• US Sugar Shortline, Steam Engine 148, and Tourist Line

  • General discussion related to all railroad clubs, museums, tourist and scenic lines. Generally this covers museums with static displays, museums that operate excursions, scenic lines that have museums, and so on. Check out the Tourist Railway Association (TRAIN) for more information.
General discussion related to all railroad clubs, museums, tourist and scenic lines. Generally this covers museums with static displays, museums that operate excursions, scenic lines that have museums, and so on. Check out the Tourist Railway Association (TRAIN) for more information.

Moderators: rob216, Miketherailfan

  by Noel Weaver
Anybody on here with interest in the sugar railroading in and around Clewiston, Florida please be advised that the operation will shut down for the season on or about March 22nd. It will reopen on or around October 1st.
Also please be advised that un-announced visits are most definatly not welcomed. I do not know what your reception will be if you write ahead but I do know that if you show up on private property in that area it will not be pleasant.
I went on an organized tour of the operation yesterday and it was fantastic, if any further opportunities occur down the road I would urge anybody who would like to see first generation locomotives (most have been rebuilt or remanufactured over the years), end cab swiltchers and other interesting stuff to take advantage of any opportunity for a tour of this interesting operation if it is again offered. They have over 130 miles of track, hundreds of thousands of acres of sugar fields and a large fleet of locomotives and cars.
I also got a good look at the South Central Florida Express operation which is a line haul railroad running between Clewiston and Sebring 3 days a week to interchange with CSX and 5 or 6 days a week to Fort Pierce to interchange with the Florida East Coast. Again, unannounced vilsits on private property are most definately not welcomed.
I might have some more to post on this trip later on.
Noel Weaver
i worked down there, for almost a year. i worked mostly the sebring turn, that was a 6 night a week job, running the freight to meet the turn from bradenton, and swapping trains with the csx. (we kept our respective engines) occasionally i'd get the job that ran over to the FEC line, where we swapped a few cars. i enjoyed nights, although the mosquito's could be challenging at times. us sugar is very trespasser unfriendly, and not much of the railroad there is visible from public property. the scfe is easier to find and follow, from public vantage points. from palmdale to sebring, the line follows sr 27, and between clewiston and belle glade, there's plenty of roadside vantage points.
  by Noel Weaver
As some have probably heard, 4-6-2 #148 is back in Florida and is now property of US Sugar and in Clewiston for restoration to operating condition. I would not be surprised if sometime in the not too distant future this fine example of steam will get a chance to stretch out on the "K" Branch over to Fort Pierce from Clewiston. I'll be on that one if I am still able to travel by that time. Good things are happening in Florida. Here is a video.

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Noel Weaver
  by Gilbert B Norman
"Photo Line; Girl" PHOTO LINE1111111111
  by boatsmate
Where did this engine come from? was this the one that was at Edaville and Moved by rail back in the 90's
  by Jeff Smith
From US Sugar's "In the News": USSugar.com
U.S. Sugar Welcomes Home Historic Steam Engine

LEWISTON, Fla. (Dec. 13, 2016) – U.S. Sugar today welcomed home the return of Engine No. 148, a steam locomotive it used in the 1950s to haul sugarcane from the fields to its mill.

U.S. Sugar re-acquired the steam engine from a private owner and plans to spend the next year or more restoring the retired Florida East Coast engine. Eventually, U.S. Sugar hopes to make the engine operational and add vintage passenger cars for offering public train rides.

“This steam locomotive is part of our history, and we wanted to bring it home,’’ said Judy Sanchez, senior director of corporate communications and public affairs for U.S. Sugar, during a welcoming home celebration in Clewiston. “We intend to restore Engine No. 148 to its former glory.’’

The engine was shipped via rail from Colorado to Clewiston, where a team of about two dozen U.S. Sugar mechanics and others will inspect the engine and perform an engineering study. U.S. Sugar plans to return the 97-year-old engine to operating condition after its decades-long retirement.

“These engines helped fuel Florida and its growth. To be able to save such an important piece of our past is an incredible opportunity that will benefit generations to come,’’ said Seth Bramson, company historian for the Florida East Coast Railway, the only rail system along the east coast of Florida, which dates back to Henry M. Flagler. “This is an indication of the caring and interest of this company in honoring its past and the state’s great history.’’

Founded in 1931, U.S. Sugar has long used railroad as an efficient means for transporting goods throughout the region and beyond. It’s the only sugarcane farming company in the continental United States that transports all of its cane to a sugar factory by railroad, which saves on fuel and reduces truck traffic and fossil fuel emissions. Its South Central Florida Express transports sugar, citrus products, fertilizer, farm equipment and other agricultural freight year-round. Its Sugarcane Train hauls sugarcane from the fields to the mills during harvest season. In all, the company operates a dozen locomotives and 800 rail cars over 300 miles of track.

To monitor the progress of Engine No. 148, check out #148Homecoming and #USSugar on social media or visit USSugar.com for updates.

About U.S. Sugar

Founded in 1931 and headquartered in Clewiston, Fla., U.S. Sugar is a recognized leader in the growing and processing of sugarcane, citrus and sweet corn. Its local farmers provide 10 percent of all sugar produced in the United States, up to 90 million gallons of premium Florida orange juice and half of Florida’s sweet corn crop.
  by Jeff Smith
Sugar Express steam locomotive No. 148, a 4-6-2 type steam engine, is our pride and joy. It is a 100-year-old icon of American ingenuity. No. 148 is now again back operating on the U.S. Sugar rail lines, after it has seen multiple owners, and many uses over its hundred year career.

Thanks to the vision of U.S. Sugar CEO Robert H. Buker, Jr., No. 148 was re-acquired by U.S. Sugar for restoration to operation in 2016. A team of outside railroad preservation experts and more than two dozen U.S. Sugar employees completed the project in April 2020.

No. 148 was manufactured in April 1920 by the American Locomotive Company (ALCO) of Richmond, Virginia, for use by the Florida East Coast Railway (FEC). By that time, FEC had taken receipt of dozens of nearly-identical locomotives to haul its many passenger and freight trains. Given the flat topography of their route, these light weight engines were well suited to hauling passenger as well as freight trains.
  by Gilbert B Norman
It's "been a few years", but I've been out to the shore of Lake Okeechobee at Clewiston, likely to be able to say I've seen it from other than an airplane window.

Drive around it on 441? It's completely levied, so no "scenic views" are to be had.

This is "not exactly tourist Florida"; it's about as exciting as visiting California's Central Valley. But it's not to be dismissed, if you like your cakes and pies - or even your coffee sweetened.

It also could be said to be the last stand of "Old Florida" as Central Florida communities like Ocala become more "touristy".

Just some thoughts from one who first visited Florida during March '56.