Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Old Railroad Depots – Western Florida

Continuing with my long term mission of finding and photographing railroad depots, this time I picked up a few in western Florida north of the Tampa/St. Petersburg area…

This is the former Seaboard Coast Line Railroad Depot in Crystal River Florida.  The depot was built in 1900 – 1901 by the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad to replace the original 1887 depot that had burned down.  The building is owned by the city and leased to the local Lions Club.  The Lions Club was instrumental in its restoration. 

That’s a Southern Railway caboose alongside the depot.  In addition to Lions Club meetings, the building is also used for community events, weddings, etc. 

In its heyday during the 1920s and 1930s, Crystal River was served by 8 trains per day and there was daily passenger service to Ocala Florida.  All rail service ceased in the late 1960s. 

I couldn’t find anything about the background of these passenger rail cars.  The rail car on the right has a sign on it stating “Hahn-Van Orden Memorial Train Cars.  The ramp up to the second car provides access for those seeking assistance from the Citrus Hearing Impaired Program Services.  I found a photo of the interior for the rail car on the left but I couldn’t save it to a jpg file.  It’s set up as a classroom…

This little building sits right next to the railcars…with a sign by the door that reads “To Trains”.  The mail drop box is now being used for Lions Club donations of used eye glasses. 

The first rail line came to Crystal River back in 1887.  It was built by the Silver Springs, Ocala and Gulf Railroad… Later it became the Savannah, Florida and Western and then the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad. 

Crystal River has a population of around 3,100.  It didn’t become a town until 1903. Much of the economy is centered on the warm natural springs in the area and manatee based tourism…


·       Art Fleming, game show host and the original host of Jeopardy was from Crystal River.

·       Ted Williams, the famous Boston Red Sox baseball player, retired to Crystal River and lived out his final days here…

When I asked her about the former railroad depot in Cedar Key, the manager of the condo buildings where we stayed didn’t hesitate.  She sent us just down the street and around the corner.  She told us that to most resident’s dismay, a local condo operation bought it to use as their office.  While they’d ‘promised’ to maintain its integrity, instead they covered it up to the point where it looks more like a double-wide. 

If she hadn’t told us where to look and what to look for, we would have never spotted this historical travesty!  One Internet source states that the depot was moved to Otter Key and is being used as a residence…but since our host has lived on or near Cedar Key for many, many years, I’m guessing that her information is correct.

  • The Florida Railway Company completed the first coast to coast railway line in the state in 1861.  It ran from Fernandia to Cedar Key.

This is the former Chiefland Florida Atlantic Coast Line Railway Depot.  It was built in 1913.  Sorry for the single photo but it was raining hard and I took this from the car.  The building is currently occupied by the local Chamber of Commerce. 

Chiefland is in Levy County and the town has a population of about 2,200.  The county has a population of a little over 40,000.  Three correctional institutions provide over 800 jobs in the county.

·       The county was named after Joseph Levy, the first Jewish-American to be elected to the US Senate. (1845 – 1851 and from 1855 – 1861)

·       The Rosewood Massacre occurred in Levy County in the first week of January 1923.  It was a race riot in which whites from the town of Sumner, reacting to the alleged rape of a white woman by a black man, burned the predominantly black town of Rosewood to the ground and killed several black people.

That’s it for now… Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them.

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave


  1. Dear Dave, Florida looks so nice.
    Wishing you and Laurie a very happy and blessed Thanksgiving. Catherine

  2. Happy thanksgiving David for you and your family.