Rail Line(s) between Gainesville and Ocala, Florida

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I lived in Gainesville from 1958 to 1963 and again in 1970/71. At all of the places at which I lived there, I seem to remember railroad tracks being close by.

One of the places in particular catches my memory a little less clearly than the others, though. The fact that I was only six years old at the time might have something to do with that .

From August 1958 to early spring 1959, our family lived at a set of tourist cottages called Oak Acres Court. It was on the east side of Ocala Road (U.S. 441 south of Gainesville), between the Williston Cutoff (Fla. 331) and Rocky Point Road (Fla. 23 or S-23). I faintly remember hearing train whistles, and I think I remember seeing a railroad right of way just to the east of Oak Acres Court. The weird thing is that I don't remember actually seeing any trains on that right of way. The last time I was in Gainesville, though, I couldn't find the old Oak Acres Court location to check things out. I now live in northern New York state, and I don't think I will be able to get to Gainesville any time soon to do my own research on this admittedly mundane topic. All I want to know is if my memory is playing tricks on me or if there really was a railroad there, and if so, to get some details on it (was it ACL?, etc.).

I guess what I'd really like is a pointer to a map, preferably medium to large scale, of any rail lines which may have existed between G'ville and Ocala in the late 50's. Does such a thing exist, and can I get a copy of it, or could anyone direct me to something/anything that might be of help?

Thanks in advance, --Ted Champagne n4tw@arrl.net Madrid, NY close by the New York and Ogdensburg Railway (until recently the St. Lawrence and Racquette River RR, and before that, the Rutland)

-- Ted Champagne (n4tw@arrl.net), August 11, 2001


SAL tracks came into Sampson City also (1893, as Atlantic, Suwanee River & Gulf, the sold to SAL ). This SAL line goes from Starke to Brooker, on to Alachua (and made it all the way to Wannee on the Suawanne by 1902). Best I can figure the diamond of SAL and GS&F was a very little bit West of where the JG&G/T&J terminated into the GS&F tracks. Sampson City had quite a bit going on there (briefly -- its a handful of houses/trailers now).

The SAL also came into Gainesville from Starke (and beyond to Fernandiana/Jacksonville) and exiting G'ville heading West to Archer. The ACL came from the East in Palataka and South in Ocala with a Wye at Rochelle (1881-1882) before entering G'ville via the Paynes prarie route (now the G'ville-Hawthorne rails-to-trails). ACL exited Gainesville heading North to Burnetts Lake/High Springs.


-- Neal Horner (hornern@us.ibm.com), April 17, 2002.

Without taxing my brain about your post,I have these questions. I thought the SAL was the RR that crossed at Sampson City.The ACL from Palatka came into Gainesville from the south/southeast near the north shore of Paynes Praire.There was a wye there with tracks to Gainesville and ? Any comments?

-- Joseph Oates (jlosal@mindspring.com), December 22, 2001.

You probably remember seeing the remains of the old Jacksonville, Gainesville & Gulf (JG&G) / Tampa & Jacksonville (T&J) railroad, while you were hearing the ACL/SAL traffic a few miles north up around the intersection of Depot Ave and S. Main Street (which became Rocky Point Road south of Depot Ave.).

In 1895 the Gainesville & Gulf built a line from Gainesville to Micanopy and on to Irvine. The line ran from the 6th Street/W. University area (where the ACL station ultimately would stand), south to cross the SAL where it ran along Depot avenue, then jogged a little East where it then ran South along Williston Road. It ran South along what would be US 441 (13th Street) before turning West to head around the western edge of Paynes prarie. This sounds like the area of your Oak Acres motel.

The line crossed what is now I-75 about midway between Williston road and the North edge of Paynes prarie (at about the South edge of the Fla Farm Bureau's parking lot). Topo maps still show the remains of the track in this area, and you can pick out the earthen fills they created around the North side of the prarie.

Ultimately the line was extended to Fairfield in the South, and North to a junction with the Georgia Southern and Florida at Sampson/Simpson City. The northeasterly bend in N. Main Street between 16th and 23rd Avenues today is due to its alignment with the T&J railroad along that straight line from G'ville to Sampson City.

The ACL milepost location known as 'TeenJay' was the crossing point of ACL and the T&J (Tee'N'Jay, get it!).

In the 20's the T&J/JG&G gave up on the route from G'ville to Sampson City, and the part South of Gainesville ceased operation around 1943.

At one point the SAL acquired control of the JG&G.

Around 1948 the ACL purchased from SAL the portion of the old JG&G from TeenJay to the Depot Avenue area so they could stop running down the middle of Main Street through the length of town. The ACL 6th Street station was built at that time. ACL connected the old JG&G South of Depot to their line heading East to Palatka.

-- Neal Horner (hornern@us.ibm.com), December 22, 2001.

I lived in Gainesville for 8 years, just moved to Tampa. The line from ocala to gainesville was ex-ACL, and was abandoned in parts by the Seaboard Coast Line and later CSX, the last part being gainesville to rochelle in the late 80's. A short line (florida northern RR) now runs part of the line from lowell (north of ocala, crosses CR25) thr ocala (uses ex-ACL ocala yard) to candler (south and east of ocala). As for trackage in Gainesville, the Trackage was abandoned and removed in 1997 from SW 23rd Ave to the end of trackage just east of main street. Gainesville yard and the ex-SAL trackage from archer - waldo had been abandoned in parts, the last part being from SW6th street to the airport in the late 80's.

-- troy nolen (kirkwood@gdn.net), August 11, 2001.

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