Harrisburg to Everglades City
This abandoned railway line was built in the 1920s when Everglades City, at the southern end of Florida, was the headquarters of the Colliers' enterprises in the southwest part of the state.
The line was abandoned in sections: the line from Everglades City up north to Sunniland, about 22 miles, was abandoned in 1957, with the remainder of the line to Harrisburg following in 1980s. At Harrisburg, a still-active CSX line comes south out of Palmdale, wyes with this abandoned line, and then heads southeast to Moore Haven.
Today, nothing exists except for the grade crossing at US Route 41 and FL Route 29. The former turning wye at Everglades City can be easily made out in satellite imagery as it juts out into adjacent Lake Placid.
Lee Cypress Railroad: The Lee Cypress Railroad was a small logging operation that transported cypress trees for more than 40 years, ending after World War II. The LCRR crossed this abandoned line at Copeland, FL. Traces of it are hard to find today; only a small piece of the LCRR is marked on the map near Copeland.
Thanks to Don Printz for contributing information.
At Carnestown, Florida (four miles north of Everglades City) so much winter fruit and vegetables were shipped north that five refrigerator cars a day were leaving this one station.
Though the 60s and 70s, Immokalee was still shipping over two trains a day of refrigerator cars (some were pigs at the end of this) full of vegetables.
People driving Florida highway 80 between LaBelle and Clewiston can still see where this line crossed the highway. ROW on either side of the road is clearly visible for some distance on either side.
Is the track still in place on this line or is it just the right or way?
@John Boden: The rails were pulled up a long time ago - south of Immokalee I think they were pulled up in the 60's. In the 80's you could still find mileposts between US41 and Copeland, but I doubt they're still there. The right of way is still more or less visible from Copeland most of the way to Immokalee, parallel to FL29 - south of Copeland it has become a road, and near Immokalee it has been hidden by agricultural development.
The rail road bed is still visible on sr 29 south of interstate 75 near leecypress a town named a town named after lee tidewater"s cypress co. As you turn in to leecypress the first turn to the left now a residences is the old bed and runs all the way to the property still the colliers at us 41, to the home of Everglades private airboat tours . ( www.evergladesairboattours,cc ) From us 41 south it runs 4 miles down to florida boat tours on dupont island ( www.floridaboattours.com ) . If you use these points on google maps satellite you should find a very strait line with one crook that mirror's sr 29 in to everglades city fl. All the tressals across the canels have fallen in the last few years but are very evident by boat.
I remember the rails from Palmdale south to Immokalee being pulled up in 1989 or so. Just prior to them being pulled up, I approached the grade crossing at Ortona on SR 78 and the crossing lights were flashing and the gates were down. But there was no train. I believe a locomotive had probably passed by to retrieve some ancient gondola cars being stored on the line where it crossed SR 80 east of LaBelle. The rail bed and rails were in a deplorable state, and it amazed me that anyone would try and drive a locomotive down the tracks and cross the river to get these cars, but I bet that is what happened. Soon thereafter, the railroad pulled up the rails and ties and the right-of-way was gated off.
Palmdale to Immokalee were pulled in 1982-1984 according to the State of Florida. CSX is no longer the owner of the section from Sebring to Lake Harbor as it is owned by SCFE. We ran a passenger train special from Lake Placid to Sebring under the SCFE in the early 2000s.
I don't remember a wye even being at Palmdale in the 80s.
I did help remove a switchstand at Venus and a mile post from the Copeland in the 70s. Mile posts were cast concrete ant were quite heavy. Both with SCL's permission by the way.
Was there a small rr line that went south of Naples back in the twenties to the northern end of Marco Island for the hotel and fishing area? There is some evidence of some trail there(by satalite). Was it a road for cars or an abandoned line?
Does anyone have any information regarding the rotation bridge over the Caloosahatchee River?
In the early 1990s I remember driving through Highway 80 to LaBelle and remember seeing the RXR on the pavement. It was also marked on Hwy 78 near Ortona. I had no idea there was so much history behind it. I really appreciate and enjoy everyone's input and information. Keep up the good work!
Were there any RR shop facilities anywhere along this route, specifically north of U.S. 41?
Here are some links that help clarify some things on this line. Scroll to page 23 of the pdf to see the 1949 timetable. The tracks remained in place to the Florida Rock Sunniland Mine at least until the early 80's because I remember crossing them in and out of the mine. The UF aerial site is great for viewing old aerial photos and verifying the existence of old lines.
Robert Miller, Lee Tidewater had facilities at their location. Other than that, only water stops would have been along that route.Palmdale used to be a major point in the line as that is where it joined the main to Clewiston. If you want to see part of the old logging railroad area, you can drive down Loop Road to the trailhead. That trail is the old roadbed. In the 80s you still could find spikes and ties along it. Walk back far enough and you still might find some.
I remember the bridge just east of the locks at Ortona that handled train crossings over the river. I believe the bridge was hand cranked. I worked in Labelle in 1988-90 and used to drive over the tracks on a daily basis -- where they crossed SR 80 and SR 78. There were very old gondola cars parked on the line next to SR 80. CSX picked them up in 1990 when the line was abandoned. I remember seeing the crossing gates stuck in the down position at SR 78. Then I noticed the cars were gone. Not long after that, I watched as crews removed the rail and ties from the right of way (owned by Lykes). It was then gated to prevent trespassing.
Google aerial photos still show the ROW very well. Wonder if there are any old photos from anywhere along the line showing tracks or a photo of the old Ortona bridge ?