FEC Historical Timeline

Predecessor Railroads, Route Building and Abandonment, Economic Booms and Busts, Natural Disasters, Ownership/Management, and Other Dynamics Shaping the FECR Enterprise

A 165 Year Timeline
1859 - 2024

Predecessor Railroads and Hotels
1859 St. Johns Rwy constructed from Tocoi Landing to St. Augustine
1862 Federal troops burn Tocoi depot and tear up St. Johns Rwy trackage
1866 St. Johns Rwy returned to service
1875 St. Johns Rwy upgraded and rebuilt
1876 St. Johns & Indian River Railroad builds Titusville-Lake Henry (Harney)
1881 St. Johns & Halifax Railway Co., builds narrow-gauge Rollestown-Daytona
1882 Arlington & Atlantic Rwy organized to build Arlington to coast
1882 Arlington & Atlantic Rwy name changed to Jacksonville & Atlantic RR
1883 Jacksonville, St. Augustine & Halifax River RR completed S. Jacksonville-St. Augustine
1883 Atlantic Coast, St. Johns and Indian River Rwy Co builds Enterprise-Titusville
1883 Henry Flagler arrives St. Augustine; upset by poor accommodations and transportation
1885 St. Augustine & Palatka Rwy Co, builds Tocoi Jct.-E. Palatka
1885 Flagler enters RR business, buys assets of Jacksonville, St. Augustine & Halifax River RR
1886 Blue Spring, Orange City & Atlantic RR Co, completes New Smyrna-Blue Spring
1887 Ormond Bridge Co., builds Ormond-Ormond Beach
1887 Blue Spring, Orange City & Atlantic RR Co rights transferred to Atlantic & Western RR
1888 Flagler opens Ponce de Leon Hotel, purchases Casa Monica Hotel, re-names it Cordova
1888 Palatka Bridge Co., builds bridge across St. Johns River for line E. Palatka-Palatka
1888 Flagler purchases St. Johns Rwy
1888 St. Augustine & Halifax River Rwy runs St. Johns & Halifax; builds Rollestown-Palatka
1889 Alcazar hotel opens in St. Augustine
1889 Jupiter & Lake Worth Railway builds Jupiter-Mars (Celestial RR)
1890 Flagler purchases Ormond Hotel in Ormond Beach
1890 Jacksonville Bridge Co opens service on swing drawbridge spanning St. Johns River
1891 Halifax & Indian River Rwy, builds Daytona-Titusville
1892 Halifax & Indian River Rwy rights transferred to Florida Coast & Gulf Railway
1892 JStA&HR Rwy takes over Jacksonville Bridge Co St. Johns River drawbridge
1892 St. Johns & Halifax River Railway leased to J.St.A&IR Rwy
1892 Florida Coast & Gulf Railway builds Daytona-New Smyrna
1892 FC&G RR name changed to Jacksonville, St. Augustine, & Indian River Rwy Co
1892 JSt.&IR Rwy acquires operating rights of various RR lines Jacksonville-Daytona
1892 FC&G Rwy extends trackage Daytona-New Smyrna
1893 FC&G Rwy extends trackage New Smyrna-Rockledge and Eau Gallie
1894 FC&G Rwy extends trackage Eau Gallie-West Palm Beach
1894 Royal Poinciana Hotel opens at Palm Beach
1894 Major freeze wipes out crops in North and Central Florida
1895 Second major freeze finishes what the 1894 freeze did not
1895 Julia Tuttle telegrams Flagler Miami undamaged by freezes, and
 Flagler replies: “Madam, what is it that you propose?”
 Flagler meets with Mrs. Tuttle and decides to build the railway on into Miami

Florida East Coast Railway is Born
1895 JSt. A&IR Rwy name changed to Florida East Coast Railway
1895 West Palm Beach-Palm Beach hotel branch line begins service
1895 Celestial RR refuses to sell to FEC and line abandoned
1896 FEC extends trackage West Palm Beach-Ft. Lauderdale, and then Miami
1896 FEC acquires Atlantic & Western RR New Smyrna-Blue Springs
1896 Sebastian & Cincinnatus Farms RR (narrow gauge) built from Sebastian to Cincinnatus Farms
1899 Southeastern Rwy Co acquires ACSt.J&IR Rwy Co
1899 Pablo Beach-Mayport line begins service
1902 FEC acquires Jacksonville & Atlantic RR S. Jacksonville-Pablo Beach line
1902 FEC acquires Southeastern Rwy Enterprise-Titusville line
1903 Flagler extends FEC 12 miles south of Miami to serve agricultural interests 
1904 FEC extends to village that would become known as Homestead

