Through the operation of these three railroads, by spring 1889 Flagler's system offered service from Jacksonville to Daytona. Continuing to develop hotel facilities to entice northern tourists to visit Florida, Flagler bought and expanded the Ormond Hotel, located along the railroad's route north of Daytona in Ormond Beach.

Beginning in 1892, when landowners south of Daytona petitioned him to extend the railroad 80 miles (130 km) south, Flagler began laying new railroad tracks; no longer did he follow his traditional practice of purchasing existing railroads and merging them into his growing rail system. Flagler obtained a charter from the state of Florida authorizing him to build a railroad along the Indian River to Miami, and as the railroad progressed southward, cities such as New Smyrna and Titusville began to develop along the tracks.

The Florida East Coast Railway depot in Sebastian. The structure was built in 1893.

By 1894, Flagler's railroad system reached what is today known as West Palm Beach. Flagler constructed the Royal Poinciana Hotel in Palm Beach overlooking the Lake Worth Lagoon. He also built The Breakers Hotel on the ocean side of Palm Beach, and Whitehall, his private 55-room, 60,000 square foot (5,600 m²) winter home. The development of these three structures, coupled with railroad access to them, established Palm Beach as a winter resort for the wealthy members of America's Gilded Age. Palm Beach was to be the terminus of the Flagler railroad, but during 1894 and 1895, severe freezes hit all of Central Florida, whereas the Miami area remained unaffected, causing Flagler to rethink his original decision not to move the railroad south of Palm Beach. The fable that Julia Tuttle, one of two main landowners in the Miami area along with the Brickell family, sent orange blossoms to Flagler to prove to him that Miami, unlike the rest of the state, was unaffected by the frost is untrue. The fact is that Mrs. Tuttle wired Mr. Flagler to advise him that "the region around the shores of Biscayne Bay is untouched by the freezes." Mr. Flagler sent his two now famous in Florida history lieutenants, James E. Ingraham and Joseph R. Parrott to investigate and they brought boxes of truck (produce) and citrus back to Mr. Flagler, who then wired Mrs. Tuttle, asking, "Madam, what is it that you propose?" To convince Flagler to continue the railroad to Miami, both Julia Tuttle and William Brickell offered half of their holdings north and south of the Miami River to Mr. Flagler. Mrs. Tuttle added 50 acres (200,000 m2) for shops and yards if Mr. Flagler would extend his railroad to the shores of Biscayne Bay and build one of his great hotels. An agreement was made, contracts were signed, and the rest, as it is said, is history. On September 7, 1895, the name of Flagler's system was changed from the Jacksonville, St. Augustine and Indian River Railway Company to the Florida East Coast Railway Company and incorporated.[1] On April 15, 1896, track reached Biscayne Bay, the site of present day downtown Miami. At the time, it was a small settlement of less than 50 inhabitants. When the town incorporated, on July 28, 1896, its citizens wanted to honor the man responsible for the city's development by naming it Flagler. He declined the honor, persuading them to retain its old Indian name, Miami. The area was actually previously known as Fort Dallas after the fort built there in 1836 during the Second Seminole War. To further develop the area surrounding the Miami railroad station, Flagler dredged a channel, built streets and The Royal Palm Hotel, instituted the first water and power systems, and financed the town's first newspaper, the Metropolis. Flagler was a great visionary and he can be credited for the development of the entire east coast of Florida. Yet he lacked vision on at least one issue: he felt that Miami would never be more than a fishing village.

As of 1904, Flagler started what everybody considered a folly: the extension of the FEC to Key West which would later be known as the Overseas Railway, at the time considered the eighth wonder of the world and surely the most daring infrastructure ever built exclusively with private funds. The first train—a construction engineers train—arrived in Key West on January 21, 1912, while Mr. Flagler's special train and other passenger trains arrived the next day, January 22, 1912, and that is considered the first day of service on the new route.

A 1913 print advertisement extols the many advantages of traveling on the Florida East Coast Railway, the "New Route to the Panama Canal."

Constructing the Florida East Coast Railway[edit]

The railroad south of West Palm Beach was constructed in phases by the FEC and the predecessor systems. Flagler began his railroad building in 1892. Under Florida's generous land-grant laws passed in 1893, 8,000 acres (3,200 ha) could be claimed from the state for every mile (1.6 km) built. Flagler would eventually claim a total in excess of two million acres (8,000 km²) for building the FEC, and land development and trading would become one of his most profitable endeavors.

