Saturday, January 31, 2009

Tallahassee-St. Marks Historic Railroad Trail - Tallahassee, Florida

This popular "rails to trails" park was once the historic Tallahassee-St. Marks Railroad. The second railroad ever built in Florida, the line connected the state capital of Tallahassee with the port of St. Marks on the Gulf of Mexico.

The railroad covered a distance of just over 20 miles, but was vital to the economic growth of Tallahassee because the city was one of the only territorial or state capitals of its day not located on a navigable waterway. The trains moved passengers and commerce to and from the lower St. Marks River, where small schooners provided connections to other ports on the Gulf Coast and Atlantic seaboard.

When the railroad first began operating, the locomotives had not yet arrived so teams of mules were used to pull the cars. Before long, however, steam-powered locomotives pulled the trains back and forth.

The railroad played a critical role in the Civil War when it was used to move Confederate troops ahead of the Battle of Natural Bridge. It continued to operate until 1983, but is now a state park that features a paved trail connecting Tallahassee and St. Marks.

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