Florida East Coast Railway Co. Issued to Henry M. Flagler - 1909 dated $1,000,000 Railroad BondInv# AG2186 Bond
Temporary Bond issued to HM Flagler and signed on back by Wm. H. Beardsley 4 times, private secretary to Rockefeller.
William H. Beardsley was born in 1850. He was the son of Henry Beardsley and Laura O'Connor. He passed away in 1925. One of the enterprising and well known native sons of Butler county Ohio is William H Beardsley, who by a career characterized by a spirit of enterprise and progress, has well earned representation in this work. William H Beardsley was educated in the public schools of Hamilton, which was supplemented by attendance at the Miami University, at Oxford. Upon completion of his studies, he entered the employ of the Niles Tool Works at Hamilton, but subsequently engaged in the publishing business, with the late J. H. Long, on North Second Street. Disposing of his interest in the printing business, he engaged in the school furniture and real slate blackboard business, in which he was quite successful.
In I888, George Beardsley, a civil engineer, removed from Hamilton to Phoenix, Arizona and was there called upon to investigate the practicability of irrigating sixty thousand acres of arid land in the Maricopa county, that territory. The survey demonstrating the feasibility of the undertaking. In 1891, the subject of this sketch formed the Agua Pria Construction Company, to carry on the projected work of irrigation. It is a mammoth undertaking, but the work is progressing satisfactorily and, when completed, it will render all of this vast tract of now arid land marketable, and a monument to Mr. Beardsley's energy and ability.
On December 11, I888, Mr. Beardsley was united in marriage with Mrs. Ida R. (Oglesby) Forney, daughter of the late William B. Oglesby, formerly treasurer of Butler County, and to this union has been born one son, Robert Oglesby, now aged fourteen years. Socially, Mr. Beardsley is a member of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, at Middletown, and takes a deep interest in the welfare of the order. As a business man, he has exhibited abilities of the highest order, and a disposition and temperament that enable him to push to completion any project which he undertakes. He is held in the highest esteem by all his acquaintances because of his many estimable traits of character.
Henry Morrison Flagler (January 2, 1830 – May 20, 1913) was an American industrialist and a founder of Standard Oil, which was first based in Ohio. He was also a key figure in the development of the Atlantic coast of Florida and founder of the Florida East Coast Railway, much of which he built through convict leasing. He is known as the father of Miami and Palm Beach, Florida.
Flagler was born in Hopewell, New York, the son of Isaac Flagler, a Presbyterian minister and his wife, the widowed Elizabeth Caldwell (Morrison) Harkness. She had brought two sons to the marriage with Flagler from her previous marriage to the widower Dr. David Harkness of Milan, Ohio. His son by his first marriage, Stephen V. Harkness, became Elizabeth's stepson. Together David and Elizabeth had a son Daniel M. Harkness before his death. He was of paternal German descent from the Palatinate region. The immigrant ancestor was Zacharra Flegler who first settled in Walworth, England and then left for America arriving in New York in 1710 eventually settling in Dutchess County. It was a grandson Solomon Flagler, who first used the different spelling of the surname. Solomon had eleven children including Isaac, Henry's father.
Flagler attended local schools through eighth grade. His half-brother Daniel had left Hopewell to live and work with his paternal uncle Lamon G. Harkness, who had a store in Republic, Ohio. He recruited Henry Flagler to join him, and the youth went to Ohio at age 14, where he started work in 1844 at a salary of US$5 per month plus room and board. By 1849, Flagler was promoted to the sales staff at a salary of $40 per month. He later joined Daniel in a grain business started with his uncle Lamon in Bellevue, Ohio.
In 1862, Flagler and his brother-in-law Barney Hamlin York (1833–1884) founded the Flagler and York Salt Company, a salt mining and production business in Saginaw, Michigan. He found that salt mining required more technical knowledge than he had and struggled in the industry during the Civil War. The company collapsed when the war undercut commercial demand for salt. Flagler returned to Bellevue having lost his initial $50,000 investment and an additional $50,000 he had borrowed from his father-in-law and Daniel. Flagler believed that he had learned a valuable lesson: invest in a business only after thorough investigation.
After the failure of his salt business in Saginaw, Flagler returned to Bellevue in 1866 and reentered the grain business as a commission merchant with the Harkness Grain Company. During this time he worked to pay back his stepbrother . Through this business, Flagler became acquainted with John D. Rockefeller, who worked as a commission agent with Hewitt and Tuttle for the Harkness Grain Company. By the mid-1860s, Cleveland had become the center of the oil refining industry in America and Rockefeller left the grain business to start his own oil refinery. Rockefeller worked in association with chemist and inventor Samuel Andrews.
Needing capital for his new venture, Rockefeller approached Flagler in 1867. Flagler's stepbrother Stephen V. Harkness invested $100,000 (equivalent to $1.85 million in 2020) on the condition that Flagler be made a partner. The Rockefeller, Andrews & Flagler partnership was formed with Flagler in control of Harkness' interest. The partnership eventually grew into the Standard Oil Corporation. It was Flagler's idea to use the rebate system to strengthen the firm's position against competitors and the transporting enterprises alike. Flagler was in a special position to make those deals due to his connections as a grain merchant. Equivalent to a 15% discount, they put Standard Oil in position to significantly undercut other oil refineries. By 1872, it led the American oil refining industry, producing 10,000 barrels per day (1,600 m3/d). In 1877, Flagler and his family moved to New York City, which was becoming the center of commerce in the U.S.. In 1885, Standard Oil moved its corporate headquarters to New York City to the iconic 26 Broadway location.
By the end of the American Civil War, Cleveland was one of the five main refining centers in the U.S. (besides Pittsburgh, New York City, Philadelphia, and the region in northwestern Pennsylvania where most of the oil originated).
By 1869, there was three times more kerosene refining capacity than needed to supply the market, and the capacity remained in excess for many years. In June 1870, Flagler and Rockefeller formed Standard Oil of Ohio, which rapidly became the most profitable refiner in Ohio. Standard Oil grew to become one of the largest shippers of oil and kerosene in the country. The railroads were fighting fiercely for traffic and, in an attempt to create a cartel to control freight rates, formed the South Improvement Company in collusion with Standard and other oil men outside the main oil centers. The cartel received preferential treatment as a high-volume shipper, which included not just steep rebates of up to 50% for their product but also rebates for the shipment of competing products. Part of this scheme was the announcement of sharply increased freight charges. This touched off a firestorm of protest from independent oil well owners, including boycotts and vandalism, which eventually led to the discovery of Standard Oil's part in the deal. A major New York refiner, Charles Pratt and Company, headed by Charles Pratt and Henry H. Rogers, led the opposition to this plan, and railroads soon backed off. Pennsylvania revoked the cartel's charter, and non-preferential rates were restored for the time being.
Undeterred, though vilified for the first time by the press, Flagler and Rockefeller continued with their self-reinforcing cycle of buying competing refiners, improving the efficiency of operations, pressing for discounts on oil shipments, undercutting competition, making secret deals, raising investment pools, and buying rivals out. In less than four months in 1872, in what was later known as "The Cleveland Conquest" or "The Cleveland Massacre", Standard Oil had absorbed 22 of its 26 Cleveland competitors. Eventually, even former antagonists Pratt and Rogers saw the futility of continuing to compete against Standard Oil: in 1874, they made a secret agreement with their old nemesis to be acquired. Pratt and Rogers became Flagler and Rockefeller's partners. Rogers, in particular, became one of Flagler and Rockefeller's key men in the formation of the Standard Oil Trust. Pratt's son, Charles Millard Pratt, became Secretary of Standard Oil. For many of the competitors, Flagler and Rockefeller had merely to show them the books so they could see what they were up against and make them a decent offer. If they refused the offer, Flagler and Rockefeller told them they would run them into bankruptcy and then cheaply buy up their assets at auction. Flagler and Rockefeller saw themselves as the industry's saviors, "an angel of mercy" absorbing the weak and making the industry as a whole stronger, more efficient, and more competitive. Standard was growing horizontally and vertically. It added its own pipelines, tank cars, and home delivery network. It kept oil prices low to stave off competitors, made its products affordable to the average household, and, to increase market penetration, sometimes sold below cost if necessary. It developed over 300 oil-based products from tar to paint to Vaseline petroleum jelly to chewing gum. By the end of the 1870s, Standard was refining over 90% of the oil in the U.S.
