Florida Central and Peninsular Railroad
|Dates of operation||1837–1900|
|Track gauge||4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge|
|Previous gauge||5 ft (1,524 mm) originally, converted to
4 ft 9 in (1,448 mm) in 1886
The Florida Central and Peninsular Railroad was the final name of a system of railroads throughout Florida, becoming part of the Seaboard Air Line Railway in 1900. The system, including some of the first railroads in Florida, stretched from Jacksonville west through Tallahassee and south to Tampa.
The Tallahassee Rail Road was first organized in 1832 as the Leon Railway, changing its name in 1834. It opened in 1837, connecting Tallahassee, Florida to the Gulf of Mexico port of St. Marks, Florida. This was the second steam railroad in Florida, opening just a year after the Lake Wimico and St. Joseph Canal and Railroad.
The Florida, Atlantic and Gulf Central Railroad was chartered January 24, 1851, to build west from Jacksonville, Florida, and construction began in 1857. The Pensacola and Georgia Railroad was chartered in January 1853, to be built east from Pensacola, Florida, but started at Tallahassee. The two lines met at Lake City, Florida in 1860, and the latter also built from Tallahassee west to four miles (6 km) short of Quincy, Florida, stopping in 1863 in the middle of the American Civil War.
In 1855 the Pensacola and Georgia bought the Tallahassee. In 1869 the two merged to form the Jacksonville, Pensacola and Mobile Railroad, which obtained trackage rights over the Florida Central Railroad, the 1868 reorganization of the Florida, Atlantic and Gulf. The railroad eventually was built west to Chattahoochee, Florida, a major junction with the Pensacola and Atlantic Railroad continuing west and the Chattahoochee and East Pass Railroad running northeast. In 1882, Sir Edward Reed purchased the Jacksonville, Pensacola and Mobile, absorbing the Florida Central and reorganizing the two as the Florida Central and Western Railroad.
The Florida Railroad was incorporated January 8, 1853, to build a line across the state, from Fernandina, Florida (north of Jacksonville, Florida) southwest to Cedar Key, Florida. The first train ran in 1861, but the line failed and the company was reorganized in 1866. In 1872 it was reorganized again as the Atlantic, Gulf and West India Transit Company. In 1881, Sir Edward Reed purchased the railroad and reorganized it as the Florida Transit Company, which in 1883 was reorganized again as the Florida Transit and Peninsular Railroad. The Florida Transit and Peninsular operated two subsidiaries, the Peninsula Railroad and Tropical Florida Railroad, organized to build lines respectively from the Florida Transit at Waldo, Florida to Ocala, Florida and beyond to Tampa, Florida.
In 1884-85, Reed merged the Florida Transit and Peninsular Railroad with the Florida Central and Western Railroad, Fernandina and Jacksonville Railroad, and Leesburg and Indian River Railroad as the Florida Railway and Navigation Company, which instantly became the largest railroad system in Florida. The new company was placed in receivership in October 1885, sold at foreclosure and reorganized as the Florida Central and Peninsular Railroad Company in 1886.
On May 1, 1889, the company was reorganized again, as the Florida Central and Peninsular Railway, and on January 16, 1893, the final reorganization produced the Florida Central and Peninsular Railroad, along with a merger of the Florida Northern Railroad (a line north of Jacksonville). The Seaboard Air Line Railway leased the FC&P on July 1, 1900, and the latter was merged into the former on August 15, 1903. The FC&P tracks from Charleston, South Carolina to Tampa, Florida via Jacksonville would become part of Seaboard's main line.
|FC&P Southern/Tampa Divisions
(CSX S-Line/Callahan Subdivision)
|FC&P Northern/Western Divisions
(CSX's Tallahassee Subdivision/S-Line north)
The Florida Central and Peninsular Railroad had two main lines, with one extending from Jacksonville to Chattahoochee (Western Division) and another from Fernandina to Cedar Key (Southern Division). The two main lines intersected at Baldwin Junction just west of Jacksonville. The Western Division also included the original line from Tallahassee to St. Marks. Though, the Southern Division from Archer to Cedar Key would only exist until 1932.
The FC&P also had many other lines. The FC&P also bought the Santa Fe Canal in 1892.
A branch was planned but never built to Brooksville by FC&P, but Seaboard would later build a branch from the Cedar Key line at Archer south to Brooksville to connect with the Tampa Northern Railroad.
- Tampa Division
The Tampa Division ran from the Fernandina-Cedar Key line at Waldo south to Tampa. This had been chartered as the Peninsula Railroad north of and the Tropical Florida Railroad south of Ocala. After the Seaboard acquisition, this route became the southernmost segment of their main line.
- Northern Division
The Fernandina and Jacksonville Railroad was organized in 1874 and opened in 1881, connecting Jacksonville north to the Southern Division at Yulee. It was consolidated into the Florida Railway and Navigation Company in 1885.
The South Bound Railroad was organized in 1887 and completed in 1891, connecting Columbia, South Carolina to Savannah, Georgia. The FC&P leased it in 1893. In 1892 the Florida Northern Railroad was chartered by the FC&P to continue the Fernandina and Jacksonville Railroad north into Georgia, where the FC&P would continue the line to Savannah. This opened in 1894, forming a continuous line from Jacksonville to Columbia. In 1899 and 1900, the South Bound Railroad was extended north to Camden, South Carolina to meet the Seaboard Air Line Railway's Chesterfield and Kershaw Railroad.
