Sebring Fla. Group Needs Help to Save ACL Station : LUSENET : ACL and SAL Railroads Historical Society : One Thread

We will be publishing the following in the next issue of Lines South. The material was submitted by Keith Williams. Please contribute to this group if you can.

Sebring Group Has Until December to Save ACL Station

A preservation group in Sebring, Fla. is urgently appealing for help in saving the citys 1917 Atlantic Coast Line station. The group must raise $30,000 in matching funds by December, or else the building will be demolished.

The ACL came to Sebring in June 1912. There was only a sand trail for a road from the city of Avon Park, about 12 miles north, and many of the new residents of Sebring came by train. In fact, according to Glenn Hoffmans A History of the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad Company (page 187), The most ambitious project [in Florida in the early 1900s] was the Haines City branch. The first segment of this line, running from Haines City  47 miles southward to Sebring, was begun in October 1910 and placed in service in June of 1912. The Haines City branch opened virgin territory for rapid development of new lumber, mining, citrus, and tourist business.

This branch was extended south to Moore Haven by 1918, and in 1917 the original 1912 small wood Sebring station was replaced by a new, larger stucco combination freight and passenger station. By 1920 the line was extended further south to Immokalee, and in 1926-27 was again extended, to Deep Lake. Then the ACL bought the 14-mile Deep Lake Railroad and thus reached the Gulf of Mexico at Everglades City, the final reach of the Haines City branch. An ACL 1921 public timetable shows there were six daily passenger trains to Sebring (except four on Sunday). The last ACL passenger train called in 1955.

When the merger of the ACL and SAL took place in 1967, the station became surplus, since about a mile away the Seaboard had its own station on the SAL mainline to Miami. The SAL had come to Sebring in 1924-25 with heavier rail and many famous name passenger trains. A few years after the merger, the ACL track through Sebring was abandoned. The 1917 station and old right-of-way are now owned by Sebring and Highlands County.

This right-of-way is now being graded and bulldozed to make way for a four-lane divided highway. The station must be either be moved or torn down by December. The ACL Station Museum is a group of interested preservationists who are trying to raise funds for moving and preserving the station. This group is a non-profit 501 (c) (3) corporation and needs to raise $30,000. So far they have raised $12,000 in money and pledges. The cost of moving, new roof, new foundation, termite-proofing, etc., will be $90,000. The City of Sebring and Highlands County have each pledged $30,000, but only if the ACL Station Museum can also raise $30,000. Thus the Museum must raise $18,000 more by December.

If the station is preserved, one of the two passenger waiting rooms will be used for a layout depicting the ACL and SAL in Highlands County in the 1920s and 1930s, and the other as a meeting room for various civic and club groups. The agents office will be restored to its 1920s appearance. The large freight warehouse area will be used as a museum for the artifacts of Highland County. The agents area and the two waiting rooms have a concrete tile floor laid on sand; these tiles will be taken up and then relaid after the move.

We hope the final $18,000 can be raised before December, and that this fine example of an ACL station will be preserved. It is the only reminder left of the ACL in Sebring. If you would like to contribute to this cause, please send funds to the ACL Station Museum, 2307 Fairway Lane, Sebring, FL 33872. Remember if you use itemized deductions (the long IRS tax form), you can deduct contributions to the Museum from income tax.  Keith Williams

-- Larry Goolsby (, September 08, 1999


Let's hope this drive to save the station is a success.

If they have not done so already, the group my contact the organization behind the restoration of Tampa Union Station for fund- raising advice and other assistance.

For those of us who might consider sending a personal check, a contribution of $25, $75 or more puts a strain on the personal finances for us, yet seems like a drop in the bucket for the amount yet to be raised. Can we have some information about what will be done with the money if the amount raised falls short of the amount required to save the station? Will the funds be returned or will be they be used for another project or will they be used to pay for fund- raising expenses?

Good luck!

-- Malcolm Campbell (, September 12, 1999.

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