Boom time rail branches in Manatee and Sarasota counties

Taking over majority control of the SAL in 1912, SAL president S. Davies Warfield began planning route expansions in Florida, especially after the 1918 end of the First World War.

The simplified map is a virtual 1927 snapshot showing two Boom time rail routes from Manatee and Sarasota counties that were extended to DeSoto County.

Boom time rail branches in Manatee and Sarasota counties
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The East and West Coast Railway, a SAL subsidiary, was incorporated in 1913 to build and operate a railroad from a point at or near Bradentown (later Bradenton) to a point at or near Arcadia. Construction of the line, which reached about 48 miles from Manatee County to Arcadia via Verna, Myakka City and Pine Level, began in July of 1913 and was completed in May of 1915. The line was leased by the SAL in 1925, who had been supplying locomotives and other equipment. However, at almost the same time, the SAL reached a lease agreement for the C H & N line to Boca Grande, causing the SAL to begin to lose interest in the East and West Coast Railway.

Following the October 24, 1927 death of SAL president S. Davies Warfield, new SAL expansions were halted, and mail operations on the East & West Coast line ceased in 1928. Burdened by enormous borrowing debt and depression-era business losses, the SAL went into receivership in 1930.To save money, the East & West Coast line was totally shut down in 1934.

In May of 1925, the ACL received permission to build a line from Sarasota to Southfort via Utopia and Sidell, to merge with the ACL line from Lakeland. The Southfort line opened in August of 1927, and was used mainly for freight-operations. Occasionally, this route also allowed the ACL to pass through Pullman sleeping cars from several famous ACL trains to Ft. Myers and Naples directly from Tampa.

By 1949, slow business prompted the ACL to take up most of the track between Sarasota and Southfort.

Recommended Reading

Hensley, Donald R. Jr., Boca Grande Route,, 2008

Turner, Gregg M., Railroads of Southwest Florida, Arcadia Publishing, 1999

Tampa Bay Lines South


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