Completed in 1881, the Fernandina and Jacksonville Railroad (F&J) was the first railroad constructed in Springfield. Running 22 miles from Yulee in Nassau County to the St. Johns River near the shipyards, it soon merged with the Florida Transit and Peninsular Railroad, Florida Central and Western Railroad, and Leesburg and Indian River Railroad, instantly becoming a part of the largest railroad system in Florida at the time.

An 1882 railroad map illustrating the F&J line between Jacksonville and Harts Road (Yulee). Courtesy of wikipedia.

In 1886, in order to connect the F&J to the Florida, Atlantic & Gulf Railroad, the Jacksonville Belt Railroad (now known as the S-Line) was constructed between Springfield and the Jacksonville Terminal area in LaVilla. In 1898, a second railroad, running parallel with the F&J line between Springfield and the Eastside was completed. Operated by the Atlantic, Valdosta & Western Railway (AV&W) and promoted as the Jacksonville Short Line, it was considered to be the best built railroad in the state and the first to lay 70-lb. steel rails. Connecting the city with Valdosta, it was the last railroad line built into Jacksonville.

With the F&J and AV&W in place, Springfield immediately began to reap the economic benefits of an improved railroad network and strengthened connectivity with surrounding areas. In May 1898, a military installation known as “Camp Cuba Libre” was established for the deployment of American troops in Cuba during the Spanish-American War. Within a few weeks, trainloads of soldiers were arriving at the Camp Cuba Libre assembly point. Before the end of the war, as many as 30,000 troops came to Camp Cuba Libre, where they were under the command of Major General Fitzhugh Lee, Robert E. Lee’s nephew.

General layout of Camp Springfield, Camp Cuba Libre and Camp Wells. Source: Otis Historical Archives Nat’l Museum of Health & Medicine

After the official end of the Spanish-American War in April 1899, Major General Fitzhugh Lee would go on to become the military governor of Havana and Pinar del Rio. The scenery along Springfield’s first railroad corridor would change as well. The first major change took place in April 1899 when the Seaboard Air-Line System acquired the Florida Central and Peninsular Railroad (former F&J) for $3.5 million. The second major domino fell when the AV&W was granted the right in 1900 to lay track along the downtown waterfront from Catherine Street westward to Hogan Street for 50 years. Two years later, the AV&W was acquired by the Southern Railway. Southern then transferred the former AV&W track east of Grand Crossing, to the St. Johns River Terminal Company, a holding company established by Southern in 1901 after a dispute with the ACL concerning entry into the Jacksonville Terminal.

With strong ownership in place and both rail lines reaching Jacksonville’s waterfront, this corridor was primed to take advantage of Springfield’s popularity and growth during the rebuilding of the city after the Great Fire of 1901. While Camp Cuba Libre was no longer needed, by 1913 the logistics provided by Springfield’s first railroad corridor had attracted several planing mills producing building materials for a rapidly growing community. By the end of the Florida Land Boom, names associated with this gateway corridor included S.S. Goffin, J.C. Halsema, Frank Pembroke Huckins, Swisher and Coca-Cola. Other well known names served in the downtown area included the Jacksonville Shipyards and Maxwell House Coffee.

The Maiden trip of the Fairform Flyer. The Fairform Flyer was the motorboat of Frank Huckins, who is seated on the right with a pipe in his mouth. Carol Bettes is seated to Frank’s right. Katherine Trenholm Hull is seated in the middle and is looking right. The boat is docked at the Ft. George Club. The boat was manufactured in Huckins’ Jacksonville yard at 601 East 4th Street. Courtesy of the (State Archives of Florida)

The area of the photo tour’s focus is the corridor highlighted in red.

Today, Metro Jacksonville’s Ennis Davis provides readers with a brief photo tour of Springfield’s forgotten gateway into Jacksonville’s urban core.

1. Garland Transport Inc., at Phelps and Ionia Streets, was the site of the Bryan & Company contracting yard in 1927. For several years, Wood-Hopkins Inc. operated their contracting yard at this site.

2. Located at 575 Phelps Street, the Carolina Lumber Company has been in continuous operation at its Springfield site for more than a century. 1913 Sanborn maps indicate the Carolina Portland Cement Company and C.C. Jones, Lumber, Shingles, etc. occupying the site. Located between the two former rail lines, Carolina’s main wood frame warehouse dates back to 1927.