In 1877, Standard clashed with Thomas A. Scott the president of the Pennsylvania Railroad, its chief hauler. Flagler and Rockefeller had envisioned the use of pipelines as an alternative transport system for oil and began a campaign to build and acquire them. The railroad, seeing Standard's incursion into the transportation and pipeline fields, struck back and formed a subsidiary to buy and build oil refineries and pipelines. This subsidiary, the Empire Transportation Company, which Joseph D. Potts created in 1865 and also ran, owned other assets including a small fleet of ships on the Great Lakes. Standard countered and held back its shipments and, with the help of other railroads, started a price war that dramatically reduced freight payments and caused labor unrest as well. Flagler and Rockefeller eventually prevailed and the railroad sold all its oil interests to Standard. But in the aftermath of that battle, in 1879 the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania indicted Flagler and Rockefeller on charges of monopolizing the oil trade, starting an avalanche of similar court proceedings in other states and making a national issue of Standard Oil's business practices. The New York State Legislature's Hepburn Committee in 1879 conducted hearings in response to the complaints of local merchants that were not involved in the oil trade in order to investigate railroad rebate practices. The committee ultimately discovered the previously unknown scope of Standard Oil's business interests.
Standard Oil gradually gained almost complete control of oil refining and marketing in the United States through horizontal integration. In the kerosene industry, Standard Oil replaced the old distribution system with its own vertical system. It supplied kerosene by tank cars that brought the fuel to local markets, and tank wagons then delivered to retail customers, thus bypassing the existing network of wholesale jobbers. Despite improving the quality and availability of kerosene products while greatly reducing their cost to the public (the price of kerosene dropped by nearly 80% over the life of the company), Standard Oil's business practices created intense controversy. Standard's most potent weapons against competitors were underselling, differential pricing, and secret transportation rebates. The firm was attacked by journalists and politicians throughout its existence, in part for these monopolistic methods, giving momentum to the antitrust movement. By 1880, according to the New York World, Standard Oil was "the most cruel, impudent, pitiless, and grasping monopoly that ever fastened upon a country." To the critics Flagler and Rockefeller replied, "In a business so large as ours... some things are likely to be done which we cannot approve. We correct them as soon as they come to our knowledge."
At that time, many legislatures had made it difficult to incorporate in one state and operate in another. As a result, Flagler and Rockefeller and their associates owned dozens of separate corporations, each of which operated in just one state; the management of the whole enterprise was rather unwieldy. In 1882, Flagler and Rockefeller's lawyers created an innovative form of corporation to centralize their holdings, giving birth to the Standard Oil Trust. The "trust" was a corporation of corporations, and the entity's size and wealth drew much attention. Nine trustees, including Rockefeller, ran the 41 companies in the trust. The public and the press were immediately suspicious of this new legal entity, and other businesses seized upon the idea and emulated it, further inflaming public sentiment. Standard Oil had gained an aura of invincibility, always prevailing against competitors, critics, and political enemies. It had become the richest, biggest, most feared business in the world, seemingly immune to the boom and bust of the business cycle, consistently racking up profits year after year.
Its vast American empire included 20,000 domestic wells, 4,000 miles of pipeline, 5,000 tank cars, and over 100,000 employees. Its share of world oil refining topped out above 90% but slowly dropped to about 80% for the rest of the century. In spite of the formation of the trust and its perceived immunity from all competition, by the 1880s Standard Oil had passed its peak of power over the world oil market. Flagler and Rockefeller finally gave up their dream of controlling all the world's oil refining. Rockefeller admitted later, "We realized that public sentiment would be against us if we actually refined all the oil." Over time foreign competition and new finds abroad eroded his dominance. In the early 1880s, Flagler and Rockefeller created one of their most important innovations. Rather than try to influence the price of crude oil directly, Standard Oil had been exercising indirect control by altering oil storage charges to suit market conditions. Flagler and Rockefeller then decided to issue certificates against oil stored in Standard Oil's pipelines. These certificates became traded by speculators, thus creating the first oil-futures market which effectively set spot market prices from then on. The National Petroleum Exchange opened in Manhattan in late 1882 to facilitate the oil futures trading.
Even though 85% of world crude production was still coming from Pennsylvania wells in the 1880s, overseas drilling in Russia and Asia began to reach the world market. Robert Nobel had established his own refining enterprise in the abundant and cheaper Russian oil fields, including the region's first pipeline and the world's first oil tanker. The Paris Rothschilds jumped into the fray providing financing. Additional fields were discovered in Burma and Java. Even more critical, the invention of the light bulb gradually began to erode the dominance of kerosene for illumination. But Standard Oil adapted, developing its own European presence, expanding into natural gas production in the U.S., then into gasoline for automobiles, which until then had been considered a waste product.
Standard Oil moved its headquarters to New York City, at 26 Broadway, and Flagler and Rockefeller became central figures in the city's business community. In 1887, Congress created the Interstate Commerce Commission, which was tasked with enforcing equal rates for all railroad freight, but by then Standard depended more on pipeline transport. More threatening to Standard's power was the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890, originally used to control unions, but later central to the breakup of the Standard Oil trust. Ohio was especially vigorous in applying its state anti-trust laws, and finally forced a separation of Standard Oil of Ohio from the rest of the company in 1892, the first step in the dissolution of the trust.
Upon his ascent to the presidency, Theodore Roosevelt initiated dozens of suits under the Sherman Antitrust Act and coaxed reforms out of Congress. In 1901, U.S. Steel, now controlled by J. Pierpont Morgan, having bought Andrew Carnegie's steel assets, offered to buy Standard's iron interests as well. A deal brokered by Henry Clay Frick exchanged Standard's iron interests for U.S. Steel stock and gave Rockefeller and his son membership on the company's board of directors.
One of the most effective attacks on Flagler and Rockefeller and their firm was the 1905 publication of The History of the Standard Oil Company, by Ida Tarbell, a leading muckraker. She documented the company's espionage, price wars, heavy-handed marketing tactics, and courtroom evasions. Although her work prompted a huge backlash against the company, Tarbell claims to have been surprised at its magnitude. "I never had an animus against their size and wealth, never objected to their corporate form. I was willing that they should combine and grow as big and wealthy as they could, but only by legitimate means. But they had never played fair, and that ruined their greatness for me." Tarbell's father had been driven out of the oil business during the South Improvement Company affair.
Flagler and Rockefeller began a publicity campaign to put the company and themselves in a better light. Though Flagler and Rockefeller had long maintained a policy of active silence with the press, they decided to make themselves more accessible and responded with conciliatory comments such as "capital and labor are both wild forces which require intelligent legislation to hold them in restriction."
Flagler and Rockefeller continued to consolidate their oil interests as best they could until New Jersey, in 1909, changed its incorporation laws to effectively allow a re-creation of the trust in the form of a single holding company. Rockefeller retained his nominal title as president until 1911 and he kept his stock. At last in 1911, the Supreme Court of the United States found Standard Oil Company of New Jersey in violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act. By then the trust still had a 70% market share of the refined oil market but only 14% of the U.S. crude oil supply. The court ruled that the trust originated in illegal monopoly practices and ordered it to be broken up into 34 new companies. These included, among many others, Continental Oil, which became Conoco, now part of ConocoPhillips; Standard of Indiana, which became Amoco, now part of BP; Standard of California, which became Chevron; Standard of New Jersey, which became Esso (and later, Exxon), now part of ExxonMobil; Standard of New York, which became Mobil, now part of ExxonMobil; and Standard of Ohio, which became Sohio, now part of BP. Pennzoil and Chevron have remained separate companies.
When Flagler envisioned successes in the oil industry, he and Rockefeller started building their fortune in refining oil in Cleveland, Ohio. Cleveland became very well known for oil refining, as, "More and more crude oil was shipped from the oil regions to Cleveland for the refining process because of transportation facilities and the aggressiveness of the refiners there. It was due largely to the efforts of Henry M. Flagler and John D. Rockefeller." Flagler and Rockefeller worked hard for their company to achieve such prominence. Henry explained: "We worked night and day, making good oil as cheaply as possible and selling it for all we could get." Not only did Flagler and Rockefeller's Standard Oil company become well known in Ohio, they expanded to other states, as well as gained additional capital in purchasing smaller oil refining companies across the nation. According to Allan Nevins, in John D. Rockefeller (p 292), "Standard Oil was born as a big enterprise, it had cut its teeth as a partnership and was now ready to plunge forward into a period of greater expansion and development. It soon was doing one tenth of all the petroleum business in the United States. Besides its two refineries and a barrel plant in Cleveland, it possessed a fleet of tank cars and warehouses in the oil regions as well as warehouses and tanks in New York."
