August 10, 2020
Florida's Celestial Railroad was the nickname for the narrow gauge (3 feet wide) Jupiter and Lake Worth Railway. This section of track connected Jupiter Inlet to Juno on Lake Worth 7.5 miles to the south.
The train began service in 1889 and made stops at two small freight stations along the way, one named Venus and the other Mars.
Now you get it: Jupiter, Venus, Mars and Juno. The Celestial Railroad.
The purpose of the railroad was to link the Plant System steamboat lines that then existed in Jupiter and Lake Worth.
This is not Lake Worth, the modern city, but the large body of water north and south of Palm Beach Inlet and the towns of Palm Beach, West Palm Beach, Riviera Beach and others.
The Indian River Steamboat Company went through Jupiter Inlet and then headed north along the various connected shallow waterways to Titusville.
This was in the days before the Intracoastal Waterway.
There were no turning stations on the route, so the train always pointed south toward Juno and then went back to Jupiter in reverse.
It was expensive to operate this small railroad and their rates were high for the 1890s.
Henry Flagler built a segment of his Florida East Coast Railway just west of the Celestial Railroad in 1894 to avoid the high shipping costs. By 1896 the Celestial Railroad was out of business.
The railroad would have soon been obsolete anyway because it wasn't long before the waterways that they connected would be dredged and become the Intracoastal Waterway.
Venus and Mars are long gone. The old railway right-of-way has all but disappeared, with a small stretch hidden under U.S. Highway 1 and the rest being covered over by modern develpments.
Jupiter and Juno are still alive and well. Learn more about them here.
Great information about this little railroad is at TAPLINES, a website that chronicles short line and industrial railroading in the South.