3. The former F&J railroad right-of-way with Carolina Lumber Company’s property in the background.Track associated with the former F&J, south of East 8th Street was abandoned by CSX after the closing of the Jacksonville Shipyards. Although much of this property is still owned by CSX, it has the potential to serve as a linear green space that could possibly tie Springfield and the Eastside with downtown Jacksonville’s riverfront.

4. New Eastside residences adjacent to the former F&J railroad right-of-way and Carolina Lumber Company.

5. Although much of the former F&J line has been removed, remnants of the railroad can be found at former street crossings.

6. During Springfield’s formative years, the block of Ionia Street between East 1st and 2nd Streets, was the site of S.S. Goffin’s Kaufman Metal Company and the McGrughey & Lovelace Company planing mill. Kaufman would expand, taking the planing mill’s site before becoming the Superior Iron & Metal Company. In 1969, the site was redeveloped for public use.

7. Clark Street residences with the Superior Iron & Metal Company’s scrap yard in the background.

8. The site of S.S. Goffin’s Kaufman Metal Company’s scrap yard and foundry today.

9. Built as a warehouse for the Sears Roebuck & Company, this 73,000 square foot building is the largest in Sprinfield’s old industrial district south of East 8th Street. Prior to its construction, the site was occupied by the R.D. Drysdale Lumber Company, the Texas Company oil terminal and Penn Lumber Company’s planing mill.

10. Remnants of the old St. Johns River Terminal track that once served the Sears Roebuck & Company warehouse.

Related Article: Neighborhoods: Springfield Warehouse District

11. For many decades, the Truscon Steel Company operated a steel fabrication facility at 555 East 3rd Street. Prior to Truscon, the site was the location of the Ernest W. Taylor Wood Yard

12. 536 East 4th Street was built in 1945. The vacant masonry structure covers roughly 16,400 square feet.

13. 601 East 4th Street may be the most historically significant industrial building located on the border between the Eastside and Springfield. In 1926, two years after Frank Pembroke Huckins moved to Jacksonville, he became a partner in the Drayer-Warren Company at 601 East 4th Street. At the time, Drayer-Warren was an architectural millwork business supplying building materials for the Florida land boom.

In 1928, the company was reincorporated as the Huckins Yacht Corporation. That same year, the Fairform Flyer 42’ Express Cruiser was launched, making its maiden voyage from Fernandina to New York City. Later that fall, the yacht was sold to David M. Goodrich of the B.F. Goodrich Rubber Company for $15,000. In 1943, the U.S. Navy commissioned Huckins to build 18 PT (Patrol Torpedo) boats for service during World War II.

After World War II, Huckins relocated to its present site on the Ortega River in Lake Shore. The E.B. Malone Company then converted the 27,434 square foot space into a mattress factory. Today, the 91-year-old building operates as a church owned by Bethesda Faith Assembly, Inc.</i>

14. The E.B. Malone Company and the tracks of the St. Johns Terminal Railroad and Seaboard Air Line Railway on April 17, 1956.Courtesy of the State Archives of Florida.

15. The former railroad right-of-way illustrated in the 1956 E.B. Malone photograph 60 years later.

16. Although E.B. Malone was acquired by Bassett Furniture Industries Inc. in the 1970s, Malone’s name still faces the former railroad right-of-way.

17. 545 East 4th Street was constructed in 1951 for the Westinghouse Supply Company. Today, the Florida Sales Unlimited, Inc. operates out of the 27,386 square foot structure. Florida Sales is a wholesale distributor of janitorial supplies.

18. Look south at the Westinghouse Supply Company from the intersection of Clark and East 5th Streets during the 1970s.

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Related Article: Neighborhoods: Springfield Warehouse District

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22. In 1955, this 20,000 square foot industrial building was completed along the SAL railroad line at 1550 Spearing Street. Today, National Tire Solutions, Inc. manufactures as many as 100 high quality retread radial and bias tires. A recent addition to the area, National Tire Solutions, Inc. is a good example of repurposing older industrial buildings for new use, creating new jobs in forgotten areas of the city.

23. A view of the rear of National Tire Solutions, Inc. from Springfield’s side of the old railroad corridor. Recently, the old AV&W track south of East 6th Street has been removed. The remaining track south of Carmen Street operates as a seldom used railroad spur to an Eastside gravel yard owned by Rinker Materials. In 1913, this site was the location of the Duval Planing Mill Company.

