History of Jacksonville Terminal

 

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   The Jacksonville Terminal welcomed visitors to Florida since 1919. Today it is the Prime Osborne Convention Center. The present building replaced the 1894 Flagler built station on the same location. Some of the Bay St portion of the original station was used in the new complex for offices, baggage and storage. Flagler relocated McCoy’s Creek to build the first station and the new station relocated the creek two more times. This was done by filling and driving piles to firm the ground.

   The Atlantic Coast Line, Florida East Coast, Seaboard Air Line, Georgia Southern & Florida, and Southern all had joint ownership (GS&F and Southern making its ¼ share).  When the Terminal opened, all the Miami trains ran down the FEC making the majority “pull through” while the Tampa St Pete trains were turned and backed in. This operation made the location good for Downtown Jacksonville, it had been considered to move the new station north between Myrtle Ave (I-95) and Enterprise St (Beaver St).  As mentioned before, the creek was located twice with the new terminal because shortly after opening the Florida Boom created even more traffic necessitating adding more tracks. Employees knew the name of this addition as “New Town”. During the depression this same area was closed off from use due to the lack of business. With the advent of WWII the Terminal was once again in full swing. It now had 26 tracks with 15 stub and 11 thru platform tracks along with several freight through lines, one ACL warehouse lead, one SAL Hogan St lead and the last outside track was for FEC #31. The thru tracks were reached using a subway platform with ramps to track level. The head-house itself was 150’long with 14 columns and an 80’ high ceiling. It had a large Black waiting room between the main concourse and Bay St with its own restaurant, while the other end had large lounge areas for men and women, a bar, and restaurant. Both ends also had second and third floors for various office uses. The Pullman porters had rooms on the Bay St end and in the 60’s housed the Gateway Model RR club. When the need for separate waiting rooms ended, the Black waiting room was changed to create more baggage area and in the front added office and store space. The Terminal Watch Co. and a few others used these facilities.

   The US Post Office had a large complex with loading platforms just north of the Terminal. Around the curve towards the Seaboard, REA had a very massive yard area with office buildings and loading platforms. Freight operations included feed mills, icehouses, A&P, Florida Machine, Florida Rag and others over the years. The Terminal also had a very large coach yard and roundhouse facility.

   Three interlocking towers controlled the operations in the plant. Beaver St tower (BS) controlled the north end between the ACL Moncrief Yard and Waycross /Sanford Sub, the GS&F mainline, and the SAL Everett Sub diamond crossing all tracks. Myrtle Ave (MA) controlled all of the north throat leads in and out of the Terminal, also the lead south to the ACL Sanford Sub, the north lead to the SAL Everett Sub, and the Terminal Mainline to the Seaboard’s south/west lines. Lee St (A) tower controlled the south end of the Terminal to the FEC and downtown leads for ACL & SAL.

. Operations changed over the years. The Seaboard built their own mainline to Miami in 1927, creating all through Seaboard trains to back end, while the ACL continued to pull thru until the FEC strike in 1963. Afterwards all trains on the ACL backed into the Terminal for Miami and routed down the Sanford Sub to Auburndale via SAL to Miami. A major change was made in the early sixties, when, the wood platforms were paved, the shed roofs received metal covers, some of the freight tracks were dug deeper under Lee St and Riverside viaduct to clear higher railcars, but the biggest visual change was the beautiful station had a low ceiling installed concealing an attempt to add floors above the waiting room. In 1963 FEC ceased through passenger service when a strike broke out, 1964 Southern ceased passenger service to Florida. 1967 SCL was created, and July 1968 the last FEC remnant of a two car local passenger service, (ordered back by the courts in1965) made its last trip.  In 1971 Amtrak left only four trains operating in both directions. On January 3, 1974 the Floridian departed Jacksonville Terminal ending a great era.