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June 1, 2022

Rail Lines & Old Train Stations

The small-town train stations that were built by Florida East Coast Railway (FEC) in our area are not unlike in design from dozens of other small-town stations across the United States. Some railroad lines had their own architects. The grand metropolitan stations like Union Station in Washington, DC or Penn (Pennsylvania) Station in New York City were designed by famous architects and were/are a destination in themselves.


Henry Flagler’s name is synonymous with FEC Railway.

Flagler came to Florida wanting to develop around St. Augustine. He knew transportation was what it would take to develop the state. He realized use of trains was difficult because many systems used different gauge lines. He purchased the Jacksonville, St. Augustine & Halifax Railroad and shortly after converted the line to standard gauge. That northern Florida line was the first in his early building of what became the FEC Railway. By spring 1889 Flagler's system offered service from Jacksonville to Daytona. By 1894 the line reached West Palm Beach.


Severe freezes in 1894 and 1895 opened new opportunities and in September 1895, his rail system incorporated as the Florida East Coast Railway Company. It went as far south as Biscayne Bay in 1896. Flagler was 82 years old when his project reached Key West in 1912.

Along the way, FEC built small rail stations. In our county we had stations in Sebastian, Quay and Vero Beach.  Fellsmere had a station but it was not built by FEC.



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Quay (Winter Beach)

Watch our Winter Beach Video HERE

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Vero Beach

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Fellsmere had a standard-gauge Fellsmere Railroad completed in 1910 that replaced the old Sebastian & Cincinnatus narrow-gauge railroad built between Sebastian and Fellsmere. The Fellsmere Farms Company used the 10-mile-long railroad to carry logs to the Florida East Coast Railway in Sebastian and for supplies, materials, equipment, and heavy machinery used for excavating drainage canals to Fellsmere. The railroad officially opened to the public on May 1, 1911, and ran four passenger trains daily with only two on Sunday, to and from Sebastian and Fellsmere. Their station was a tiny building (above) at the very end of Broadway across the ditch and tracks (now gone) from South Carolina.

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The "Dinky Line"

In January 1913 the Fellsmere Depot opened for service. Edward Nelson Fell, the founder of Fellsmere, purchased the first ticket. By April 1915, the railroad was extended another 6 miles west of Fellsmere to Broadmoor (a now non-existent town). In June 2, 1924 the Trans-Florida Central railroad (dubbed the “Dinky Line”) took over railroad operations. On November 30, 1952, the railroad officially ceased operations after 42 years of service.

Update on Indian River County Stations

Vero was the last to have a station building. The railroad came through in the early 1890, but Vero’s station was not built until 1903. The Vero station was moved from Commerce Avenue to the current location in 1984. Oslo was a flag stop and they just put out a flag when a passenger wanted to be picked up. The Quay Station was moved to the end of Bay Street in Roseland overlooking the St. Sebastian River. The Wabasso freight and passenger building was not built to the design of the others. It was floated up the River to Honest John’s Fish Camp where it remains.  The Roseland Station was moved to the Archie Smith Fish House and sat along the pier that went out to the fish loading area. The Fish House property was heavily damaged in the ’04, ’05 and '16 hurricanes. The Gifford Station was more of a freight station and was moved east across Dixie and U.S. 1 and used as a house. It was torn down when a developer purchased the land surrounding it. 

Models of all these stations are in the RR model display at the 14th Avenue RR Station.  

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