David Levy Yulee was the most enthusiastic of the early railroad promoters in Florida. On January 8, 1853, he incorporated the Florida Railroad to construct a line from the Atlantic Ocean to a point on the Gulf of Mexico south of the mouth of the Suwannee River. The charter was amended by the legislature in 1855, and the company was authorized to build from Amelia Island on the east coast to Tampa Bay on the Gulf of Mexico with a branch line to Cedar Key. In addition the company was authorized to own and operate steam vessels on Florida’s rivers. Yulee’s dream was to construct a railroad across Florida and to establish a steamship line from Cedar Key to other Gulf ports, Central America, and the Caribbean islands. He believed it would be cheaper for the shipper to use ships and the railroad, even if it entailed loading and unloading at each end of the line, than to brave the waters of the Florida Straits. Also Yulee hoped to attract to the state immigrants interested in producing vegetables. Their products could be carried by the railroad to Fernandina where fast steamships would transport them to northern markets.
Johnson, Dudley S.
"The Florida Railroad after the Civil War,"
Florida Historical Quarterly: Vol. 47:
3, Article 6.
Available at: https://stars.library.ucf.edu/fhq/vol47/iss3/6