Tag Archives: Train

History Demolished, The Train Depots of Stuart and Martin County, SLR/IRL

The Jensen train depot ca. early part of 1900s, photo courtesy of Seth Bramson, via Sandra Henderson Thurlow.)
The Hobe Sound Depot with engine ca. early part of 1900s, photo courtesy of Stuart Heritage.

I was recently reminded of train depots while reading a front page “Stuart News” article showing an artist painting a mural of the old Hobe Sound Train Depot….All Aboard Florida being rammed down our throats has the Treasure Coast very unhappy about “trains…” yet our area has a history of trains that we may know a bit better if the rail service and the government hadn’t demolished most of the depots that once peppered the Indian River Lagoon Region from Volusia to Palm Beach counties.

As the daughter of a historian, I was fortunate to hear many stories during my youth that if nothing else “made me think.” One of these stories was about how lonely it was to be pioneer here in Stuart’s early days. My mother would say….

Stuart Train Depot, photo courtesy of Historical Society of Martin County, Elliott Museum via Sandra Thurlow.
Stuart Train Depot, photo courtesy of Historical Society of Martin County, Elliott Museum via archives of Sandra Thurlow.

“Jacqui, for the people, for the women especially, this was a very lonely place.”

The daily train used to alleviate that loneliness and give the people a place to meet, gossip, and share. Kind of like today’s Facebook. As my mother Sandra Thurlow notes in her book, “Stuart on the St Lucie,” “Town life centered around the arrivals and departures of passenger trains that also brought the mail.”

Sound familiar? “YOU’VE GOT MAIL!”

Jensen Depot. Photo courtesy of Seth Branson via Sandra Thurlow.
Jensen Depot. Photo courtesy of Seth Bramson via Sandra Thurlow.
Train depot
Train depot in Hobe Sound, courtesy of Seth Bramson via archives of Sandra Thurlow.

From my reading it sounds as if most of the construction and the use of depots and lesser “flag stops,” (a flag was raised if they needed the conductor to stop?)….was between 1894 and 1935. The Hurricanes of 1926 and 1928 coupled with the real estate crash of 1926 was a big part of the railroads’ demise as was the fact that wholesale fishing industries waned from unwise over-fishing, and pineapples had to start competing with Cuba. So basically, in about one generation, the railroads depots and the railroad of Henry Flagler along the Lagoon had seen their “best days.”

In the 1960s and before, the aging, remaining, cute-little, aging stations were demolished by order of F.E.C. Railway officials. As my mother writes about the Stuart Depot: “The depot that was once the center of the community’s activities was demolished without fanfare during the 1960s.”

And so “it goes,” and “so it went”….. THERE GOES THE TRAIN!

The passenger train is gone, along with the depots….today we have too much car traffic, roads are everywhere, All Abroad Florida threats purport a bleak future, Florida’s population is expanding, Panama Canal freight is coming…

Well, at least we have Facebook or we can stay home and text…..


What will the future bring? 🙂

Walton Flag Stop, with people happy to see each other and get the mail. Photo. (Photo courtesy of Reginald Waters Rice and Sandra Thurlow's book "Historic Jensen and Eden on Florida's Indian River."
Walton Flag Stop, with people happy to see each other and get the mail. Photo. Photo courtesy of Reginald Waters Rice and Sandra Thurlow’s book “Historic Jensen and Eden on Florida’s Indian River.”

Great link shared by Rick Langdon of Walton Flag Stop and what wonderful things came of it: (http://rickinbham.tripod.com/TownOfSIRD/SIRD_Homes_11090RidgeAve.html)
(In Martin and southern St Lucie counties, there were stations in Jensen, Stuart, Salerno, Hobe Sound, and “Flag Stops” in Walton, Eden.)


Salerno Depot, courtesy of Seth Bramson via Sandra Henderson Thurlow.
Salerno Depot, courtesy of Seth Bramson via Sandra Henderson Thurlow.
Train route along Indian River/St Lucie. Map Sandra Thurlow's book "Jensen and Eden..."
Train route along Indian River/St Lucie. Map Sandra Thurlow’s book “Jensen and Eden…”
Eden's Flag Stop. (SHT)
Eden’s Flag Stop. (SHT)
Inside cover of Stuart on the St Lucie, Sandra Henderson Thurlow shows train depot in downtown.
Inside cover of “Stuart on the St Lucie,” Sandra Henderson Thurlow. Photo shows train depot in downtown, Stuart.

Thank you to my mother, Sandra Henderson Thurlow, for sharing all the photos for this blog post.



