The earliest railroad building in Florida, as in most parts of the United States, was premised upon the idea that the railroads were an adjunct to water transport and that their primary purposes were to connect interior commercial or agricultural centers with seaports or to bridge land barriers between waterways. The notion that railroads alone might connect so as to provide an inland transportation system was not readily grasped by many early businessmen and politicians, most of whose economic horizons were parochially oriented. Indeed, pioneer railroad interests in Florida were so disturbed by the thought that Georgia railroads might drain off north Florida business to Georgia seaports that they urged politicians in the 1850s to prevent any Florida railroad from building close enough to the Georgia border to link up with a Georgia railroad. The Civil War, however, proved the benefit of inter-connected common-gauge railroad systems. In the North, where the railroads were more often connected and were mostly built to 4’ 8 1/2” gauge, the system proved a valuable military resource. In the South, the greater variety of gauges and the more frequent absence of linkages between roads proved to be a grave handicap.
Doherty, Jr., Herbert J.
"Jacksonville as a Nineteenth-Century Railroad Center,"
Florida Historical Quarterly: Vol. 58
, Article 3.
Available at: https://stars.library.ucf.edu/fhq/vol58/iss4/3