Lake City to Palatka

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(Forwarded from the Georgia Southern & Florida Railroad)

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About one-half mile south of Columbia Industrial Park near Lake City. End of rails at Pounds Hammock Road, looking south. Photo by Bill Houston.

This abandoned railway was built in 1890 as part of the Georgia Southern & Florida Railroad, extending from Macon, GA, through Valdosta, GA, and Lake City to Palatka, FL. The railroad quickly entered bankruptcy after completion, and came under the control of the Southern Railway in 1895. It marked the point furthest to the south in the Florida for Southern, and possibly for the whole system. The GS&F remained an operating subsidiary of the Southern and still today as part of Norfolk-Southern. This line was the "B" line of GS&F, which was also known as "The Suwanee River Route".

The abandoned section extends from "Navair", just southeast of Lake City, through Lulu (Hagen), Guilford, Cliftonville, Lake Butler, New River, Sampson City, Hampton, Theressa, Keystone Heights, Lake Geneva, Newburg, Putnam Hall, Grandin, Florahome, Baywood, Carraway, Springside, and into Palatka, with a spur to the Georgia-Pacific plant to the northwest of Palatka. The line was apparently abandoned in the late 1980s. Norfolk Southern secured trackage rights from Jacksonville to Palatka over CSX, which made the line in between unnecessary in order to reach Palatka.

Much of the line between Palatka and Lake Butler is being converted to a state trail. This abandoned section runs parallel to FL SR 100 from just south of Lake City all the way to Palatka. It has been abandoned for years with trees growing in ROW, etc. However, now work is on-going to reclaim the ROW as the trail is developed.

Thanks to Bill Houston for contributing information about this route.

The right of way from the Clay/Bradford county line to the Clay/Putman County line has been turned into a paved rail-trail.

Jonathan W. Filion
Palatka, FL
12/28/2008

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In Theressa there was a branch that spalet off at a way and whent to Camp Blanding.

Jonathan W. Filion
Palatka, FL
1/10/2010

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The trail is now paved from Keystone Heights to Grandin with work progressing towards Florahome

Joe Rossano
Melrose, FL
9/26/2010

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The Norfolk Southern still owns 2 miles of track just outside of Palatka, FL.

1. The line starts across the road form the entering to the St. John's water management office and ends at Moody Rd.

2. about 1000' from the start it inters a five track yard (which served GP) and ends just sort of CR. 309C

3. 300' from CR 309C the old yard office is still there

4. All track is still in place for 1 & 2

5. The 1 mile conter track to GP has been removed

Jonathan W. Filion
Palatka, FL
11/3/2010

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Info on the ROW Palatka, FL to Hampton, FL

1. MP. 285 Cypress mill on Riverfront

2. MP. 284 Jct. branch to Union station, & Riverfront station, jct/crossover with ACL A line

3. as of 2010 all tracks are still in place from MP. 285 to MP. 284.9

4. MP. 283.5 Turnaround Wye

5. MP. 282 Jct. with GP branch, 5 track yard, ADM siding, & Propane siding

6. MP. 281.5 to 282.5 All track still in place along with yard. (GP jct track removed)

7. MP. 280 Springside, FL

8. MP. 278.2 Wood brige over Rice creek (still in place)

9. MP. 274 Carraway, FL

10. MP. 268 Florahome, FL

11. MP. 267 Wood brige over creek replaced with stell brige for Peds.

12. MP. 266 Grandin, FL

13. MP. 264 3 track yard & jct. with sand plant brach

14. MP. 262 Putman Hall, FL

15. MP. 260 Lake Geneva, FL

16. MP. 255 Keystone Hights, FL

17. MP. 250 Theressa, FL wye/jct with brach to Camp Blanding

18. MP. 247 Wood brige over creek ( have gone)

19. MP. 245 Hampton, FL jct/crossover with SCL Wildwood Sub.

20. From MP. 270 to MP. 254 is now a paved trail

Jonathan Filion
Palatka, FL
9/18/2012

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Up date from mile post 283.5 to 283 work is on going on making it part of the rail-trail should be done June 2013.

Jonathan Filion
Palatka, FL
12/14/2012

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MP 283.5 to MP 283 is now part of the Lake City - Palatka state Rail/Trail. All so work is now on going from MP 270 to MP 274 (Carraway) to make it part of the trail.

Jonathan Filion
Palatka, FL
8/17/2013

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Track was left in place between the airport in Lake City and Lake Butler until the mid 90's or so. At that time GRU (power company) was negotiating with NS to retain the line, and build a spur from there to their power plant outside of Gainesville to provide "competition" with CSX, who they always said was overcharging them. The plans fell through, and NS pulled the rest of the tracks by 1997 or so.

Troy Nolen
Tampa, FL
2/16/2014

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