Ocala, Fla. Question

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Was in Ocala, Fla. today and after driving around for quite a bit, i must say that it has to be one of if not the last decent sized city in Florida where all former ACL and SAL trackage is still present and in use! Granted the Pinsley Florida Northern RR now operates the ex-ACL trackage, the line and ROW seems to be in good order. Not sure how much business the FNRR does, as there were 2 older 4 axle EMD units (were painted Fla. Central RR) and a few lines of cars laying idle... Also interesting to note that this line through ocala has at least 2 semaphores that look to be in working condition on the line! That was a real treat. Also got to visit the Now Amtrak owned station in downtown that is in surprisingly good shape... interesting layout as the station has an east-west ex-SAL, now in use by Amtrak)and north-south (ex-ACL) boarding area, one for each RR... Anyone here from Ocala that can testify to the amt of traffic the FNRR actually carries and if there are any sort of trackage rights over CSX similiar to the Fla. Central in Orlando?

-- troy nolen (kirkwood@gdn.net), September 14, 2000


Also I am a member of the Ocala Model Railroaders' Club, as stated above the aerial photo of Ocala was made in the mid 1920s. It is on display at our club and in the new restaurant "Ocala Union Staion Cafe". This building opened in 1921 in keeping with the design of the depot and express office. The photo shows the SAL water tank east of the depot, the restaurant west of the station, and the ACL yards with their coaling tower. Also you can see the ACL water tank along the track from the yard going east and south to the depot. OMRR has donated this photo the ACL/SAL Historical Society this past February in Jacksonville. Allen Wiener, Ocala, FL

-- Allen L. Wiener (SouRwy@aol.com), September 16, 2000.

I'm a member of the Ocala Model Railroaders. At the club there's a photo of the area around the station, which I believe shows both the ACL and SAL yards. I also believe that the photo is pre 50's. That should help you out. They are located in the Tusawilla Park just east of the Railroad station. They are open on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 7:00pm.

-- Bill Middlemas (bill@amicomputer.com), September 15, 2000.

Florida Northern RR had CF-7, #50 in Ocala, for about 3 years. They took it to the Plymounth, FL headquarters of Pinsley Railroad Co, and repainted it into the Florida Centeral paint scheme last year. I saw #50 in Orlando, FL on Labor Day, and they now used to two other locomotives in the Ocala, area now. If you want to see a "red engine" you need to go the old ACL yard off Magnolia Ave., as this is the home yard for engine storage with they are not in use. Some times FCRR keeps one engine at the southern end of the line in Candler. The northern end of the FCRR line is in Lowell, FL, and the line under US 441/301 is the Pinsley trackage (all ex-ACL) You should see the locomotives working mostly in the mornings, and sometimes you can see them on Osceola Ave. crossing Silver Springs Blvd. The old SAL yard is now the interchange with FCRR and CSX. The Wildwood switcher comes up to Ocala late at night and leaves the cars for FCRR in the yard, west of Ocala Union Station. The old Silver Springs Ocala & Gulf RR is now part of FCRR and they go out to west Ocala about 2 to 3 miles where their trackage ends off SW 27th Ave. The Ocala Union Station was completly remodled and rededicated on Dec. 11, 1998. The station was built and completed in 1917 by SAL. and opened the fall of that year at a cost of 1.8 million dollars. In the Amtrak lobby is a plaque with the date of 1917 form the orgingal architects in Richmond, VA. Even though SAL was in charge of the building of the structure, they shared the cost with ACL RR.

-- Allen L. Wiener (SouRwy@aol.com), September 15, 2000.

The red locomotives are painted for the Florida Central RR, other pinsley RR locomotives in Fla are also that same color, i just have never seen one lettered for Fla northern

-- troy nolen (kirkwood@gdn.net), September 14, 2000.

I live in Gainesville and visit Ocala frequently. I have seen a red engine on the tracks under the 441/301 overpass. Is this the Florida Northern? How big was Seaboards yard in Ocala say around 1950? What was the Ocala,Silver Springs and Gulf? Was that a predecessor of SAL or a descedant using former Seaboard tracks. Thanks!

-- Richard Stallworth (ThisIsR@aol.com), September 14, 2000.

I forgot to mention in my earlier answer that the Ocala station was restored about two (2) years ago.

-- Bill Dusenbury (sclbill@hotmail.com), September 14, 2000.

The Florida Northern is fairly active as they operate five (5) days a week. The northbound job serves the rock mine and several industries up near Lowell, FL. The southbound job serves a mobile home manufacturing facility in Candler, FL. They get quite a few loads of lumber each week. The locomotives are typically ex-ATSF CF-7's although I have seen a GP there before. The Florida Norther has trackage rights in the ex-SAL yard there just south of the Amtrak station. This is where they interchange with CSX. The two (2) semaphores are approach signals for the diamond that crosses CSX. They have not moved from the approach position for as long as I can remember. The Florida Norhtern also operates the old SSO&G (Silver Springs, Ocala, & Gulf) spur that run south out of the ex-SAL yard. there are several industries on that line that receive cars. It is only about a mile long. I hope this information helps.

-- Bill Dusenbury (sclbill@hotmail.com), September 14, 2000.

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