The Jacksonville, Tampa & Key West Railroad

Car Shops, 1886.

The following article appeared in the September 23, 1886, issue of the Palatka weekly newspaper The Southern Sun. Double brackets are used [ ] to denote areas of text where the paper has been torn. Images and comments found between the horizontal lines are not part of the original article.

The New Car Shops of the J., T. and K. W. Railway

The work of construction which has, for some months past, been in progress at the new car shops of the Jacksonville, Tampa & Key West Railroad in this city having reached a stage approximating completion, and, also, at a period when there will be a temporary suspension of building operations, it seems to afford a fair opportunity, while at the same time, it is thereby rendered fully appropriate, to give a comprehensive outline, garnished with sundry details, of this important enterprise from its inception to the present time, and of which piecemeal statements have, at frequent intervals, been given in these columns. Now, it is proposed to view what has been accomplished as an entirety.

The Jacksonville, Tampa and Key West Railroad car shops as seen in the Sanborn Fire Insurance map of February, 1892. Click image to open in new page.

The rapidly


of the Jacksonville, Tampa & Kew West Railroad since its extension south of Palatka, 125 miles thence to Titusville, made it expedient that this company should have some reasonably central location for its car shops, affording necessary supplies for same and for the employees, and as nearly equi-distant as possible from the termini of the road.

After careful deliberation as to the advantages offered by each place contesting for the prize, it was decided in January of the present year that Palatka offered those that were most available, and a tract of ground some five or six acres in extent, mainly to the south of the main line where it is intersected by Lemon street, midway of the Heights and river. Thus, out of much indefinite rumor and many positive assertions to the contrary, was evolved the unmistakable fact that they were to be located in the "Gem City,"

On March 16th, 1886, a little over six months ago


for the main structure, consisting of machine shop, blacksmith shop and car shop, all in consecutive order, commencing at the southern end, contiguous with each other, with a continuous, unbroken outline on both sides, from end to end, and all under one roof, making in fact but one building, with three separate departments, clearly visible only in the interior, but not as a whole, as viewed from the exterior.

The structure is 298 feet long by 60 feet wide, and 22 feet high, with a rise of seven feet above, exclusive of a ventilator five feet high extending from end to end, with a cupola and flag-staff arising from the center. The roofing is of iron.

The structure, in its separate divisions in the interior, consists first, as above stated, of a


120 feet long by 60 feet wide, built of wood; next a blacksmith shop 58 feet long, built of brick, with walls sixteen inches thick, requiring 116,000 bricks, and finally, a car shop of 120 feet in length, and, of course, of the same width as the other two departments. The siding on these, excepting the blacksmith shop, is of corrugated iron. The foundations for them all were laid on six-foot timbers, four feet below the surface of the ground, making a solid basis of support for the superstructure.

It was completed by the middle of August, is well lighted and ventilated, with all the modern appliances appropriate to such industrial establishments for the comfort of the workmen, and for the best utilization of their time and labor.

A sixty foot street, necessarily left vacant, is immediately southward of the main structure just described then, on an extension of its eastern line, or very nearly so is


in charge of Mr. Geo. Lingo, as superintendent, 130 feet long by 42 feet wide, with a roof similar to the car shop, but with a handsomely lighted ventilator along the entire length, displaying thirty-two transom windows; the building being otherwise admirably lighted. It contains two car tracks, side by side, on which four large passenger coaches can be painted at once. The total length of this straight, uniform line of buildings, including the vacuum of sixty feet for the street, is 488 feet, with room at the end for one of equal proportions.


and offices of the Company, all in one building, is 82 x 36 feet -- a portion one, and the other part two stories high. This may be said to be a "side issue," as it is eastward of, and not parallel of those above enumerated. It has been finished in a first-class manner, with tin roof and "Novelty" siding. As this is the quarter for officers, it is occupied by Master Mechanic T. T. Wetmore, and Road Master D. McCarthy. Here they wield the scepter of authority.

About half-way between this and the car shops proper is the huge


somewhat fully described heretofore.

It will hold nearly 20,000 gallons of water and consists, first of all, of a well sunk in the ground, nineteen feet in diameter and fifteen feet deep, and will hold 30,000 gallons of water. This is to serve as a reservoir for the storage of water to be used on occasion of extra demand in supplying the tank above, with stands on a strong framework of timbers thirty feet above the well, with its bottom on a level with the top of the car shops, and consequently, able to throw water all over them. The dimensions of the latter tank are fifteen and a half feet width and fourteen feet height of staves. The total height from the ground to the top of the tank is forty-four feet. The lower well receives its supplies from an artesian well 400 feet deep.

The stout, supporting framework of the tank is housed in by a two-story building, partly of one, and partly of two stories, the first 24 x 42 feet, the second 22 x 22 feet. It is known as the


is splendidly lighted, and will be occupied by Bridge Superintendent Wetmore.

