I want to thank all members who volunteer on Open House days. Also, I want to Jerry and Howard for building the rolling stock storage cabinet. It has been filled with surplus engines and cars from the layout.
Members, be sure to clear your calendars for our upcoming RailFest, October 10th - Saturday ONLY. It will be here sooner than you think. We still have many things to accomplish before then – layout work, labelling exhibits, reorganizing and storing items, cleaning museum displays & floors. We will need to start doing these on Monday and Tuesday evenings.
Please invite family and friends to assist us as volunteers during the RailFest. We can use them as greeters in the museum or in front of Railrodeo. Even if they are only available for an hour, it would be helpful.
Check our website for future updates.
Marvis Champion, President
Tuesday – June 23rd – 7 to 8 PM
Model RR Clinic
Sunday – July 5th
Saturday – July 18th – 1 to 4 PM
PRPS Open House
Tuesday – July 21st – 6:30PM
Tuesday – July 28th – 7 to 8 PM
Sunday – August 2nd – 1 to 4 PM
PRPS Open House
Tuesday – August 13th – 6:30 PM
Saturday - August 15th – 1 to 4 PM
PRPS Open House
Tuesday – August 25th – 7 to 8 PM
Program – Georgia Southern & Florida
Did You Know?
Numerous railway stations have served Putnam County through the years. Several were located in Palatka. Whether called a depot, a station or terminal, they all served the same purposes – places where passengers embarked or disembarked, and places where express shipments and freight were loaded or unloaded.
Within Palatka: Florida Southern; Jacksonville, Tampa & Key West; and Georgia Southern & Florida had stations in the late 1880s. These gave way to new brick stations for Atlantic Coast Line/Florida East Coast and Georgia Southern & Florida by 1908.
The north-south route through the county (Jacksonville, Tampa & Key West/Atlantic Coast Line) had stations at West Tocoi, Bostwick, Sisco, Pomona, Lake Como, and Crescent City Junction.
On the Florida Southern route west of Palatka, several communities had stations. At Francis, Hollister, Interlachen, Edgar, and Johnson, frame structures served the freight and passenger needs.
On the Georgia Southern & Florida, stations were located at Carraway, Florahome, Grandin, and Putnam Hall. East of the St. Johns River, stations were at Orange Mills, East Palatka, San Mateo, and Yelvington.
Florida Southern Railway:
The Orange Belt Route
“Palatka’s First Railway”
The first railroad to begin construction in Palatka was the Gainesville, Ocala and Charlotte Harbor. Although incorporated in 1876, it wasn’t organized until 1879. Palatka’s city council passed an ordinance allowing for trackage right of way over Main St. and a riverfront wharf. The ordinance included $10,000 in bonds to construct the wharf.
By the time construction began in 1881, the name was changed to Florida Southern Railway. The line was to be constructed as a narrow gauge (3ft.) line.
The first timetable was issued on October 16, 1881. Stops between Palatka and Gainesville were: Francis; Brittians; McWilliams, near Hollister; Blue Pond (later renamed Interlachen); John (now called Johnson); McMeekin; Wait’s Crossing (Hawthorne); Magnesia Springs, near Grove Park; Perry Junction (listed on some early RR maps as Gruelle & now known as Rochelle); and Tarver. The 49-mile train trip to Gainesville took 3-1/2 hours.
By December of 1881, the line was completed to Ocala with construction in a southerly direction from Perry Jct. The route distance was increased to 82 miles. Among the settlements along the route were cotton, citrus, general farming and saw mills.
The Florida Southern Headquarters were located in Palatka adjacent to their riverfront wharf. They also had extensive shop facilities here – roundhouse, foundry, blacksmith shop, paint shop, and wood working shop with a planning mill.
By the summer of 1886, the line consisted of approximately 300 miles of rail. It ran from Palatka on the St. Johns River to Punta Gorda on the Gulf.
It was acquired by the Atlantic Coast Line in 1903 and formed the nucleus of ACL’s west coast route in Florida. Most of the original line in our area has been since abandoned. Only a portion between Interlachen and Hawthorne is in service today, operated by CSX.
New Museum Acquisitions
This section usually acknowledges our most recent acquisitions.
However we are seeking additional photos as part of our purpose to preserve the heritage of the rail history of Palatka and surrounding.
We are interested in any of the following:
Trains ‘street-running’ on Main & Laurel
Rail yard & maintenance facilities in Palatka
Old train depots throughout Putnam County
Other historical rail photos from the 1900s