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Florida's Lost Transportation

The lost urban railroads of Florida. A brief photo album of the lost rail transit systems in Florida.

Published October 9, 2013 in History      6 Comments    Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

Coral Gables: Coral Gables Rapid Transit

Courtesy of State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory,

The Coral Gables Rapid Transit Corporation was created by developer George Merrick in 1925 to connect his Coral Gables development with the City of Miami. On November 4, 1935, a hurricane destroyed most of the system’s overhead and left several trolleys stranded out on the line permanently ending the system's operations in the middle of the Great Depression.

Daytona Beach: Central of Florida Railway Company

Courtesy of State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory,

The Central of Florida Railway Company was an electric streetcar system that started operation around 1913, connecting the cities of Daytona, Daytona Beach, and Seabreeze (separate cities at the time, before consolidating in 1926) across the Halifax River. Streetcar service ended in 1918.

Everglades City

Image courtesy of Collier County Museum historic archives at

In 1923, Barron Collier's Everglades City was incorporated.  Soon, Everglades had it's own streetcar line. However, operations would fail during the Great Depression with service ending for good in 1929.

Fernandina: Fernandina and Amelia Beach Railway

Courtesy of State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory,

The Fernandina and Amelia Beach Railway Company was incorporated by Florida state law chapter 3497, approved March 1, 1883, for the purpose of constructing a line of railway from the City of Fernandina Beach to Amelia City on Amelia Beach. The two-mile line was built in 1886 and operated by the Florida Railway & Navigation Company.

Fort Meade: Fort Meade Street Railway

Courtesy of

The Fort Meade Street Railway was chartered in January 1886. It opened on January 1, 1887, to connect the center of Fort Meade and the new Florida Southern Railway depot. Operations ceased in 1913.

Fort Myers: Streetcar at the Depot

Courtesy of State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory,


Green Cove Springs: Magnolia Springs Railway

This streetcar connected Green Cove Springs with Magnolia Springs. Darby & Savage operated a lumber mill on the south side of Governors Creek. A narrow gauge shortline railroad ran across the creek to service it. The lumber tram did double duty as a local transit system connecting Magnolia Springs and Green Cove Springs, as well as a freight connection for the saw mills. The little 'streetcar' line also had a direct physical track connection with the Green Cove Springs and Melrose Railroad, which lasted until 1899. It also had lines which  operated on St. Johns - Houston - Walnut - Myrtle and Magnolia Avenues, serving the Atlantic Coast line Depots in both communities.  Dowling-Shands Lumber Company bought the whole operation in 1911. The mill  continued to make lumber, barrels and shingles. J. C. Penney and his Florida Farms and Industries bought everything but the lumber mill in 1921. The mill was purchased by Farquhar Machingery at it burned in 1925. Oral histories indicate the sawdust continued to burn for many years.

The magnificent Magnolia Hotel, Florida's oldest and most salubrious property closed at the end of World War I. The hotel was sold to Col. Hulvey, who converted the property Florida Military Academy, the historic buildings burned in 1923, the academy moved on becoming Stetson University.  

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October 09, 2013, 04:21:45 AM
Ock, Way to RAIL back to health with a super article.
Ennis, nice job.
Replace the horse and mule with a tricked out golf cart or 4 wheeler. Legislation is pending before city council to have a local gated community use golf carts.

Before you give away all the Downtown city owned property to the PFPF (A mistake) allow for an amendment for a dedicated street car line. Why not? A bunch of singles.

CSX- Where are you?


October 09, 2013, 10:22:50 AM
It seems that most of these systems were very short lived and unsustainable.  The only systems that were killed by busses were those in the major cities, Jax, Miami, Tampa, Etc.


October 09, 2013, 01:58:57 PM
Yes, most of these privately owned systems where short lived.  As opposed to being simply public transportation, many were a means to funnel people to and from development properties.  Ock may correct me but from what I can find, the longest continuous mix of operating systems happened to be in the larger cities of that era.

60 years (1886-1946) - Tampa
56 years (1880-1936) - Jacksonville
48 years (1884-1932) - Pensacola
45 years (1881-1926) - Key West
31 years (1895-1926) - St. Augustine
30 years (1919-1949) - St. Petersburg
+30 years (1886-192?) - Fernandina Beach
25 years (1915-1940) - Miami/Miami Beach


October 09, 2013, 08:18:34 PM
Another great article and pictures.

Though they weren't part of a streetcar system, if the tracks had survived, the old J,M,&P, and FEC branch line to Pablo Beach would have been perfect for commuter rail today.


October 09, 2013, 08:33:15 PM
From what we can tell, even after track to Pablo Beach was abandoned, there was still passenger service to St. Nicholas and Hogan.


October 09, 2013, 09:48:11 PM
Streetcars served a specific purpose in the era they existed.

Cities chock full of people were using horses as their primary means of transportation and it was causing health issues as well, making the areas amassed with flies from the large amounts of laying horse dung.

So when streetcars came along, cities excitedly embraced them because once they became ubiquitous, they began to outlaw horses in the central city for non-commercial use. The side effect was that, people could go farther to seek out commerce, work and recreation.

The oversight, was when cars came along. Cities assumed incorrectly that accommodating them would increase the appeal of the city center by improving its accessibility.

Ultimately, the car brought all of the issues the horse did. Instead of large amounts of shared transport, we went back to individual transport with something that polluted like a horse and residual impacts (just like the horse) as in, where do I put this thing?

When cities decided to give higher ROW to cars instead of streetcars, the complaints rose about their being "in the way".

It was the end. Cities rose up to undermine the private lines and did nothing to make the public sustainable.

Only now are again finding their benefit. It will be a slow road back up the hill.
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