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News Story
Updated: 04/20/2017 08:30:03AM

What was the railroad on East Palmetto St.?

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PHOTO COURTESY OF THE CITY OF ARCADIA

While repaving E. Palmetto St., street crews uncovered these railroad ties, which had been paved over many years ago.

IMAGE COURTESY OF THE DESOTO COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY

This DeSoto County Florida Road Department map from 1927 shows how the railroad traveled to Carlstrom Field (bottom of image) and then to Dorr Field (far right).

PHOTO COURTESY OF DESOTO COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY

This photo shows a copy of the plat map from Deed Book 176.

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The recent paving of E. Palmetto St. revealed train tracks in the road bed. To what railroad did they belong? One hundred years ago this month, the U.S. declared war on Germany in World War I, and the Arcadia National Guard was inducted into federal service. Although aviation was in its infancy (the Wright brothers’ first flight was in 1903), the U.S. also wanted to train pilots. Trench warfare required aerial reconnaissance and photography. Aerial combat prevented/defended such spying, and sometimes supported troop movement.

The Arcadia Commercial Club invited the War Department to assess land east of Arcadia as possible sites for training bases. An article in the Jan. 2, 1919, issue of the Punta Gorda Herald explained the attraction: “Both flying fields, it is said by experts, are located in almost an ideal section there being miles of treeless prairies behind them, affording ample facilities for making long flights. In many places, the atmospheric conditions, such as air holes and dust, make flying dangerous and difficult, while the objections are not found in Florida.”

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