Florida Society of American Foresters

The Luraville Locomotive Historic Landmark

On February 22, 2012, the Florida Division of SESAF, in cooperation with the Florida Department of State’s Division of Historical Resources, and the Florida Forest Service of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services dedicated a historic marker commemorating the role of the Luraville Locomotive in the development of Florida's forest products industry. This marker was the fifth in a continuing series of markers commemorating special places, people, and events in Florida's forest history. (Photos by Shawn Sytsma, Florida Forest Service)

Officials attending the dedication

From left, Florida Forestry Association Executive Director Jeff Doran, Florida Forest Service Director Jim Karels, Former Division of Forestry Director Earl Peterson, Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam, Former Commissioner of Agriculture Doyle Conner, Former Division of Forestry Director Harold Mikell, Former Commissioner of Agriculture Charles Bronson

Speaker Ed Barnard

SAF member Ed Barnard, the coordinator of the effort to establish the historic monument, address those attending the dedication.

Locomotive and logs Locomotive and pavilion
Marker and dignitaries

From left, Charles Bronson, Adam Putnam, Florida Society of
American Foresters Chair Kimberly Bohn, and Jim Karels

Kiosk display

Text of the Marker

It's specific identity lost to time and the Suwannee River, the Luraville Locomotive is one of the nation's oldest "iron horse" steam locomotives. Most likely built between 1850 and 1855, the oft-modified 10-ton wood-burning American 4-0-0 steam locomotive played a role in Florida's early logging history. At one time the engine may have sported a cowcatcher and perhaps was used to pull passenger cars. It became a tram engine c. 1890 and was used to haul logs for the Bache Brothers Lumber Company to its sawmill near Luraville, Suwannee County. The locomotive's working career ended sometime around 1900 when the engine sank to the bottom of the Suwannee River while being loaded onto a barge at or near the Live Oak and Gulf Railroad's Suwannee River terminus at Peck. In 1979, a team headed by Luraville resident James Lancaster hoisted the remains of the locomotive and two sets of iron wheels from the river bottom. The locomotive was subsequently purchased and presented to the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services for safekeeping and preservation. The partially restored engine now rests in front of a load of bald cypress logs, a fitting monument to an important era in Florida's history.

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