History of railroad in Taft Florida

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Hello my name is Vince Scalise and I am a member of the Taft Historical Society. We are currently writing a book about the Taft area. It is a small community located a few miles south of Orlando. We know that the railroad played an important part of the early development as well as today. We are trying to find out when it originally came through the area and was it part of the ACL. We would love to find a photo of the early depot and would appreciate any general information you may have. There was a story that the town was named after President Taft when he came through here on a train and gave a speech to the citizens from the back of his car. We discovered this not true but it made a great story. Thank you in advance

-- Vince Scalise (yanks78915@aol.com), September 06, 2002


Vince, I checked in my primary railroad historical source, George Pettengill's "The Story of the Florida Railroads 1834 - 1903". The South Florida Railroad was chartered in 1879, and construction commenced in 1880, with President Grant throwing out the first spadeful of dirt and the Line's beginning point in Sanford, Fl. The railroad line was undertaken by local visionaries, supported by significant financial support from several financiers in Boston, Ma. The railroad was constructed south from Sanford, and reached Orlando in September 1880. The South Florida Railroad was extended from Orlando to Kissimmee in 1882. On may 4, 1883, the Plant Investment Company, owned by Mr. Henry Plant, purchased 3/5 interest in the South Florida Railroad. In reality, the South Florida Railroad became a functioning component of the Plant Investment Company on this date, although it was allowed to operate as a separate operating entity. Under the Plant Investment Company's direction, the South Florida Railroad was completed to Tampa on January 23, 1884. On March 10, 1893, the South Florida Railroad was officiallly merged into the Savannah, Florida & Westerm Railway, and became the South Florida Division of the Plant System of Railroads. The Plant System was merged with the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad Company in 1902. The Atlantic Coast Line merged with the Seaboard Air Line in l967, leading up to the series of mergers/name changes that created the present-day CSX Transportation Company. You may wish to check with the Florida Archives in Tallahassee for the existence of a photograph of the Taft depot. Good Luck! Aaron Dowling (aarondowling@cfl.rr.com)

-- Aaron Dowling (aarondowling@cfl.rr.com), September 07, 2002.

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