Zephyrhills, FL interchange

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Did the ACL Trilby-(via downtown Dade City and Zephyrhills, FL)Tampa line interchange with the Seaboard south Vitis?(south of Zephyrhills?)

-- Scott Young (syoung01@sprynet.com), January 28, 2005


Oh, heck! I forgot to mention that Vitis Junction is located about 5 miles NE of Zephyrhills, and approx. 6 miles S of Dade City.

It was at the widest distance between the former ACL and SAL lines between Dade City and Zephyrhills.

Aaron Dowling

-- Aaron Dowling (adowling@merandb.com), January 31, 2005.

In response to the above information requests and comments, here is some information:

Owensboro Interlocking:

The tracks involved in the interlocking formed a perfect "X" pattern underneath the U.S. 98/301 highway bridge. At one time, an interlocking tower was positioned just off to the w. side of the overpass bridge. The ACL line's alignment was on a NW - SE axis, and the SAL line's alignment was on a NE - SW axis.

Yeah, the SW direction of the SAL line is hard to see in the immediate vicinity of the interlocking, but it is much more visible in about 50 yds sw of the interlocking.

A conncetion track was constructed between the SAL NE side and the ACL SE side. Afterward, the interlocking was removed, and eventually the former ACL track was removed, leaving only the above- described "connector track" curve.

Between Owensboro and the south side of Zephyrhills, the ACL track was to the E of the SAL track.

Zephyrhills Interlocking:

Another ACL / SAL interlocking was located on the SE side of Zephyrhills. After the ACL - SAL merger, this interlocking was removed after the former ACL line between Vitis and Tampa was abandoned (the portion between Zephyrhills and Temple Terrace in Tampa), when a connector track was contructed between the ACL (NE side) and the SAL (SE side).

Vitis Junction:

Vitis Junction was an important junction of the ACL lines to Lakeland and Tampa, as they came together to form a single line northward. This junction is still very important to CSX's train routing configurations. A head-on collision between two CSX freight trains happened at the junction several months ago, costing a CSX conductor his life. One train ran through a red CTC signal light.

Today, Vitis Junction remains as a key train routing point for southbound CSX traffic to Lakeland (via the former ACL mainline) and to Tampa via the former ACL ine to Zephyrhills, then on the former SAL line to Plant City and the former SAL Yeoman Yard in Tampa. The former ACL Uceta Yard in Tampa has been converted to an intermodal terminal.

"Unofficial" Interchange track @ Dade City:

The ACL and SAL had an "unofficial interchange" track on the north side of Dade City via a joint service track to the old Lykes-Pasco Citrus Products Processing Plant. An extra siding track was constructed, and cars destined for local service on either line were left there for subsequent pick-up.

I hope that this information is helpful! Best Wishes!

Aaron Dowling

-- Aaron Dowling (adowling@merandb.com), January 31, 2005.

I agree with Troy.AFAIK there was never any connection netween the railroads at Zephyerhills,nor Owensboro.No need to to be.

-- Joseph Oates (uj67@mindspring.com), January 31, 2005.

Yes, they did cross at grade, as I mentioned, but I dont think they actually interchanged there, that was the question...

-- troy nolen (tnolen12@tampabay.rr.com), January 30, 2005.

Not only did the two railroads interchange at Zephyrhills, they also managed to collide at the crossing. On December 19, 1940, SAL train 305 struck the side of ACL freight 213, killing the SAL engineer and injuring 19.

The crossing was such that the first train approaching the crossing would receive the clear home signal. The SAL train approached the crossing at a speed of 30-35 mph and received a clear signal. The ACL freight departed from Vitis and proceeded through a home signal set at stop. The SAL train hit the first car of the ACL train and derailed.

While the ICC laid fault on the ACL engineer, it also admonished the SAL for permitting speeds on the approach to the crossing at 30-35 mph. It noted that it set up rules in 1939 requiring all grade crossings with approach speeds in excess of 20 mph to have approach signals, in addition to the home signal. Since the SAL did not have a functioning approach signal, it should have operated train 305 at 20 mph. The ICC noted that if the SAL train was operated at 20 mph, the accident may have been prevented or at best, the consequences reduced.

A copy of the accident report may be accessed on the US DOT Library web site under Special Collections-Historic ICC accident reports. Look up 1940 and you will find the report towards the bottom of the listing for 1940. The PDF file will also have a drawing of the location.

-- Michael W. Savchak (Savchak@mnr.org), January 29, 2005.

No, there were a couple crossings at grade south of zephyrhills and near where vitis junction is now, actually the grade crossing was south of vitis junction (out by where the airport is) on the line which is now abandoned which went through thonotosassa and on towards what is now the neve spur. They also crossed at grade north of dade city and again at owensboro. After the merger the SAL line was basically abandoned between where the SAL crossed at grade north of dade city near the U.S. 98 crossing and where the S Line crossed at grade with the ACL south of Vitis. You will notive the mileposts go from S 8xx.xx to AR 8xx.xx to ARF 8.xx.xx back to S 8.xx.xx in the span of about 20 miles. It must have been interesting back in the 50's

-- troy nolen (tnolen12@tampabay.rr.com), January 29, 2005.

This is a very interesting question! Although I'm from SC I've traveled all in the Trilby, Owensborough, Zephryhills area and cannot figure out how the ACL And SAL routes ran through there. I can see the where the roadbed was in Trilby, but around Owensborough (standing on the highway bridge) I can see where three of the four "legs" or "routes" went (or go) but not the fourth. I hope someone can fill us in, perhaps the authors of the great book "Seaboard Coast Line in Florida."

-- Capers Bull (eurekaairline@yahoo.com), January 28, 2005.

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