Understanding How to Derail All Aboard Florida Along the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

The movement to derail all Aboard Florida is gaining momentum. (Photo Peter Schmidt, United Yacht Sales . (Photo Jacqui thurlow-Lippisch)
The movement to derail All Aboard Florida is gaining momentum. (Photo of Peter Schmidt, owner, United Yacht Sales. Peter and his wife Anne attended the Florida NOT all Aboard Flotilla. (Photo, Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch.)

Yesterday morning, over 100 boats gathered at the Roosevelt Bridge in Stuart, forming a flotilla in opposition to “All Aboard Florida’s” high speed train which would close the bridges over the St Lucie River for unacceptable periods of time. A large red sign on Angie and Jeff Swenson’s boat read NO TRAINS.

photo 2

(Above photo by Ed Lippisch and Scott Kuhns)

Just in case you are not familiar with the project,  I thought today I would describe the basics of how All Aboard Florida’s father company, Fortress Investment Group, is structured, as the best ways to garner change, is to understand “how it works.”

We here in Martin County have certainly learned this with our St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon Issues. In fact, the river issues have  already galvanized our community so it has not been that difficult to do the same for the train.

In my opinion, in order to derail All Aboard Florida, there are two options: to stop the line at its source, (Orlando) or to get it to “go west.”

To begin with, one must understand the basic structure of Fortress Investment Group of which “All Aboard Florida” is part. Fortress consists of four divisions: 1. Flagler-the real estate entity; 2. All Abroad Florida-supposedely the first “private” rail system in America; 3. Flagler Global Logistics-a logistics solution group; and 4. ROW (Right of Way) Management Services.

Fortress Investment Group: (http://www.fortress.com/Default.aspx)

All Aboard Florida (http://www.allaboardflorida.com)

Keep in mind, Florida southern rail lines now consist of three main parts: 1. the Cocoa/Melbourne area to Orlando line or Highway 528/the money for the Orlando Train Depot; 2. the Florida East Coast Railway tracks  that run from Jacksonville to Miami (the ones that go through Stuart) and 3. the CSX tracks that run west from West Palm Beach to Orlando. 

Now we must go back in the story a bit to get perspective. Last year, “All Aboard Florida” was able to secure the right of way along Highway 528 from approximately Cocoa to Orlando, to lay tracks to the Orlando airport. Fortress had to get a “right of way” from the Florida Department of Transportation to lay tracks in order to do this.  On top of this a bit later,  they were granted funds from the state of Florida to build a rail “depot” station at Orlando International Airport. This Orlando element is actually the “All Aboard Florida” piece even though we keep using it for “down here.”

The second part of the puzzle, the Florida East Coast Railway tracks, are historical and owned by Fortress, these tracks run from Jacksonville to Miami. There is nothing we can do about this, except be vocal or rip the tracks out which would not be a good idea.

And last are the CSX tracks. These tracks run out west away from “us” starting in  West Palm Beach and going to  Orlando; they are not  owned by Fortress. They are owned by another company called CSX, a cargo company.  At this point, there is no plan to purchase these tracks to send the All Aboard Florida project west to Orlando rather than through our eastern cities.

photo tracks

Securing ROW Highway 528: (http://www.progressiverailroading.com/passenger_rail/article/All-Aboard-Florida-secures-right-of-way-for-OrlandoMiami-passengerrail-project–37920)

Funding of Orlando Depot: (http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/2014-02-17/news/os-orlando-international-scott-20140217_1_all-aboard-florida-rick-scott-depot)

In summary, it is clear that the only reason All Aboard Florida is “going south” at all is because the state of Florida has supported Fortress Investment Group with the Cocoa to Orland piece, Highway 528,  and the building of the train depot in Orlando.  This is the piece/s that must be derailed. I am not sure how to achieve this, however, if the northern piece goes kaputt so will the journey south-east. 

Train travel is actually a great benefit for people and the environment, having lived in Europe, I can attest to this. Nonetheless, the present All Aboard Florida plan is unacceptable with its negative effects on property values and businesses west of the Roosevelt Bridge, particularly  the marine industry. Let your local delegation know how you feel. We are important to them, between the river and the train, we have a lot to  say about their reelection, and believe me they need us.


Fl. Senator Negon: negron.joe.web@flsenate.gov

House Rep. Harrell: gharrell@gayleharrell.com

Fl. House Rep. Magar : marylynn.magar@myfloridahouse.gov

Fl. Governor Scott: rick.scott@eog.myflorida.com

US Congressman Murphy: congressmanpatrick.murphy@mail.house.gov