I live in High Springs, FL. It’s a small town with a population of just over 5000. Even though it’s a pretty small place, it’s a fairly active small town with popular restaurants, a local theater, an operational restored historical movie theater, antique stores, bakeries, and tons of outdoor activities revolving around the local rivers and springs. While many other small, north Florida towns of comparable size are indeed desolate, High Springs, in general, is not. However, the one bit of desolation which High Springs does indeed have is its abandoned railroads.
High Springs was once a fairly active railroad destination, with both a passenger and a freight railway station and a roundhouse, serving lines that ran north to south from Dupont, GA to Alachua, FL and east to west connecting High Springs to Newberry, FL and beyond. The line from Dupont to Alachua has been abandoned for many years, with the exception of a little strip here in High Springs which connected the Lamson and Sessions Prime Conduit plant just south of town along the north-south line to the connection just north of town with the east-west train line. As of 2010, the line was still active, but in desperate need of repair. A cost/benefit analysis was conducted to determine whether the line should be repaired or abandoned, and by the following year the decision to abandon had been made.
When I moved to High Springs in July 2014, the tracks were still present for the Prime Conduit to Newberry stretch of the lines, even though the rail crossings in downtown High Springs had recently been removed and the rails north of the switch had been gone for many years. In January 2015, the process of removing the rails entirely began. As of today, very little of the railroad remains in High Springs, aside from the train station buildings and the now empty railroad beds.
As I have a bit of an obsession with desolation in general and abandoned railroads in particular, I decided to explore as many of the abandoned railway lines in the area as possible. It’s a little ridiculous that two such lines exist within a few minutes’ walk of my house and yet I only just started exploring them last weekend… but what can I say? I’m a busy woman. Last weekend JOM of Gravel Cyclist and I scouted the east-west line from Poe Springs Road to the switch at the connection with the north-south line, and then followed the north-south line north of town to the Santa Fe River:
Just north of the switch, we spotted a tower.