Before it became the FEC, the Jacksonville, St. Augustine & Indian River was constructing a line southwards from Daytona Beach in 1894. Fort Pierce was reached on January 29, and West Palm Beach on March 22. Further extension southwards did not begin until June 1895, when a favorable deal was signed with Miami-area business interests. Fort Lauderdale was reached on March 3 of the following year. By April, the construction reached Biscayne Bay, the largest and most accessible harbor on Florida's east coast. Flagler announced in 1904 that the FEC would be extended 128 miles (206 km) to Key West over the ocean. However, in 1906, a powerful hurricane killed 135 of Flagler's workers.[2] The Over-the-Sea Extension was completed in 1912, a mere 16 months prior to Flagler's death, at a cost of $50 million and lives of hundreds of workmen.

Key West Extension[edit]

Main article: Overseas Railroad
en route to Key West

Never one to rest on his laurels, Flagler next sought perhaps his greatest challenge: the extension of the Florida East Coast Railway to Key West, a city of almost 20,000 inhabitants located 128 miles (206 km) beyond the end of the Florida peninsula. Flagler became particularly interested in linking Key West to the mainland after the United States announced in 1905 the construction of the Panama Canal. Key West, the United States' closest deep-water port to the canal, could not only take advantage of Cuban and Latin America trade, but the opening of the canal would allow significant trade possibilities with the west.

The construction of the Overseas Railroad required many engineering innovations as well as vast amounts of labor and monetary resources. At one time during construction, four thousand men were employed. During the seven-year construction, three hurricanes threatened to halt the project.

Despite the hardships, the final link of the Florida East Coast Railway was completed in 1912. On January 22 of that year, a proud Henry Flagler rode the first passenger train into Key West, marking the completion of the railroad's oversea connection to Key West and the linkage by railway of the entire east coast of Florida.

One of the reasons Flagler built the Key West Extension was at the time of its conception, Key West was a major coaling station for ship traffic between South America and New York. Flagler thought it would be profitable for coal to be brought by railroad to Key West for coaling those ships. By the time the railroad was finished in 1912 though, range had been extended on the ships to such a degree that Key West was no longer a stopover for coal.

FEC Through the Years[edit]

The Florida Overseas Railroad, also known as the "Key West Extension of the Florida East Coast Railway" was heavily damaged and partially destroyed in the Labor Day Hurricane of 1935. The Florida East Coast Railway was financially unable to rebuild the destroyed sections, so the roadbed and remaining bridges were sold to the state of Florida, which built the Overseas Highway to Key West, using much of the remaining railway infrastructure. A rebuilt Overseas Highway (U.S. Route 1) following Flagler's dream, continues to provide a highway link to Key West, ending at the southernmost point in the continental United States.

The Stock Market Crash of 1929 and Great Depression were harsh on the FEC. The railroad declared bankruptcy and was in receivership by September 1931, 18 years after Flagler's death. Bus service began to be substituted for trains on the branches in 1932. Streamliners plied the rails between 1939 and 1963, including "The Champion" and "The Florida Special" jointly operated with the Atlantic Coast Line. Adding to the woes was the Cuban embargo.

During the Great Depression Edward Ball, who controlled the Alfred I. duPont Testamentary Trust, bought a majority ownership of FEC, buying its bonds on the open market, allowing the FEC to emerge from bankruptcy following protracted litigation with a group of the company's other bondholders, led by S.A. Lynch and associated with the Atlantic Coast Line which had proposed an alternate plan of reorganization. That same year, a labor contract negotiation turned sour. Ball was determined to save the railroad from the bankruptcy that had continued for more than a decade. Ball was certain that if the company didn't become profitable, the equipment and track would deteriorate to the point where some lines would become unsafe or unusable and require partial abandonment.

Promotional excursions such as the Florida Special helped make the state the tourist destination it is today.

Ball fought ferociously for the company's right to engage in its own contract negotiations with the railroad unions rather than accept an industry wide settlement that would traditionally contain featherbedding and wasteful work rules. This led to a prolonged work stoppage by non-operating unions beginning January 23, 1963, and whose picket lines were honored by the operating unions (the train crews).

Because the strike was by the non-operating unions, a Federal judge ordered the railroad to continue observing their work rules, while the railroad was free to change the work rules for the operating unions, who were technically not on strike and thus had no standing in the federal court regarding the strike.

