Florida Central RR

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Just wanted to know what customers and the kind of freight cars that run on the Florida Central mainline in Umitila, Tavares, and Mt. Dora? How long ago did CSX sell this line to FCRR? Does this line connect to Leesburg?

Thanks for the info,


-- Bill Burris (snbfan17@hotmail.com), August 10, 2001


The ex-SAL line between Wildwood and Leesburg has been abandoned from an active train service standpoint, but the rails are still intact and have not been removed. Maybe the Florida Midland is hopeful for new/future business on this line. Similarily, the Mt. Dora - Sorrento branch of the Florida Central remains in an "unused" condition (freight car storage), with the rails still intact. Some recent rehabilitation work has been performed on the Tavares - Umatilla Branch, even with sporatic shipments from the Golden Gem Citrus Processing Facility in Umatilla (the only customer on the branch, which recently filed for Bankruptcy!). Aaron Dowling (aarondowling@cfl.rr.com)

-- Aaron Dowling (aarondowling@cfl.rr.com), September 21, 2002.

The old SAL Orlando Branch is being taken up from Leesburg to Wildwood as of last week. The STB gave Florida Centeral permission early this year for abandonment. Allen L. Wiener, Ocala, FL

-- Allen L. Wiener (SouRwy@aol.com), August 11, 2001.

I was in Umatilla today (8/10/00). The old line from Tavares to Umatilla ends at the Golden Gem Citrus plant in Umatilla just south of where they used to cross the southbound lane of Hwy 19, then rode down the middle of the road a stretch, eventually crossing the northbound lane to reach the Umatilla station. The station is still there, although somewhat altered with siding and a metal roof. It is the Umatilla library now. They have an old M-5 out front lettered Family Lines. There were no cars at the plant. According to a 4/3/94 Orlando Sentinel article on the FCRR, the plant ships out citrus pellets destined for the ports of Tampa and then overseas. According to the same article, the line serviced Tool World in Eustis that used carloads of limestone to manufacture paint. Not sure if it still does.

The line from Tavares, via Mt. Dora to Sorento serviced Bronson's Egg Farm in Sorento. The Sentinel article states that this customer was the lines biggest user, ordering chicken feed in fifteen car blocks. I was in Sorento two years ago and the Silos were there but the business was closed down.

Most of the CFRR customers are further south along the old SAL line out of Orlando. They include the Rinker Plant, Smyth Lumber, & Frito Lay near Orlando and a fertilizer, chemical plant and drum service between Plymouth and Zellwood.

The line from Tavares to Leesburg is cut at the old Dead River Bridge. However, the old SAL line services Leesburg via the other side of Lake Harris from Wildwood. The last time I was there (1+ yrs) there was a citrus plant in Leesburg being serviced by the Florida Midland RR (Same Pinsly Corp).

I'm sure there are many other industries amidst the remaining lines of this former spaghetti bowl of ACL/SAL trackage. Most of the cars I see out of Taft (CSX) onto the FCRR are covered hoppers, tank cars and box cars. There's nothing fancy here just good clean branchline railroading reminiscent of days past. In fact, I think the FCRR has more customers than the SCL did back in the late 70's when they seemed to give up on this type of service.

-- Mark Kuehler (qler@cfl.rr.com), August 10, 2001.

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