Digital exhibit created by Dr. Connie L. Lester’s American Economic History class during the Spring Semester of 2014 at the University of Central Florida. The class project entailed a digital exhibit demonstrating the role of railroads, and specifically railroad depots, in the economic life of Central Florida communities. Each student was responsible for one railroad depot, documenting the historic and current economic impact of the depot to the surrounding community. Documentation included historic and current images, economic development statistics, and historic analysis.

Long and arduous journeys by watercraft or stagecoach were the only methods of travel and transportation of goods in Central Florida before the advent of railroads in the 1830s. Following the American Civil War, railroads expanded further across the peninsula, eventually becoming a fully established system by the 1880s. The efforts of Henry Flagler (1830-1913) in the eastern coast and Henry B. Plant (1819-1899) in the central and western portions of the state were largely responsible for the rapid development of the railroad, which connected virtually every major city and town by the 1890s. Although the railroad network peaked in the 1920s, with a number of cities being serviced by multiple lines, the rise of the automobile, air travel and the Great Depression contributed to its decline during the 1930s and 1940s.

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