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 - MetroJacksonville.com

The following assortment of photos do not represent the final disposition of the property, but are random shots of various periods of time. Imagine what it would cost to replace this?

Altamonte Springs

Courtesy of State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, http://floridamemory.com/items/show/27097

Altamonte Springs was one of several small Florida communities that offered horse drawn streetcar service during the early 20th century. Others not highlighted in this article included Arcadia, Avon Park, Bartow, Gainesville, Leesburg, Mulberry, Tallahassee, Orlando and West Palm Beach.

Bradenton: Manatee Light and Traction Company

The Manatee Light and Traction Company began operations on Christmas Day 1903, connecting Bradentown, Manatee, and Fogartyville. Operations ceased in 1905.

Coral Gables: Coral Gables Rapid Transit

Courtesy of State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, http://floridamemory.com/items/show/27272

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, http://floridamemory.com/items/show/28405

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 http://i.colliergov.net/museum/cache/everglades-city-fl.-historic-archive/88.42.114_595_collier.jpg

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, http://floridamemory.com/items/show/6040

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 http://swampysflorida.com/?p=6758

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, http://floridamemory.com/items/show/140514


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.  

Jacksonville: Jacksonville Traction Company - Florida's Largest Traction System

Courtesy of State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, http://floridamemory.com/items/show/31292

Jacksonville's affiliation with streetcars date back as far as the 1870s. In 1936, the Jacksonville Traction Company became the first of Florida's major streetcar companies to cease all operations. By this time, with nearly 60 miles of streetcar track, it had become the largest streetcar system in the state.

Key West: Key West Traction Company

Streetcars in Key West dated back to 1885 when the Key West Streetcar Company opened with open-sided wooden cars pulled by two mules. Streetcar operations in Key West ended in 1926.

Miami: Miami Traction Company

Courtesy of State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, http://floridamemory.com/items/show/29953

After a few unsuccessful efforts in establishing streetcar operations in Miami, the Miami Traction Company opened in 1915. In 1921, the system was purchased by the City of Miami and operated by the Miami Beach Railway Company. Streetcars in Miami ceased operations in 1940.

Miami Beach: Miami Beach Railway Company

The Miami Beach Railway Company operated from December 8, 1920 until October 17, 1939, connecting Miami to Miami Beach.

Ocala: Ocala Street Railway

Courtesy of http://repeatingislands.files.wordpress.com/2011/10/ocala.jpg

Around 1890, the Ocala Street and Suburban Railway laid tracks on Main and Magnolia Street for mule drawn cars. However, these tracks were removed before the end of the decade. During this era, Ocala was Florida's fifth largest city with a population of 4,597 in 1895.

Orlando: Orlando Street Railway

A franchise was given by the City of Orlando in 1886 to the Orlando Street Railway, to place tracks and run cars on certain streets. When completed, its main line ran along Orange Avenue from Lake Ivanhoe south to Lake Lucerne.
By 1893, operations had ceased and the tracks were removed in late 1896 or 1897, being considered a public nuisance.

Ormond Beach: Florida East Coast - The Ormond

Courtesy of State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, http://floridamemory.com/items/show/28996

The Ormond streetcar connected Flagler's The Ormond Hotel with the Florida East Coast Railway. Service began in 1915 and ended a short time later.

Palatka: Palatka and Heights Street Railway

Courtesy of State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, http://floridamemory.com/items/show/11003

According to Wikipedia, the Palatka and Heights Street Railway was chartered in March 1888. It opened in January 1889, with three miles of three-foot gauge track.

Palm Beach: Florida East Coast Streetcar - Palm Beach

Courtesy of State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, http://floridamemory.com/items/show/28167

Florida East Coast Railway's Palm Beach streetcar connected Flagler's railroad with the Breakers Hotel.

Pensacola: Pensacola Electric Terminal Railway

Courtesy of State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, http://floridamemory.com/items/show/146217

Streetcar service in Pensacola dates back to 1884 when the Pensacola Street Car Company began operations utilizing mule drawn cars. The Pensacola Electric Terminal Railway converted the mule draw service to an electric trolley system in November 1897. Streetcar operations peaked in 1918, at which time the system consisted of 21.4 miles of track and 45 passenger cars. In 1932, streetcar operations were replaced by seven buses.

St. Augustine: St. Johns Electric Company

Courtesy of State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, http://floridamemory.com/items/show/147950

Streetcar service in St. Augustine ceased operations in 1926.

St. Petersburg: St. Petersburg Municipal Railways

Courtesy of State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, http://floridamemory.com/items/show/8089

The City of St. Petersburg operated the St. Petersburg Municipal Railway streetcar service between 1919 AND 1949. Since the system was publicly owned and could not be bought outright, according to FBI files, GM bought city officials instead by providing complimentary Cadillacs for converting the transit system to buses.

Sanford: Sanford Traction Company

Courtesy of http://vivafl500.org/cities/sanford/

In 1909, the Sanford Traction Company completed their streetcar line between downtown Sanford and Cameron City. Service ceased in 1911.

Sopchoppy-Panacea Streetcar at the Depot

Courtesy of State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, http://floridamemory.com/items/show/26213

This horse drawn streetcar connected the Panhandle communities of Sopchoppy and Panacea.

South Jacksonville: South Jacksonville Municipal Railway

Courtesy of State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, http://floridamemory.com/items/show/10990

Operations began on Prudential - Hendricks - San Jose, as well as San Marco on Atlantic to Saint Nicholas in 1924. The Muni, met the Florida East Coast Railway's 'gas-electric' doodlebug car in Times-Square, Saint Nicholas which offered a direct link to Spring Glen and Hogan and the Beaches. The railroad was 'wildly successful' and a surplus of cash after construction allowed the company to extend lines to San Jose terminating near San Jose and London Road. The FEC RY abandoned the Mayport Branchline in 1932, but only from Mayport to Hogan, on the west bank of Pottsburg Creek, lending credence to the streetcar-steam railroad connection which may have continued running  from San Marco to Hogan.

Tallahassee: Tallahassee Railroad Company

Financed by cotton planters, the Tallahassee Railroad Company was one of the country's earliest railroads. The street railway may have been under the same corporate umbrella or under it's own name with the words 'street railway' tacked on. The 22-mile mule drawn Tallahassee railroad was completed in 1837 to connect Tallahassee with St. Marks. In 1856, mules were replaced by locomotives.  This rail line eventually became a part of the Seaboard Coastline system before being abandoned in 1983.

Tampa: Tampa Electric Company (TECO)

Courtesy of State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, http://floridamemory.com/items/show/25978

Tampa's first streetcar era dates back to 1886. In 1892, the city's first electric streetcars went into service. Tampa Electric Company's (TECO) streetcar system ceased operations in August 1946.  In 2002, a new streetcar line (TECO Line Streetcar) began operations between downtown and Ybor City. Today, the TECO Line streetcar system is Florida's only operational streetcar service.

Winter Park: Seminole Hotel Horse Car

Courtesy of State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, http://floridamemory.com/items/show/11747

Florida state law chapter 3669, approved February 6, 1885, incorporated the Winter Park Company. The company built a mule-drawn streetcar line, known as the Seminole Hotel Horse Car. After operations ceased, tracks were removed in 1903.

Article by Robert Mann and Ennis Davis, AICP

This article can be found at: https://www.metrojacksonville.com/article/2013-oct-floridas-lost-transportation

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