Key West Extension and Kissimmee Valley Line
1905 Flagler tours proposed Key West Extension route and decides to build KWE
1905 KWE construction begins; ground broken in Key West
1906 Hurricane kills 140 KWE workers and damages Long Key Viaduct
1907 KWE reaches Long Key
1908 KWE reaches Knight’s Key (Marathon)
1909 Accusations of worker brutality and slavery on KWE; company found not guilty
1909 Hurricane kills 13 KWE Extension workers and washes out 40 miles of line in the Upper Keys
1910 Fellsmere Railroad (std gauge) constructed from connection at Sebastian to Fellsmere
1910 Hurricane severely damages extension work in the lower Keys, but no lives lost
1911 Construction on Kissimmee Valley Line begins at Maytown
1911 134 acres of land added to Key West in the form of Trumbo Island dredged up for terminal
1911 First train arrives in Key West
1911 Union Cypress builds sawmill and logging railroad connection to FEC at Hopkins
1912 Maytown-Chuluota segment of K-Line begins service
1912 First official train, with Henry Flagler aboard, arrives to a great celebration in Key West
1912 Venerable downtown Miami passenger station built
1913 Henry Flagler falls at Whitehall home in Palm Beach and passes away
1913 Chuluota-Kenansville segment of K-line begins service
1915 Kenansville-Okeechobee segment of K-line begins service
1915 Steam locomotives converted from coal to oil burners
1917 FECR is federalized during World War I
1920 Federal government returns railway to private ownership

1920 Main line upgraded by replacing 70 lb rail with 90 lb rail
1922 First unit of St. Augustine general office building completed
1923 K-line extended around eastern shore of Lake Okeechobee to Belle Glade
1923 Second unit of St. Augustine general office building completed
1923 Miami Belt line and branch Hialeah-South Miami constructed
1924 Fellsmere RR renamed Trans Florida Central, Sebastian-Broadmoor, 5 mi. west of Fellsmere
1924 Passenger volume booms, 16 trains daily between Jacksonville and Miami
1924 Double tracking of main line begins
1925 Moultrie Cutoff built
1925 Hialeah and Bowden Yards completed
1925 Freight volume overwhelms railway; freight embargo imposed
1926 Double tracking and block signal installation on main line completed
1926 General office building at St. Augustine completed
1926 Miller Shops completed
1926 Mayport branch trains terminate at Ferry Station rather than Jax Union Terminal
1926 Hurricane devastates South Florida and the railway West Palm Beach-Miami
1927 Seaboard Air Line competition begins with passenger service on its new line into Miami 
1927 Revenues begin a multi-year decline
1929 Final 10 miles of K-line completed Belle Glade-Lake Harbor

1929 Stock market crash
1930 Significant system-wide service cutbacks begin
1930 Blue Springs-Orange City-New Smyrna Beach abandoned
1931 FEC enters receivership
1932 Union Cypress logging RR at Hopkins (Melbourne) abandoned
1932 S. Jacksonville-Mayport and Ormond branches abandoned
1935 Palm Beach branch abandoned
1935 Engineman Turnipseed on Florida Special runs red signal and destroys Jupiter drawbridge
1935 Labor Day hurricane wipes out 40 miles of KWE
1935 Terminal for Cuban car ferry service re-located from Key West to Port Everglades
1936 KWE abandoned south of Florida City; right of way sold to state for $640,000

Recovery and Re-organization
1939 Diesel era begins; first two diesel engines purchased, along with two seven-car streamliners
1940 Ownership conflict ensues between Flagler Estate, the DuPonts, and Atlantic Coast Line 
1941 Railway exits receivership and enters reorganization under trustees Loftin and Lane
1942 E. Palatka-San Mateo abandoned
1942 Military commandeers Cuban car ferry vessels for wartime service
1944 Atlantic Coast Line declares merger intention
1946 Car ferry operation sold to WIFSSC, ferry service to Cuba resumes from Port of Palm Beach
1947 K-Line abandoned Maytown-Port Mayaca
1947 K-Line cutoff Ft. Pierce-Port Mayaca-Lake Harbor enters service
1947 Peavy Wilson Lumber Co leases Holopaw-Maytown segment of K-line for lumber operations
1948 E. Palatka-Palatka abandoned
1948 Six BL-2 locomotives purchased, primarily for Ft. Pierce-Lake Harbor line
1950 St. Johns River swing bridge at Palatka re-located to Seaboard RR across ICW at Fernandina
1950 Ownership dispute between DuPont interests and Atlantic Coast Line continues in the courts
1951 Peavy Wilson lumber operations cease; Holopaw-Maytown abandoned
1952 Trans Florida Central (successor to Fellsmere RR) is entirely abandoned west of Sebastian
1953 Power roster balance tips in favor of diesel engines
1953 Lehigh-Portland Cement Co. builds Flagler Beach branch to serve cement plant
1954 Courts rule St. Joe Paper and trustee Ed Ball own FECR via purchase of 5% of mortgage bonds
1954 “Boneyard Special” hauls all remaining steam engines out of Miami
1959 ICC denies ACL merger proposal and allows FEC to pursue internal reorganization
1959 The last steam engines removed from power roster
1960 Ed Ball appoints W.L. Thornton as Chairman, FECR
1961 Reorganization completed under Ed Ball; FEC no longer in receivership or reorganization
1961 Castro takeover in Cuba wipes out car ferry revenues; service halted