By 1892, Standard Oil had a monopoly over all oil refineries in the United States. In an overall calculation of America's oil refineries' assets and capital, Standard Oil surpassed all. Standard Oil's combined assets equalled approximately $42,882,650 (equivalent to $1.24 billion in 2020) in Indiana, Kentucky, New Jersey, New York and Ohio. Standard Oil also had the highest capitalization, totaling $26,000,000 (equivalent to $749 million in 2020). The history of American oil refining begins with Henry Morrison Flagler, and his business associate and friend, John D. Rockefeller, as they built the biggest, most prosperous and monopolizing oil empire of their time: Standard Oil.
Standard Oil had the same principal owners that Rockefeller, Andrews and Flagler had, give or take a few business associates: one of whom was Rockefeller's brother, William. Standard Oil monopolized quickly and took America by storm. Although Standard Oil was a partnership, Flagler was credited as the brain behind the booming oil refining business. "When John D. Rockefeller was asked if the Standard Oil company was the result of his thinking, he answered, 'No, sir. I wish I had the brains to think of it. It was Henry M. Flagler.'" Flagler served as an active part of Standard Oil until 1882. John Dustin Archbold, known for being more aggressive, was hired by the Rockefellers. Flagler stepped back to take a secondary role at Standard Oil, but served as a vice president through 1908 and was part of ownership until 1911.
When Flagler's first wife Mary (née Harkness) fell sick, his physician recommended they travel to Jacksonville for the winter to escape the brutal conditions of the North. For the first time, Flagler was able to experience the warm, sunny atmosphere of Florida. Two years after his first wife died in 1881, he married again. Ida Alice (née Shourds) Flagler had been a caregiver for Mary. After their wedding, the couple traveled to Saint Augustine. Flagler found the city charming, but the hotel facilities and transportation systems inadequate. Franklin W. Smith had just finished building Villa Zorayda and Flagler offered to buy it for his honeymoon. Smith would not sell, but he planted the seed of St. Augustine's and Florida's future in Flagler's mind.
Although Flagler remained on the board of directors of Standard Oil, he gave up his day-to-day involvement in the corporation to pursue his interests in Florida. He returned to St. Augustine in 1885 and made Smith an offer. If Smith could raise $50,000, Flagler would invest $150,000 and they would build a hotel together. Perhaps fortunately for Smith, he couldn't come up with the funds, so Flagler began construction of the 540-room Ponce de Leon Hotel by himself, but spent several times his original estimate. Smith helped train the masons on the mixing and pouring techniques he used on Zorayda.
Realizing the need for a sound transportation system to support his hotel ventures, Flagler purchased short line railroads in what would later become known as the Florida East Coast Railway. He used convict leasing — "a method undertaken by the Southern States to replace the economic setup of slavery" — to modernize the existing railroads, allowing them to accommodate heavier loads and more traffic.
His next project was the Ponce de Leon Hotel, now part of Flagler College. He invested with the guidance of Dr. Andrew Anderson, a native of St. Augustine. After many years of work, it opened on January 10, 1888, and was an instant success.
This project sparked Flagler's interest in creating a new "American Riviera." Two years later, he expanded his Florida holdings. He built a railroad bridge across the St. Johns River to gain access to the southern half of the state and purchased the Hotel Ormond, just north of Daytona. He also built the Alcazar Hotel as an overflow hotel for the Ponce de Leon Hotel. The Alcazar is today the Lightner Museum, next to the Casa Monica Hotel in St. Augustine that Flagler bought from Franklin W. Smith. His personal dedication to the state of Florida was demonstrated when he began construction on his private residence, Kirkside, in St. Augustine.
An immense engineering effort was required to cut through the wilderness and marsh from St. Augustine to Palm Beach. The state provided incentive in the form of 3,840 acres (15.5 km2) for every mile (1.6 km) of track constructed.
Flagler completed the 1,100-room Royal Poinciana Hotel on the shores of Lake Worth in Palm Beach and extended his railroad to its service town, West Palm Beach, by 1894, founding Palm Beach and West Palm Beach. The Royal Poinciana Hotel was at the time the largest wooden structure in the world. Two years later, Flagler built the Palm Beach Inn (renamed The Breakers in 1901), overlooking the Atlantic Ocean in Palm Beach.
Flagler originally intended West Palm Beach to be the terminus of his railroad system, but in 1894 and 1895, severe freezes hit the area, causing Flagler to reconsider. Sixty miles (97 km) south, the area today known as Miami was reportedly unharmed by the freeze. To further convince Flagler to continue the railroad to Miami, he was offered land in exchange for laying rail tracks from private landowners, the Florida East Coast Canal and Transportation Company, and the Boston and Florida Atlantic Coast Land Company. The land owners were Julia Tuttle, whom he had met in Cleveland, Ohio, and William Brickell, who ran a trading post on the Miami River.
Such incentive led to the development of Miami, which was an unincorporated area at the time. Flagler encouraged fruit farming and settlement along his railway line and made many gifts to build hospitals, churches and schools in Florida.
By 1896, Flagler's railroad, the Florida East Coast Railway, reached Biscayne Bay. Flagler dredged a channel, built streets, instituted the first water and power systems, and financed the city's first newspaper, The Metropolis. When the city was incorporated in 1896, its citizens wanted to honor the man responsible for its growth by naming it "Flagler". He declined the honor, persuading them to use an old Indian name, "Mayaimi". Instead, an artificial island was constructed in Biscayne Bay called Flagler Monument Island. In 1897, Flagler opened the exclusive Royal Palm Hotel on the north bank of the Miami River where it overlooked Biscayne Bay. He became known as the Father of Miami, Florida.
In historical perspective, "Flagler built his tourist empire — and modern Florida — by exploiting two brutal labor systems that blanketed the South for 50 years after the Civil War: convict leasing and debt peonage. Created to preserve the white supremacist racial order and to address the South’s labor shortages, these systems targeted African Americans, stealing their labor and entrapping them in state-sanctioned forms of involuntary servitude.... Some 4,000 workers, including many as young as 15, became slaves in all but name." When an investigative journalist and the U.S. Justice Department uncovered the practices, Flagler and his allies successfully mobilized to whitewash the findings in Congress and white-owned Florida newspapers, some directly controlled by Flagler himself.
Flagler's second wife, the former Ida Alice Shourds, was declared insane by Flagler's friend Dr. Anderson in 1896 and was institutionalized on and off starting that year. At the same time, he began to have an affair with Mary Lily Kenan; by 1899, newspapers began to openly question whether the two were having an affair. That year he reportedly gave her more than $1 million in jewelry. In 1901, Flagler bribed the Florida Legislature and Governor to pass a law that made incurable insanity grounds for divorce, opening the way for Flagler to remarry. Flagler was the only person to be divorced under the law before it was repealed in 1905. A spouse's mental incapacity was later restored by the legislature as a grounds for dissolution of marriage, and remains the law of Florida today.
On August 24, 1901, 10 days after his divorce, Flagler married Mary Lily at her family's plantation, Liberty Hall, and the couple soon moved into their new Palm Beach estate, Whitehall, a 55-room beaux arts home designed by the New York-based firm of Carrère and Hastings, which also had designed the New York Public Library and the Pan-American Exposition. Built in 1902 as a wedding present to Mary Lily, Whitehall (now the Flagler Museum) was a 60,000-square-foot (5,600 m²) winter retreat that established the Palm Beach "season" of about 8–12 weeks, for the wealthy of America's Gilded Age.
By 1905, Flagler decided that his Florida East Coast Railway should be extended from Biscayne Bay to Key West, a point 128 miles (206 km) past the end of the Florida peninsula. At the time, Key West was Florida's most populous city, with a population of 20,000, and it was also the United States' deep water port closest to the canal that the U.S. government proposed to build in Panama. Flagler wanted to take advantage of additional trade with Cuba and Latin America as well as the increased trade with the west that the Panama Canal would bring.
In 1912, the Florida Overseas Railroad was completed to Key West. Over thirty years, Flagler had invested about $50 million in railroad, home and hotel construction and had made donations to suffering farmers after the freeze in 1894. When asked by the president of Rollins College in Winter Park about his philanthropic efforts, Flagler reportedly replied, "I believe this state is the easiest place for many men to gain a living. I do not believe any one else would develop it if I do not...but I do hope to live long enough to prove I am a good business man by getting a dividend on my investment."
Flagler's developments in Florida were built using cheap labor that exploited people in the systems of convict leasing and debt peonage used in the South for 50 years after the civil war.
