Built at the end of the 19th century in 1899, this line was part of the original Jacksonville and Southwestern Railroad mainline between Jacksonville and Newberry to the southwest. The main intent of the line was to tap into the phosphate-rich regions around Newberry and transport the raw materials to a mill in Jacksonville. The J&SW was purchased by the Atlantic Coast Line railroad on July 28, 1904 and subsequently merged into the ACL system. The portion of the line between Langmar and Hainesworth was abandoned in 1968 while under the ownership of the Seaboard Coast Line Railroad.
Towns along the line, west and south from Langmar: Baldwin, Mattox, Sapp, Ralford, Lake Butler and into Hainesworth, just outside of Alachua. At Langmar, the abandonment ends at a connection with the CSX Callahan Sub; from there, the line is active and continues eastward to Jacksonville. At the other end of the abandonment, in Hainesworth, the CSX Brooker Sub (ex-SCL, ex-ACL) joins with the abandoned right-of-way and continues southward to Newberry.
Portions of the abandoned right-of-way are still visible along FL Route 121 for about 10 miles southeast of Baldwin. The portion of the line between Langmar and Baldwin is paved rail-trail.
Thanks to Jonathan W. Filion for contributing information.
Does anyone have the track diagram for Burnetts Lake before the merger? I'm trying to map the line from High Springs through East Alachua to Burrentts Lake and then the SAL through Alachua to Bell. Any any information on the line from Alachua through Bell to Wansee? Was it a phospate line, too? Thank you!
I believe Mr. Filion meant that the abandoned right-of-way is still visible along FL Route 121 for about 10 miles SOUTHWEST of Baldwin.
Looking for a photograph of Sapp Station on the J&SW my great grandfather had the Post Office and depot there. There was a water tower located there with a small station. Thanks for your help.
Gary from Starke is correct. I drive SR121 between my home and Jacksonville Airport fairly regularly. Much of the old right-of-way is still fairly easily discernible from Worthington Springs north to the point at which it diverges from 121 in Baker County.
In Raiford, the old concrete trestle over a small creek lies just to the west of the highway and it seems to be in rather decent shape. SR121 makes an S-curve north of Raiford where the line once crossed the highway. North of this point, you can see evidence of the old line on the east side of the highway including the remains of another small trestle.
South of Worthington Springs, in the small community of Santa Fe, if you know where to look, you can see the right-of-way where it crossed CR236. There are CSX "No Trespassing" signs here but they are overgrown.
Id like some directions from Jacksonville area to the line you meantioned about in Bladwin McCleeny area. I am a Photographer, and would love to get some shots done there. Could you let me know, caause id like to use my gps to find it? Thank you
At around MM339 on I-10, you will cross a bridge over the old railroad grade (at the Baker/Nassau County line). Keep going past Exit 336 and get off at Exit 335 and take SR121 south toward Lake Butler. I don't know exactly how far (I want to say 6-7 miles or so) south of I-10, you will see a small sign for the community of Manning (don't blink or you'll miss it). There, the road makes a slight curve to the right and the old R/R grade will come in from the northeast. You'll be able to discern it pretty easily through Raiford and almost all the way to Lake Butler. As I mentioned, it crossed 121 several miles north of Raiford. You'll be able to pick the crossing out - there's a distinct S-curve and a solid waste facility there. About three miles south of Raiford, the grade and 121 diverge again. The railroad grade follows a fence line to the southwest. Keep going through Lake Butler and you'll pick it up again on the south side of town, just north of a seed processing facility. The road parallels the grade again and crosses it on a bridge just north of Worthington Springs.
The railroad bridge across the Santa Fe River was torn out (bummer). so nothing to see there. But the railroad crossed 121 at-grade again immediately south of CR239 which is just south of the river. I don't believe that there is any way to access it again until it crosses CR236 a half mile or so west of 121 in the community of Santa Fe. You can pick up the grade again by turning south off of 236 onto NW 91st St (a dirt road).
Except for the few small trestles and a drainage pipe here and there, there isn't really all that much to see. But I'm sure that you can use your imagination and creativity. Feel free to e-mail me at sharpestjim at gmail dot com.
Happy hunting & shooting!