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Eastern Railroad Discussion > Florida’s East Coast


Date: 01/13/20 06:11
Florida’s East Coast
Author: howeld

My wife and I have booked travel to Orlando for the end of Feb to get out of the cold for a bit.
I could use some suggestions for the FEC and the East Coast. We have three days free and the boss has agreed we can drive down to West Palm from Orlando to ride Brightline. I would like see how much progress Brightline has completed so I plan to drive along FL-528 to Cocoa and then head south. Had a few questions about the area.
1. How chase-able is the FEC along US1 or I-95? Too many stoplights to keep up if I see a train or too far from I-95 to jump ahead.
2. Is US1 it worth the drive for scenic highlights or just suburbia? Reasonable travel time or should I avoid?
3. Any Railroad locations not to miss and best times to be there?
4. Food suggestions? Doesn’t have to be trackside. I’ve read about the cafe at Stuart that has view of the drawbridge.

5. Things to do at Fort Lauderdale and Miami? I was thinking about getting off at the Fort for awhile then continuing down to Miami or vis-versa. Blocking out the whole day for this.

Thanks in advance for any suggestions.

Derek



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/13/20 06:12 by howeld.



Date: 01/13/20 06:35
Re: Florida’s East Coast
Author: Lackawanna484

If you are into 1930s and 1940s architecture, Miami Beach has a wealth of this.  And, several companies which offer guided walking tours of same.  And tours of Little Havana, where generations of Cuban - American immigrants have revitalized an aging neighborhood.

On the south end, Florida East Coast is largely an early morning and late afternoon activity.  Northbound 202 usually hits Stuart around 4 - 5 pm, southbound 101 hits Fort Pierce 5 - 6 pm.  Both usually have LNG sets.



Date: 01/13/20 09:02
Re: Florida’s East Coast
Author: DJ-12

howeld Wrote:

> 1. How chase-able is the FEC along US1 or I-95?
> Too many stoplights to keep up if I see a train or
> too far from I-95 to jump ahead.

It can be done in some stretches, but its not much fun. You can do it on US one in some less populated stretches (south of Melbourne to around Vero Beach for example) but its really tough as the trains move really fast and you have red lights, traffic, etc. Your best bet is to use I-95 to jump ahead and give yourself long spacing head of the train because cutting back and forth to the railroad takes time. For example, if you shoot a southbound like 101 at Cocoa, I'd jump all the way ahead on I-95 to Roseland, especially if you've never done this and need time to scout the shots. I'd forget about any chasing from West Palm south.

> 2. Is US1 it worth the drive for scenic highlights
> or just suburbia? Reasonable travel time or should
> I avoid?

US 1 is a lot of lights and suburbia in most places. Rule of thumb is I-95 is fastest but is furthest from the railroad (execpt for when there is an accident, and traffic from West Palm south can be hellacious), US 1 is closest to the railroad but slow, A1A is out on the barrier islands and offers access to the beaches but is REALLY SLOW. You might want to drive at least a chunk of the A1A with a stop at a beach and have a nice lunch. I personally like the stretch between Ft Pierce and Stuart as it is the least grown up.

> 3. Any Railroad locations not to miss and best
> times to be there?

Pretty much the only scenic spots are where the FEC crosses the rivers. There are 3 bridges in a 10 mile or so stretch (Eau Gallie, Melbourne, and Palm Bay), the huge bridge at Roseland, and the famous drawbrdge at Stuart. There is a drawbridge over a small river in down Ft Lauderdale. There are small yards at City Point northof Cocoa, and Ft Pierce that are somewhat viewable from public roads.

My experience has been a General rule of thumb is you (unless something has changed recently) will see a 336 northbound rock train that goes to the yard on the north side of Cocoa hit Mebourne around sunrise. He ususally meets southbound 109 in that vicinity. 336 often gets also gets held at Pineda for northbound 210. Once those 3 trains run, the various daylight locals run from their respective yards. For your purposes there is a 3 day per week turn from Ft Pierce to Pineda and back that usually rates a single GP but if often long with rock hoppers. He follows 210 out of Ft Pierce and spends all morning working the redi mix plants between there and Pineda. He usually heads south around lunch. I THINK he runs M-W-F and runs south TU-TH to the Stuart area. Next trains will then be 101 in the late afternoon around Melbourne and 202 leaving Miami in the afternoon northbound. Obviously on the south ends the Brightlines keep things hopping between freights. If you are a night owl, there is a pretty constant procession of trains after dark in both directions.


> 4. Food suggestions? Doesn’t have to be
> trackside. I’ve read about the cafe at Stuart
> that has view of the drawbridge.

The Pelican Cafe at Stuart is a great spot. There is a Cuban place I like next to the bridge at Melbourne on the north side of the river.

> 5. Things to do at Fort Lauderdale and Miami? I
> was thinking about getting off at the Fort for
> awhile then continuing down to Miami or vis-versa.
> Blocking out the whole day for this.

There is a bar (Pirate something) in Ft Lauderdale with overpriced drinks in the southwest quadrant of the river whose primary attraction is a decent afternoon view of FEC trains crossing the river and the giant yachts of the 1% crowd between trains. It's a hoot, and I'm sure even more so with Brightline.