Ball's use of replacement workers to keep the railroad running during the strike led to violence by strikers that included shootings and bombings. Eventually, federal intervention helped quell the violence, and the railroad's right to operate during the strike with replacement workers was affirmed by the United States Supreme Court. As the strike continued, the FEC took numerous steps to improve its physical plant, installed various forms of automation, and drastically cut labor costs. Most of the nation's other railroads did not match these achievements for several years; some still had not as of 2010.[3]

Passenger service became an issue in Florida during the early years of the labor strike, which essentially lasted 14 years, from 1963 to 1977. At the insistence of the City of Miami – which had long fought to get rid of the tracks in the downtown section just north of the county courthouse – Miami's wooden-constructed downtown passenger terminal was demolished by November 1963.[4] Although a new station was planned at NE 36th Street and NE 2nd Avenue,[5] it was never built. Further, while freight trains were operated with non-union and supervisory crews, passenger runs were not reinstated until August 2, 1965, after the City of Miami sued and the Florida courts ruled that the FEC corporate charter required both coach and first class passenger services to be offered. In response, FEC sold "parlour car seating" for first class accommodations in the rear lounge section of a tavern-lounge-observation car. This new state-mandated passenger service consisted of a single diesel locomotive and two streamlined passenger cars, which, in addition to the operating crew, were staffed by a passenger service agent and a coach attendant, who were "non-operating." The mini-streamliner operated all of the way across three previously observed crew districts (Jacksonville to New Smyrna Beach to Fort Pierce to Miami). Following the letter of the law, the train carried no baggage, remains, mail or express; honoured no inter-line tickets or passes; and the only food service was a box lunch (at Cocoa-Rockledge in 1966). On-board beverage service was limited to soft drinks and coffee. Without a station in Miami, the 1950s era station in North Miami became the southern terminus. The service operated six days a week until it was finally discontinued on July 31, 1968.

Later, after 23 years under Ball, Raymond Wyckoff took the helm on May 30, 1984. In March 2005, Robert Anestis stepped down as CEO of Florida East Coast Industries after a 4-year stint, allowing Adolfo Henriquez to assume that position, with John D. McPherson, a long-time railroad man, continuing as president of the railway itself. By this time, the railroad had long since made peace with its workers.

In late 2007, in a move surprising to many employees and railroad industry observers alike, the FEC was purchased by the principal investors who also control short line railroad operator RailAmerica. John Giles was named chairman, and David Rohal was named president. Both men were also principals with major responsibilities at RailAmerica as well, although the ownership of FEC and RailAmerica were not linked corporately, and the spinoff of RailAmerica as a publicly traded company did not include FEC.

In May, 2010, James Hertwig was named as President and Chief Executive Officer of the company effective July 1, 2010. Hertwig had recently retired from CSX, most recently having served a president of CSX Intermodal, one of CSX's major operating units.[6]

FEC in modern times[edit]

Old office buildings in St. Augustine
Florida East Coast Railway #1594 at Gold Coast Railroad Museum

Routing[edit]

The Florida East Coast Railway operates from its relocated headquarters in Jacksonville after selling the original General Office Building in St. Augustine to Flagler College in late 2006. Its trains run over nearly the same route developed by Henry Flagler; notably, the Moultrie Cutoff was built in 1925 to shorten the distance south of St. Augustine.

Modern operations[edit]

The FEC operations today are dominated by "intermodal" trains and unit rock (limestone) trains. Passenger service was discontinued in 1968 after labor unrest that resulted in considerable incidents of violence.

The company's major income-earning sources are its rock trains, transporting primarily limestone, and intermodal trains. FEC freight trains operate on precise schedules. Trains are not held for missed connections or late loadings. Most of the trains are paired so that they leave simultaneously from their starting points and meet halfway through the run and swap crews, so they are back home at the end of their runs. The FEC pioneered operation with 2 man crews with no crew districts, which they were able to start doing after the 1963 strike. The entire railroad adopted positive train control (PTC) after a fatal 1987 collision caused by a crew not obeying signaling. (PTC is a safety feature long-sought by federal safety officials for all railroads).

FEC has what is called by some a "prime" railroad right-of-way. The heavy weight of the rock trains required very good trackage and bridges. The railroad has mostly 133 pound-per-yard (66 kg/m) continuous-welded rail attached to concrete ties, which sits on a high quality granite roadbed. The entire railroad is controlled by centralized traffic control with constant radio communication. Because the railroad has only minor grades, it takes very little horsepower to pull very long trains at speed. 60 mph (97 km/h) trains are a normal FEC operating standard.

