Booksville-Croom Line : LUSENET : Georgia Southern & Florida RR Historical Society : One Thread

On a recent hike in the Withlachoochee Nat'l Forest, I stumbled upon an abandoned line in the middle of the woods. Trees were growing on the right of way and old ties were visible (barely) in the ground. According to the map I have, it was an old seaboard line. Does anyone know anything about this line?

-- Karl M. Loeper (, April 04, 2003


Karl, I grew up in the vicinity of your hike, and worked for the Florida Forest Service in the Withlacoochee State Forest. Actually, there are FOUR abandoned railroad lines located in the Forest lands. Since you mentioned the Brooksville - Croom line, you are referring to the x Atlantic Coast Line branch line between Brooksville and the junction at Croom. This line was contructed in the 1880's as the final section of the Florida Southern Rwy's line between Jacksonville and Brooksville. The line was abandoned in the early 1970's following the 1967 merger between the ACL and SAL to form the Seaboard Coast Line RR. The main line that the branch line connected to at Croom was ACL's (and later CSX's) main line between Tampa, Florida and the Waycross, Ga. - Montgomery,Al. main line at DuPont, Ga. This main line was abandoned by CSX in the 1990's and a portion through the State Forest and adjacent areas has been converted to a multi-purpose trail through $ from the Rails-To-Trails program. The other two other abandoned lines are located in the eastern section of the State Forest south of State Road 50. One is the x SAL main line between Wildwood and Auburndale, which has also been converted to a trail through the Rails-to-Trails program. The fourth is an x ACL branch line between Trilby and Sanford, Fl that was originally the Sanford & St. Petersburg RR (The Orange Belt Rwy) that was taken over by the Plant System (a predecessor of the ACL) in 1895, and was abandoned by the SCL in the 1970's.

Also, the portion of the State Forest that you were hiking in was the site of numerous phosphate mines in the late Nineteenth and early Twentieth Centuries. You may have discovered one of the branch lines that served one of the mines.

I hope that this information helps to answer your question. Please contact me if you have any other questions or desire more information. Best wishes! Aaron Dowling (

-- Aaron Dowling (, May 03, 2003.

Karl: My mind had a temporary shut-down for a moment when I was typing my response to your question. Actually, there are FIVE segments of abandoned railroads located in the Withlacoochee State Forest! The fifth railroad is the xSAL line between Waldo and Tampa via Gainesville. Presently, this line is abandoned from a point approximately a dozen miles north of Brooksville. The portion of the line through the State Forest was abandoned by the SCL in the 1970's after the ACL - SAL merger. The abandoned line has not been converted to a trail, but it is on the list for potential construction as a Rails-To-Trails project. A bit of background on the Withlacoochee State Forest: It is divided into four tracts of land, separated from each other, with the four tracts being located on a NW - SE axis. The tract names, from southeast to northwest, are the Richloam/Green Swamp, Croom, Headquarters, and Citrus. The State Forest stretches approximately 75 miles from end to end, and also includes a National Military Cemetery. Again, best wishes! Aaron Dowling

-- Aaron Dowling (, May 04, 2003.

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