Flagler’s legacy: steam locomotives and space travel

Posted by Brian Schmidt
on Thursday, April 11, 2019

It was pure serendipity.

I was having dinner tonight in Cocoa, Fla., when I overheard some of the restaurant staff talking about the upcoming SpaceX launch at Cape Canaveral. The launch, scheduled for earlier in the week, would be Thursday evening now. So I hightailed it to the beach to watch. It was a great experience and there were lots of people on the beach to share moment. I turned to leave and saw on a street sign the railroad connection. I had inadvertently chosen the public beach access at the end of Flagler Street to view the launch!

Henry Morrison Flagler, of course, organized the Florida East Coast Railway, well, down the east coast of Florida, and in the process opened the state for commerce. Along with the railroad were Flagler-owned hotels that gave patrons of his steam-powered railroad somewhere to stay, and propelled the tourism industry that sustains the state today. It also led to, decades later, the establishment of the Kennedy Space Center on that same coast line, which had it's own railroad that even connected with the FEC!

From steam locomotives to space travel, that’s one heck of a legacy.

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