Passenger service[edit]

The FEC was already in the freight-business only when Amtrak was created and assumed passenger operations of many other U.S. railroads in 1971. Periodically, there has been speculation that the southern end of the FEC line may be used for a commuter rail service to complement the existing Tri-Rail line (which follows former CSX tracks). There have also been some discussion about Amtrak or the State of Florida using FEC lines for a more direct route between Jacksonville and Miami. In March 2012 the FEC proposed a privately owned and operated service along its route named All Aboard Florida.

Rock trains[edit]

A lifeblood of the FEC is its transportation of high-grade limestone, which is used in the formulation for concrete and other construction purposes. The limestone is quarried near Miami in the "Lake Belt" area of Dade County and Broward County just west of Hialeah. The rock trains come out of the FEC yard at Medley in Miami-Dade County and the southern end of the FEC service area. Shipments currently are principally for materials dealers Titan and Rinker.

Rinker has since been sold and is now part of the multi-national Cemex.

Intermodal services[edit]

The intermodal traffic includes interchanged shipments with CSX and Norfolk Southern, participation in EMP container service operated by UP and Norfolk Southern, United Parcel Service (UPS) piggyback trailers, trailers going to the Wal-Mart distribution center at Fort Pierce, and intermodal shipping container traffic through the ports of Miami, Port Everglades (adjacent to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida and the principal source of imports), Port of Palm Beach/Lake Worth Inlet, and Port Canaveral.

Additionally FEC offers "Hurricane Service" offering trucking companies the opportunity of having their trailers piggybacked out of Jacksonville to save the expensive cost of back-hauling empty trailers.

Manifest, other freight[edit]

Produce being loaded into FEC refrigerated cars in the 1950s.

The FEC also hauls normal "manifest" freight to and from points along its right of way. These cars are hauled on whatever train is going that way, so intermodal and rock trains routinely have some manifest cars in their consists.

Additionally, the FEC currently transports Tropicana Products "Juice Train" cars to and from one of the company's processing facilities located on the "K" Line. The Juice Train concept was developed by Tropicana founder Anthony T. Rossi in conjunction with Seaboard Coast Line Railroad (a CSX predecessor) beginning in 1970.

Motive power[edit]

The FEC completed its "second generation" dieselisation with the purchase of 49 GP40s and GP40-2s and 11 GP38-2s, ranging in the 400's. These locomotives have been extensively rebuilt. In 2002, the FEC acquired 20 used ex-UP SD40-2s, ranging into 700's, which remained at the time in UP colours with FEC markings. In 2006 they purchased four SD70ACe's ranging in the 100's. In 2009 when RailAmerica came into the picture, they had placed 4 new Red, Pearl & Blue engines with one side saying "RailAmerica" and the other Florida East Coast, also ranging in the 100's. With the FEC making new changes, RA, left FEC and the company was back on its own. In 2010, CITX had leased 3 of their engines and FEC got a hold of those, all 3 ranging in the 140 series. The GP38-2s are used principally for yard and road switching. The others are used as available in road service. Some test runs have been made to observe the effect on fuel consumption of dynamic braking and combinations of new and old power.

FEC101-03 with 107, 141 & Heritage713 on lead.
FEC202-02 with 101 & Heritage714.
FEC202-05 with CITX142 and the damaged 106 leading. 106 was damage on May 4, 2013 when FEC101-04 struck a van at Congress Av. in Hypoluxo, FL.
FEC920-06( local ) with 415 on lead.

Statistics[edit]

In 2005 FEC owned and operated:[7]

  • 351 miles (565 km) of mainline track between Jacksonville and Miami, Florida
  • 277 miles (446 km) of branch, switching, and other secondary track
  • 158 miles (254 km) of yard track

Flagler Development owned and operated:

  • 64 buildings
  • 7.4 million rentable square feet

In 1925 FEC carried 979 million ton-miles of revenue freight and 261 million passenger miles on (at year-end) 849 miles of road and 1411 miles of track; corresponding numbers for 1970 were 1345, 0, 554 and 1058.

