Gainesville, Fla. ACL/SAL question : LUSENET : ACL and SAL Railroads Historical Society : One Thread

First of all, thanks for answering my previous question about the ACL line through trilby... Got another one for you. I am researching the Area of gainesville, fla. now... i am aware that there was a branch off the SAL baldwin to tampa mainline that branched off at waldo and headed south to gainesville passing the present day airport and the downtown gainesville power plant, this line continued on due west from here crossing the ACL at Depot ave and SW 6th st and heading on west to archer and points beyond. Also there is the ACL line which came in from Starke to lake butler and on to gainesville... it then crossed the SAL at the point where I mentioned earlier. And then headed through what WAS (i believe) a freight yard and then directly headed east... My questions are where these SAL and ACL lines headed eventually and what freight and passenger loads were carried and when was the SAL line torn up? Also after the merger which lines survived for passenger service and where was the last passenger station... part of the ACL line survives on the north end of town... it still services a propane dealer and a masonry yard, and a power plant north of town. I know all track south of SW 23rd avenue was torn up in 1997 or '98. Also wondering when the last scheduled freights through town were... Also i have a map which states that there was (were?) 2 yards in gainesville on what appears to be the ACL... one on the north side of town in between 39th and 23rd ave and another larger one on the south side of town in an area between the ACL and SaL lines.... when were these yards abandoned? Also if you could point me to any possible local archives/resources this would be appreciated... The last time i actually SAW a train here was mid 1995, it was running north just north of the SAL crossing. thanks alot. -T. Nolen

-- troy nolen (, June 02, 2000


The ACL line came into town from the North at Burnett's Lake (just east of Alachua). Originally this connected northward to High Springs (and then on to Live Oak and Dupont GA) and to Lake Butler (and on to Jacksonville). At some point (in the early-mid 60s, I think) the line from High Springs to Alachua was removed so traffic coming to Gainesville from generally going via Lake Butler. From Burnetts Lake you could (still can) go South to Newberry. The ACL never went into Starke.

Meanwhile, the SAL had a branch from Starke which crossed the ACL a little North of Burnett's Lake and then went on to Buda and Wannee. After the ACL+SAL=SCL merger the line from Burnett's Lake to Lake Butler was taken up and the SAL segment from Starke became the way to get from Jacksonville to Newberry. I think SCL (CSX?) actually had to re-lay some on the line around Lacrosse to fill the gap (using continuous welded rail -- which really surprised me when I visited once because the DeLorme map shows the rails were gone!).

As an aside, a few years ago the Gainesville Regional Utilities board was so fed up with CSX's rate on running unit coal trains to their Hague/Deerhaven unit that they considered building their own rail line from the Deerhaven plant up to Lake Butler to get some competition from NS.

The Matheson Historical Center in Gainesville (a short walk East from the city library) has an article from the Gville Sun from 1967 reporting SCL's request to abandon the SAL line from Gainesville to Waldo and Gainesville to Archer. I guess it was broken by 1969 or so. The article has a pic of a GP7/9 rolling along the weedy tracks and reports on the train schedule. The SAL line North to 'Airbase' (the Gville airport industrial park ) was still in use until atleast 1977 -- North of that it was long-gone. It also lasted out to I-75 along Archer road until around the mid 70s.

I think the yard you see North of 23rd Ave is the Koppers plant,which appears to have/had quite a bit of track internally (they do creosote treatment of telephone poles. I think ACL used to treat cross ties there).

'Gainesville Yard' was in an industrial area at the SE corner of Depot Ave and S. Main. About 4 years ago I visited the (now-defunct) restored ACL passenger station museum up in High Springs; the owner had a collection of 8x10 b/w prints supplied by a pair of local buffs which included shots of the yard, sanding tower, etc. I am kicking myself for not procuring a set of prints -- If anyone knows any of these guys let me know!

The ACL line was still intact South from G'ville to Rochelle, Hawthorn, Micanopy Jct, Ocala etc. when I was in high school (1976-77). I think that everything South of the Depot Ave industrial area was gone by 1985-90. Up until 2 years ago a train seemed to come to town every few days to take tankers down to Thomas Oil in that area. The tracks all came up all the way to 23rd Ave about a year ago.

The discussion in various places -- any my experience from going to PK Yonge school along Depot ave from 1964-1977 -- is that there was NO SAL passenger service to Gainesville in a loooooong time. (Interesting passgenger service which did use the SAL route - albeit during the times of predecessor RRs - included the remaints of the entire Confederate treasury trying to escape capture, and a post-war/pre-president Ulysses S. Grant passing through on his way to Cedar Key). The ACL had a station at Mechanic Street (NE 1 St Ave) and North Main until 1948 when they bought the remnants of the JG&G/T&J from SAL, allowing them to use those tracks from Teen Jay (just North of NW 16 Ave) over to 6th Street and down 6th Street to the ACL crossing (abandoning the Main Street running they had done for over 50 years). The 6th street station was built, I imagine, on the grounds of the old JG&G/T&J facilities (there was alot of track along 6th street in those days, including a fairly long passing track and several spurs to warehouses/team tracks etc.).

Want a treat? Go down 441 to McIntosh and turn east into 'downtown'. The Old ACL station is in excellent shape, sans any track...

-- Neal Horner (, August 26, 2000.

Troy - Here is a partial answer to your questions. The SAL lines in the Gainesville, Fla., area are as follows: Baldwin-Starke-Waldo-Ocala and Waldo-Gainesville-Archer-Cedar Key, which came into the SAL from the Florida Central & Peninsular RR. Samson City-Gainesville-Fairfield-Emathla was originally Gainesville & Gulf RR. And, Archer-Early Bird-Tampa, various parts from FC&P, Tampa Northern and later SAL construction. ACL lines in the Gainesville area are: Palatka-Rochelle-Gainesville-Burnette Lake-High Springs and Rochelle-Ocala which came to the ACL from The Plant System. As to local archives, start with the Gainesville Library and see what they might have in their verticle files. Many libraries keep files of newspaper clippings, local maps, etc. Also, ask around for a local historical society. While these entities are notorious for only being interested in old houses, once in a while you will find a society that has a resident railroad historian. Someone may have already done the research on your topic.

-- Tom Underwood (, June 02, 2000.

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