> Thanks in advance for any suggestions.

Honestly, you really need at least 2 days to do this whole stretch. It's 200 miles from Coco to Miami and if you want to see all this stuff AND ride brightline, you can't do it in a day.

I'd consider breaking it into 2 sections. Do Cocoa to Stuart on day 1, grab the early AM trains between Cocoa and Melbourne, then meander down the A1A and make sure to include some beach time in the afternoon ahead of 101. End your day at Staurt with 202 and have dinner at the Pelican Cafe. Then drive down from there after rush hour and stay in Ft Lauderdale. Spend day 2 riding the brightline and seeing the sights down there.

No need to rush, you are on vacation.


Myself and others have posted plenty of FEC stuff over the years that should be searchable to give you a feel for these locations. My 3 personal favorites on that end of the railroad are the bridges at Stuart, Roseland, and Melbourne in that order.

(Please anyone that is more local feel free to correct any of this, especially operating patterns. I've made numerous visits, but these are sporadic at best, and my info is rarely 100% up to date)




Edited 5 time(s). Last edit at 01/13/20 10:31 by DJ-12.



Date: 01/13/20 09:10
Re: Florida’s East Coast
Author: Passfanatic

Once Brightline is extended from WPB, don’t even bother trying to chase those. Pick your spot, photograph the train, and move on.

Posted from iPhone



Date: 01/13/20 10:10
Re: Florida’s East Coast
Author: Lackawanna484

Rail traffic on the weekends may change, highway traffic definitely increases.

The area around Fort Lauderdale can produce good results. There are usually switch jobs working the yard on the east side of the airport, and out to Port Everglades. And a local up to West Palm Beach. Fort Pierce usually originates a local to Vero Beach and Gifford on M-W-F, and south to Stuart on Tu-Th.  The South Central Florida / US Sugar usually sends a local to Fort Pierce twice weekly, that returns the following day.  It has been M and W to Fort Pierce, returning on Tu and Th.  Don't know if that's still the case.

Not that you need to add more to your plate, but the sugar harvest often sees activity in February and March. Lots of fire, billowing smoke, trains out around Moore Haven and Clewiston.



Date: 01/13/20 11:07
Re: Florida’s East Coast
Author: howeld

Thank you for the replies. Good information. Auto traffic on US-1 is about what I expected. Hadn’t thought about the Sugar lines. I will keep that in mind.

Posted from iPhone



Date: 01/13/20 12:40
Re: Florida’s East Coast
Author: BobE

One thing to keep in mind about US 1. You want to chase a train, that means going fast. The average resident of Florida is a retiree who drives really slow. Add that to the stop light problem in very few things are chaseable.

BobE

Posted from iPhone



Date: 01/14/20 10:11
Re: Florida’s East Coast
Author: DFWJIM

Its called the Pirate Republic in Fort Lauderdale and the restaurant is located just west of the FEC drawbridge. Great place to have a drink and meal and to watch the trains and boats go by. Try to go on a Saturday and Sunday when there are plenty of boats passing by.



Date: 01/14/20 11:39
Re: Florida’s East Coast
Author: retcsxcfm

I don't know about train times.But to me (if a train comes
it has to be southbound this time of year) Sturat is the
best place.You will get warnings when a train is near.
The draw bridge is open to water traffic and a horn goes off
before a train to warn boaters.There is a northbound
siginal before the bridge also.

US 1 crosses on a high bridge over the railroad and A1A.
You can park on the street under the bridge.There is
a board walk from the street that goes under the railroad
and the US1 bridge and you can walk out on it near the
channel.Great place,if a train comes.

Uncle Joe
Seffner,Fl.
Who has not fanned the FEC in ten years.
 



Date: 01/14/20 12:41
Re: Florida’s East Coast
Author: Lackawanna484

In recent months, Stuart will see the southbound 109 before 9 am. Followed by the local on Th and Tu late morning. Southbound 101 usually arrives after dark.

The northbound 202 is a good bet between 4 and 5 pm.

There's been track work in the area, so you will hear the detailed return of track on the radio.

Posted from Android



Date: 01/14/20 13:24
Re: Florida’s East Coast
Author: ShortlinesUSA

Really good info, DJ-12.  Thanks for taking the time to type up that response!

A view of what you can do in Ft. Lauderdale if you want to "hike up" a few levels of a parking garage.  This is FEC train 123.  Does that still even run?

https://www.railpictures.net/photo/236084/



Date: 01/14/20 14:56
Re: Florida’s East Coast
Author: toledopatch

ShortlinesUSA Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Really good info, DJ-12.  Thanks for taking the
> time to type up that response!
>
> A view of what you can do in Ft. Lauderdale if you
> want to "hike up" a few levels of a parking
> garage.  This is FEC train 123.  Does that still
> even run?
>
> https://www.railpictures.net/photo/236084/

FEC #123 was discontinued a while back. Its traffic is now handled by #117 which runs earlier.

The only reliable southbound road freight between Fort Pierce and the north side of Fort Lauderdale is #109. #121 usually hits daylight around Fort Lauderdale. Anything else is luck.
 



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