There was a full congressional investigation into the accusations of peonage at F.E.C. "The congressional investigation concluded there had been little immigrant peonage in the South and none in the FECR camps in the Keys."
In March 1913, Flagler fell down a flight of marble stairs at Whitehall. He never recovered and died in Palm Beach of his injuries on May 20 at 83 years of age. At 3 p.m. on the day of the funeral, May 23, 1913, every engine on the Florida East Coast Railway stopped wherever it was for ten minutes as a tribute to Flagler. It was reported that people along the railway line waited all night for the passing of the funeral train as it traveled from Palm Beach to St. Augustine.
Flagler was entombed in the Flagler family mausoleum at Memorial Presbyterian Church in St. Augustine alongside his first wife, Mary Harkness; daughter, Jenny Louise; and granddaughter, Marjorie. Only his son Harry survived of the three children by his first marriage in 1853 to Mary Harkness. A large portion of his estate was designated for a "niece" who was said actually to be a child born out of wedlock.
When looking back at Flagler's life, after Flagler's death, George W. Perkins, of J.P. Morgan & Co., reflected, "But that any man could have the genius to see of what this wilderness of waterless sand and underbrush was capable and then have the nerve to build a railroad here, is more marvelous than similar development anywhere else in the world."
Miami's main east-west street is named Flagler Street and is the main shopping street in Downtown Miami. There is also a monument to him on Flagler Monument Island in Biscayne Bay in Miami; Flagler College and Flagler Hospital are named after him in St. Augustine. Flagler County, Florida, Flagler Beach, Florida and Flagler, Colorado are also named for him. Whitehall, Palm Beach, is open to the public as the Henry Morrison Flagler Museum; his private railcar No. 91 is preserved inside a Beaux Arts pavilion built to look like a 19th-century railway palace.
On February 24, 2006, a statue of Flagler was unveiled in Key West near the spot where the Over-Sea Railroad once terminated. Also, on July 28, 2006, a statue of Flagler was unveiled on the southeast steps of Miami's Dade County Courthouse, located on Miami's Flagler Street.
The Overseas Railroad, also known as the Key West Extension of the Florida East Coast Railway, was heavily damaged and partially destroyed in the Labor Day Hurricane of 1935. The railroad was financially unable to rebuild the destroyed sections, so the roadbed and remaining bridges were sold to the State of Florida, which built the Overseas Highway to Key West, using much of the remaining railway infrastructure.
Flagler's third wife, Mary Lily Kenan Flagler Bingham was born in North Carolina; the top-ranked Kenan-Flagler Business School at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is named for Flagler and his wife, who was an early benefactor of UNC along with her family and descendants. After Flagler's death, she married an old friend, Robert Worth Bingham, who used an inheritance from her to buy the Louisville Courier-Journal newspaper. The Bingham-Flagler marriage (and questions about her death or possible murder) figured prominently in several books that appeared in the 1980s, when the Bingham family sold the newspaper in the midst of great acrimony. Control of the Flagler fortune largely passed into the hands of Mary Lily Kenan's family of sisters and brother, who survived into the 1960s.
Built primarily in the last quarter of the 19th century and the first decade of the 20th century, the FEC was a project of Standard Oil principal Henry Flagler. He originally visited Florida with his first wife, Mary; they sought assistance with the health issues she faced. A key strategist who worked closely with John D. Rockefeller building the Standard Oil Trust, Flagler noted both great potential and a lack of services during his stay at St. Augustine. He subsequently began what amounted to his second career, developing resorts, industries, and communities all along Florida's shores abutting the Atlantic Ocean.
The FEC is possibly best known for building the railroad to Key West, completed in 1912. When the FEC's line from the mainland to Key West was heavily damaged by the Labor Day Hurricane of 1935, the State of Florida purchased the remaining right-of-way and bridges south of Dade County, and they were rebuilt into road bridges for vehicle traffic and became known as the Overseas Highway. However, a greater and lasting Flagler legacy was the developments along Florida's eastern coast.
During the Great Depression, control was purchased by heirs of the du Pont family. After 30 years of fragile financial condition, the FEC, under leadership of a new president, Ed Ball, took on the labor unions. Ball claimed the company could not afford the same costs as larger Class 1 railroads and needed to invest saved funds in its infrastructure, the condition of which was fast becoming a safety issue. The company—using replacement workers—and some of its employees engaged from 1963 until 1977 in one of the longest and more violent labor conflicts of the 20th century. Ultimately, federal authorities had to intervene to stop the violence, which included bombings, shootings and vandalism. However, the courts ruled in the FEC's favor with regard to the right to employ strikebreakers. During this time Ball invested heavily in numerous steps to improve the railroad's physical plant, and installed various forms of automation. The FEC was the first US railroad to operate two-man train crews, eliminate cabooses, and end all of its passenger services (which were unprofitable) by 1968.
Today the company's primary rail revenues come from its intermodal and rock trains. In January 2018, passenger rail service Brightline began using FEC tracks for its route from West Palm Beach to Miami with a stop at Fort Lauderdale.
The Florida East Coast Railway (FEC) was developed by Henry Morrison Flagler, an American tycoon, real estate promoter, railroad developer and John D. Rockefeller's partner in Standard Oil. Formed at Cleveland, Ohio as Rockefeller, Andrews & Flagler in 1867, Standard Oil moved its headquarters in 1877 to New York City. Flagler and his family relocated there as well. He was joined by Henry H. Rogers, another leader of Standard Oil who also became involved in the development of America's railroads, including those on nearby Staten Island, the Union Pacific, and later in West Virginia, where he eventually built the remarkable Virginian Railway to transport coal to Hampton Roads, Virginia.
Flagler's non-Standard Oil interests went in a different direction, however, when in 1878, on the advice of his physician, he traveled to Jacksonville, Florida for the winter with his first wife, Mary, who was quite ill. Two years after she died in 1881, he married Mary's former caregiver, Ida Alice Shourds. After their wedding, the couple traveled to St. Augustine, Florida in 1883. Flagler found the city charming, but the hotel facilities and transportation systems inadequate. He recognized Florida's potential to attract out-of-state visitors. Though Flagler remained on the Board of Directors of Standard Oil, he gave up his day-to-day involvement in the firm in order to pursue his Florida interests.
When Flagler returned to Florida, in 1885 he began building a grand St. Augustine hotel, the Ponce de Leon Hotel. Flagler realized that the key to developing Florida was a solid transportation system, and consequently purchased the 3 ft (914 mm) narrow gauge Jacksonville, St. Augustine and Halifax River Railway (JStA&HR) on December 31, 1885. He also discovered that a major problem facing the existing Florida railway systems was that each operated on different gauge systems, making interconnection impossible. He converted the line to 4 ft 8+1?2 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge in 1890 and the small operation was incorporated in 1892.
The earliest predecessor of the FEC was the narrow gauge St. John's Railway, incorporated in 1858, which constructed a now-abandoned line between St. Augustine and Tocoi, a small settlement on the east bank of the St. Johns River, midway between Palatka and Green Cove Springs. In 1883, Henry Flagler, now retired from Standard Oil, moved to St. Augustine, built the previously mentioned Ponce de Leon and the Alcazar Hotels, and purchased the Casa Monica, just east of the Alcazar, changing the name to Cordova. The east coast of Florida was relatively undeveloped at that time, and Flagler found it difficult to obtain the construction materials he needed. His purchase of the JStA&HR Railway was intended to make it faster and easier to supply his building projects.
The JStA&HR Railway served the northeastern portion of the state and was the first operation in the Flagler Railroad system. Before Flagler bought the line, the railroad stretched only between South Jacksonville and St. Augustine and lacked a depot sufficient to accommodate travelers to his St. Augustine resorts. He built a modern depot facility as well as schools, hospitals and churches, systematically revitalizing the largely abandoned historic city.
Flagler next purchased three additional existing railroads: the St. John's Railway, the St. Augustine and Palatka Railway, and the St. Johns and Halifax River Railway so that he could provide extended rail service on standard gauge tracks. Through the operation of these three railroads, by spring 1889 Flagler's system offered service from Jacksonville to Daytona. Continuing to develop hotel facilities to entice northern tourists to visit Florida, Flagler bought and expanded the Ormond Hotel, located along the railroad's route north of Daytona in Ormond Beach.
