Tampa and Gulf Coast Railroad

The Tampa and Gulf Coast Railroad (T&G) was a railroad company in the Tampa Bay Area of Florida in the United States. It initially built and operated a line that ran from the Tampa Northern Railroad main line in Lutz (just north of Tampa) west to Tarpon Springs and into Pasco County. Additional track starting from Sulphur Springs running west towards Clearwater and south to St. Petersburg was built shortly after. The railroad was informally known as the "Tug n' Grunt".[1] While it was the second railroad to serve St. Petersburg and Clearwater after the Orange Belt Railway, it had the advantage of being the first to connect the area directly with Tampa.

Tampa and Gulf Coast Railroad
Interactive map of the Tampa and Gulf Coast Railroad
Overview
Reporting markT&G
Dates of operation1909–1927
SuccessorSeaboard Air Line Railroad
Technical
Track gauge4 ft 8+12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge

HistoryEdit

Construction and early yearsEdit

The Tampa and Gulf Coast Railroad was incorporated in 1909. In 1910, it acquired a logging railroad operated by the Gulf Pine Company that ran from Lutz, where it connected to the main line of the Tampa Northern Railroad, west to Gulf Pine via Lake Fern. The T&G then extended this line west to Tarpon Springs, where it terminated less than a block away from the Orange Belt Railway, which by then was owned by the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad (ACL). The extension connected with another line from Lake Villa north to Elfers and New Port Richey, which the T&G bought from J.M. Weeks and Company in 1912.[2]

In 1914, a second line was built south of the first line from Sulphur Springs, also on the Tampa Northern Railroad main line, west through what is now Oldsmar, across Tampa Bay, and through Safety Harbor to Clearwater. Just south of Clearwater in Belleair, the line crossed the ACL's track and headed south. A branch to Indian Rocks Beach was also built, which was abandoned in the 1940s.[3] From Belleair, the line ran south to the southeast part of the Pinellas Peninsula near Seminole. It then crossed Long Bayou and south to South Pasadena before turning east to St. Petersburg. The T&G built a passenger depot in St. Petersburg at Ninth Street and Second Avenue.[1] During this time, a branch line was also built to connect the two T&G lines from Rocky Creek (then known as Tarpon Junction) on the line leading to Clearwater to Lake Fern on the line leading to Tarpon Springs, which allowed the T&G to abandon the segment of the original line between Lake Fern and Lutz.[4]

Acquisition by the Seaboard Air LineEdit

 
St. Petersburg freight station, which was built in 1926

The Tampa and Gulf Coast Railroad only briefly operated as an independent company. In 1915, it was bought out by the Seaboard Air Line Railroad (SAL), who bought the Tampa Northern Railroad two years prior. The SAL continued to operate the T&G as a separate rail line until it was fully integrated with the SAL network in 1927.[5] The Seaboard Air Line would designte the line as part of their Tampa Subdivision (which also included track from Sulphur Springs to Gary and the Seaboard main line between Tampa Union Station and Coleman).[6] The branches to Tarpon Springs and Elfers were designated as the Tarpon Springs Subdivision and Elfers Subdivision respectively. The Seaboard Air Line would extend a number of their long-distance passenger trains from Tampa to St. Petersburg along the route including the Orange Blossom Special, the Southern States Special, the Florida Sunbeam, and the New York-Florida Limited.[7]

Later yearsEdit

 
CSX train operating on the former Tampa and Gulf Coast Railroad though Safety Harbor in 1992.

Seaboard would go on to merge with the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad (ACL) in 1967, who still operated their own rail line in the area. The resulting company after the merger was the Seaboard Coast Line Railroad (SCL), who connected the two Pinellas County routes where they crossed near Belleair. The T&G became the westernmost segment of the company's Yeoman Subdivision. After the merger, passenger service was provided by the Silver Star and the Champion (which was replaced by the Silver Meteor in 1979). Though, passenger service would be rerouted to the ex-ACL line in Belleair since all passenger traffic consolidated at the ACL's St. Petersburg station.[8] The T&G from Belleair south was then used for local freight only. Passenger trains were taken over by Amtrak in 1971 and were discontinued between Tampa and St. Petersburg in 1984.[1]

In 1980, the Seaboard Coast Line's parent company merged with the Chessie System, creating the CSX Corporation. The CSX Corporation initially operated the Chessie and Seaboard Systems separately until 1986, when they were merged into CSX Transportation.[1] In 1983, the company sold the original Tampa and Gulf Coast Railroad right of way from Belleair to 34th Street South in St. Petersburg to the Florida Department of Transportation.[9] This segment is now part of the Pinellas Trail (which also continues north from Belleair along the former Orange Belt/Atlantic Coast Line route). Track east of 34th Street South in St. Petersburg (which connected to the ex-ACL line near Tropicana Field) remained in service as the South Side Spur until the mid-2000s, when it was also removed and became part of the Pinellas Trail.[10]

CSX continues to operate the remaining tracks of the Tampa and Gulf Coast Railroad, which is now part of their Clearwater Subdivision.[1] The Upper Tampa Bay Trail runs along some of the former right of way of the Tarpon Springs Branch.

