Springfield's 1st Railroad: Life After Camp Cuba Libre

May 5, 2016 7 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

Most know it as a wide linear green strip of overgrown vegetation serving as the border between Springfield and the Eastside. 125 years ago, this forgotten path was primed to become a major gateway into Florida's largest city. Today, we take a look at the rise and fall of a former Springfield railroad corridor and the buildings and businesses it once served.


Hammond Electronics of Jacksonville, Inc. was the first tenant occupying 1843 Ionia Street, after its completion in the early 1960s. At the time, Cooper Distributors, Inc., a wholesale rugs business, occupied the adjacent space at 1839 Ionia Street. In August 2005, the Pristine Valley Bottled Water & Coffee Co. Inc. purchased property at 1839 Ionia St. from The Ledbetter Co. Inc. for $300,000.


This building once housed the Duval Laundry Company.  Duval Laundry was incorporated by Richard P. McFarlin on Monday, February 17, 1902. Like many industrial buildings in the neighborhood, the building's brick detailing and window patterns give it a unique feel in a city characterized by stucco, metal buildings and tilt wall construction. After 96 years of operation, old equipment, high operation costs and lost business accounts led to the closure of the laundry plant in April 1997. As a result, 50 employees lost their jobs.


Image courtesy of Ian Halsema at http://halsema.org/people/lambertusjulleshalsema/photogallery/images/fullsize/41.jpg

Much of the property bounded by the St. Johns Terminal Company Railroad, Carmen Street, Ionia Street and East 9th Street was the site of the J.C. Halsema Manufacturing Company. Operated by Julian Clement Halsema (1871-1944), the massive mill specialized in lumber, sash doors and blinds. On February 14, 1919, Halsema's planing mill was destroyed by fire, resulting in a property loss of about $129,000.

After Halsema's demise, the property was redeveloped for use by the Bond-Howell Lumber Company and the Booker & Company, a wholesale building material operation. Bond-Howell and Booker's building still stand. However, they are occupied by several businesses, including Allied Plastics and Great Expectations Auction & Estate Liquidators.


515 East 9th Street was developed in 1949 for the Booker & Company.



Located at 2001 Walnut Street, Allied Plastics Company, Inc. manufactures tables, table tops and table legs for the school, office and food service industries.


The old Springfield railroad yard dates back to the days of the Atlantic, Valdosta & Western Railway (AV&W). The AV&W was built from Jacksonville to Valdosta in 1898. At the time, it was considered to be the best built railroad in the state and the first to lay 70-lb. steel rails. Its yards were developed north of East 8th Street. A roundhouse, machine shops and coal chute were also developed near Liberty Street. In 1900, the railroad was granted the right to lay track along the downtown waterfront from Catherine Street westward to Hogan Street for 50 years. It was sold to the Southern Railway in May 1902. From Grand Crossing into and around Jacksonville, the track was transferred to the St. Johns River Terminal Company, a holding company of the Southern Railway. With the loss of heavy industry and the abandoment of track south of East 8th Street, Norfolk Southern's use of the Springfield yard has declined.




Related Article: Neighborhoods: Springfield Warehouse District

Article and photographs by Ennis Davis, AICP. Contact Ennis at edavis@moderncities.com

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