Strike, New Freedom to Manage, and Re-Birth
1961 Non-operating unions make wage demands FECR cannot meet; negotiations ensue
1963 Unions strike FECR
1963 All rail operations annulled due to strike
1963 Freight service slowly restored using supervisory and new-hire non-union personnel
1963 Flagler Beach Lehigh Cement Plant branch abandoned
1963 Spur from Jay Jay to Wilson and Kennedy Space Center constructed; to become Nasa RR
1963 Venerable (and political football) downtown Miami passenger station razed
1964 Four former employee striker saboteurs blow up two FEC trains
1964 Spur to Dodge Island seaport completed
1964 First installation of CTC completed Daytona Beach-Cocoa
1965 Court-ordered streamliner begins running 6 days/week Jacksonville-N. Miami
1965 Sweeping changes begin; new work rules, 2-man crews, redman remote, much more
1966 First use of concrete crossties, eventually installed over entire main line
1968 PSC permits discontinuance of court-ordered streamliner
1970 First non-operating union settles strike
1971 Non-operating unions settle strike; operating unions continue strike
1972 Downtown Miami-Kendall abandoned; Miami River drawbridge removed
1972 Single tracking of entire main line begins, CTC-signaled with passing sidings every 10 miles
1972 East Palatka-Bunnell segment of old main abandoned
1974 Aurantia-Benson Junction abandoned
1977 Operating unions decertified; strike finally ends
1979 Abandoned right of way Miami River-Kendall sold to Dade County
1981 Ed Ball passes away; W.L. Thornton appointed CEO, R.W.Wyckoff appointed as Exec VP

More Re-organization; Running Out the Century
1983 E. Palatka-Hastings abandoned
1984 Florida East Coast Industries designated as holding company for FECR and realty interests
1984 FECR emphasizes shipper-oriented customer service
1985 Intermodal freight grows year by year
1986 Rock from Medley mines continues to grow as a commodity; City Point terminal established
1987 Cab signals installed on all road engines after fatal rear-end collision near Bunnell
1988 Hastings-Vermont Heights segment of old main abandoned
1989 Abandoned right of way Kendall-Homestead becomes a rubber-tired busway
1992 R. Wyckoff retires as President of FECR, succeeded by C. Zellers
1995 Run-through service to Macon, Georgia-Florida Xpress, begins over NS Jacksonville-Macon
1996 FECR and City of Miami joint Centennial celebration
1998 K-line Cana-Lake Harbor leased to South Central Florida Express
1999 R.W. Anestis becomes chairman, president, and CEO of FECI
1999 J.D. McPherson becomes president of FECR

2000; A New Century
2000 Red and yellow livery returns on FEC power; GP-40 406 re-painted, re-numbered 2000
2001 Florida East Coast Railway Society organized by FECR railfans
2001 Old main St. Augustine-Vermont Heights renovated as Wilbur Wright industrial lead
2004 Three hurricanes impact FEC operations; very long trains, much flagging of crossings
2005 A. Henriques becomes chairman, president, and CEO of FECI
2005 FECRS N-trak modelers hold first Trains! Trains! Trains! Event at Cocoa Library
2005 Hurricane Wilma damages Dodge Island drawbridge; service to Port of Miami annulled
2006 Headquarters relocates to Jacksonville; St. Augustine HQ building sold to Flagler College
2007 Fortress Investment Group acquires FECI and FECR
2007 RailAmerica, under FIG, operates FECR; 4 red/pearl/blue RA engines come on property
2007 James Giles, David Rohal of RA become CEO and VP operations respectively of FECR
2008 Last remaining segment of E-branch, Aurantia-Titusville, abandoned and removed
2008 Rock shipments decline dramatically during business recession
2009 FIG spins off RA, but retains FECI and FECR
2010 James Hertwig becomes president of FECR
2010 First annual Toys for Tots Christmas Train
2010 Last delivery of solid rocket motor cars to Nasa, shuttle program ends; Nasa RR mothballed
2012 FECR pursues increased intermodal traffic to be transiting enlarged Panama Canal

