Friday, August 8, 2014

Plant City, Florida

I've decided that the Towns part of this blog is a travelog rather than history because researching industrial history is taking a lot of time. But there are pictures I want to get posted like railroad depots, courthouses, etc. And another reason for switching to a travelog is that the last picture does not belong in a history, but it is ideal for a travelog.

I had learned that both the Atlantic Coast Line and the Seaboard Air Line ran through Plant City on their way to Tampa Bay. So when I wanted to go check out a Massey Ferguson tractor dealer, I was glad to see that the closest listed dealer was in Plant City. And when I found that John Deere's closest dealer was also in Plant City, it was trip time. After I checked out the dealers, I went to the old depot which is now a museum.

20140806 0312
From the crossing next to the parking lot looking East along the Atlantic Coast Line tracks, which was the first railroad through town as part of the railroad built by Henry B. Plant, the namesake of the town. 

I found a photo that indicates the platform used to be between the building and the street where the two fence rows now exist.
The reason I used a large image of the eastward view along the former ACL tracks is to highlight the right-of-way signs. The yellow stick is for a pipeline. The stick on the ground with the orange tip was for a fiber optic cable. The concrete post was marked "cable". It was probably for a coaxial cable that was the primary technology for long distance phone calls before microwaves were invented. I'm sure the cable is no longer used, but the concrete poles are built too well to justify the labor that would be needed to remove them. So the cable pole has been there for several decades, but the fiber-optic pole did not last a few years.

In the view west of the crossing, you can see that the cable and pipeline run along the south side of the tracks whereas the fiber optic cable uses the north side.

I walked south of the crossing...

... to take an overview of the depot and railfan tower. Note above the beige building on the corner of the street in the background of the crossing gates, it will become significant later.

The lone van is mine, and it is parked in a lot that is reserved for the railfan tower. The tower is the tower and awnings under the tree on the right. Here is a view from the crossing.

A reason why my van was the only vehicle in the parking lot is that the museum and Plant City welcome center closed at 4:00pm, and I arrived at 4:30pm. I had considered the dealer visits to be higher priority then yet another collection of railroad stuff. And looking through the windows, I didn't miss much.

An overview shot from north of the ACL tracks.

The inside of the Seaboard caboose looked like others except at each end there were seats that looked out windows in the end walls. If you are looking forward, you are just seeing the back of the car ahead of you. If you are looking backwards, you are inspecting track that you have just gone over. So I couldn't figure out the purpose of those seats. I got a close up of a truck because I was trying to figure out if it had friction or roller bearings. And then I noticed the wheel driven generator.

A closeup of another truck indicates it was built, I assume, in Feb. 1963.

Futher north of the tracks along the sidewalk were a couple of benches that were worth taking pictures of.

I learned later that I can't make copies of the ACL and SAL logos without getting permission from CSX Transportation. I assume that the museum got permission to make copies, and I'm just taking pictures of a bench.

Now for some pictures from the railfan tower that opened in 2014. It was built in the style of the old interlocking tower that controlled the track crossing signals. According to a plaque listing the major contributors, well over $100,000 was spent to build this facility. And the view of the ACL is OK, but not significantly better than what you can get from the crossing. The westward view shows the road crossing. The eastward view shows the ACL track crossing with the SAL tracks.  Note the skinny park next to the tracks in the block beyond the station. At the time, I could not figure out its original use.  I now think it was for team tracks.

But the views of the SAL tracks are a bad joke. The northward view is the depot and the southward view is some trees and a substation. The real tower must have been built on the east side of the SAL tracks. In the southward view, the track curving off to the West is the mainline to Tampa Bay.

In the westward view above, which I zoomed in below, you can see one of the benches that I included earlier. You can also see a little of the beige building across the street corner through the trees.

I spent quite a bit of time on that sidewalk trying to figure out how to get a picture of the little strip of land across the street that is now a park. I assume it used to be part of the railroad facility many years ago. But it was too small for a yard. I now think it used to be where the coal tower, water tower, etc. that would be needed by steam locomotives were located. I searched through all of the downtown photos in the Plant City Photo Archives, but I did not find a view of this strip of land.

During my visit, I did not see a single train. And now that I'm thinking about it, I did not see a lot of cars go by! And I was there during the evening rush hour.

While I was looking for a "mystery land usage" picture of what is now a park, someone came out of the beige building I have mentioned and approached me. It turns out the building is a bar. Obviously, he and his buddies had noticed that I was spending quite a bit of time in the area taking quite a few pictures. He explained that he was playing truth or dare game with his buddies and that he was dared to have his picture taken by me. If I was wasting film, I don't know what I would have done. But since I was wasting just electrons, I agreed. He wanted a "funny pose", so we have:

A video of a southbound freight that goes into emergency. A lot of automobiles got damaged. I already referenced a video of CSX damaging a lot of cars because of an emergency train stop in my posting about CSX 2-mile long trians.

No comments:

Post a Comment