Saturday, 31 March 2018

Misplaced Magnificence in Miami? (1)

It was a short-ish article by James Abbott, the editor of Modern Railways, that aroused fbb's public transport curiosity.
It told of a brand new railway in Florida, USA.

Except that it wasn't.

It started with this man

Henry Morrison Flagler (January 2, 1830 to May 20, 1913) was an American industrialist and a founder of Standard Oil, first based in Ohio. He was also a key figure in the development of the Atlantic coast of Florida and founder of what became the Florida East Coast Railway. He is known as the father of St. Augustine, Miami and Palm Beach, Florida.

Standard Oil is, of course, Esso!

Our Henry saw the potential of the Florida Coast as a resort area and began development by building hotels. But what was needed was a means of getting people to the developing areas. So he built a railway all the way along the coast from Jacksonville all the way to Key West.
Key West was actually the largest settlement in the area, with substantial industrial activity on land and sea and a population of 20,000. But the only way to get there was by ship!

Undaunted by the engineering challenge, Flagler extended his line all the way to the end. Although the strip of land looks solid on the map above, "The Keys" were actually a string of Islands separated by large expanses of the blue Florida sea.
Flagler just built bridge after bridge until his line made it to Key West. The first train arrived there in 1912.

Despite the hardships, the final link of the Florida East Coast Railway to Trumbo Point in Key West was completed in 1912. In that year, a proud Henry Flagler rode the first train into Key West aboard his private railcar ...
... marking the completion of the railroad's oversea connection to Key West and the linkage by railway of the entire east coast of Florida. It was widely known as the "Eighth Wonder of the World".

Probably the most famous of the links was the "Seven Mile Bridge" ...
... between Knights Key and Bahai Honda Key.
One of the little Islands was Pigeon Key ...
... which was a good place o get some idea of the size and length of this single track piece of railway engineering.

But this end section of Flagler's so-called "White Elephant" did not carry its impressive railway services for very long. In fact it only lasted 23 years.

In 1935, the Great Labour Day Hurricane cause so much damage hat repair was beyond the resources of the Company.
The damaged infrastructure was handed over to the State authorities who turned it into a road!
But the main part of the Florida East Coast Railway remained and is still in use today as a freight line.

Steam ...
... gave way to Diesel, of course.
Passenger services, which were but a shadow of their former self ...
... finally ended in 1968 by which time Flaglers vision of luxury trains to his holiday resorts ...
... had become a train of one loco and two passenger coaches.

Various plans have been discussed to re-instate a passenger service on Flagler's line but nothing has materialised. Meanwhile, enter Tri-Rail.

Planning for a new commuter rail line began in 1983, and building the organisation began in 1986. The current system was formed by the Florida Department of Transportation and began operation January 9, 1989, to provide temporary commuter rail service while construction crews widened Interstate 95 and the parallel Florida's Turnpike. Tri-Rail was free from opening until May 1, 1990, at which time the fare became $4 round trip.
The line is an all-stops "commuter"-type line ...
... and connects with the Miami Metro system.
Tri-Rail has, over the years, struggled; but now seems to be settled and successful.

It follows a rail route roughly parallel to Fagler's line.
But there is a new kid on the block, and that was the subject of the Modern Railway Article.

 Next Brightrail blog : Sunday 1st April 
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For nigh on 1000 years in what we now call "Old Testament Times" offering a sacrifice was central to the ritual of the Jewish faith. It began with the transportable temple-substitute that travelled with the "Children of Israel" as they escaped from slavery in Egypt and wandered erratically towards their "Promised Land".

The idea was both simple and profound. To pay the price of sin, blood was shed. The penitent worshipper gave something of themselves by offering up an animal (an important and expensive economic resource) on the temple altar; work actually carried out by the priesthood. Blood was shed.

This history led Paul to write, in his letter to the Romans,

For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

But on Holy Saturday (NOT Easter Saturday, that will be April 7th, the Saturday of Easter week!) you would be forgiven for thinking that Jesus was an abject failure. Derided by passers-by, mocked by the authorities, his body carried hurriedly to some else's grave and abandoned by all his followers, the Jesus plan, however spiritually noble it might have been, was looking like one enormous damp squib.
A dead man doesn't offer much hope to the future.

That is certainly what his followers felt; why, even Jesus himself had cried "It is finished" as he hung in agony on the cross.

Of course we all know what changed things.

See from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?

Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.
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