Rail transportation has always had risks, both in terms of investment and safety. Florida railways have witnessed numerous train wrecks and other disasters, sometimes with tragic loss of life.
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The wreck occurred at McDonald, north of Plymouth in Orange County, Florida.
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Built in 1894 by Baldwin Locomotive Works, it was scrapped on May 1, 1934.
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The hurricane washed this eleven car special train off the track soon after reaching the stricken area. The train was trying to rescue 683 World War I veterans in a rehabilitation camp. More than 200 veterans died as a result of the hurricane.
The veterans, a remnant of the Bonus Army that marched on Washington, were employed for highway construction in the federal work relief project.
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The railroad was part of the Florida East Coast Railway line.
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Trains helped to establish new towns and cities in Florida. Trains connected distant areas of the state and were integral parts of Florida’s expanding industries such as lumber, phosphate, tourist, manufacturing and agriculture.
The diesel-electric locomotive had almost replaced steam engines entirely by the 1940s. Other forms of transportation—first automobiles, then aircraft—became popular alternatives to train travel. By the 1960s, Florida’s railroads were almost exclusively used for freight and industrial shipments.
Beginning in the 1980s, Florida citizens, politicians, and business communities debated the development of high-speed railways to make travel between Florida's major cities easier and less expensive. Meanwhile, some Florida cities began planning light rail systems to combat traffic congestion in downtown areas.
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