Motive Fleet[edit]

FEC #446, an EMD GP40-3
Road numbers Model Notes
100-107, 140-142 EMD SD70M-2 Numbers 104-107 are painted in RailAmerica's red pearl and blue colors; Numbers 100-103 are painted in Alaska-Railroad-esque Yellow and Blue colors. Numbers 140-142 are still painted in CITX blue with white stripes.
401-410 EMD GP40 402 wrecked parts traded in for #424; reportedly #406 painted yellow, red & black and numbered 2000
411-14, 16-18, 20-22, 24-27, 29-38, 40 and 443 EMD GP40-2 423 reblt to #437; 426 on cover of country musician Randy Dukes, album Riding the Rails.
415, 419, 428, 439, 441 EMD GP40-3
444 - 449 EMD GP40-3 Rebuilt GP40s; dynamic brake equipped
501-511 EMD GP38-2 502 acquired by Chesapeake & Albemarle Railroad. 503 and 504 acquired by North Carolina & Virginia Railroad.
701-720 EMD SD40-2 Ex-Union Pacific; Nos 703, 713, 714, 715, 716 & 720 were overhauled & repainted into yellow, red and black. These units are favoured by many on the FEC in which they call the Champion scheme because it has the FEC Champion colors made famous by the passenger train of that name.[8] #717-719 acquired by Alabama and Gulf Coast Railway. Unit 701 was completely destroyed( bent frame claimed its life ) after southbound FEC Train 107 had derailed due to a double kink in the rails on May, 9th, 2009. 104 was also in the wreck and 35 cars went off the track.
2000 EMD GP40 Commemorative unit in yellow, red and black
Progress Rail 3576 & 3578 EMD SD40-2
Progress Rail 9917 EMD SD40-2
General Electric 24 units GE ES44C4[9] on order for 2014 delivery

Awards and recognition[edit]

On May 16, 2006, FEC was the recipient of the Gold E. H. Harriman Award for safety in Group C (line-haul railroad companies with fewer than 4 million employee hours per year).[10]

Corporate history[edit]

The Jacksonville, St. Augustine and Indian River Railway Company was incorporated under the general incorporation laws of Florida to own and operate a railroad from Jacksonville in Duval county, through the counties of Duval, St. Johns, Putnam, Volusia, Brevard, Orange, Osceola, Dade, Polk and Hillsborough.

Florida state law chapter 4260, approved May 31, 1893, granted land to the railroad. At that time, it was already in operation from Jacksonville to Rockledge, the part south of Daytona having been constructed by them. The company had just filed a certificate changing and extending its lines on and across the Florida Keys to Key West in Monroe County.

The name was changed to the Florida East Coast Railway Company on September 7, 1895.

Florida East Coast Industries (FECI) incorporated in 1983[7] and was made the holding company for the Railway and the Commercial Realty/Flagler Development Company in 1984. The other subsidiaries are Orlando-based carrier, "EPIK Communication" and the logistics firm, "International Transit".[11]

FECI began operating independently of the St. Joe Company on October 9, 2000[7] when St. Joe shareholders were given FECI stock.

On May 8, 2007, Florida East Coast Railway Company's parent, Florida East Coast Industries (FECI), announced that FECI would be purchased with private equity funds managed by Fortress Investment Group in a transaction valued at $3.5 billion.[12][13] Fortress Investment acquired Florida East Coast Railway from Florida East Coast Industries in March, 2008.[13][clarification needed]

Lines[edit]

Main line[edit]