Beginning in 1892, when landowners south of Daytona petitioned him to extend the railroad 80 miles (130 km) south, Flagler began laying new railroad tracks; no longer did he follow his traditional practice of purchasing existing railroads and merging them into his growing rail system. Flagler obtained a charter from the state of Florida authorizing him to build a railroad along the Indian River to Miami, and as the railroad progressed southward, cities such as New Smyrna and Titusville began to develop along the tracks.
By 1894, Flagler's railroad system reached what is today known as West Palm Beach. Flagler constructed the Royal Poinciana Hotel in Palm Beach overlooking the Lake Worth Lagoon. He also built the Breakers Hotel on the ocean side of Palm Beach, and Whitehall, his private 55-room, 60,000 square foot (5,600 m²) winter home. The development of these three structures, coupled with railroad access to them, established Palm Beach as a winter resort for the wealthy members of America's Gilded Age.
Palm Beach was to be the terminus of the Flagler railroad, but during 1894 and 1895, severe freezes hit all of Central Florida, whereas the Miami area remained unaffected, causing Flagler to rethink his original decision not to move the railroad south of Palm Beach. The fable that Julia Tuttle, one of two main landowners in the Miami area along with the Brickell family, sent orange blossoms to Flagler to prove to him that Miami, unlike the rest of the state, was unaffected by the frost, is untrue. The truth is that she wired him to advise him that "the region around the shores of Biscayne Bay is untouched by the freezes." He sent his two lieutenants, James E. Ingraham and Joseph R. Parrott—now famous in Florida history—to investigate; they brought boxes of truck (produce) and citrus back to Flagler, who then wired Tuttle, asking, "Madam, what is it that you propose?" To convince Flagler to continue the railroad to Miami, both Tuttle and William Brickell offered half of their holdings north and south of the Miami River to him. Tuttle added 50 acres (200,000 m2) for shops and yards if Flagler would extend his railroad to the shores of Biscayne Bay and build one of his great hotels. An agreement was made and contracts were signed. On September 7, 1895, the name of Flagler's system was changed from the Jacksonville, St. Augustine and Indian River Railway Company to the Florida East Coast Railway Company and incorporated. On April 15, 1896, track reached Biscayne Bay, the site of present-day downtown Miami. At the time, it was a small settlement of less than 50 inhabitants. When the town incorporated, on July 28, 1896, its citizens wanted to honor the man responsible for the city's development by naming it Flagler. He declined the honor, persuading them to retain its old Indian name, Miami. The area was actually previously known as Fort Dallas after the fort built there in 1836 during the Second Seminole War. To further develop the area surrounding the Miami railroad station, Flagler dredged a channel, built streets and The Royal Palm Hotel, instituted the first water and power systems, and financed the town's first newspaper, the Metropolis.
Throughout the 1880s and 1890s, the fledgling rail empire extensively employed convict labor from largely African-American convicts. While most Southern states employed a form of convict lease at the time, renting prisoner's labor to various businesses, Florida's version of convict lease was considered "especially violent" compared to the others.
As of 1904, Flagler started what everybody considered a folly: the extension of the FEC to Key West which would later be known as the Overseas Railroad, at the time considered the eighth wonder of the world, and surely the most daring infrastructure ever built exclusively with private funds. The first train—a construction engineers' train—arrived in Key West on January 21, 1912; Flagler's special train and other passenger trains arrived the next day, January 22, 1912, and that is considered the first day of service on the new route.
The railroad south of West Palm Beach was constructed in phases by the FEC and the predecessor systems. Flagler began his railroad building in 1892. Under Florida's generous land-grant laws passed in 1893, 8,000 acres (3,200 ha) could be claimed from the state for every mile (1.6 km) built. Flagler would eventually claim in excess of two million acres (8,000 km²) for building the FEC, and land development and trading would become one of his most profitable endeavors.
Before it became the FEC, the Jacksonville, St. Augustine & Indian River was constructing a line southwards from Daytona Beach in 1894. Fort Pierce was reached on January 29, and West Palm Beach on March 22. Further extension southwards did not begin until June 1895, when a favorable deal was signed with Miami-area business interests. Fort Lauderdale was reached on March 3 of the following year. By April, the construction reached Biscayne Bay, the largest and most accessible harbor on Florida's east coast. Flagler announced in 1904 that the FEC would be extended 128 miles (206 km) to Key West over the ocean. However, in 1906, a powerful hurricane killed 135 of Flagler's workers. The Over-the-Sea Extension was completed in 1912, a mere 16 months prior to Flagler's death, at a cost of $50 million and the lives of hundreds of workmen.
Flagler next sought perhaps his greatest challenge: the extension of the Florida East Coast Railway to Key West, a city of almost 20,000 inhabitants located 128 miles (206 km) beyond the end of the Florida peninsula. He became particularly interested in linking Key West to the mainland after the construction of the Panama Canal was announced by the United States in 1905. As the closest deep-water port in the United States to the canal, Key West was positioned to take advantage of significant new trade with the west that would be enabled by the opening of the canal – this, in addition to the city's existing involvement with Cuban and Latin American trade.
The construction of the Overseas Railroad required many engineering innovations as well as vast amounts of labor and monetary resources. At one time during construction, four thousand men were employed. During the seven years of construction, three hurricanes threatened to halt the project. Workers toiled under conditions sufficiently cruel and harsh that the US Justice Department prosecuted the FECR under a federal slave-kidnapping law. Journalists also chronicled conditions of debt peonage wherein immigrant labor was threatened with prohibitive transportation fees to leave Key West after seeing the unsafe and disease-ridden conditions, essentially forcing them to stay.
Despite the hardships, the final link of the Florida East Coast Railway to Trumbo Point in Key West was completed in 1912. On January 22 of that year, a proud Henry Flagler rode the first passenger train into Key West, marking the completion of the railroad's oversea connection to Key West and the linkage by railway of the entire east coast of Florida.
When the extension was conceived, Key West was a major coaling station for ship traffic between South America and New York. Flagler thought it would be profitable for coal to be brought by railroad to Key West for coaling those ships. By the time the extension was finished in 1912, however, the range of ships had been extended to such a degree that they no longer stopped in Key West for coal.
The Florida Overseas Railroad, also known as the "Key West Extension of the Florida East Coast Railway", was heavily damaged and partially destroyed in the Labor Day Hurricane of 1935. The Florida East Coast Railway was financially unable to rebuild the destroyed sections, and the line was cut back to Florida City. The roadbed and remaining bridges of the extension were sold to the state of Florida, which built the Overseas Highway to Key West, using much of the remaining railway infrastructure. A rebuilt Overseas Highway (U.S. Route 1), taking an alignment that closely follows the Overseas Railroad's original routing, continues to provide the only highway link to Key West, ending near the southernmost point in the continental United States.
The Florida East Coast Railway benefitted greatly from the Florida land boom of the 1920s, which led to increased traffic. The Moultrie cutoff, which shortened the distance between St. Augustine and Ormond Beach by avoiding the main line's turn towards Palatka, was constructed in 1925; it has since become part of the main line. The main line was also expanded to double track from Jacksonville to Miami in 1926, along with the installation of automatic block signaling.
The Stock Market Crash of 1929 and Great Depression were harsh on the FEC. The railroad declared bankruptcy and was in receivership by September 1931, 18 years after Flagler's death. Bus service began to be substituted for trains on the branches in 1932. Streamliners plied the rails between 1939 and 1963, including The East Coast Champion (from New York), The Florida Special (from New York), City of Miami (from Chicago), Dixie Flagler (from Chicago) and South Wind (from Chicago), all of which were jointly operated with the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad.
In the early 1960s, Edward Ball, who controlled the Alfred I. duPont Testamentary Trust, bought a majority ownership of FEC, buying its bonds on the open market, allowing the FEC to emerge from bankruptcy following protracted litigation with a group of the company's other bondholders, led by S.A. Lynch and associated with the Atlantic Coast Line which had proposed an alternate plan of reorganization. That same year, a labor contract negotiation turned sour. Ball was determined to save the railroad from the bankruptcy that had continued for more than a decade. Ball was certain that if the company didn't become profitable, the equipment and track would deteriorate to the point where some lines would become unsafe or unusable and require partial abandonment. Later, in 1962, the expanded Cuban embargo added to the woes.
Ball fought ferociously for the company's right to engage in its own contract negotiations with the railroad unions rather than accept an industry-wide settlement that would traditionally contain featherbedding and wasteful work rules. This led to a prolonged work stoppage by non-operating unions beginning January 23, 1963, and whose picket lines were honored by the operating unions (the train crews).
