South Florida Railroad

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South Florida Railroad
Locale Florida
Dates of operation 1880–1893
Successor Plant System
Track gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge ; originally 3 ft (914 mm) gauge
1888 SFRR north.jpg
1888 SFRR south.jpg
1888 map

The South Florida Railroad was a railroad from Orlando to Tampa, Florida, becoming part of the Plant System in 1893 and the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad in 1902.

History[edit]

The Lake Monroe and Orlando Railroad was organized in 1875 with a charter to build from the St. Johns River port of Sanford south to Orlando. The South Florida Railroad was incorporated on October 16, 1878, but was unable to obtain a charter until December 9, 1879, when it took over the charter of the Lake Monroe and Orlando, which was in danger of losing its land grants. The South Florida first ran on November 11, 1880, running the short distance between Sanford and Orlando. However the company had plans to continue to the Gulf of Mexico, reaching it at Tampa.

On May 4, 1883, Henry B. Plant and his Plant System (headed by the Savannah, Florida and Western Railway) bought 3/5 of the stock of the South Florida after an unsuccessful attempt to buy the Florida Southern Railway. Plant had made an agreement with the Florida Southern not to build the SF&W south of Gainesville or Palatka, the northern ends of the Florida Southern, but the existing South Florida was immune from this. Plant then made agreements with all the railroads building towards Tampa except for the Florida Transit and Peninsular Railroad. Specifically, the Florida Southern would not build any lines south of Pemberton's Ferry and Brooksville or north of Bartow, and the South Florida would build its Pemberton Ferry Branch between the two and assign trackage rights to the Florida Southern. The agreement with the Jacksonville, Tampa and Key West Railway specified that that company would only build north of Sanford; in both cases the South Florida would give up their rights to the territories given to the other companies. The JT&KW had already done some grading at Bartow and Tampa, and sold them to the South Florida.

Thus two railroads remained in a race towards Tampa - the South Florida and the Florida Transit and Peninsular Railroad. The South Florida managed to get there first, and obtained the best ports (now known as Port Tampa). The Tampa end opened on December 10, 1883, and on January 25, 1884 service began over the full line, built to 3 ft (914 mm) narrow gauge. On February 20, 1886 the 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge Jacksonville, Tampa and Key West Railway opened to Sanford, and the South Florida was converted to standard gauge on September 22.

In 1893 the Savannah, Florida and Western Railway (Plant System) directly acquired the South Florida. In 1902 the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad acquired the Plant System, and in 1967 the ACL merged into the Seaboard Coast Line Railroad. The line eventually passed to CSX, and now operates as part of one of its two main lines in the area, known as the "A" Line.

Branches[edit]

Lake Charm

The Sanford and Indian River Railroad was chartered in 1881 to run from Sanford southeast to Oviedo and Lake Charm. The South Florida leased it in 1883, and it was standard gauged on September 21, 1886.

Apopka

The Apopka Branch was part of the original charter, running from Mayo on the mainline west to the Withlacoochee River via Apopka. The line was never opened by the South Florida, instead partially opening as the Apopka and Atlantic Railroad; it was never a success.

Narcoossee

The St. Cloud and Sugar Belt Railway was incorporated in 1888 to connect Kissimmee to St. Cloud and Narcoossee. It was immediately operated by the South Florida, and was merged into it in 1893.

Bartow

The charter specified that the railroad must pass through Bartow; thus the Bartow Branch was built from the mainline at Lake Alfred (Bartow Junction) southwest to Bartow. It opened in 1884 and was standard gauged on September 23, 1886.

Pemberton Ferry

Part of the agreement between the South Florida and the Florida Southern Railway specified that the South Florida would build the north-south Pemberton Ferry Branch. This branch began at a junction with the Florida Southern at Pemberton's Ferry, running south-southeast across the mainline at Lakeland to Bartow. South of Bartow, the Florida Southern continued to Punta Gorda, using trackage rights over the branch. Once the Bone Valley phosphate district was discovered near Lakeland, pressure increased to standard-gauge the line, and that was done on August 7, 1891.

After the Plant System bought the South Florida, an extension was built north from Pemberton's Ferry to Inverness, where the Plant System's Silver Springs, Ocala and Gulf Railroad continued north.

Station listing[edit]

Milepost City Station Opening date Connections and notes
A766.4 Sanford 1913 junction with Jacksonville, Tampa and Key West Railway (ACL, now CSX "A" Line), Sanford and Lake Eustis Railroad (ACL), Sanford and Indian River Railroad (SFRR) and Sanford and St. Petersburg Railway (ACL)
Belair
Lake Mary
Soldiers Creek
A778.4 Longwood junction with Florida Midland Railroad (ACL) and original Orange Belt Railway (ACL)
Altamonte
Mayo junction with Apopka and Atlantic Railroad
A783.0 Maitland
A785.6 Winter Park 1890 Amtrak Silver Meteor, Silver Star and Sunset Limited
Wilcox
A790.4 Orlando original station
junction with Tavares, Orlando and Atlantic Railroad (SAL) and East Florida and Atlantic Railroad (SAL)
Orlando 1926 Amtrak Silver Meteor, Silver Star and Sunset Limited
Troy
Jessamine
Pine Castle
A798.4 Taft originally Big Cypress
McKinnon
Marydia
A808.0 Kissimmee 1883 Amtrak Silver Meteor and Silver Star
junction with St. Cloud and Sugar Belt Railway (SFRR) and Florida Midland Railroad (ACL)
Campbells
Lake Locke
Emmaton
A824.8 Davenport
A829.4 Haines City 1920 junction with Atlantic Coast Line Railroad Everglades Branch
A835.6 Lake Alfred c. 1920 originally Bartow Junction
junction with Bartow Branch
A839.7 Auburndale junction with Florida Western and Northern Railroad (SAL)
Fitzhughs
Acton
A851.8 Lakeland 1884 Amtrak Silver Star
junction with Pemberton Ferry Branch
A861.1 Plant City junction with Florida Central and Peninsular Railroad (SAL) and Plant City and Arcadia Railroad (SAL)
Cork
Sparkman
Seffner c.1927
A873.5 Mango
Orient
East Cove junction with Atlantic Coast Line Railroad Sarasota Branch
junction with Tampa and Thonotosassa Railroad (ACL)
A881.7 Tampa 1912 Amtrak Silver Star
junction with Tampa Northern Railroad (SAL) and Florida Central and Peninsular Railroad (SAL)
Citronia
Port Tampa

External links[edit]

References[edit]