Florida East Coast Railway
Route map
Dist.
Station
0 mi 
0 km 
Jacksonville
St. Johns River / FEC Strauss Trunnion Bascule Bridge
South Jacksonville
7 mi 
11 km 
Bowden Yard
Greenland
Bayard
Durbin
37 mi 
60 km 
St. Augustine, Florida
Moultrie Cutoff
College Park
Tocoi Junction
Vermont Heights
Elkton
Armstrong
Spuds
54 mi 
87 km 
Hastings
Orange Mills
61 mi 
98 km 
East Palatka
Yelvington
Roy
Dinner Island
Neoga
Espanola
87 mi 
140 km 
Bunnell
Favorita
104 mi 
167 km 
Ormond Beach
110 mi 
177 km 
Daytona Beach
Port Orange
124 mi 
200 km 
New Smyrna Beach
135 mi 
217 km 
New Smyrna Beach
Edgewater
Oak Hill
Scottsmoor
Wiley
154 mi 
248 km 
Titusville
Indian River City
Frontenac
Sharpes
City Point
169 mi 
272 km 
Cocoa-City Point
173 mi 
278 km 
Cocoa
174 mi 
280 km 
Cocoa-Rockledge
190 mi 
306 km 
Eau Gallie
194 mi 
312 km 
Melbourne
Palm Bay
Malabar
Grant
Micco
Roseland
Sebastian
Wabasso
Winter Beach
Gifford
228 mi 
367 km 
Vero Beach
Oslo
Viking
Indrio
St. Lucie
242 mi 
389 km 
Fort Pierce
White City
Walton
Jensen Beach
261 mi 
420 km 
Stuart
Port Sewall
Salerno
Gomez
275 mi 
443 km 
Hobe Sound
Jupiter
Monet
Lake Park
Riviera Beach
297 mi 
478 km 
West Palm Beach
299 mi 
481 km 
West Palm Beach
306 mi 
492 km 
Lake Worth
Hypoluxo
Boynton Beach
317 mi 
510 km 
Delray Beach
325 mi 
523 km 
Boca Raton
Deerfield Beach
333 mi 
536 km 
Pompano Beach
Oakland Park
341 mi 
549 km 
Fort Lauderdale
Dania
346 mi 
557 km 
Hollywood
Hallandale
Ojus
North Miami Beach
346 mi 
557 km 
North Miami
Little River
365 mi 
587 km 
Hileah
PortMiami
366 mi 
589 km 
MiamiGovernment Center
Key West Extension
Coconut Grove
South Miami
Homestead
Florida City
Key Largo
Islamorada
Matecumbe
Marathon
Big Pine
Pirates Cove
Key West

Historical listing of main line stations (north to south)

Historical marker
Historical marker
  • Lyrata
  • Scottsmoor
  • East Aurantia
  • Jones Post Office or East Mims
  • Titusville (Enterprise Branch begins)
  • Indian River City
  • Pritchards
  • Frontenac
  • Hardeeville
  • Fuastina
  • Sharpes
  • City Point
  • Cocoa
  • Rockledge
  • Rockledge Hotels (spur across Indian River)
  • Coquina
  • Bonaventure
  • Pineda
  • Bahia
  • Horse Creek
  • Eau Gallie
  • Military Park (Station at the Kentucky Military Institute)
  • Sarno
  • Melbourne
  • Tillman (now Palm Bay)
  • Malabar
  • Valkaria
  • Grant
  • Micco
  • Roseland
  • Sebastian
  • Wabasso
  • Winter Beach
  • Gifford
  • Vero Railroad Station, now Vero Beach, extant
  • Viking
  • Indrio
  • St. Lucie
  • Fort Pierce
  • White City
  • Walton
  • Jensen (now Jensen Beach), demolished
  • Rio, demolished
  • Stuart, demolished
  • Port Sewall, demolished
  • Salerno, now Port Salerno, demolished
  • Gomez, demolished
  • Hobe Sound, moved to a grove on Bridge Road west of Hobe Sound and still extant (Land purchased and developed into the Hobe Sound Polo Club and the old station now serves as the grounds office)
  • Jupiter, built 1914, later moved to 479 Seabrook Road, Tequesta to be used as a house. Now facing demolition.[14]
  • Monet (now Palm Beach Gardens)
  • Kelsey City (now Lake Park)
  • Riviera
  • West Palm Beach
  • Lake Worth
  • Hypoluxo
  • Boynton
  • Delray Beach
  • Yamato
  • Boca Raton Florida East Coast Railway Station, extant
  • Deerfield
  • Pompano
  • Oakland Park
  • Fort Lauderdale
  • Dania
  • Hollywood
  • Hallandale
  • North Miami Beach
  • North Miami
  • Little River/ El Portal/ Miami Shores
  • Miami

Bypass around Miami[edit]

Kissimmee Valley Line and cutoff (K-Branch)[edit]

FEC Kissimmee Valley Extension Map

Stations (north to south)

  • Maytown
  • Osceola
  • Geneva
  • Chuluota
  • Bithlo
  • Pocataw
  • Wewahotee
  • Narcoossee
  • Salofka
  • Tohopkee ( Mail service terminated 1927 )
  • Holopaw
  • Illahaw ( Mail service terminated 1935 )
  • Nittaw ( Mail service terminated 1935 )
  • Kenansville

Kenansville Branch (East)[edit]

  • Apoxsee
  • Lokosee
  • Yeehaw
  • Osawa
  • Fort Drum Depot
  • Hilo (Currently known as Hilolo)
  • Efal
  • Opal
  • Okeechobee

Kenansville Branch (West)[edit]

  • Armstrong
  • Pine Island
  • Halsey
  • Greely
  • Bassinger

South of Holopaw, the line roughly parallels US 441.