Because the strike was by the non-operating unions, a federal judge ordered the railroad to continue observing their work rules, while the railroad was free to change the work rules for the operating unions, who were technically not on strike and thus had no standing in the federal court regarding the strike.
Ball's use of replacement workers to keep the railroad running during the strike led to violence by strikers that included shootings and bombings. Eventually, federal intervention helped quell the violence, and the railroad's right to operate during the strike with replacement workers was affirmed by the United States Supreme Court. As the strike continued, the FEC took numerous steps to improve its physical plant, installed various forms of automation, and drastically cut labor costs. Most of the nation's other railroads did not match these achievements for several years; some still had not as of 2010.
After 23 years under Ball, Raymond Wyckoff took the helm of the company on May 30, 1984.
From the beginning of the strike, the long-distance named passenger trains rerouted over an Atlantic Coast Line Railroad route through the central interior of the peninsula south from Jacksonville to Auburndale, and the Seaboard Air Line Railroad route south from Auburndale completed the trip to West Palm Beach and Miami. The strike and the resulting interior rerouting marked the end of long-distance coastal service between Jacksonville and West Palm Beach. Any resumed service later, in 1965, was strictly intrastate trains operated by the FEC.
Passenger service became a political issue in Florida during the early years of the labor strike, which essentially lasted 14 years, from 1963 to 1977. At the insistence of the City of Miami—which had long fought to get rid of the tracks in the downtown section just north of the county courthouse—Miami's wooden-constructed downtown passenger terminal was demolished by November 1963. Although a new station was planned at NE 36th Street and NE 2nd Avenue, it was never built.
Further, while freight trains were operated with non-union and supervisory crews, passenger runs were not reinstated until August 2, 1965, after the City of Miami sued and the Florida courts ruled that the FEC corporate charter required both coach and first class passenger services to be offered. In response, FEC sold "parlor car seating" for first class accommodations in the rear lounge section of a tavern-lounge-observation car. Train service operated daily, except Sunday. This new state-mandated passenger service consisted of a single diesel locomotive and two streamlined passenger cars, which, in addition to the operating crew, were staffed by a passenger service agent and a coach attendant, who were "non-operating". The mini-streamliner operated all of the way across three previously observed crew districts (Jacksonville to New Smyrna Beach to Fort Pierce to Miami). Following the letter of the law, the passenger service was bare bones. The trains carried no baggage, remains, mail or express and honored no inter-line tickets or passes. The only food service was a box lunch (at Cocoa-Rockledge in 1966). On-board beverage service was limited to soft drinks and coffee. Without a station in Miami, the 1950s-era station in North Miami became the southern terminus. This stripped-down service operated six days a week until it was finally discontinued on July 31, 1968.
In March 2005, Robert Anestis stepped down as CEO of Florida East Coast Industries after a four-year stint, allowing Adolfo Henriquez to assume that position, with John D. McPherson, a long-time railroad man, continuing as president of the railway itself. By this time, the railroad had long since made peace with its workers.
In late 2007, in a move surprising to many employees and railroad industry observers alike, the FEC was purchased for over US$3 billion (including non-rail assets) by Fortress Investment Group, the principal investors who also control short line railroad operator RailAmerica. John Giles was named chairman, and David Rohal was named president. Both men were also principals with major responsibilities at RailAmerica as well, although the ownership of FEC and RailAmerica were not linked corporately, and the spinoff of RailAmerica as a publicly traded company did not include FEC.
In May 2010, James Hertwig was named as President and Chief Executive Officer of the company effective July 1, 2010. Hertwig had recently retired from CSX, most recently having served as president of CSX Intermodal, one of CSX's major operating units.
James Hertwig retired as President and Chief Executive Officer of the company effective December 31, 2017, and was replaced by Nathan Asplund as the railway was purchased by Grupo México and now manages it along with its other transport interests.
The Florida East Coast Railway operates from its relocated headquarters in Jacksonville after selling the original General Office Building in St. Augustine to Flagler College in late 2006. Its trains run over nearly the same route developed by Henry Flagler; notably, the Moultrie Cutoff was built in 1925 to shorten the distance south of St. Augustine.
The FEC operations today are dominated by "intermodal" trains and unit rock (limestone) trains. Passenger service was discontinued in 1968 after labor unrest.
The company's major income-earning sources are its rock trains, transporting primarily limestone, and intermodal trains. FEC freight trains operate on precise schedules. Trains are not held for missed connections or late loadings. Most of the trains are paired so that they leave simultaneously from their starting points and meet halfway through the run and swap crews, so they are back home at the end of their runs. The FEC pioneered operation with 2 man crews with no crew districts, which they were able to start doing after the 1963 strike. The entire railroad adopted positive train control (PTC) after a fatal 1987 collision caused by a crew not obeying signaling. (PTC is a safety feature long-sought by federal safety officials for all railroads).
FEC has what is called by some a "prime" railroad right-of-way. The heavy weight of the rock trains required very good trackage and bridges. The railroad has mostly 136 pound-per-yard (66 kg/m) continuous-welded rail attached to concrete ties, which sits on a high quality granite roadbed. The entire railroad is controlled by centralized traffic control with constant radio communication. Because the railroad has only minor grades, it takes very little horsepower to pull very long trains at speed. 60 mph (97 km/h) trains are a normal FEC operating standard.
The FEC was already in the freight-only business when Amtrak was created and assumed passenger operations of nearly all U.S. railroads' passenger services in 1971. Periodically, there has been speculation that the southern end of the FEC line might be used for a commuter rail service to complement the existing Tri-Rail line (which follows former CSX tracks to the west). There has also been some discussion about Amtrak or the State of Florida using FEC lines for a more direct route between Jacksonville and Miami.
In March 2012 FEC Industries (not FEC railway) proposed a privately owned and operated service between Miami and Orlando along its route named All Aboard Florida. New high speed trackage would be built between Brevard County (the oceanside county east of Orlando) and Orlando International Airport. In addition to the new track, the main line is once again being expanded to double track from Brevard County to Miami (some of the bridges still have adequate width from the previous double track). In 2014 the very first beginnings of All Aboard Florida commenced with studies and actual construction of the first phase, and construction began in November 2014. In 2015, AAF announced they will operate the service under the name Brightline, since 2018 operated by Brightline, after a few delays, service on an initial stretch between West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale, and shortly after MiamiCentral started in January 2018 with future extensions planned towards Orlando and Tampa.
A lifeblood of the FEC is its transportation of high-grade limestone, which is used in the formulation for concrete and other construction purposes. The limestone is quarried near Miami in the "Lake Belt" area of Dade County and Broward County just west of Hialeah. The rock trains come out of the FEC yard at Medley in Miami-Dade County and the southern end of the FEC service area. Shipments currently are principally for materials dealers Titan and Rinker.
Rinker has since been sold and is now part of the multi-national Cemex. Rock train traffic dropped dramatically in 2008 with the elimination of all but one dedicated rock train. Other rock loads are now added onto other regular trains. Up until mid 2017, only one rock train remained, which is called the "unit train" and operates between Miami and City Point. Since then, rock traffic has rebounded, and the railroad has since added a second unit rock train which handles Ft. Pierce bound rock.
The intermodal traffic includes interchanged shipments with CSX and Norfolk Southern, participation in EMP container service operated by UP and Norfolk Southern, United Parcel Service (UPS) piggyback trailers, trailers going to the Wal-Mart distribution center at Fort Pierce, and intermodal shipping container traffic through the ports of Miami, Port Everglades (adjacent to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida and the principal source of imports), Port of Palm Beach/Lake Worth Inlet, and Port Canaveral.
Additionally FEC offers "Hurricane Service" offering trucking companies the opportunity of having their trailers piggybacked out of Jacksonville to save the expensive cost of back-hauling empty trailers.
Starting in 2012 the FEC began an aggressive project to reopen direct rail service to the ports of Miami, and Port Everglades. This is in anticipation of the expansion of the Panama Canal and the expected increase of intermodal traffic. In 2013 the drawbridge at the Port of Miami was repaired and reactivated and trains began to roll. In 2014 a new container shuttle was put into operation between Hialeah Yard and the Port of Miami. Also in 2014, the new rail lines into Port Everglades were opened, allowing direct access for FEC trains into the port. Further, a new transfer facility in Hialeah Yard will add additional intermodal transfer between trains, trucks, and planes. This facility opened in 2015. Additional capacity improvements are planned at other ports as well as the FEC's mainline.
The FEC also hauls normal "manifest" freight to and from points along its right of way. These cars are hauled on whatever train is going that way, so intermodal and rock trains routinely have some manifest cars in their consists.
