By Todd DeFeo
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The first trains steamed into town prior to the Civil War, as the Florida, Atlantic and Gulf Central Railroad connected Jacksonville and Tallahassee.
Incorporated on Jan. 24, 1851, construction on the railroad began six years later.
In 1879, the Jacksonville, St. Augustine and Halifax River Railway was incorporated, and the line connected Jacksonville with Orlando and Tampa. Within a few years, Henry Flagler purchased the railroad, along with several other lines, and merged them into Florida East Coast Railway.
In 1896, the Jacksonville, St. Augustine and Halifax River Railway reached Miami.
Jacksonville’s Union Station was built in 1919; it replaced an earlier depot. Jacksonville Terminal Co., the company that operated the station and the tracks, was owned by five railroads – Atlantic Coast Line Railroad, Florida East Coast Railway, Seaboard Air Line Railway, Southern Railway and Georgia Southern and Florida Railway.
Today, the station is the Prime F. Osborn III Convention Center.
In 2006, Florida East Coast moved its headquarters from St. Augustine to Jacksonville. The city is also home to CSX’s headquarters. Today, the city is served by Amtrak.