“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.
Photographed 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
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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, 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.
Topics. This historical marker is listed
Historic Florida Railroad Marker and Depot image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Tim Fillmon, March 10, 2016
2. Historic Florida Railroad Marker and Depot
in this topic list: Railroads & Streetcars.
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. Marker is located in front of the depot, home to the West Nassau Historical Society. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 45383 Dixie Ave, Callahan FL 32011, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 7 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Callahan Train Depot (within shouting distance of this marker); Skirmish of American Revolution (about 700 feet away, measured in a direct line); Pine Forest Community High School (approx. 0.6 miles away); Battle of Thomas Creek (approx. 4.7 miles away); Freedom is Not Free (approx. 6.9 miles away); Sky Soldiers (approx. 6.9 miles away); Navy Seabees (approx. 6.9 miles away); The Carillon (approx. 6.9 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Callahan.
Also see . . .  West Nassau Historical Society and the West Nassau Museum of History. (Submitted on March 14, 2016.)
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. It was originally submitted on March 12, 2016, by Tim Fillmon of Webster, Florida. This page has been viewed 661 times since then and 47 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on March 12, 2016, by Tim Fillmon of Webster, Florida. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page.

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Apr. 12, 2024