24. Formerly operated by Rinker Materials Corporation, this 85-year-old industrial site is now occupied by Surface Prep Supply. Surface Prep Supply specializes in sandblasting abrasives & equipment, paints & coatings, filtration media, athletic field supplies, and equipment sales and rental.

25. Between 1913 and 1916, 520 East 8th Street housed Jacksonville’s Coca-Cola Bottling Company.

26. For many years, this property was occupied by the Seaboard Beverage Company, which specialized in redwood wines. Seaboard Beverage Company in 1949. Courtesy of (State Archives of Florida)

27. Seaboard Beverage Company workers loading beverages on to a truck in 1949. Courtesy of (State Archives of Florida)

28. Schurco Slurry was the building’s most recent tenant. Schurco Slurry is a full service centrifugal slurry pump manufacturer and solution provider. In 2012, Schurco Slurry relocated its corporate headquarters and manufacturing facility to 9410 E. Florida Mining Blvd.

29. The Discount Store Fixtures warehouse at 1819 Ionia Street features a large selection of new and used store fixtures for retailers. The 33,401 square foot building dates back to 1922.

30. In 2000, MLXL Sportswear & Specialties moved its screen print and embroidery facilities into this space. Now known as MLXL Productions, Inc., the company currently operates at 8475 Western Way.

Related Article: Neighborhoods: Springfield Warehouse District

31. Hammond Electronics of Jacksonville, Inc. was the first tenant occupying 1843 Ionia Street, after its completion in the early 1960s. At the time, Cooper Distributors, Inc., a wholesale rugs business, occupied the adjacent space at 1839 Ionia Street. In August 2005, the Pristine Valley Bottled Water & Coffee Co. Inc. purchased property at 1839 Ionia St. from The Ledbetter Co. Inc. for $300,000.

32. This building once housed the Duval Laundry Company. Duval Laundry was incorporated by Richard P. McFarlin on Monday, February 17, 1902. Like many industrial buildings in the neighborhood, the building’s brick detailing and window patterns give it a unique feel in a city characterized by stucco, metal buildings and tilt wall construction. After 96 years of operation, old equipment, high operation costs and lost business accounts led to the closure of the laundry plant in April 1997. As a result, 50 employees lost their jobs.

33. Image courtesy of Ian Halsema at http://halsema.org/people/lambertusjulleshalsema/photogallery/images/fullsize/41.jpg

Much of the property bounded by the St. Johns Terminal Company Railroad, Carmen Street, Ionia Street and East 9th Street was the site of the J.C. Halsema Manufacturing Company. Operated by Julian Clement Halsema (1871-1944), the massive mill specialized in lumber, sash doors and blinds. On February 14, 1919, Halsema’s planing mill was destroyed by fire, resulting in a property loss of about $129,000.

After Halsema’s demise, the property was redeveloped for use by the Bond-Howell Lumber Company and the Booker & Company, a wholesale building material operation. Bond-Howell and Booker’s building still stand. However, they are occupied by several businesses, including Allied Plastics and Great Expectations Auction & Estate Liquidators.

34. 515 East 9th Street was developed in 1949 for the Booker & Company.

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36. Located at 2001 Walnut Street, Allied Plastics Company, Inc. manufactures tables, table tops and table legs for the school, office and food service industries.

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The old Springfield railroad yard dates back to the days of the Atlantic, Valdosta & Western Railway (AV&W). The AV&W was built from Jacksonville to Valdosta in 1898. At the time, it was considered to be the best built railroad in the state and the first to lay 70-lb. steel rails. Its yards were developed north of East 8th Street. A roundhouse, machine shops and coal chute were also developed near Liberty Street. In 1900, the railroad was granted the right to lay track along the downtown waterfront from Catherine Street westward to Hogan Street for 50 years. It was sold to the Southern Railway in May 1902. From Grand Crossing into and around Jacksonville, the track was transferred to the St. Johns River Terminal Company, a holding company of the Southern Railway. With the loss of heavy industry and the abandoment of track south of East 8th Street, Norfolk Southern’s use of the Springfield yard has declined.

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Related Article: Neighborhoods: Springfield Warehouse District

Article and photographs by Ennis Davis, AICP. Contact Ennis at edavis@moderncities.com