Historic stationsEdit

 
Depot in New Port Richey
 
Depot built in 1924 by the Tampa and Gulf Coast Railroad in Sulphur Springs, Florida. It is currently located at Heritage Village in Largo, Florida.[11]
Gulf Coast Junction to St. Petersburg
Milepost[7] City/Location Station[2] Opening date Connections and notes
SY 848.6 Sulphur Springs Gulf Coast Junction 1914 junction with Tampa Northern Railroad (SAL)
Lakeview
SY 856.4 Rocky Creek Tarpon Junction junction with Tarpon Springs Branch
SY 862.6 Oldsmar Oldsmar 1916
Bridgeport 1914
SY 867.1 Safety Harbor Safety Harbor
SY 870.2 Coachman
SY 874.9 Clearwater Clearwater
SY 876.1 Belleair Belleair junction with Atlantic Coast Line Railroad Trilby–St. Petersburg Line
SY 878.1 Largo Largo
SY 879.7 Indian Beach Junction junction with Indian Rocks Beach Branch
Indian Rocks Beach Indian Rocks Beach located on Indian Rocks Beach Branch
SY 883.4 Oakhurst
SY 884.6 Seminole Seminole
SY 885.2 Bay Pines
SY 888.5 Tyrone
SY 889.4 Davista later known as Pasadena[12]
SY 892.5 Gulfport Gulfport
SY 896.0 St. Petersburg St. Petersburg junction with Atlantic Coast Line Railroad Trilby–St. Petersburg Line
freight depot built in 1927
Original T&G passenger depot was located at Second Avenue and Ninth street (operated from 1916 to 1959).
1959-1967 passenger depot was located on the northeast corner of 34th Street South and Fairfield Avenue.[13]
Tarpon Springs Branch
Milepost[7] City/Location Station[2] Opening date Connections and notes
SYA 856.3 Tarpon Junction 1914 junction with Main line
SYA 859.1 Citrus Park
SYA 861.4 Cosme
SYA 864.3 Lake Fern 1910 junction with original line to Lutz
SYA 866.6 Gulf Pine
Keystone
Kimbrough
SYA 874.4 Lake Villa junction with Elfers Branch
SYA 877.8 Tarpon Springs Tarpon Springs
Elfers Branch
Milepost[7] City/Location Station[2] Opening date Connections and notes
SYB 874.7 Lake Villa 1912 junction with Tarpon Springs Branch
SYB 878.8 Sans Souci
SYB 879.4 Elfers
SYB 881.7 Port Richey Port Richey

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c d e Luisi, Vincent (2010). Railroading in Pinellas County. Arcadia Publishing.
  2. ^ a b c d Prince, Richard (2000). Seaboard Air Line Railway: Steam Boats, Locomotives and History. Salt Lake City, UT: Wheelwright Lithographing Company. ISBN 0253336953. Retrieved 24 October 2016.
  3. ^ Turner, Gregg (2003). A Short History of Florida Railroads. Arcadia Publishing. ISBN 978-0-7385-2421-4.
  4. ^ "History of Pasco County – Railroads". Retrieved December 27, 2016.
  5. ^ "Tampa Gulf Coast Railroad Co. v. Commissioner". Casetext, Inc. 1971. Retrieved December 25, 2016.
  6. ^ Seaboard Air Line Railroad North and South Florida Division Timetable (1967)
  7. ^ a b c d Seaboard Air Line Railroad South Florida Division Timetable (1940)
  8. ^ Seaboard Coast Line Railroad Tampa Division Timetable (1970)
  9. ^ "Pinellas Trail Timeline". Pinellas County. Retrieved 19 November 2022.
  10. ^ "Trail enters downtown – A Pinellas Trail extension will reach the waterfront". St. Petersburg Times. March 9, 2008. Retrieved December 26, 2016.
  11. ^ "Sulphur Springs Train Depot and Caboose" (PDF). University of South Florida Digital Archive. Retrieved December 25, 2016.
  12. ^ Ayers, R. Wayne (2001). St. Petersburg: The Sunshine City. Arcadia Publishing. ISBN 0-7385-0691-5.
  13. ^ Mulligan, Michael (2008). Railroad Depots of Central Florida. Arcadia Publishing. Retrieved 20 June 2020.