GS&F Palatka Station : LUSENET : Georgia Southern & Florida RR Historical Society : One Thread


Does anyone know if the GS&F used Palatka Union Station? If not, where was their station and is it extant?

Thanks, Roy Bower Miami

-- Roy P. Bower (, January 12, 2002



The best that I can figure out is that the GS&F must have used the Palatka Union Depot for their passenger services. According to the 1916 GS&F valuation, it states that the GS&F had 6,000 feet of trackage rights over the ACL to get to the riverfront property area where their freight depot and facilities were located. There is no mention of their own passenger depot in Palatka. However, as I have discovered this was not common for the GS&F. For instance, the GS&F had used the Central of Georgia's Union Depot in Macon for their passengers before the Macon Terminal was constructed in 1916 and had trackage rights to get their passenger trains to the depot. I assume that this was in similitude to the Palatka. Perhaps some of the Palatka folks could help us on this.

-- Mark S. Mosely (, January 13, 2002.

Roy, the GS&F RR had a depot on the St. Johns River front, and they used it until the 1970's. I am not sure when the City of Palatka torn it down and build a park. I have some photos, and 2 are posted onthis web site under Depots. I will try to find out when Southern stoped passenger service to Palatka, if you want. They had freight service mostly Georgia Pacific) until the later 1980's, when Southern (NS) pulled up the track to Lake Butler, and in the mid 1990's to Lake City. NS still runs to Lake City and the NAS, where the line now ends. Allen L. Wiener, Ocala, FL

-- Allen L. Wiener (, January 13, 2002.


Okay, I must have been on drugs to my earlier response. The 1916 GS&F Rwy valuation stated as follows: "AT Palatka the Georgia Souther & Forida and its terminal property and facilities, with the exception of about 6,000 feet of track belonging to the ACL, which is used under a trackage agreement, to reach its freight and passenger station". So, after reading this more carefully, you can deduct that the GS&F had their own passenger depot down on the river front property. I believe that ALlen Wierner stated more about this in his response. Hope this helps.

-- Mark Mosely (, January 14, 2002.

I've looked over the existing Sanborn Fire Insurance maps for Palatka for the years 1885, 1887, 1892, 1897, 1903, 1909, 1915, 1924, and 1930 and thought I'd share what information I have on GS&F's trackage and depots. In 1892 GS&F had a line running into Palatka along it's northern border on Dunham St. At what would become North 12th St. it crossed the Jacksonville, Tampa and Key West (later ACL) line but did not connect to it (sometime before 1909 a connection was built). The GS&F continued east on Dunham to its depot at the northern end of North 3rd St. The depot was located on the west side of North 3rd St. north of Bronson St. A couple of branches continued north and east from this point to connect up with saw mills located on the St. Johns River and to the GS&F's wharf. At some point between 1903 and 1909 the GS&F built a depot on the south side of Palatka (captured in Mr. Wiener's photographs) located at the southern end of 1st St. (earlier know as Water St.) east of the First Presbyterian Church between 1st St. and the river. There was a shingle mill and grain warehouse located here. A line connecting this area with the north- south JT&KW (ACL) line ran east-west along Laurel St. and had existed since at least 1885. On the 1909 map the line is identified as JT&KW but the depot is identified as GS&F. On the 1915 map this line is identified as GS&F. Brian Michael's in The River Flows North: A History of Putnam County states that construction on this southern depot began in 1904. Although the Sanborn maps were updated through the 1950s this was accomplished by pasting on corrections to the 1930 map and so it's hard to date the point when buildings and rail lines disappeared.

-- Robert Tindall (, July 04, 2002.

Hey Ya'll:

The correct answer is 2 and 1/2 depots. The 3rd street depot was a wooden affair, a pretty standard combination station which looked pretty much like the typical HO scale combination station kit. A large (shingle?) mill later occupied this area but the station continued to serve as a freight station and at one point was leased to the Ocala Northern RR. The FEC bridge was South of this station and in the early days so was the ACL station which sat on the river front where the Holiday Inn was built. The ACL station was beautiful with turrets and long banners flying from the cone shaped peaks of the turrets. Steamboats could tie up at the warf in front of their station. The NEW GS&F station was built at the south end where the river front park is today. The track came right down the middle of the street. The way it worked was the train would come in from the Northwest, swing south on the ACL mainline, cross over all of the ACL tracks and pull past the wye, still on the ACL. Then the train would reverse direction and back down the street to the river front depot. Based on the old maps it appears that this station used 3 and maybe 4 tracks. Two on the river side would have been regular passenger tracks while on the Northeast side of the station another track was express. This too became a Union Station as the former Ocala Northern, now under new management as the Ocklawaha Valley Railroad moved in and obtained a shared track agreement for the Palatka Terminal area of the GS&F. The OV was a valued shortline connection which ran from Palatka to: Silver Lake - Rodman Jct (Rodman via spur) - Kennilworth - Kenwood - Orange Springs - Bay Lake - Ft. McCoy - Daisy - Burbank - Oak Jct. - Silver Springs - Ocala. The road served several huge lumber mills at Silver Springs 2, Ft. McCoy and Rodman and a tool plant near Kenwood, gas and canning plant at Burbank, Water Plant at Orange Springs as well as a brisk tourist trade. It is worthy of note because the "big 4" railroads of Eastern Florida stated in hearings that the OV was one of the most valuable pieces of railroad in the State. When it was auctioned as the ON every company was represented, each with orders to allow an outside shortline interest to own it but if the competition was to bid, NO ONE was to be outbid! Trouble was the shortline operator was a dirty underhanded bunch of bushwacking carpet baggers and they bought the line and immediately announced it's abandonment. The State and later the Supreme Court ordered that it NOT be abandoned but in 1924 Railroad commission records it says, "where as the owners have abandoned the road in spite of Supreme Court orders, we have no other recourse but to declair the Ocklawaha Valley Railroad Abandoned! One just has to wonder what if! Also, WHAT a model railroad with it's connection and bridge traffic between the GS&F, FEC, ACL and SAL! Anyway, the ACL built Union Station in the center of wye's on the East side of the station one could look right up the FEC and across the bridge, On the West one looked up the Interlatchen Branch toward Gainesville on the old Florida Southern. Running North and South was the ACL mainline to Jacksonville and Tampa. The GS&F train had to roll right past the station as it worked it's way across the mainline tracks of the ACL to it's water front depot. Then lastly, the regular passenger service was cut and as the mixed train faded a new "depot" was established at the end of the wye which was located several hundred yards west of the ACL mainline and Northwest of Union Station. The wye was just used to turn the GS&F, nobody shared it. It ran a couple of blocks to the south of the GS&F line and stopped at the "depot" just a block or two short of the ACL yard on the Interlatchen branch. The locations of the first depot are posted today, the second is a city park and the third is in a combat zone in a neighborhood that has Palatka ranked at the TOP of Florida's violent crime index. Union Station borders that same neighborhood. The keyword here is BE CAREFUL and mindfull of what's going on around you. Railroadingly Bob President VP S

-- Robert Mann (, May 21, 2003.

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