ACL lakeland-arcadia, FL line abandonment : LUSENET : ACL and SAL Railroads Historical Society : One Thread

When was this line officially abandoned? Track still exists (and is in service) out from lakeland a ways, but is cut off somewhere north of the new toll road they put in. South of the toll road the track is still in place, but heavily weeded over, also (oddly) the crossing signals are in place and powered. However the track is obviously out of service. There is also a bridge still in place in bartow, but the track seems to end south of hwy 60 somewhere, seems this line is completely cut off now. Why was this line abandoned. Why has the track not been removed? There is some serious work going on in the area, apparently the local power company is gonna use the ROW to cut in a huge power line and is installing the poles now (huge concrete polls) and in the process is removing some rail when its in the way. It is verry interesting right now, id go check it out before CSX goes in and completely removes the rail. Also there may be some relics along the track. Im not sure of the line was ever signaled, but if it was, it has been removed. Anyone have anymore info on this line, and its history since CSX began its mission to destroy all the raillines in florida??

-- troy nolen (, December 03, 2001


I'm late to post a response, but just wanted to let you know that except for a remnant industrial spur in the vicinity of Amtrak's ex- SAL passenger station in Winter Haven and the portion now operated by the Florida Midland between Winter Haven and the Bartow Airport Industrial Park, all of the ex-ACL Lake Alfred - Bartow branch line has been abandoned. The portion of the ex-ACL line south of Bartow is currently active to the north side of the City of Bowling Green, at a point where a new line was constructed in the 1990's to service some newly-opened phosphate mines on the east side of the Peace River. The change of track to the ex-SAL line to Mulberry occurs at the junction discussed in the previous responses to this thread.

-- Aaron Dowling (, August 26, 2002.

As an addendum to the last post to this thread, CSX still accesses a ready mix plant just south of Lake Alfred on the branch. I beleive that is the only portion left in CSX control. The branch that crosses the ex-SAL at Winter Haven is in control of Florida Midland, they service a fairly large industrial park south of the city, and several industries on the north side...

-- Walt Rogers (, January 30, 2002.

I failed to mention the reason City of Lakeland was a part of the purchase. They have electric lines down part of the railraod right of way, so they are purchasing that part of the right of way for that purpose.

-- Dick Ferguson (fergusoo@HotMail.Com), January 01, 2002.

DOT & City of Lakeland have just purchased that remaining right of way from CSX for $7.7 million. The tracks will be pulled up and a trail be put in it's place. Also, part of right of way will be use for highway right of way expansion

-- Dick Ferguson (fergusoo@HotMail.Com), December 31, 2001.

lake alfred - bartow is not in service any more either... it seems this would be the route to keep open, but then again i guess not enough freight originates in this area that heads north to make it worth while to keep the line open (straight shot to orlando and taft) vs hauling the freight up to uceta and then out

-- troy nolen (, December 06, 2001.

Richard, there was a brick station right at the west diamond. It may have been a combined passenger depot for both lines at some prior time. I do not think it was operational when we lived there in 1948. The SAL tracks bordered the long part (North) side of the depot, with the ACL tracks at the East short end of the station. The diamond itself was right up against the tall concrete curbing of the station concourse.

Yes, the ACL depot was a bit further South. In 1948 I was 9 years old and my memory is getting a bit dimmer. I do not think the depot by the diamond was operational then. The train orders were handed up to the SAL trains at the interlocking tower, which was about 100 feet East of the abandoned brick depot.

It was a fairly busy spot with both ACL and SAL action back then. Some SAL phosphate from the mines west of Bartow. I think the SAL line also went on towards West Lake Wales via Alturas I think.

And think of the manual interlocking with derails and semaphore home signals. Quite an elaborate lever operated pipelines for a branch line tower. Well semi-tower, it was not too tall, about six feet off the ground level. When we moved into the ACL section house, our first warning to me and my brother was not to play around the pipelines. One could easily get a pinched finger or toe.

The ACL ran quite a bit of traffic through the area. I remember the first 2000 series steam engines I saw there. Huge.... They may have made their way from the Montgomery line as steam was gradually being phasing out. Oh yes, a vanderbilt tender on the ACL was indeed a rarity.

The 8000 series (I think) Russian engines on the weed scalder were also huge in a small boys eyes. I cannot remember which had the blind driver, the 2000's or 8000's. One driver in the middle did not have a flanges in order to more easily negotiate sharp curves and turnouts.

It was rare for an engine to tie up in Bartow, but the weedscalder did at times. I would go with my dad when he banked the fires over the weekend. Did I say weekend? Back then may have been before the 40 hour week. It may still have been a six day work week.

Memories... thanks to the society and all of you for keeping my childhood memories kindled.


-- Curtis E. Denmark Jr. (, December 04, 2001.

Where was the passenger station in Bartow? I have heard it was near the "Y" and I remember it being three or four blocks south on the ACL line. The line through Bartow (today) to the south is the former SAL line, is it not???

-- Richard H Kearns (, December 04, 2001.

The line is now severed just south of the new hospital in Bartow. No crossing was ever installed. The other break is south of Combee Road in Eaton Park. Much of the rail is still in place between the breaks as well as the trestle over Banana Creek.

-- Scott Young (, December 04, 2001.

The story of that line is a saga of CSX fighting DOT over land values. DOT wants to sever the line so that they can remove the overpass on SR60 Bypass in Bartow. However, CSX wants DOT to pay them for the entire right-of-way up the current north end of the spur. In an effort to demonstrate that this is still a "active" right-of-way, CSX shoved about 50 bad-order hopper cars up there several years back. They left them there until Polk County sued claiming that the cars were a nuisance. After some legal posturing on both sides, CSX pulled the cars out, but retained the right to use the siding for car storage. In fact, the hospital's entrance crosses the track without a "crossing", but my understanding is that CSX made the hospital agree that they (CSX) could require a crossing to be installed at any time. Last we heard, when we were doing some utility work for the City of Bartow, was that CSX and DOT were still fighting. The power poles are probably for City of Bartow Electric Dept., as Bartow doesn't have the same difficulties with CSX as the DOT.


-- Paul Bizier (, December 04, 2001.

Perhaps some partial answers to your question.

My Dad, was the ACL section foreman in Bartow (1948.) The line was never signaled. There was a Seaboard controlled mechanical interlocking in Bartow, where the SAL crossed the two ACL tracks. The SAL East/West tracks crossed both legs of the North/South ACL wye.

Our ACL section house was inside the wye next to the interlocking tower.

The West leg of the ACL wye, is the track you describe. The East leg of the wye was the track running from Bartow to Lake Alfred. They joined at the stem of the wye South of the SAL crossing.

Regarding the power poles.... I do not know which power company the poles belong to, but Florida Power Corporation bought some right of way on the old ACL Perry, Florida line for use as a future power transmission line. Perhaps this may be the case in this instance.

Otherwise, it may just be a specific easement for the location you noted. You may note also, some railroads are selling billboard (air right)easements over low traffic branch lines.

One example is the Florida Central north of Orlando on the old SAL Wildwood - Oviedo branch. The billboards along North Orange Blossom Trail near Lee Road are over the tracks.

-- Curtis E. Denmark Jr. (, December 03, 2001.

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