The turn-table, directly east of the machine shop, and connected with it by a railroad track, is sixty feet long, lined with a brick wall. The entire grounds around about are to be filled up and put in complete order; no less than 600 feet of covered plank sewerage, having been laid before work was commenced on the buildings, transforming a bog into permanently solid dry land. The entire work has been done in a very scientific manner and shows what intelligent supervision will accomplish. But the


at the intersection of Lemon street and the railroad, must not be forgotten. It is 42 x 24 feet and two-stories high, exclusive of attic. The style may be termed Swiss cottage. On the first or ground floor is a fine waiting-room and ticket-office. The second, consisting of four well ventilated, comfortable rooms, which, has been occupied temporarily by the family of T. T. Wetmore. Here opens out, on opposite sides, the whole length of the depot, a wide veranda, making a summer residence there very pleasant. The structure is finished in selected yellow pine, and is not only of ornamental exterior, but is complete in all its interior appointments.

The surroundings of the depot, on two sides, consist of an immense platform, containing 20,000 feet of three inch planking, giving a length, along the railroad from Lemon street, of 200 feet.

All these improvements have been made under the direct personal supervision of General Superintendent Wetmore, with Mr. T. H. Bullington as foreman, and testify to the unquestioned skill and capacity of both, backed by untiring industry and vigilance in the performance of their task -- "By their works ye shall know them."

On today's map the depot would have been located at the southeast corner of the intersection of St. Johns Avenue and the CSX railroad line.  This would be the northwest corner of the property occupied by the United States Post Office. Passenger Depot of the Jacksonville, Tampa and Key West Railway in 1887.  

In this connection it is desirable to say a word or two in reference to


of the Company.

Gen. Geo. W. Bentley, the "head and front" of the concern, is one of the most shrewd and discerning men who ever held the reins of government in a railway office. It is due to his good judgment and keen perception of the needs of the public, that the road is so rapidly extending its usefulness. In this important work he finds an able coadjutor in M. R. Moran, whose spirit of enterprise is wisely tempered with the prudence that avoids disaster, yet is sufficiently bold and aggressive to seize a business advantage wherever it may be found and justly claimed.

No less indispensable are the services of L. C. Deming, the popular young Assistant General Passenger Agent, who is as notable for his efficiency in the management of his duties as for the urbanity of his deportment toward all with whom he has any dealings, whether in official capacity or in private life, and this is saying much, for there is no other position in which business men can be placed where they are more pestered with importunities than in the direction of railway interests.

Let us return for a moment to the car shops. There is yet to be constructed, in the near future,


as well as a number of minor structures, the character and dimension of which are not now clearly determined; but their construction will be delayed for a brief period, as well as that of the others that yet remain to be built. This sketch would be radically incomplete without some reference to the large amount of


that has been received and placed in the different departments of the car shops.

In the machine shops, under [ ] special and direct supervision [ ] A. Hendree, is now to be [ ] six-foot driving-wheel lathe, [ ] proximate cost of which was [ ] -- a complicated and power [ ] machine; 42, 26, 18, 16 and [ ] lathe machines -- the last nam [ ] ing a turret lathe for brass w [ ] the other for iron; a 13-inch [ ] ting machine; three drill presses and a bolt cutting machine. Five of the foregoing are in operation, the remainder, though in their respective positions, are not set up -- and, consequently, not in use.

The standard locomotive, 16 x 24 inch, and a five and a half foot driving-wheel, that was on exhibition at the New Orleans World's Fair, is undergoing repairs. In addition to the above machinery, in this department, it may be added that there is also a wheel press of 42-inch capacity, for pressing car wheels [ ] axles, a wheel-boring machine for boring out wheels, and an axle lathe for turning axles.

In the blacksmith shop is a No. 5 Sturdevant blower, for blowing forges, and a Dement steam hammer giving a blow from 2,500 to 3,000 pounds. Here is also the thirty-horse power horizontal engine, and by the side of it a 7-inch cylinder Worthington steam pump, for supplying the tank with water, washing out the boilers and for sanitary purposes. It will fill the lower tank of 30,000 gallons in five hours, or 6,000 gallons per hour, and through a 2-inch delivery pipe flood the buildings, in case of fire, from end to end, in a very few minutes. The blacksmith shop, now running two fires, is in charge of A. Savage, who, although a large man, is civilized. He is a hard worker, and thoroughly understands his business.

In the car shop are a power morticer and blower, a circular rip and wood-turning lathe, as well as others of less note. The M. C. B., or master car-builder of the department is Mr. F. B. Hurlbutt, but only a small portion of the machinery intended is yet in position in this end of the structure. Scarcely half the force is at work that will be needed when the shops are in full operation. Such, account of these works from their beginning to the present time, and with perhaps a slight inaccuracy here and there, may be deemed reliable as the facts come from official sources.