The first railroad to span the Florida peninsula was completed between Fernandina and Cedar Key in 1861. This line aided the development of the coast south of Cedar Key, although the Civil War disrupted service for a time. Coastal vessels called at the small villages and carried products to the railroad terminus where they were transported to the North and/or the Gulf coast. Inhabitants in southwest Florida began agitating for a line down the peninsula after the Civil War, and various settlements in the area competed to become the terminus for such an operation. As early as 1866, Tampa was being warned that interests were at work promoting Charlotte Harbor and that certain persons “had employed a high priced lawyer to work on getting a railroad there.“
Peeples, Vernon E.
"Charlotte Harbor Division of the Florida Southern Railroad,"
Florida Historical Quarterly: Vol. 58:
3, Article 5.
Available at: https://stars.library.ucf.edu/fhq/vol58/iss3/5