Todd's Railfan Guide to
& the CSX Business Train
Jacksonville FL

In General
Getting Here
the Business Train


In General

In the true sense of the word "union station" (yea, I know, it's two words :-), the Jacksonville Union Station was one of those grand places to visit during it's day. 

When passenger operations closed there in 1974, it laid dormant until Jacksonville built the Prime F. Osborn III Convention Center in 1986, and the station was incorporated into the design.

As can be seen in the aerial pictures below, the Skyway has a station across the street, it is the terminus for the system on this end.

Florida is kicking around the idea of re-opening the station as the northern endpoint of commuter service on the Florida East Coast... stay tuned.

If you are railfanning in the northern Florida area, and into the southeast corner of Georgia, you may want to visit Folkston GA, where the
Folkston Funnel" starts for trains heading into Florida.  My guide to Folkston is here.

For a Google Maps railfan tour of Jacksonville, try this link: https://www.google.com/maps/d/viewer?msa=0&mid=zBTDybYTCpIk.kMKWIk2gNPPo

Other railfanning info sources for Florida include (current as of 31JAN2016):
     http://www.jaxmomsblog.com/in-around-jax/things-on-tracks-trains/ (Don't laugh when you go to the page, it has some good advice and suggestions! :-)
     http://www.trainorders.com/discussion/read.php?2,3450109  Jacksonville info
     http://www.trainorders.com/discussion/read.php?2,2595315  Crawford info
     http://www.trainorders.com/discussion/read.php?2,2583162  Plant City info
     http://www.botecomm.com/bote/rail/railfan_sofla.html  South Florida info
     http://www.railroad.net/forums/viewtopic.php?f=53&t=14799  Jacksonville info

Getting Here

Find your way to I-95, and you have almost made it there.  There are exits which dump you off right at the Station.

For southbounders, take exit 353 (353A maybe?).  It puts you at a light with Church Street.  Go straight thru the intersection, this puts you on Cleveland St, which will then put you on the one-way street, West Forsyth St.  This takes you directly to the comvention center/Station.

For NB I-95, take exit 352B (I think), which, it too, puts you onto Forsyth.

Couldn't be simpler, could it?  :-)




GPS Coordinates: 30.328330, -81.671542


From pictures sent to me by John C. Henderson, we have a glimpse into the past... from approx the mid 50's... gotta love those double-slip switches!




GPS Coordinates:   30.365957, -81.724400

From Wikipedia: The Jacksonville Amtrak station is a passenger train station in Jacksonville.  It is served by Amtrak's Silver Meteor, Silver Star, and Thruway Motorcoach to Lakeland.  The station lies next door to a freight facility with its own platform and is also just east of Norfolk Southern's Simpson Yard.

Amtrak's Clifford Lane facility has been in operation since 1974, when it replaced the downtown Union Terminal.

Two other services once used this station, the Palmetto and Sunset Limited.  In 2004 the Palmetto's route was shortened to end in Savannah GA, and in 2005 the Sunset Limited was shortened to end in New Orleans, LA as a result of Hurricane Katrina.


the CSX Business Train

Thanks to Denver Todd for finding the location of the business train.  It doesn't look like it uses the old Clinchfield F units anymore - I caught the train in Camden station in Baltimore once around the 1990 time frame..... and a few years earlier (~1981), in Erwin TN (home to the Clinchfield), I caught the engines while they still said Clinchfield on the side!

The Google view shows 14 cars, while the Bing view shows 17.



Union Station

Union Station was used by Amtrak until 1974.  After that, it was incorporated into a convention center.

Union Station resides in the LaVilla area of Jacksonville, which at the time of construction, was a suburb of Jacksonville.  For many years, it was an important railroad hub.  The first union station in the area was built by the Savannah, Florida and Western Railway (later part of the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad) in 1883.  The Jacksonville, Tampa and Key West Railway (also later part of the ACL) began to use it in 1884. 

Other terminals served the Florida Central and Peninsular Railroad (later part of the Seaboard Air Line Railway), the Florida East Coast Railway, and the Georgia Southern and Florida Railway.

The company was incorporated in 1894 by Henry Flagler, who owned the Florida East Coast Railway.  Its first Union Depot opened on February 4, 1895, and was completed on January 15, 1897.  It came to be known as the Flagler Depot.

The second Union Station opened in 1919 on the site of the original one, and was last used on January 3, 1974 (Amtrak now stops several miles north).  In 1982, a public-private partnership was started, led by former CSX chairman Prime F. Osborn III.  The new convention center opened on October 17, 1986.

