“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Callahan in Nassau County, Florida — The American South (South Atlantic)

Historic Florida Railroad

Historic Florida Railroad Marker image. Click for full size.
By Tim Fillmon, March 10, 2016
1. Historic Florida Railroad Marker
Inscription. The Florida Railroad was the state's first cross-peninsular railroad. David L. Yulee, a Florida resident and United States Senator, incorporated the Florida Railroad Company in 1853. Construction of the line began at Fernandina Beach in 1856 and was completed to Cedar Key in 1861, covering a distance of 155 miles. The railroad passed through the present-day communities of Baldwin, Starke, Waldo, Gainesville, Archer, and Bronson. Railroad stations in Nassau County included Fernandina Beach, O'Neil, Lofton, Yulee, Whittsville, Italia, Callahan, Crawford, Dahoma, Inglehame, and Bryceville. The railroad roughly parallels present-day State Road 200 from Fernandina Beach to Callahan and present-day US 301 from Callahan south to the Nassau County line.

Intensive manual labor was required to construct the Florida Railroad. The company recruited slaves and free laborers to fell trees, drive spikes, and lay crossties and rails. The railroad used a broad gauge of five feet between rails with heavy rail generally of sixty pounds per linear yard. Crossties were made of yellow pine and were eight feet long, seven inches wide, and seven inches high. Wooden bridges were constructed across Nassau County's many creeks and rivers, including Kingsley Creek, Boggy River, Lofton Creek, Mills Swamp, and Plummer Swamp.

Completed in 1861,
Historic Florida Railroad Marker and Depot image. Click for full size.
By Tim Fillmon, March 10, 2016
2. Historic Florida Railroad Marker and Depot
the railroad allowed ships from the ports of the eastern United States to avoid the lengthy and often dangerous passage through the Keys to reach the markets of the Gulf coast. Ship cargoes were unloaded in Fernandina Beach for transportation across the state via the railroad to Cedar Key. From there, goods were reloaded and carried to New Orleans, Mobile, and elsewhere. The railroad also benefited from the agricultural enterprises of the state's interior, which included sugar, cotton, tobacco, cattle, and fruits and vegetables. Naval stores and timbering, both of which were emerging industries at the time, also benefited from the railroad.

As Florida's roadways modernized in the twentieth century, the importance of the railroad declined. Tracks were removed in parts of Nassau, Alachua, and Levy Counties beginning in the 1930's. The railroad is still active in Nassau County from Fernandina Beach to Yulee and from Callahan south to the county line. Remains of the abandoned railroad can still be found along the 15-mile segment between Yulee and Callahan.
Erected by West Nassau Historical Society.
Location. 30° 33.89′ N, 81° 49.98′ W. Marker is in Callahan, Florida, in Nassau County. Marker can be reached from Dixie Avenue 0.1 miles south of South Kings Road (U.S. 1/23), on the right when traveling south. Click for map. Marker is located in front of the depot, home to the West Nassau Historical Society. Marker is at or near this postal address: 45383 Dixie Ave, Callahan FL 32011, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 5 other markers are within 18 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Battle of Thomas Creek (approx. 4.7 miles away); Italia (approx. 7.7 miles away); American Revolutionary War Battle of Thomas Creek (approx. 10.2 miles away); Abraham Lincoln Lewis Mausoleum (approx. 15.1 miles away); Confederate Torpedo Boat David (approx. 17.6 miles away).
Also see . . .  West Nassau Historical Society and the West Nassau Museum of History. (Submitted on March 14, 2016.)
Categories. Railroads & Streetcars
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Tim Fillmon of Webster, Florida. This page has been viewed 141 times since then. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on , by Tim Fillmon of Webster, Florida. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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