Address: 70 Russell Street
Side One: In 1885, Brooksville had a population of 500. Residents depended on horse-drawn wagons and stagecoaches to transport goods and passengers to the outside world. Four innovative
businessmen formed the Brooksville Railroad Association and paid the Florida Southern
Railway Company $20,000 to bring the railroad to Brooksville. The 120x21-foot train depot, made from local cypress, cedar, and yellow pine, included a 40-foot covered back dock and a telegraph office. At first, one railroad track reached Brooksville. The tracks grew to occupy both sides of the building. In 1892, the Henry Plant Railroad System acquired the Florida Southern Railway. Over the years, various railroads owned the depot until use faded away. By 1971, all tracks were gone, and the last owner, CSX, closed the building. The empty depot deteriorated for over twenty years. Homeless people used the back dock as a sleeping platform. In 1986, the Hernando County Historical Museum Association bought the land for $12,600. CSX donated the 101-year-old building for use as a museum. Restoration was completed by volunteers, community organizations, and grants. After years of hard work, the 1885 Train Depot Museum opened for the public to enjoy in 1992. Side Two: The arrival of the railroad to the isolated town of Brooksville changed everything. Racially segregated during the Jim Crow era, the depot became a hub of activity for blacks and whites alike. Farmers, businesses, and residents relied on the railroad. The market for local products such as lumber, turpentine, citrus, phosphate, even livestock expanded, resulting in more wealth for the community. Merchandise like ready-made clothing, chinaware, furniture, medicines, books, and magazines reached the town. People mimicked the fashions they saw in the magazines. Books aided in the education of children. Mail arrived in a matter of days, not weeks. The railroad created good jobs. A need for hotels, boarding houses, and restaurants developed. Women and children could travel unescorted on the train to visit family. A trip to the Withlacoochee River to swim and picnic became a popular day excursion for locals. They rode “The Brooksville Short,” the train running 10 miles between Brooksville and the town of Croom, near the river. By 1933, automobiles took the place of passenger train service. Freight hauling continued until the late 1960s, when the tracks were removed. The 1885 Train Depot endures as a historical museum.