Stumper Detail

Date: Monday, January 1, 2001 
Question/Topic: Luraville Locomotive 
Answer/Pointer: The Luraville Locomotive, an eight-wheeled engine, was almostly certainly built between 1850 and 1855, but where and by what firm is not known. Probably it pulled passenger trains in pre-Civil War days and for anumber of years later. In the 1890s, it was acquired by the Bache and Hagen Lumber Company and became a tram engine hauling logs to the company's sawmill at Luraville from the virgin forests along the Suwannee River in North Florida. The careers of the Luraville Locomotive abruptly ended in 1898 when it plunged into the Suwanee River. There are two stories of how this happened. The first is simply that it jumped the track at a curve and wound up in the river; some residents point to the spot where this could have happened. The second more detailed story is that the engine had been barged from the east to the west bank of the Suwanee to tram logs to the riverside south of the present community of Day. The tram rails it was supposed to run on proved too weak to hold it. . . . While being lowered down a bluff on a temporary track leading to a barge, it broke the restraining lines and freewheeled completely across the barge and into the water. The engine stood upright on the bottom for many years but eventually was washed over onto its side. The known history of the locomotive really begins in the late 1960s whena group of skindivers from the area began efforts to have it pulled out of the river. . . . On January 19, 1979, James Lancaster of Luraville realized a long-held ambition to remove the relic from the river. . . . He financed his own venture and brought in heavy lifting machinery which pulled the old engine 157 feet across the riverbottom and landed it on the Suwannee's east bank. Despite missing the bulging smokestack and wooden parts, it was displayed near Mr. Lancaster's home at Luraville for several years. It was later bought by Jacksonville businessman Jack Ghoyke who in 1982 presented it to the State through Commissioner of Agriculture Doyle Conner. . . .the engine remains on public view at the Florida Dept. of Agriculture and Consumer Services Laboratory Complex in Tallahassee. For a more detailed account, see the brochure "The Luraville Locomotive from the Suwannee River to Tallahassee, July 12, 1983" in Vertical File - Florida - 1980-1989, from which the above text is adapted. 
Librarian: LCLCPL 

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