The Overseas Extension Connects Miami to Key West

Henry Flagler began the Overseas Extension in 1906 to connect Miami to Key West. This ambitious and innovative project required money, earth-moving, man-hours, and miles of bridges.

Florida East Coast Railway train traveling along Overseas Extension bridge (19--)

Florida East Coast Railway train traveling along Overseas Extension bridge (19--)

Image number: RC03742

Henry Flagler's arrival with first train to enter Key West, Florida (1912)

Henry Flagler's arrival with first train to enter Key West, Florida (1912)

Image number: PC1732

Henry Flagler disembarking train at Key West (1912)

Henry Flagler disembarking train at Key West (1912)

Image number: PR09281

Flagler getting off the train at Key West for the official opening of the extension to Key West.

Short Rails

In addition to the large railroad systems, many short rails and specialized systems operated in Florida. They reached rural communities and provided necessary rail transportation for industries such as timber and phosphate mining. In many locations, however, once the resources were gone, the trains soon disappeared.

Small open motor train: Melbourne Beach, Florida (19--)

Small open motor train: Melbourne Beach, Florida (19--)

Image number: PR09323

Bird's eye view showing phosphate being shipped, by ACL railroad, to IMC factory for processing: Mulberry, Florida (1947)

Bird's-eye view showing phosphate being shipped by the Atlantic Coast Line railroad to the International Minerals Corporation factory for processing: Mulberry, Florida (1947)

Image number: C005919

Accompanying note: "From field plant to factory for drying and final processing—here phosphate is 14% moisture content, following process—less than 2%."

A. Philip Randolph, First President of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters

A. Philip Randolph, the first president of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, was born in Crescent City, Florida, and grew up in Jacksonville. The son of a Methodist minister, he attended the City College of New York, and later published The Messenger, a radical black magazine. The 1937 contract between the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters and the Pullman Company cut working hours, increased pay, and improved working conditions.

Randolph was also a major influence in ending discrimination in defense plants and segregation of the U.S. military. He was director of the August 28, 1963, March on Washington, D.C. — the largest civil rights demonstration in American history.

Portrait of A. Philip Randolph (19--)

Portrait of A. Philip Randolph (19--)

Image number: RC10874

Group portrait of members attending the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters convention in Washington, D.C. (195-)

Group portrait of members attending the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters convention in Washington, D.C. (195-)

Image number: PR76767

The membership of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters included the African American porters and maids who worked on the railway trains.

The Golden Age of Florida Train Travel

In the early decades of the 20th century, trains such as the Florida Special and the Orange Blossom Special brought tourists all the way to Miami and beyond. Commercial lines transported Florida's produce and other products to northern markets.

Latin band greeting visitor: Miami, Florida (1936)

Latin band greeting visitor: Miami, Florida (1936)

Image number: N038732

Orange Blossom Special (postmarked 1948)

Orange Blossom Special (postmarked 1948)

Image number: PC2948

Unidentified woman boarding the "Orange Blossom Special" train: Sebring, Florida (ca. 1930)

Unidentified woman boarding the Orange Blossom Special train: Sebring, Florida (ca. 1930)

Image number: PHA165

President Franklin D. Roosevelt aboard train: Jacksonville, Florida (ca. 1943)

President Franklin D. Roosevelt aboard train: Jacksonville, Florida (ca. 1943)

Image number: RC09089

Mr. and Mrs. W.S. Marshall arrive for the conference: Palm Beach, Florida (1948)

Mr. and Mrs. W.S. Marshall arrive for the conference: Palm Beach, Florida (1948)

Image number: C008916

Accompanying note: "Mr. & Mrs. W.S. Marshall of Cleveland, Ohio, getting off the train at F.E.C. station. "NACDS" SPECIAL- representing Cunningham Drug Co. of Detroit."

Florida East Coast Railway steam engine #153: Miami, Florida (19--)

Florida East Coast Railway steam engine #153: Miami, Florida (19--)

Image number: RC07782