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The Florida East Coast RAILWAY (never “Railroad!”) dates back to December 31, 1885, the day the legendary Henry M. Flagler purchased the Jacksonville, St. Augustine and Halifax River Railway.

The FEC’s legacy is of course not just a railroad, but, for many years, the company’s subsidiaries included the Model Land Company (which owned much of the land on Florida’s east coast ). The Florida East Coast Hotel Company, which operated a chain of hotel resorts from Atlantic Beach (east of Jacksonville) to Key West, including three hotels in St. Augustine (one still in operation, one, the Lightner Museum of Hobbies and one, the Ponce de Leon, now Flagler College as well as, among others, the Royal Poinciana and still open and operating The Breakers in Palm Beach, the Royal Palm in Miami, and the still operating Casa Marina hotel in Key West.

Steamboat companies included the P and O (Peninsular and Occidental Steamship Co.) and the Key West (later, after the 1935 hurricane, Port Everglades) to Havana rail car ferry service.

Known for many years for its large and famous passenger trains, the last regular FECR passenger trains ran on July 31, 1968, due to the non-operating union work stoppage that began on January 22, 1963.

Today, the caboose-free, high-speed FEC, and operator of many fast freight trains between Jacksonville and Miami, as well as the host railroad for “Brightline” passenger trains, is the benchmark for and for the U.S. railroad industry, one of the most profitable (in terms of cost-to-income ratio and return on investment), best-maintained, and best-run and managed railroads in the nation.

FAST FACTS:

Florida East Coast (FECR) was purchased from Florida East Coast Industries by Grupo Mexico Transportation on June 30, 2017.

The company operates 351 miles between downtown Jacksonville and Hialeah Yard and is the exclusive rail link to all East Coast Florida ports south of Jacksonville.

FECR is the oldest existing company continuously serving Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, West Palm Beach and most of Florida’s east coast, and is truly the pioneer, having arrived in the then hamlet on the shores of Biscayne Bay on April 15, 1896. (Miami was incorporated July 28, 1896).

Today, running some of the fastest freight trains in America, the FEC operates most of its high-speed freight trains with 24 recently received, fuel-efficient, and environmentally friendly General Electric 4,400-horsepower diesel-electric locomotives. of the environment.

FEC IS THE LIFELINE FOR FREIGHT IN FLORIDA, WITHOUT WHICH I-95 AND US 1 WILL HAVE OPERATED IN PEAK HOUR TRAFFIC CONDITIONS 24/7 AND IT IS ESSENTIAL TO THE IN TERMS OF FUTURE PROGRESS AND GROWTH.

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The incredible growth of Florida’s east coast is directly tied to railroad history with the extension to Key West, completed on January 22, 1912, considered Florida’s greatest feat of railroad construction and engineering. the history of the United States and the world.

Although wiped out by the hurricane of September 2, 1935 (with wind gusts of up to 225 miles per hour), the memory of this incredible feat lives on very much in the history of Florida and the Keys.

Among the large passenger trains operated by the FEC were the Havana Special; Florida Special (the only train in US history to have had a swimming pool as part of its composition!); Miami; East Coast Champion; Royal Poinciana and the Henry M. Flagler, the railroad’s first streamlined diesel-electric train, opened December 2, 1939.

The history of the FEC is transcribed in five books, “Speedway to Sunshine: The Story of the Florida East Coast Railway” being not only the official history of the company, but, in addition, the best-selling regional railway history. ever published, with over 4,000 copies sold.

And because this is “The Jewish Journal”, an interesting point is in order: contrary to what everyone has heard, the FEC has never, ever been “anti-Semitic”. Proof of this is that over the years many Jews were employed by the railroad. The two greatest examples being the Deputy Chief Engineer (of William J. Krome) during the construction of the Key West Extension as well as the railroad company’s photographer from 1925 to 1959, Harry M. Wolfe , and related to this writer through his son. , Leonard, Mr. Wolfe would not work on Shabbat and that was never a problem for him or the railroad in all his years with the FEC.

More importantly, it is Mr. Wolfe whose superb steam and diesel running photographs and extensions of Key West have been preserved, together with the color negatives and transparencies in The Bramson Archive in Miami Shores.

To schedule a visit or for more information, call Seth Bramson at (305) 757-1333.