Most of the railroad companies that were formed in Florida in the early 1880s never got beyond a plan on paper. A few companies graded some roadbeds, but never laid any track and were soon dissolved. The most promising plan for a railroad to the Indian River was originated in 1881 with the Palatka & Indian River Railroad Company. Road grading began in 1882 and ran southward from Buffalo Bluff along the St. John's River.
This road was purchased by the Jacksonville, Tampa & Key West Railroad Co. While the JTKW railroad continued to be laid on its way to Tampa, plans were in the making for a connecting link between Enterprise, on the north shore of Lake Monroe, and Titusville on the Indian River. In 1883, W.B. Watson, manager of the DeBary Steamship Line, predicted that a railroad by the way of Lake Harney to Titusville would be completed within 18 months. DeBary supported the project and offered to guarantee the first three years interest on bonds issued for this purpose. With this, the Atlantic Coast, St. John's & Indian River Railroad was chartered in 1883. The company announced it would build the railroad and have trains arriving in Titusville by January 1,1886 if the residents would subscribe $30,000 in cash or land.
The expectation of having a railroad from Enterprise to Titusville was exciting, and the residents of the Indian River communities anxiously formed a subscription committee and almost immediately raised pledges for the $30,000 of subscriptions.
Road construction began with 300 workers clearing right-of-ways, grading, building bridges and laying track by early summer. To meet the deadline, more workers were needed and the pay was increased to $1.25 per day. More workers were hired and by late August grading had been completed within four miles of the LaGrange store and track continued to be laid at the rate of a mile per day.
The railroad was completed, and in December 1885 the first locomotive pulled into Titusville at Washington Avenue with whistles blowing, cannons firing and fireworks exploding. Everyone was satisfied, the deadline had been met and the subscribers had to make good on the $30,000 worth of pledges.
In late January 1886, the Jacksonville, Tampa, Key West Railroad Co. leased the newly completed Atlantic Coast, St. John's & Indian River Railroad and operated it as a branch of the JTKW line. The JTKW built a 1500 ft. dock that ran into the Indian River at the end of Broad St. and laid track on it so the trains could connect with the soon to be company operated steamboats that plied up and down the river.
With the completion of the railroad from Jacksonville to Tampa in 1886, and the completion of the connecting railroad from Enterprise to Titusville in 1885, Titusville became the transportation center of the Indian River for the next ten years. It was also the beginning of the golden age of steam boating on the river when the waterborn extension of the JTKW was formed as the Indian River Steamboat Company in 1886.
Sources: Brevard County History, Vols. I & II
Star-Advocate newspaper articles; 1883,1885,1886
Article in the Star Advocate 5-31-1888 reads:
Mr. H.S. Ming who has been conductor on the Indian river division during the past winter season, has been appointed general superintendent of the Jacksonville and Mayport Railway and Navigation Company. Mr. Ming is an old experienced railroad man, having been connected with several of our Florida roads in different capacities and will doubtless give satisfaction in his new position.
Also, another article on the same date states " Mrs. Carlisle, the mother of conductor Carlisle of the Indian River division, has been stopping at the Titus House during the past week.
Article written 3-7-1913:
About eight o'clock on Wednesday morning, as the Titusville Sanford train, with engine NO. 22, was switching cars from the mail line to the side-track, making up the train, another train with engine No. 35, came around the curve in North Titusville and the two locomotives met. the result was the locomotives were very badly damaged, one freight car, full of wood, was smashed up, and another car thrown off the track. Luckily, the damage was not worse. The engineers and firemen jumped as soon as they saw the danger they were in, and were very thankful to have escaped without injury. In a short while everything was cleared off the track, and the north and southbound trains were enabled to resume their journey.
Construction of the Jax, Tampa & Key West Railroad began in 1881 and was bought by the Plant System in 1890. A spur of this line known as the Atlantic Coast, St. John's and Indian River Railroad was opened in 1886 an ran from Titusville to Enterprise, a community located on the north shore of Lake Monroe, near Sanford. The Atlantic Coast, St. John's and Indian Railway was laid on the trackage of the old St. Johns and Indian River Railroad which ran from 1876 from Titusville to Salt Lake and Lake Harney (Pettengill, 1952)