It's not clear in the Wikipedia article, what the original company was, or was for, but they state the original company was owned by five railroads, in the following proportions (This is one of the reasons a lot of people have a problem with Wikipedia):
     -- 25% Atlantic Coast Line Railroad (ACL)
     -- 25% Florida East Coast Railway (FEC)
     -- 25% Seaboard Air Line Railway (SAL)
     -- 12.5% Southern Railway (SR)
     -- 12.5% Georgia Southern and Florida Railway (later merged into the Southern)
The ACL and SAL became the Seaboard Coast Line in 1967, then the Seaboard System in 1983, and then CSX in 1987.
The Southern merged with the Norfolk & Western Rwy in 1990, and became the Norfolk Southern.
The FEC is still independent.

The Future?

The Jacksonville Transportation Authority has plans to convert the convention center back into a railroad terminal with the re-opening of passenger travel down the Florida East Coast Railway and eventually commuter rail.  This plan will rebuild the passenger platforms and restore the convention center back into a rail terminal.  The convention center is to stay at the location, with a convention center and rail terminal complex.

Info came from: here and

Most of the above comes from Wikipedia, so please note my standard Wikipedia disclaimer:  Wikipedia, being what it is, an open and uncontrolled source, may be at times unreliable in their content, reader beware.


This Snag is from the 1917 Jacksonville Quadrangle.  The arrow points to Union Station.
This and most of my historic USGS maps come from the University of Texas website at: http://www.lib.utexas.edu/maps/topo/topo_us.html




I love trains, and I love signals.  I am not an expert.  My webpages reflect what I find on the topic of the page.  This is something I have fun with while trying to help others.  My webpages are an attempt at putting everything I can find of the subject in one convenient place.  There are plenty of other good websites to help me in this effort, and they are listed in the links section on my indexa page, or as needed on individual pages.  Please do not write to me about something that may be incorrect, and then hound the heck out of me if I do not respond to you in the manner you would like.  I operate on the "Golden Rule Principle", and if you are not familiar with it, please acquaint yourself with how to treat people by reading Mathew 7:12 (among others, the principle exists in almost every religion).  If you contact me (like some do, hi Paul) and try to make it a "non-fun" thing and start with the name calling, your name will go into my spambox list! :-)

Please Note:  Since the main focus of my two websites is railroad signals, the railfan guides are oriented towards the signal fan being able to locate them.  For those of you into the modeling aspect of our hobby, my indexa page has a list of almost everything railroad oriented I can think of to provide you with at least a few pictures to help you detail your pike.

If this is a railfan page, every effort has been made to make sure that the information contained on this map and in this railfan guide is correct.  Once in a while, an error may creep in, especially if restaurants or gas stations open, close, or change names.  Most of my maps are a result of personal observation after visiting these locations.  I have always felt that a picture is worth a thousand words", and I feel annotated maps such as the ones I work up do the same justice for the railfan over a simple text description of the area.  Since the main focus of my website is railroad signals, the railfan guides are oriented towards the signal fan being able to locate them.  Since most of us railheads don't have just trains as a hobby, I have also tried to point out where other interesting sites of the area are.... things like fire stations, neat bridges, or other significant historical or geographical feature.  While some may feel they shouldn't be included, these other things tend to make MY trips a lot more interesting.... stuff like where the C&O Canal has a bridge going over a river (the Monocacy Aqueduct) between Point of Rocks and Gaithersburg MD, it's way cool to realize this bridge to support a water "road" over a river was built in the 1830's!!!  

My philosophy: Pictures and maps are worth a thousand words, especially for railfanning.  Text descriptions only get you so far, especially if you get lost or disoriented.  Take along good maps.... a GPS is OK to get somewhere, but maps are still better if you get lost!  I belong to AAA, which allows you to get local maps for free when you visit the local branches.  ADC puts out a nice series of county maps for the Washington DC area, but their state maps do not have the railroads on them.  If you can find em, I like the National Geographic map book of the U.S..... good, clear, and concise graphics, and they do a really good job of showing you where tourist type attractions are, although they too lack the railroads.  Other notes about specific areas will show up on that page if known.

Aerial shots were taken from www.bing.com/maps. The screen captures from Bing are made with Snagit, a Techsmith product... a great tool if you have never used it!

Pictures and additional information is always needed if anyone feels inclined to take 'em, send 'em, and share 'em, or if you have something to add or correct.... credit is always given! Contact info is here

Beware: If used as a source, ANYTHING from Wikipedia must be treated as being possibly being inaccurate, wrong, or not true.


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NEW 12/6/2013
Last Modified 13-Feb-2016