East/West line in Callahan, FL

greenspun.com : LUSENET : ACL and SAL Railroads Historical Society : One Thread

I'm a writer for the Nassau Neighbor. I'd like to write about the RR line which used to run East & West thru Callahan, FL.

I think the tracks were removed around 1985, but I'd like to know the line. I want to write about when traffic was at it's peak: what equipment ran then? what frieght was carried?, to what markets?, how many passengers traveled the line?, etc.


Pat Weiss

-- James Patrick Weiss (patweiss@bellsouth.net), April 29, 2004


The east - west line through Callahan, FL was a former Seaboard Air Line that extended between the yard at Baldwin, Fl on the west (actually southwest by compass) and Fernandina Beach on the east (northeast).

In terms of rail traffic, the Baldwin - Fernandina Beach line was divided into two operating sections: Baldwin - Gross; and Gross - Fernandina Beach.

The portion of the line between Baldwin and Gross was known as the "Gross Cut-off", as it functioned as a Jacksonville bypass line for some of SAL's through freights and at least one passenger train.

The Gross - Fernandina Beach line was solely a local service line, primarily for the large paper mill in Fernandina Beach. These trains often operated over the entire length of the line between Fernandina Beach and Baldwin,with SAL's Baldwin Yard being the service yard.

Currently, the section of the line between Baldwin and Callahan serves as a Jacksonville bypass line for CSX freight trains, while the Gross - Fernandina Beach section is serviced by local freights out of Jacksonville and beyond (CSX's Rice Yard in Waycross, GA.)

-- Aaron Dowlng (aarondowling@cfl.rr.com), June 12, 2004.

Perhaps Mr. Weiss is referring to the original Cross Florida Railroad ("CFRR") (Fernandina Beach-Cedar Key), a part of which (Callahan- Baldwin) the Seaboard used in constructing the Baldwin Cutoff (new construction being necessary between Gross and Callahan) in the 1920's, I believe. After SAL built the cutoff, it kept the poorly maintained, light-railed Yulee-Callahan segment of the CFRR, which allowed direct access to the Fernandina paper mills from Baldwin, until circa 1960, when SAL abandoned the Yulee-Callahan segment -- after apprarently opting to run the Baldwin-Fernandina locals over the cutoff from Baldwin to Gross, then down the Gross-Yulee portion of the mainline, and thence over the old CFRR from Yulee to Fernandina. Interestingly, CSX must still access the Yulee- Fernandina branch from the north -- trains from Jacksonville must run past the switch at Yulee; the power must then run around its train to then head east to Fernandina (with trains from Fernandina making a reverse move).

-- Sherrod G. Patterson (sgpattersonatty@mindspring.com), April 30, 2004.

There were two lines through Callahan.One of them is the former Atlantic Coast Line and is in current use by CSX.The other was the Seaboard Air Line.Actually the ACL runs more in a NW-SE orientation while the SAL ran N-S.There is no true E-W line.Sometime after the ACL-SAL merger in 1967 the SAL line north of Callahan to Gross,connecting there with the mainline out of Jacksonville was removed. A connection added to afford access to the former ACL at Callahan.The SAL between Baldwin and Callahan is currently being used by CSX. The line between Baldwin and Gross was called the "Gross cut-off". This allowed hot south Florida perishable trains to by-pass Jacksonville.The only passenger trains on the route in my memory were the "Silver Star" and the "Orange Blossom Special" both only ran the "cut-off" in the winter season.

-- Joseph Oates (uj67@mindspring.com), April 29, 2004.

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