Additionally, the FEC currently transports Tropicana Products "Juice Train" cars to and from one of the company's processing facilities located on the "K" Line. The Juice Train concept was developed by Tropicana founder Anthony T. Rossi in conjunction with Seaboard Coast Line Railroad (a CSX predecessor) beginning in 1970.
The FEC completed its "second generation" dieselization with the purchase of 49 GP40s and GP40-2s and 11 GP38-2s, ranging in the 400's. Most of these locomotives have been extensively rebuilt with others being retired. In 2002, the FEC acquired 20 ex-UP SD40-2s, which were numbered in the 700s. These ex-UP locomotives remained in their original colors with FEC markings; however, as of 2014 seven of them have been repainted into the "retro" Champion scheme. As of 2015 the majority of these were leased to CSXT. In 2006 the FEC leased four SD70M-2's numbered in the 100 series (100-103) in a blue and yellow livery known by fans as the "Classic" or the "Alaskan" schemes. In 2009 when RailAmerica came into the picture, they added four more SD70M-2's (104-107) in the Red, Pearl & Blue scheme which was the standard RailAmerica scheme.
That brought the total SD70M-2 count to eight. Seeking further power improvements, in 2009, the FEC leased three CITX SD70M-2's, making the count now of 11 of the big EMD's. These locomotives were numbered 140, 141 and 142; all are big blue and white striped units. All of the SD70M-2's served on the railway until the end of 2014, when they were replaced with new power. The fleet GP38-2s are used principally for yard and road switching as well as the occasional local. The others are used as available in road service. Some test runs have been made to observe the effect on fuel consumption of dynamic braking and combinations of new and old power. In 2014 the railway purchased 24 GE ES44C4s, the first General Electric and AC Powered locomotives to be owned by the FEC. All of the GE's have been delivered by the end of 2014 with the first run on November 21, 2014. In 2015 the railway will begin to experiment with LNG fuel that will help with costs and efficiency. With the arrival of the GE's the majority of the FEC's SD40-2's and a number of the SD70M-2's have been temporarily leased to CSXT. As of year end 2017, all SD70M-2's have been returned to their respective leasing companies. Most of the SD40-2's will remain on the FEC with the exception of leases to other companies.
On May 16, 2006, FEC was the recipient of the Gold E. H. Harriman Award for safety in Group C (line-haul railroad companies with fewer than 4 million employee hours per year).
The Jacksonville, St. Augustine and Indian River Railway Company was incorporated under the general incorporation laws of Florida to own and operate a railroad from Jacksonville in Duval county, through the counties of Duval, St. Johns, Putnam, Volusia, Brevard, Orange, Osceola, Dade, Polk and Hillsborough.
Florida state law chapter 4260, approved May 31, 1893, granted land to the railroad. At that time, it was already in operation from Jacksonville to Rockledge, the part south of Daytona having been constructed by them. The company had just filed a certificate changing and extending its lines on and across the Florida Keys to Key West in Monroe County.
The name was changed to the Florida East Coast Railway Company on September 7, 1895.
Florida East Coast Industries (FECI) incorporated in 1983 and was made the holding company for the Railway and the Commercial Realty/Flagler Development Company in 1984. The other subsidiaries are Orlando-based carrier, "EPIK Communication" and the logistics firm, "International Transit".
FECI began operating independently of the St. Joe Company on October 9, 2000 when St. Joe shareholders were given FECI stock.
On May 8, 2007, Florida East Coast Railway Company's parent, Florida East Coast Industries (FECI), announced that FECI would be purchased with private equity funds managed by Fortress Investment Group in a transaction valued at $3.5 billion. Fortress Investment acquired Florida East Coast Railway from Florida East Coast Industries in March 2008.
At its greatest extent, Florida East Coast Railway's Main Line ran from Jacksonville via Miami to Key West, a distance of over 500 miles. Today, the Main Line continues to run from Jacksonville to Miami.
Prior to 1925, the main line deviated from its current route between St. Augustine and Bunnell. From St. Augustine, it ran southwest to East Palatka on the St. Johns River before turning back southeast to Bunnell. In 1925, the Moultrie Cutoff was built to reroute the main line on to a more direct route from St. Augustine to Bunnell, bypassing the inland swing to East Palatka. The original main line remained in service after the Moultrie Cutoff was complete, but it was downgraded to branch status (Palatka Branch) and is now mostly abandoned. The milepost numbers on the main line still reflect the original route, causing the mileposts to abruptly jump from 67 to 86.4 in Bunnell today.
The Key West Extension was removed in 1935 with Florida City subsequently becoming the new southern terminus. The Overseas Highway (US 1) largely runs along the former Key West Extension right of way today.
In 1972, four years after the discontinuation of FEC's passenger services, work began to restore the main line to single track with passing sidings every 10 miles and Centralized traffic control. Also in 1972, FEC abandoned the main line from Miami south to Kendall, which included the demolition of the swing bridge over the Miami River in downtown Miami. The FEC sold the right of way of this abandoned segment to Miami-Dade Transit in 1979, who then built the southern half of Miami's Metrorail on the former right of way. Main line track from Kendall to Florida City remained in service at this time since it could still be accessed through the Little River Branch. By 1989, the remaining main line track from Kendall to Florida City (which had been the southern terminus since the abandonment of the Key West Extension in 1935) was abandoned. Today, the South Miami Dade Busway and South Dade Rail Trail run on the former right of way from Kendall to Florida City.
With the reintroduction of passenger service on the FEC via Brightline in the 2010s, the southern half of the main line is once again being expanded to double track. Track from Miami to West Palm Beach was complete in late 2017. Work is currently underway to expand the line to double track from West Palm Beach to Titusville as part of Brightline's second phase. Many bridges are also being rebuilt along this segment as part of the project, despite the fact that many of the older bridges still have adequate width from the previous double track.
Kissimmee Valley Line
The Kissimmee Valley Line, also known as the Okeechobee Branch, ran from just south of New Smyrna Beach through the Kissimmee Valley roughly paralleling the main line. Branching off the Main Line at Edgewater, it headed southwest to Maytown, where it crossed the Enterprise Branch. From Maytown, it turned south and headed through largely rural agricultural land to Okeechobee, a small town on the north side of Lake Okeechobee. South of Holopaw, the line roughly parallels US 441.
Construction began at Maytown on February 25, 1911 and was completed to Okeechobee in 1915. The line was extended north from Maytown to Edgewater (just south of New Smyrna Beach) in 1916 to have its own connection to the Main Line.
By 1929, the branch was extended from Okeechobee southeast and around the eastern side of Lake Okeechobee. It passed through Belle Glade and South Bay before terminating at Lake Harbor on the south side of the lake at the Miami Canal. Here, it connected with the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad's branch from Harrisburg. The Florida East Coast Railway considered extending the line further south to Hialeah to have an alternative route for the main line, but the line was never built past Lake Harbor.
In 1947, the Kissimmee Valley Line was abandoned from Maytown to Marcy since it ended up not generating the agricultural traffic it had hoped too. At the same time, the remaining line south of Marcy to Lake Harbor was connected to the Main Line at Fort Pierce via new track known as the Glades Cutoff. This segment is still in service as the Lake Harbor Branch.
Little River Branch (Bypass around Miami)
The Little River Branch connects to the mainline near Little River and heads south west toward Hialeah, where it turns south towards Hialeah Yard and Miami International Airport. The line sees significant freight traffic since Hialeah Yard is FEC's main yard for the Miami area. The branch ends just south of the airport at Oleander Junction, where it connects with CSX's Homestead Subdivision and the South Florida Rail Corridor. An industrial spur also runs northwest from the line near Medley. The line was realigned in the 1980s to accommodate the extension of Runway 9/27 at Miami International Airport.
The Little River Branch was historically a freight bypass around downtown Miami when the FEC mainline continued south to Homestead and Florida City. The branch continued south past the airport and reconnected with the mainline at Kendall. The branch was abandoned from Kendall to Oleander Junction in 2002. This abandoned segment is currently planned to become the Ludlam Trail linear park.
Palm Beach Branch
The Palm Beach branch was built to serve Flager's hotels on Palm Beach island. When first built in 1895, the Palm Beach Branch ran from the main line east through West Palm Beach between Banyan Boulevard and Second Street (known then as Althea Street). It crossed the Lake Worth Lagoon and on to Palm Beach Island just south of Flagler's Royal Poinciana Hotel. The branch had passenger stations at both the Royal Poinciana and The Breakers, Flagler's other hotel on Palm Beach Island. The original branch was essentially the end of the FEC before the main line was extended south to Miami in 1896.
