The only structure in the Village to come from outside of the County, it was originally located in Sulphur Springs, a small community on the north side of Tampa, but it is typical of the kind of early railroad depots that once dotted our area.
Before railroads came to Pinellas, settlers traveled by foot, buggy, on horseback or by boat. The state’s first railroad ended at Cedar Key, nearly 100 miles north of the Pinellas Peninsula. In the 1880’s, Russian immigrant Peter Demens launched his Orange Belt Railway in Pinellas and Henry Plant brought his railroad to Tampa. Business ventures and tourism flourished after regular railroad service came to Pinellas. It improved efficiency in transporting crops and other goods to distant markets and bringing people here to enjoy the climate.
A Crew’s Quarters
In the 1940s staff at the Auburn & Syracuse Line Railroad in New York came up with the idea for a caboose. The last car of a freight train, the caboose housed the crew and the conductor’s office. The 5-member crew included an engineer, fireman, conductor and 2 brakemen. The conductor, who rode in the caboose with the brakemen, was the boss on the train. Riding up front, the engineer drove the train and the fireman kept it fueled.
During the early years of steam power, brakemen manually stopped each car as the train slowed to a stop. By the 1870s, with the invention of automatic air brakes, their duties shifted to include flagging signals to the engineer. With advancements in technology, including computers and radios, today’s freight train crew only requires a conductor and engineer. The caboose, once a proud symbol of our national railroad system, is becoming extinct.