- Special Sections
- Public Notices
By TONI COLLINS
In 1914, the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad Company completed the Perry Cut-off, also known as the West Coast Short Passenger Route, between Perry and Dunnellon. The 108-mile segment of rail line provided rail service to the Levy County Communities of Chiefland, Usher, Otter Creek, Gulf Hammock, Lebanon Station, Tidewater and Steen. The rail line opened southern Levy County to unobstructed lumbering activity.
During the 1890s, the Florida Syndicate, a British-owned company, held upwards of 60,000 acres of wild land in Levy County intending to remove the timber before reselling the property. A number of local timber companies leased lands from the Syndicate and cut the timber. However, before the rail line was completed, bringing the lumber out of the woods was tedious.
Upon completion of the rail line, the lumber companies constructed narrow-guage tram lines through the woods that connected with the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad, also a narrow-gauge line. This made rail junctions between the main and tram lines possible when needed and expedited the movement of the cut lumber to the mills.
In December of 1928, a 36-mile gap in the rail line between Minticello and Perry was completed, which established a new passenger route from Chicago via Albany and Thomasville, Georgia, to Tampa, St. Petersburg and Sarasota, on Florida's west coast.
Two trains that formerly operated out of Jacksonville were transferred to the line, "the Southland" trains Nos. 32 and 33.