The Jupiter and Lake Worth Railroad

Jupiter to Juno, FL

The Jupiter and Lake Worth Railroad, or the "Celestial Railroad", was a short narrow-gauge line that was built along the eastern coast of Florida between its namesake towns. Construction of the 3-foot gauge line began in 1888, and freight/passenger operations commenced the following year.

It was called the "Celestial Railroad" due to fictional stops named "Mars" and "Venus" (along with the line's terminus at Jupiter).

In 1894, the Jacksonville, St. Augustine and Indian River Railroad built a parallel line approximately 1.5 miles west of the Celestial Railroad; this Henry Flagler property slowly garnered traffic away from the Celestial Railroad, which forced the small line into abandonment in 1895, a mere 6 years after it first turned a wheel. The railbed remained, however, along with some of its infrastructure; rails remained in place until the 1930s, and wooden ties were left to nature (one tie was found along the former right-of-way as late as 1998, and was donated to the town of Juno Beach).

Today, surprisingly, over 100 years after the line's abandonment, the flat grading of the former right-of-way can still be seen in the northeast corner of Juno Dunes Natural Area, if one knows where to find it.

The book at the link below describes a detailed tracing of the Celestial Railroad in 1982; the article starts on page 5 and runs to page 22.

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—  User Comments  —

Sorry to say that the Jupiter and Lake Worth ran further than Juno. Those were only the first 2 stations. There were 2 more, plus it reached the waters of Lake Worth as it was used to connect steamship lines. Flagler used it initially when building his Palm Beach resort.

The Tap Lines web site has a nice write up on it, including the station list.

Walt Aardsma
Jefferson City, MO

Maps & historical data from UF, and my own recent visits to the area via US1/FL5 force me to disagree with comments about J&LW Railways route. The line ran from its dock on the Jupiter Inlet to its docks at the north end of Lake Worth, Florida. The "stops", in order N to S were: Jupiter Inlet, Venus (no building, just a platform), Mars (about half way), then on to termination at Juno docks (above). It was only 7.5 miles, from Jupiter Inlet to Juno, and the waters. The fare was 10 cents a mile, and Flagler objected to the "high price", and ultimately built his FEC to the west of the J&LW and effectively killed the little Plant/Steamboat connecting line. J&LW had no other connection to FEC.


Mr. Sorel's comment is not quite correct. The two terminal stations were Jupiter and Juno. The 7-1/2 mile long route connected the steamships which sailed into Jupiter on the Loxahatchee River and those that sailed on Lake Worth, which was roughly 20 miles from north to south and was not then connected to the ocean. On this short train route, Venus and Mars were sometimes listed as stops on the schedule but these were only request stops.

Jim Ferguson
Juno Beach, FL

Is anyone aware of a map that would show the location of the railroad tracks in relation to current development today?

Jim Mader
Jupiter, FL

The J & LW Ry. ran from a dock located at Jupiter (in Suni Sands, a former mobile home park and now cleared for future development) on the south shore of the Loxahatchee River to Juno (not to be confused with present day Juno Beach) at the very north end of the Lake Worth lagoon (within the present Twelve Oaks residential community.) Venus and Mars were both station stops and small communities developed around these stops even though they only contained a few homesteads. The residents of these two towns were reported in the local newspaper, The Tropical Sun. I have recovered hundreds of artifacts from this railroad and have archaeologically traced about 4 miles of the railbed. In addition, I have plat maps that clearly show the railbed and have worked out the location in regard to current roads and landmarks. Look for my book about the Celestial Railroad based on 9 years of archival and archaeological research in the near future. Regards, Thomas

Jupiter, FL

Thank you Thomas. Please update when your book is complete. I would be interested in it. Regards

Jim Mader
Jupiter, FL

Great research on a charming piece of Florida history. Please let me know when & where to get a copy of your book. Thanks to all who commented on my own research into the Celestial.

Leo Sorel
Pembroke Pines, FL

Is there an address close that I can just google to get directions and check it out?

Jupiter , FL

Beginning in 1892, when landowners south of Daytona petitioned him to extend the railroad 80 miles south, Flagler began laying new railroad tracks; no longer did he follow his traditional practice of purchasing existing railroads and merging them into his growing rail system. Flagler obtained a charter from the state of Florida authorizing him to build a railroad along the Indian River to Miami and as the railroad progressed southward, cities such as New Smyrna and Titusville began to develop along the tracks. By 1894, Flagler's railroad system reached what is today known as West Palm Beach. Flagler constructed the Hotel Royal Poinciana on the eastern shore of Lake Worth in what is now known as Palm Beach. He also built The Breakers Hotel on the ocean side of Palm Beach, and Whitehall, his private 75-room, 100,000 square foot winter home. The building of the hotels, coupled with railroad access to them, established Palm Beach as a winter resort for the wealthy members of America's Gilded Age. The Hotel Royal Poinciana soon became the world's largest result.