History of Florida East Coast Railway Passenger Train Service
of passengers by rail began on the first of the FEC’s predecessors,
the St. Johns Railway, as early as 1858. The mule-powered
tram line began service between Tocoi Landing on the St. Johns
River and what was then known as New Augustine. Locomotive
pulled passenger train service began on the FEC Railway’s
predecessors as early as 1881, when the Jacksonville, St.
Augustine & Halifax River Railway opened its line between
its namesake cities.
the FEC was, for the most part, of the highest order. In January
1888, the FEC inaugurated, in conjunction with several other
railroad lines, the first-ever vestibuled and electrically
lighted passenger train in American history, the fabled New
York and Florida Special. Although summer service was cut
back from its winter peak, the FEC maintained a high grade
operation with most trains carrying coaches, dining and lounge
cars and sleepers.
with the opening of the Key West Extension, on January 22,
1912, service was extended to Key West, with connections,
via steamship to Havana, Cuba. During the winter of 1925-26
the railroad operated twelve regularly-scheduled trains in
each direction between Jacksonville and Miami on a daily basis
with most of them operating in multiple sections due to the
crush of business brought about by the great Florida “boom”
of the early to mid 1920s.
coming of the great Depression, however, business declined
and although fewer trains were operated, the FEC never stopped
innovating. For the 1935-36 season, in conjunction with partner
Atlantic Coast Line Railroad and the Florida All-Year Round
Club of Colonel Henry Doherty, the FEC operated the only American
passenger train—again, the Florida Special—to ever carry a
of 1939 the FEC ran its first streamlined, diesel-electric
powered train, named for the road’s founder, Henry M. Flagler.
Streamlining continued and by the mid-1950s almost all FEC
passenger service was diesel-operated and streamlined.
years some of the most famous trains in the country have operated
on the FEC, including the Florida Special, Miamian, Havana
Special, Vacationer and East Coast Champion to and from the
northeast as well as the Seminole, Floridian, Dixie Flyer,
Dixie Flagler, South Wind and City of Miami to and from the
Midwest. Pullman sleeping cars were operated to distant points
including as far west as Colorado Springs and as far north
as Quebec City, Canada.
of passenger train service on America’s most exciting railroad
is being looked forward to by travelers, the press and railroad
buffs throughout the nation as All Aboard Florida and the
FEC prepare to operate the first privately owned, run and
managed passenger trains in the United States since the late