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U.S. Sugar Clewiston to Fort Pierce Route 1/22/2023

by Chris Guenzler

Elizabeth and I had breakfast before briefly checking the Internet then drove over to America's Best Value Inn to pick up Doug Scott and the three of us drove to the train boarding location. This morning Bart let us on the train but told everyone to remain on the train. We took seats in the "Fort Oglethorpe" and I started working on the first steam story while we waited for our 8:00 AM departure time. We left Clewiston by moving forward then reversing to reach the mainline before heading east toward Fort Pierce. Once we reached the junction at Keela and took the switch, I and the majority of the other riders, were on new rail mileage and would remain on that until we reached the property line in Fort Pierce.

The train ran by many sugar cane fields on this morning.

The first view of the St. Lucie Canal bridge.

Making our way to the bridge.

Another sugar cane field.

Making our way to the bridge at milepost K40.5.

St. Lucie Canal Bridge

This bridge is a manual lift bridge operated by the train crews. It is normally set in the open position, displaying green lights to indicate that vessels may pass through. Located at Milepost 38.0 on the canal, when open it provides 56 feet of horizontal clearance and 49 feet of vertical clearance. Built by Florida East Coast Railway in 1925-1926, the bridge consists of a span off each end. The lifting towers are essentially a series of truss spans designed to handle the weight of the lift span.

St. Lucie Canal was built in 1916-1924 between Lake Okeechobee the South Fork of St. Lucie River and the Altantic Ocean. The original purpose of the canal was to remove floodwaters from Lake Okeechobee.

Our train on the bridge.

The train on the bridge.

The train came out on the bridge.

The train moved off the bridge to pick us up. Once everyone was aboard we continued northeast.

At Marcy we had a geeen signal to cross the CSX mainline.

Looking down the CSX mainline as we crossed it. We stopped and detrained in order to be able to photograph the Silver Star here at Marcy crossing, Milepost K28.5.

Our train's rear engine as we waited for the Silver Star to arrive.

Amtrak's Silver Star at Marcy Crossing.

Our train waiting on the CSX dispatcher to clear the signal and derail so that the train could pick us up and we would continue northeast.

Finally the train received a green signal and picked us up to continue to the property line with the Florida East Coast.

We came to the Milepost 116 and I knew we would be there in half a mile.

We came to the sign and the train stopped. One sign read "Begin FEC End Fort Pierce Block" and the other said "Begin FEC End SCFE".

This sign says "Begin Cana Sub".

Looking back on both sides of the train.

Bart and the train crew at the signs. Once they we back onboard we left and started back towards Clewiston.

We crossed the St. Lucie Canal once more then returned to the Miami Canal, which is the major connection between Lake Okeechobee and the Atlantic Ocean at Miami. We would stop for photo runbys here at milepost K70.8.

Reverse move one.

The scene here.

Photo runby one.

Reverse move two.

Photo runby two at the Miami Canal.

Reverse move three.

Posed picture at the Miami Canal.

The train crew.

Bart and Sarah Jennings and the train crew. I watched Bart's camera bag while he had the pictures taken, at the end of which everyone gave all of them a round of applause. Next was posed pictures with the train.

Posed pictures at Miami Canal in the bright afternoon sun.

Photo runby three. Everyone reboarded and we were off to Clewiston.

Sugar cane being picked up by trucks.

Trains at the sugar plant yard.

The train on that big curve east of Clewiston.

The home stretch as we returned to the Clewiston shop. These last three days has been fantastic and a special thank you to Bart and Sarah Jennings, the entire train crew and all the employees of U.S. Sugar for an excellent weekend's worth of trips aboard their railroad. Elizabeth and I returned to the Holiday Inn dropping off our bag and cameras before we walked over to Sonny's Barbeque where I enjoyed chicken wings and Elizabeth had pulled chicken, sharing our table with Doug and Ellen Scott. We returned to the hotel for our last night in Clewiston.