New Services, New Ownership, Dawn of Brightline   
2013 Bulk rail shipments of ethanol begin to transload facility in Port Everglades     
2013 All Aboard Florida announces express Miami-Orlando passenger service on FECR     
2013 Drawbridge on spur to Dodge Island Port of Miami renovated; IM service to port begins     
2014 Port Canaveral studies routes for rail connection to FECR; ecology concerns stall project
2014 Rail infrastructure at Port Everglades renovated for new ICTF facility     
2014 24 GE ES44C4's purchased sporting red/yellow “Champion” livery     
2015 Use of LNG to power locos begins, GE ES44C4 conversions to run on LNG begin     
2015 AAF announces Brightline brand for Miami-Orlando express passenger service     
2015 ICTF at Port Everglades opens     
2017 Circus train runs FECR for the last time; RBBB annuls its circus trains forever this year     
2017 First Brightline trainset arrives at West Palm Beach maintenance shop     
2017 FIG/FECI/FECR acquired by Softbank Group Corp of Japan     
2017 FIG sells FECR to Grupo Mexico; FECR joins Grupo Mexico Ferromex rail operation     
2017 FECR President Hertwig retires. Nate Asplund becomes new President of FECR     
2017 Brightline stations in Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, West Palm Beach completed     
2017 US Sugar begins effort to restore FECR steam locomotive 4-6-2 #148 
2017 FECRS N-trackers enter fecNtrak layout at NMRA National Train Show in Orlando; layout wins 2nd place     
2017 Florida Dispatch Company set up as joint venture between FECR and Brightline at Bowden Yard to dispatch all FECR and Brightline trains 
2017 FECR from Miami-West Palm Beach fully double-tracked again, readied for Brightline service  
2018 Brightline inaugurates express passenger service Miami-West Palm Beach on January 13
2019 Positive train control implemented for first time between Miami-Fort Lauderdale     
2019 FECR introduces teal color with C logo on engines, giving FECR 5 active liveries on road power 
2019 Brightline re-positions express train service under the brand Virgin Trains USA     
2019 Virgin Trains USA breaks ground on Phase 2 of service, building to serve West Palm-Orlando     
2020 FECR celebrates 125 years as a “Florida Industry and Institution”     
2020 Pandemic briefly curtails FEC service, cancels Brightline passenger service rest of year     
2020 Pandemic causes cancellation of FECRS 2020 convention      
2020 US Sugar RR completes renovation of FEC 4-6-2 No. 148; pulls cane cars and Santa train   
2020 FEC Caboose 715 renovation gets underway in Miami     
2020 Brightline terminates relationship with Virgin Group     
2020 Brightline announces new stations at Port Miami, Aventura, Boca Raton, and Disney Springs     
2020 Brightline announces local commuter service to additional stations in Dade and Broward
2020 First delivery of solid rocket motors over FEC/old NASA RR in 10 years, for Artemis program     
2021 Brightline announces Orlando Extension construction 50% complete, on time and on budget     
2021 Pandemic necessitates a “virtual” FECRS 2021 convention     
2021 Brightline trains run for first time in almost a year testing out new PTC system  
2021 More than 15 miles of new double track are put into service  
2022 The FECRS convention returns in person being held in Viera, FL.
2022 Brightline begins running test trains north of West Palm Beach to Cocoa in January
2022 First 110mph Brightline test train is run between Jensen Beach and Fort Pierce in October
2022 An additional 64 miles of double track are activated for service
2023 All new double track for Brightline is complete between West Palm Beach and Cocoa in June
2023 Brightline Begins service to Orlando on September 22
2024 A new era begins on the FEC with a new paint scheme debuting on the ES44C4s and a special veterans paint scheme on a GP40-2 released
Future: So Florida-sunny you gotta wear shades    
Speedway to Sunshine, S. Bramson, 1984, 2003.
Florida East Coast Railway, Images of Rail, S. Bramson, 2006.
A Journey into Florida Railroad History, G.M Turner, 2008.

©2021 R. Lowry/Florida East Coast Railway Society

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