Palm Beach Branch[edit]

Fellsmere Branch[edit]

See http://www.taplines.net/tfc/tfc01.html for the story of the Fellsmere Branch.

Lake Harbor Branch[edit]

The Lake Harbor Branch runs from Fort Pierce in St. Lucie County to Lake Harbor in Palm Beach County. Also known as the "K" branch. It is now partially owned by other short lines. It basically serves the sugar farms in Palm Beach and Hendry Counties.

Enterprise Branch[edit]

The Enterprise Branch (E-branch) was built in 1885 by the Atlantic Coast, St. Johns and Indian River Railroad and leased to the Jacksonville, Tampa and Key West Railroad, part of the Plant System. Initially, the westernmost five miles (8 km) served as a connection from Enterprise Junction to Enterprise, a port for steamboat traffic down the St. Johns River. Later, the line was built through Osteen, Kalamazoo, and Mims to Titusville. The Enterprise Branch also crossed the Kissimmee Valley Branch at a location known as Maytown.

FEC Railway crossing at Maytown, Florida

A steam locomotive pulled the first train over the line onto the wharf on the Indian River at Titusville on the afternoon of December 30, 1885, and greatly accelerated the transportation of passengers, produce, seafood, and supplies to and from central Florida. While Titusville thrived thanks to this new transportation connection, Enterprise lost stature as a steamboat port, since Henry Plant's railroad paralleled the St. Johns River and greatly reduced travel times to Jacksonville.

During the winter of 1894–95, a widespread freeze hit twice, decimating the citrus crop and ruining that part of Florida's economy. This allowed Henry Flagler to acquire the line at a discount to piece together what became the Florida East Coast Railway.

The track of the E-branch at one time had been uprooted as far as Aurantia, about five miles (8 km) northwest of Mims, ending directly under the Interstate 95 overpass and has been abandoned. The crossing gates and signals were removed before the summer 2004 hurricanes and the track is being removed by a steel salvage company. As of 2008 the track has been completely removed up to the connection with the current FEC mainline in Titusville.

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection took ownership of the rail bed on December 31, 2007. The corridor will become Florida's longest rails-to-trails project.[15][16] This rail line would have been suited to recreational railroad use by such groups as the North American Rail Passenger Car Owners' Association assuming a representative who is local to the area could have been located.

Atlantic and Western Branch[edit]

This branch, from Blue Spring on the St. Johns River via Orange City to the main line in New Smyrna Beach, was built by the Blue Spring, Orange City and Atlantic Railroad. In the mid-1880s it became the Atlantic and Western Branch of the Jacksonville, St. Augustine and Indian River Railway, which changed its name to the Florida East Coast Railway in 1895. It may have been the Atlantic and Western Railroad in between. The line was in use until 1930.

Tocoi Branch[edit]

The railroad from Tocoi to Tocoi Junction, outside St. Augustine, was built by the St. Johns Railway. The Jacksonville, St. Augustine and Indian River Railway took it over by 1894, and changed its name to the Florida East Coast Railway in 1895. The line was abandoned by 1917; it was later used for SR 95, which became SR 214 at some time after the 1945 Florida State Road renumbering, and is now CR 214.

Moultrie Cutoff[edit]

The almost arrow-straight Moultrie Cutoff was built in 1925 to cut the distance on the main line, avoiding the swing inland to East Palatka. It runs from just north of Bunnell to Moultrie Junction in St. Augustine. In 2005 the entire route had its mileposts redone to match the rest on the main line.

Flagler Beach Branch[edit]

The railroad from Flagler Beach to Dorena, north of Bunnell, was built by the Lehigh Portland Cement Company in 1953. The line connected to the Lehigh Portland Cement Company Plant located near Flagler Beach. The line was abandoned in 1963, after a deadly strike erupted in that year that closed the massive plant. The site of the old plant was where some of the monorail beams were assembled for Walt Disney World in the early 1970s. The route is now part of the rails to trails system. The plant has been demolished outside of one smokestack that will become a "lighthouse" for a new development.