- Orlando Division
The Leesburg and Indian River Railroad was incorporated in 1884 and merged into the Florida Railway and Navigation Company in 1885. It built a line from the Tampa Division at Wildwood east to Tavares, with plans to continue east to Titusville. That extension was not built, but pieces were built by other companies.
The Orlando and Winter Park Railway was incorporated in 1886 and extended the line from Orlando to Winter Park. The Osceola and Lake Jesup Railway, incorporated 1888, continued the line past Oviedo to Lake Charm. In 1891 the two companies merged into the East Florida and Atlantic Railroad, which was leased by the FC&P in 1892.
The line west of Orlando remained intact under Seaboard and its successors until the 1970s when tracks were removed between Leesburg and Tavares. Since 1986, the remaining line from Tavares to Orlando has been operated by the Florida Central Railroad, a short line run by the Pinsly Railroad Company. The Florida Midland Railroad, another Pinsly-operated short line, operated the segment from Wildwood to Leesburg from 1987 until 2005, when most of that end of the line was abandoned. All that remains on the Wildwood end is a short wye.
- Amelia Beach
The Fernandina and Amelia Beach Railway was organized in 1883 to run from Fernandina at the end of the Southern Division south to Amelia Beach. The FC&P leased it in 1891, and it was abandoned around 1900.
- Early Bird
- Silver Springs
The short Silver Springs branch from Ocala east to Silver Springs was built along with the Tampa Division. The Seaboard Air Line would later lease this branch to the Ocala Northern Railroad in 1909. The Ocala Northern would extend the line Palatka by 1912. The Ocala Northern was reorganized as the Ocklawaha Valley Railroad in 1915, but the line would be abandoned by 1922.
- Lake Weir
The short Sumterville branch from Sumterville Junction to Sumterville was built with the Tampa Division.
Much of the former FC&P lines remain in service today. CSX Transportation (Seaboard's corporate successor) continues to operate the lines from Jacksonville to Chatahoochee and from Callahan to Tampa. The route that became the Seaboard main line through Jacksonville to Tampa via Baldwin Junction is now CSX's S-Line, which is further divided into the Yeoman Subdivision from Tampa to Zephyrhills, and the Wildwood Subdivision from Zephyrhills to Baldwin Junction.. The former Western Division west of Baldwin Junction is now CSX's Tallahassee Subdivision. Trackage north of Baldwin Junction is now the Callahan Subdivision.
The S-Line is today CSX's main freight route through Florida. It gained this distinction in 2011 after a segment of the A-Line (the former Atlantic Coast Line main line) through Orlando was sold to the state for the Sunrail commuter rail system. CSX has double tracked some of the line to increase capacity since then. The S-Line is exclusively used for freight. Passenger service over the line was diminished in the late 1980s when CSX abandoned parts of Seaboard's branch at Wildwood to Miami (the Florida Western and Northern Railroad). Amtrak's Silver Star to Miami used this route up until then, which was subsequently shifted to the A-Line. Passenger service was discontinued completely in 2004 when Amtrak truncated the Palmetto to Savannah, Georgia.
The First Coast Railroad operates all remaining FC&P trackage north of Yulee, including the northern segment of the former Northern Division (S-Line) to Seals, Georgia, and the northern segment of the former Southern Division to Fernandina Beach. The S-Line has been abandoned north of Seals to Savannah, Georgia.
- "The Days They Changed the Gauge". Southern Railfan.
- Turner 2003, p. 61.
- Tucker. 50[full citation needed]
- Turner 2003, p. 52.
- "Affairs of the railways; a receiver for Florida lines". New York Times. October 30, 1885. Retrieved July 25, 2008.[dead link]
- Tucker. 53[full citation needed]
- "Peninsular Railroad routes to Tampa Bay". Tampa Bay Trains. Retrieved January 4, 2017.
- "CSX Jacksonville Division Timetable" (PDF). Multimodalways.
- Roberts, Bruce. "Florida's Forgotten Railroad". The Florida Railroad Company - Fernandina & Cedar Key. Retrieved January 4, 2017.
- "Wildwood to Tavares". Abandoned Rails. Retrieved January 10, 2017.
- "Florida Central, Midland, and Northern Railroads". Pinsly Railroad Company. Retrieved January 10, 2017.
- Florida Railroad Commission Records, 1924 yearbook, railroad comments.[full citation needed]
- Thompson, Bill (July 27, 2011). "Approval of SunRail means more freight trains for Ocala". Ocala Star Banner. Retrieved January 10, 2017.
- Spear, Kevin (March 20, 1988). "Long-distance Trains Leaving Lake County Behind". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved August 28, 2013.
- Stinson, Lashonda (October 14, 2004). "Amtrak to Cut Service to Several Small Fla. Towns". Lakeland Ledger.
- "Tampa Bay Lines in CSX Era". Tampa Bay Trains. Retrieved January 10, 2017.
- "First Coast Railroad". First Coast Railroad. Retrieved January 10, 2017.
- Turner, Gregg M. (2008). A Journey into Florida Railroad History. Gainesville, Florida: University Press of Florida. ISBN 978-0-8130-3233-7.
- Turner, Gregg (2003). A Short History of Florida Railroads. Charleston, South Carolina: Arcadia Publishing. ISBN 0-7385-2421-2.
- Railroad History Database
- Bruce Roberts, Tampa Tribune Correspondent, Florida's Forgotten Railroad (1954)
- Confederate Railroads
- Georgia's Railroad History and Heritage - Florida Central & Peninsular Railroad