In 1902, Flagler's built his estate Whitehall for his wife Mary. Whitehall was across the branch's tracks from the Royal Poinciana Hotel. The estate's proximity to the branch prompted Mary to complain about the noise and smoke coming from trains at Whitehall. In response, Flagler promptly had the branch removed and relocated with a new trestle over Lake Worth Lagoon four blocks north. The branch then connected to the hotels on their north side and the bridge also included a pedestrian walkway for hotel patrons. The branch would remain service until 1935 when it was abandoned, a year after the closure of the Royal Poinciana Hotel.
After its removal, the former trestle became a toll bridge, which was replaced by the Flagler Memorial Bridge in 1938 (which carried State Road A1A until 2017 when a new bridge replaced the 1938 span). Much of the former right of way of this branch is still owned by the Town of Palm Beach.
Ormond Beach Branch
The Ormond Beach Branch was a short branch that ran from the main line in Ormond Beach. It ran east from the main line over the Halifax River to the Ormond Hotel, which opened in 1888. Flagler acquired the Ormond Hotel in 1888 and expanded it to 600 rooms. The Ormond Beach Branch was built by the Ormond Bridge Company in 1887. The branch would also run past The Casements, which would be the winter home of John D. Rockefeller, the founder of Standard Oil and Flagler's former business partner. The Ormond Beach Branch was abandoned in 1932.
The former Fellsmere Branch ran from the main line at Sebastian west to Fellsmere. It was originally built by the Sebastian & Cincinnatus Railroad in 1896. In 1909, it was run by the Fellsmere Farms Company. In 1924, the line was taken over by the Trans-Florida Central Railroad. It was abandoned in 1952.
Lake Harbor Branch
The Lake Harbor Branch (K Branch) runs from Fort Pierce in St. Lucie County to Lake Harbor in Palm Beach County. It basically serves the sugar farms in Palm Beach and Hendry Counties. It branches off the main line in Fort Pierce and heads southwest to Marcy, where it turns south along Lake Okeechobee. At Lake Harbor, it connects to the South Cental Florida Express's main line (a former CSX branch). South Central Florida Express began leasing the line from FEC in 1998 and now fully operates the line from milepost K 15 south. FEC serves local customers on the line from milepost K 15 north, with South Central Florida Express having trackage rights from there into Fort Pierce Yard on the main line. They also have a car haulage arrangement with FEC to Jacksonville to interchange with CSX and Norfolk Southern.
The Lake Harbor Branch was once the southernmost segment of the Kissimmee Valley Line until 1947, when the Glades Cutoff from Marcy to Fort Pierce was built and the rest of the Kissimmee Valley Line was abandoned.
The former Enterprise Branch (E Branch) was built in 1885 by the Atlantic Coast, St. Johns and Indian River Railroad and leased to the Jacksonville, Tampa and Key West Railroad (JT&KW), one of the Plant System railroads. Initially, the westernmost five miles (8 km) served as a connection from the JT&KW main line at Benson Junction (known then as Enterprise Junction) to Enterprise, a port for steamboat traffic down the St. Johns River. Later, the line was extended southeast from Enterprise through Osteen, Kalamazoo, and Mims to Titusville. In Titusville, it connected to the St. Johns and Halifax River Railway, which would become the Florida East Coast Railway main line. The Enterprise Branch would also cross the Kissimmee Valley Line at Maytown, which was built in 1911.
A steam locomotive pulled the first train over the line onto the wharf on the Indian River at Titusville on the afternoon of December 30, 1885, and greatly accelerated the transportation of passengers, produce, seafood, and supplies to and from central Florida. While Titusville thrived thanks to this new transportation connection, Enterprise lost stature as a steamboat port, since Henry Plant's railroad paralleled the St. Johns River and greatly reduced travel times to Jacksonville.
During the winter of 1894–95, a widespread freeze hit twice, decimating the citrus crop and ruining that part of Florida's economy. This allowed Henry Flagler to acquire the line at a discount to piece together what became the Florida East Coast Railway.
The track of the E Branch was removed from Benson Junction to Aurantia in 1972, ending directly under the Interstate 95 overpass. The crossing gates and signals between Titusville and Aurantia were removed before the summer 2004 hurricanes and track was later removed by a steel salvage company. By 2008, all remaining track of the E Branch had been removed.
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection took ownership of the rail bed on December 31, 2007. East Central Regional Rail Trail and the Florida Coast to Coast Trail now run along the former right of way.
Orange City Branch
The former Orange City Branch (also known as the Atlantic and Western Branch) ran from New Smyrna Beach west to Orange City and Blue Spring on the St. Johns River. The branch was built by the Blue Spring, Orange City and Atlantic Railroad. In 1888, it became the Atlantic and Western Railroad. It later became part of the Jacksonville, St. Augustine and Indian River Railway, which changed its name to the Florida East Coast Railway in 1895. It may have been the Atlantic and Western Railroad in between. The line was in use until 1930.
The railroad from Tocoi to Tocoi Junction, outside St. Augustine, was built by the St. Johns Railway. The Jacksonville, St. Augustine and Indian River Railway took it over by 1894, and changed its name to the Florida East Coast Railway in 1895. The line was abandoned by 1917; it was later used for SR 95, which became SR 214 at some time after the 1945 Florida State Road renumbering, and is now CR 214.
Flagler Beach Branch
The railroad from Flagler Beach to Dorena, north of Bunnell, was built by the Lehigh Portland Cement Company in 1953. The line connected to the Lehigh Portland Cement Company Plant located near Flagler Beach. The line was abandoned in 1963, after a deadly strike erupted in that year that closed the massive plant. The site of the old plant was where some of the monorail beams were assembled for Walt Disney World in the early 1970s. The route is now part of the rails to trails system. The plant has been demolished outside of one smokestack that will become a "lighthouse" for a new development. Some remains of the yard can be found in the woods near the eastern end of the Lehigh Greenway Rail Trail, which runs along the former right of way.
San Mateo Branch
The former San Mateo Branch ran from the main line just southeast of East Palatka south to San Mateo. The branch was built in 1892.
The railroad from Palatka to Moultrie Junction, outside St. Augustine, was built by the Jacksonville, St. Augustine and Halifax River Railway. The Jacksonville, St. Augustine and Indian River Railway took it over by 1894, and changed its name to the Florida East Coast Railway in 1895. The line was the main route until the construction of the Moultrie Cutoff in 1925. After the completion of the Moultrie Cutoff, this segment became known as the Palatka Branch (P Branch). There was also a spur with a bridge across the St. Johns River into Palatka, where there was a junction with the Jacksonville, Tampa and Key West Railway and the Florida Southern Railway. The bridge over the river was removed in 1950, and the rest of the line was later abandoned in 1988 and all rail was removed to a point just west of I-95. In 2001, rail service resumed up to this point and track was rehabilitated when new industries were located there. A daily local serves the eastern end of the line today known as the Wilber Wright Industrial Lead. Some of the right-of-way is now the Palatka-to-St. Augustine State Trail.
This was originally built by the Jacksonville and Atlantic Railroad, a 3 ft (914 mm) narrow gauge line from Jacksonville to Pablo Beach (now Jacksonville Beach). In late 1899 it was bought by Henry Flagler, who had the line converted to 4 ft 8+1?2 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge and extended it north along the coast to Mayport. The new branch opened in March 1900 and was abandoned in October 1932.
- Florida East Coast Railway – formed September 13, 1895, as a renaming of the Jacksonville, St. Augustine and Indian River Railroad; still exists
- Jacksonville, St. Augustine and Indian River Railroad – formed October 6, 1892, as a renaming of the FC&G; renamed the Florida East Coast Railway September 13, 1895
- Florida Coast and Gulf Railway – formed May 28, 1892; renamed the Jacksonville, St. Augustine and Indian River Railroad October 6, 1892
- Jacksonville, St. Augustine and Halifax River Railway – formed February 28, 1881, as a renaming of the Jacksonville, St. Augustine and Halifax River Railroad; merged with the Jacksonville, St. Augustine and Indian River Railroad October 31, 1892
- Jacksonville, St. Augustine and Halifax River Railroad – formed March 1879; renamed the Jacksonville, St. Augustine and Halifax River Railway February 28, 1881
- St. Augustine and Palatka Railway – formed September 1, 1885; merged with the Jacksonville, St. Augustine and Indian River Railroad 1893
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