San Mateo Branch[edit]

Palatka Branch[edit]

The railroad from Palatka to Moultrie Junction, outside St. Augustine, was built by the Jacksonville, St. Augustine and Halifax River Railway. The Jacksonville, St. Augustine and Indian River Railway took it over by 1894, and changed its name to the Florida East Coast Railway in 1895. The line was the main route until the construction of the Moultrie Cutoff in 1925. it was later abandoned in 1988 and all rail was removed to a point just west of I-95. In 2001 rail service resumed up to this point and track was rehabilitated when new industries were located there. A daily local serves the eastern end of the line today known as the Wilber Wright Industrial Lead.

Mayport Branch[edit]

This was originally built by the Jacksonville and Atlantic Railroad, a 3 ft (914 mm) narrow gauge line from Jacksonville to Pablo Beach (now Jacksonville Beach). In late 1899 it was bought by Henry Flagler, who had the line converted to 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge and extended it north along the coast to Mayport. The new branch opened in March 1900 and was abandoned in October 1932.

Family tree[edit]

  • Florida East Coast Railway formed September 13, 1895, as a renaming of the Jacksonville, St. Augustine and Indian River Railroad; still exists
  • Jacksonville, St. Augustine and Indian River Railroad - formed October 6, 1892, as a renaming of the FC&G; renamed the Florida East Coast Railway September 13, 1895
    • Florida Coast and Gulf Railway - formed May 28, 1892; renamed the Jacksonville, St. Augustine and Indian River Railroad October 6, 1892
    • Jacksonville, St. Augustine and Halifax River Railway - formed February 28, 1881, as a renaming of the Jacksonville, St. Augustine and Halifax River Railroad; merged with the Jacksonville, St. Augustine and Indian River Railroad October 31, 1892
      • Jacksonville, St. Augustine and Halifax River Railroad - formed March 1879; renamed the Jacksonville, St. Augustine and Halifax River Railway February 28, 1881
    • St. Augustine and Palatka Railway - formed September 1, 1885; merged with the Jacksonville, St. Augustine and Indian River Railroad 1893

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Notes
  1. ^ Florida Trend: September 1, 2008-Florida Companies With Promise by Amy Keller
  2. ^ "Monthly Weather Review". American Meteorological Society. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. 1906. pp. 479–480. Retrieved 2011-10-11. 
  3. ^ Florida Times-Union: February 21, 1999-A powerful man craved little but gave a lot by Raymond Mason
  4. ^ Howe, Ward Allan (Nov 3, 1963). "THE FLORIDA RUN: Railroads Anticipating a Busy Winter—New Schedule Effective Dec. 13". New York Times. p. XX13. Retrieved 2011-03-29. 
  5. ^ Einstein, Paul (Sep 23, 1963). "It's Coming Down This Week!". The Miami News. p. 2A. Retrieved 2011-03-29. 
  6. ^ "Hertwig named Florida East Coast Railway CEO". Historiccity.com. 2010-05-28. Retrieved 2012-05-15. 
  7. ^ a b c BusinessWeek magazine: Company Profiles-Florida East Coast Industries, Inc.
  8. ^ "FEC 143". Rrpicturearchives.net. Retrieved 2012-05-15. 
  9. ^ "FEC taps GE Transportation for 24 locomotives". Railway Age. Retrieved 2014-01-31. 
  10. ^ Association of American Railroads (reprinted by Norfolk Southern Railway) (2006-05-16). "Railroads Set Another Employee Safety Record in 2005". Archived from the original on 2007-02-13. Retrieved 2006-05-24. 
  11. ^ Barton, Susanna: [1] Jacksonville Business Journal, December 5, 2000 - Peyton joins FECI board
  12. ^ "Florida East Coast Industries to Be Acquired By Funds Managed By Fortress Investment Group LLC in an All-Cash Transaction Valued at $3.5 Billion" (Press release). Florida East Coast Industries. 2007-05-08. Retrieved 2007-05-11. 
  13. ^ a b Basch, Mark: [2] Florida Times-Union, July 21, 2008 - FEC rolling along after buyout
  14. ^ Wagner, Jody, Palm Beach Post, Tequesta gives groups time to try to save old Flagler train depot
  15. ^ Topic Galleries - OrlandoSentinel.com
  16. ^ Florida Department of Environmental Protection: January 3, 2008-State Takes Ownership of Longest Rail-Trail in Florida
Bibliography

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Buffalo and Pittsburgh Railroad
Regional Railroad of the Year
2007
Succeeded by
South Kansas and Oklahoma Railroad