Florala History

Stories and Information of Florala, Alabama

Railroads of Florala

The railroads of Florala included log trains, the Central of Georgia Railroad, the L&N Railroad, and the Yellow River Railroad.

The Florala Saw Mill Co also had the name Hughes Lumber Co at one time. It was located just southeast of Lake Jackson in FL.

E.E. Jackson Lumber Co #10 locomotive

Lockhart, AL 1937

 

back of picture above

 

Malley Everritt in cab of locomotive near Lockhart, AL (ca 1906)

 

 

 

Florala Saw Mill Company’s engine number 3 – Paxton, Florida Image Number N038707 Year 1907 Date Note Photographed on March 1, 1907 at Paxton, Florida. Series Title General collection General Note Builder: Baldwin Locomotive Works, const. no. 3082. General Note Wheel arrangement: 2-6-0. General Note Date built: 1873. Biography Note Originally owned by New York, Ontario and Western Railroad Company as engine number 60; then owned by Southern Iron and Equipment Company as engine number 568 in 1907; then owned by Florala Saw Mill Company as engine number 3 on March 3, 1907; returned to Southern Iron and Equipment Company and number changed to 915 on March 13, 1913; then owned by Louisiana Saw Mill Company as engine 50 in May, 1913

 

Tracing of RR tracks in Florala (red dots)

Florala RR track routes (red)

Florala was served by L&N (Opp), Yellow River (Crestview), and Central of Georgia RRs (Albany, GA). The plat (1902) and aerial shot (ca 1935) above show the railroad tracks in Florala (click to enlarge).  The red dots trace the railroad tracks within Florala and their routes out of town. The plat shows the route of the  L&N  (Louisville and Nashville) and Yellow River R.R. merging; in Florala; however, the aerial shot does not show that they did.

The Yellow River railroad was completed to Florala in 1898. It was built starting in Crestview for the purpose of hauling Yellow pine. The Yellow River RR connected Florala to Crestview, FL which in turn connected to Pensacola, FL and points west, and to Defuniak Springs, FL and points east. The Yellow River railroad was ultimately bought out by the L&N RR.Central railway map 1909 

Florala Pen train service 1906

The “wye” (circular triangle connection) that allowed the L&N (& Yellow River) train to turn around is visible in both maps above.  Also a short extention (not visible) of the Yellow River RR crossed 5th Ave (at 6th St) to the north side which allowed rail access to the Zorn Cotton gin. The 1902 plat also does not show the Central of Georgia railroad which is visible in the aerial shot. The time of completion of the Central of Georgia railroad to Florala can be approximated by an Atlanta Journal Constitution article in 1903 which announced that the Central of Georgia was extended to Florala, AL. The “wye” for the Central of Georgia  was located north of Lake Jackson. Part of it today is a road and bears the name “Central Y St”. The old Central of Georgia  rail bed northeast out of town now has the less than stellar name of “Dump Road”. The Central of Georgia RR connected Florala to Albany, GA, via Sampson and Dothan, which in turn connected to Atlanta and points north. The L&N railroad to Florala was built starting in Opp in 1900, a route which at the time was all dense pine forest.  It extended past Lake Jackson, the Colonial Hotel, and went to Lakewood, FL, 3 miles away. Lakewood was where the Britton Saw Mill was located. The L&N traveling southeast from Opp went to Sampson, Geneva Al, and then Graceville FL. The L&N traveling northwest of Opp went to Andalusia, Red Level and Georgiana.

A number of short tracks owned by the lumber companies extended into the forests to bring  the timber harvest to the mills. The tracks of Jackson Lumber Co extended north from Lockhart to Johnson’s Quarters, another traveled northeast crossing the Central of Georgia, and another circled north of Lake Jackson and down toward Paxton (see maps below).

These railroads hauled passengers and forest products for many years. It is said that sewing factory workers could leave Florala by train (on the Yellow River RR) in the morning and be at work in Crestview (at the AlaTex factory) by 9:00 am. Note that trains from both railroads could pass near Lake Jackson at what was called Mannings Landing where they took on water for their boilers. Manning’s Landing is the point where the tracks are closest to the lake on the northeast side. It was told that children played around the trains, even crawling under them (which terrified their parents), as they recharged their tanks with water. It was also a fun thing to cling to the locomotives for short rides as they moved between the lake and depots. In more recent times (90s) all railroad tracks to Florala were removed, probably for scrap and recovery of the ballast (gravel), leaving the town with no rail access. The only physical remains of Florala’s railroad heritage is the L&N depot and some rail near the cemetery.

L&N Railroad map 1958

L&N Railroad map

 

L&N depot Florala

L&N Depot, Florala (built 1902)

The L&N depot is located on 5 St (block 11 on the map above). This picture faces west. Note that there were at least three tracks at the depot. This depot currently exists and houses the Florala Historical Museum (below).

Current L&N Railroad depot (May 2010), home of the Florala Historical Society

Current L&N Railroad Depot, Tyner Station, (May 2010), home of the Florala Historical Society. A short segment of rails at the L&N depot is all that remains of railroad track in Florala.

 Above – Short section of rail and switch that remains east of the L&N depot (barely visible in distance on right).

Reference for L&N railroad history: Kincaid H A, The Louisville & Nashville Railroad. 1850-1963. The University of Kentucky Press, 2000; Lexington KY.

In Crestview,  the old railroad bed is now part of a 4-laned Hwy 85 and new inner city street, Industrial Dr. The Crestview Yellow River RR depot does not exist but was located on the southwest side of Main St where the track intersected this street. Nearby, within walking distance, was the AlaTex building where some workers from Florala were employed (The AlaTex building still stands and may have a future as a Pharmacy school (http://www.crestviewbulletin.com/articles/county-10425-railroads-ala.html).

 

Remains of the Yellow River Railroad (later bought by L&N railroad) at the entrance to Greenwood Cemetery.

The Central of Georgia Depot. The Central of Georgia traveled from Florala to Albany, GA. This train is headed northeast out of town,This picture was taken from a position at approximately 5 th Ave in front of the Opera House. The Central of Georgia depot was torn down (1968), but not before it was used for other purposes including the offices of Dr. Matthews and Dr. Paul O’Neal, MD.  The Central of Georgia stopped operating in 1941.

L&N route from Florala, Lockhart and north to Opp. Note in the picture above that the railroad passed by the Jackson Lumber company in Lockhart – the loop to the left (west).

Below, maps showing old railroad beds.

Short RR line belonging to the Jackson Lumber Co.

1937 map of Florala showing Jackson Lumber Co. Railroads.

Jackson Lumber Co RR to Johnson's Quarters

Jackson Lumber Co. RR route to Johnson’s Quarters

 

Old 100 Steam engine (Metamora, IN July 1985)

Old 100 Steam engine

Above is Old 100 Steam Engine. It was built for Britton Saw Mill company (Florala, AL) in 1919 and sold 4 years later. It is being restored and is located in Century, FL (http://www.northescambia.com/?p=4976). See pictures of Old 100 coming home. See Old 100 specifications.

Locomotive in Florala, AL. Can anyone identify this locomotive from this picture? It was taken in Florala likely in the late 30′s or early 40′s.

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