One Hundred years ago this old railroad helped build what our community is today. Today, it has the potential to become an instrumental element in future passenger rail.
The Fernandina & Jacksonville Railroad and the old ACL line form the border between Springfield and the Eastside. The old Springfield yard is located in the top center of this photograph, which illustrates how these neighborhoods and their street grids grew up around the rail lines.
The History: The Fernandina and Jacksonville Railroad
The original trunk line of Florida the Florida Railway, ran from Fernandina Beach to Cedar Key, by way of Yulee, Baldwin, Gainesville. The second company was the Florida Central and Western, from Jacksonville to Quincy, via Baldwin, Lake City, Madison, and Tallahassee. Baldwin was the sole, and major railroad junction for all Florida freight. The Tallahassee leaders held on to an archaic law that required interstate freight to cross into Florida via ship! The railroads were banned from building over the line. When the Civil War demonstrated the weakness in the system, the Confederate government build a connection to Dupont, Georgia. As Fernandina was in Union hands, the material for the connection came from the Yulee - Baldwin segment of the railroad. After the war, Jacksonville, quickly became the "CITY". Fernandina and Jacksonville residents clamored for a connection and the Fernandina and Jacksonville Railroad was constructed from Yulee to Bay Street in downtown Jax. This route became part of the Seaboard Air Line Railroad when they bought out all of the above properties. The Seaboard Mainline extended from Richmond to Yulee, and the F&J provided the critical link.
Metro Jacksonville believes the old Springfield yard can live on as a maintenance yard for local passenger rail.
Today, only two tracks cross 8th Street. The ACL tracks were pulled up years ago.
The old F&J mainline, south of the 8th Street, is used as an industrial spur for a Rinker Materials facility on the Eastside.
This line once served the old Sears warehouse in Springfield.
Today, the Hart Bridge ramps pass over parking lots, which replaced the abandoned rail lines.
The remaining sections of track on this old line are owned and operated by Norfolk Southern.
Funny thing is, there was still no connection as the Union Station project came about in the late 1800's. So as a part of that deal, Seaboard was finally able to connect it's two isolated Jacksonville lines with what became our "S" line. So the F&J came first, and the "S" was last. For many, many years, the Seaboard, SCL and CSX was able to use parts of the remaining terminal facilities of the old F&J (which is the proper name of the Maxwell house "spur"). As you can see, it really wasn't a "spur" until fairly recent history.
SEE S-LINE PHOTO TOUR HERE: http://www.metrojacksonville.com/content/view/334/116/
This History: Jacksonville Southwestern Railroad
The second line was the former Atlantic Coast Line Railroad, which came out of Springfield Yard. This was once the 1890's Jacksonville Southwestern Railroad. It was built by major lumber interests and ran from the port in Springfield to Grand Crossing, Baldwin, Lake Butler, to Newberry. As they were bought out by the powerful ACL, more branchlines were extended into port areas where many mills and shipping interests were. Thus we ended up with two railroads running from Springfield to Bay Street. Not too many years ago, the old Coast line still crossed Bay, ran through JSI, across the front of Metropolitan Park and into the terminals under the Hart bridge. This allowed the railroad to switch the industry's from either the Maxwell House or the Talleyrand direction.
Although most of the right-of-way remains in tact, all of the rail on this line was pulled up south of 8th Street.
Looking south from 1st Street.
Looking north from East Union Street.
Looking South from East Union Street.
The old line ran on the right side of Hogan's Creek, under Duval Street. Today, the right-of-way of this former rail line is owned by the City of Jacksonville.
**Commentary in Italics provided by Ocklawaha.**