MANUFACTURE & PHOSPHATE MINING YEARS
1907 - 1928
Lowry Park "Choo-Choo train" was a steam locomotive type
by the Vulcan Iron Works foundry in Wilkes-Barre, PA. In 1907, the
Florida Phosphate Mining Corp. in Green Bay, Fla. ordered three Vulcan
locomotives, one of which was our Lowry Park "Choo-Choo."
Green Bay was an early
phosphate mining community starting around 1907. It was located
about 6 miles southwest of Bartow and about 5 miles southeast of
Mulberry. Typical of a company town like many others in Polk
County, it was designed for workers and their families.
those days the phosphate mines were isolated and usually there were
few if any good roads leading to them, and even fewer workers with
automobiles to get there. Employers had to provide housing for their
workers or found it impossible to find help.
People assembled for
group portrait in the fields, 1916 - Polk County,
This gathering took place at the home of Frank Jones
in the area of Old Green Bay Mine, located about 6
miles south west of Bartow. L-R: Laura
Register, Callie Waters, Beulah Mizell, Jennie
Mizell, Nettie Taylor, Owen Mizell, George Reynolds,
R.M. Waters (Behind Reynolds), Frank Reid. In the
buggy are Joe Peeples and Sam Mizell.
State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory.
By the 1950s the
situation had changed, with phosphate and chemical operations filling
the area. The industry no longer needed to offer housing and the company
owned phosphate communities all disappeared.
This photo of phosphate
workers at Green Bay posing for a picture is courtesy of the State
Archives of Florida, Florida Memory project.
Phosphate workers posing for a picture, Green Bay, Fla. 1907 - Far
left: Joe Reid. Seated (L-R): Frank Mans, Sam Mizell.
of the State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory.
The Lowry Park engine
went into use in Green Bay originally as "Florida Phosphate #2."
It does not appear
to be in this photo; the two shown are similar yet have clearly visible
differences with the Lowry Park engine. A reliable source
(Steel Rails, Jan. 1953) states that our Vulcan locomotive left
the Vulcan plant in Sept. 1908. If the year of this photo is
correct, this photo predated the arrival of our Lowry Park
Lowry Park loco was used by the Florida Mining Co. until 1928 to haul phosphate to various areas and probably into
Tampa where the phosphate docks were located on the west side of Seddon
In 1928 Florida
Phosphate Mining Corp. sold the Vulcan
locomotive to Dantzler Lumber Co. in
Tampa and it was renumbered 1147. (Steel Rails magazine, Jan.
THE DANTZLER LUMBER COMPANY - Background
View of Roux-Askew & Dantzler
Lumber Yard on Seddon Island, April 29, 1925.
Burgert Bros. photo courtesy of the Tampa-Hillsborough County Public
The L. N. Dantzler Lumber Company had its beginning shortly before
the American Civil War, when William Griffin acquired a sawmill at Moss
Point, Mississippi. Griffin's daughter married in 1857 to Lorenzo Nolly
Dantzler who purchased the sawmill from his father-in-law in the 1870s.
Dantzler persuaded two of his sons, John Lewis Dantzler and L.N. Dantzler, Jr., to join
the company, and the three incorporated as the in 1888. The lumber company became the first privately chartered
corporation in Mississippi.
For 20 years, the company relied on contract loggers to supply their
sawmills, but in the 1890s, the company began buying large tracts of
land to insure a more reliable source of timber.
By the 1920s,
L.N. Dantzler Lumber
Company had leased the shipbuilding plant
on the property of the Tampa Shipbuilding & Engineering Company
where it was in the business of building and repairing
In 1924 the lumber interests of E. T. Roux and Harry Lee Askew were
purchased by Lorenzo Nolly Dantzler, Jr., and the name changed to
Roux-Askew-Dantzler, Inc., one of the biggest and most successful lumber
exporting companies in the Southeast, with E. T. Roux and
Harry Lee Askew as copartners. As the Roux-Askew Dantzler
Company, they had docks and a lumber yard on Seddon
Island. L.N. Dantzler, Jr. ran the company in Tampa with Harry Lee
Askew as Vice President. Later they became the Dantzler Lumber &
Export Company. In 1951, L.N. Jr. died suddenly of a heart attack
Lumber World Review, Volume 49
Askew Family website
America's Maritime Progress By George Weiss
Tampa Shipbuilding & Engineering - The new company was called
Tampa Shipbuilding Company, or TASCO.
Tampa Shipbuilding &
Engineering (now Gulf Marine Repair) was founded in 1917 and
was a merchant ship builder. The yard built ships under the United
States Maritime Commission's pre-war long-range shipbuilding
program. Shortly after starting work on its initial USMC contract, it
got into financial difficulties and was sold to George B. Howell.
The new company was
called Tampa Shipbuilding Company, or TASCO. At its
peak, the yard employed 16,000 people and was the largest employer in
Tampa. TASCO closed at the end of the war, and few traces remain
of its facilities. The area is now Gulf Marine Repair, a Hendry
Marine Industries Company, at1800 Grant St.
Burgert Bros photo
at right from the Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library is titled "Sailors and
civilians along with military band celebrate E-Day at TASCO construction
yard" and is dated July 7, 1944.
There was no such day as "E-Day"
but there was "VE-Day" which stood for "Victory in Europe Day."
However, VE-Day was May 8, 1945. So either this isn't VE-Day or
the date of July 7, 1944 is incorrect.
of the buildings at the upper right of the photo correspond to
those shaded in gray on the 1931 Sanford Fire Insurance Map at
Aerial view of Tampa Shipbuilding Company (TASCO)
photo from the Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library System.
Brothers photo is
from Hampton Dunn's "Yesterday's Tampa" where he says
"Vintage of this old locomotive is not determined, but
it's an interesting reminder of the past."
in great shape here, so probably from the very early
Dantzler years, 1928-1930.
1935 at the Port of Tampa
Dantzler lumber yard
In the early years at Dantzler, before the engine
number was added and the star was added to the front.
Burgert Bros. photo courtesy of the Tampa-Hillsborough
County Public Library
career with Dantzler is best explained by this 1953 article in
to Kimi Lau-Costanzo for locating an actual copy of this magazine
on eBay, purchasing it., and scanning it. The only library
that had it was located at Stanford University in California, and
they were less than cooperative when asked to send TampaPix a scan
of this article, a "teaser" of which was found on
A PDF scan of the article can be seen and downloaded here in a
TampaPix DropBox folder.
FLORIDA’S WOOD BURNER by C.C. Campbell - Steel Rails magazine,
Florida’s shortest railroad is the mile-long tracks on Seddon
Island in Tampa Harbor, on which an antiquated wood burning steam
locomotive is still holding its own, in these days of the modern
Switching cars of lumber and empties back and forth between the
Seaboard Air Line tracks and the Dantzler Lumber Company’s Export
Docks, this short, stocky old wood burner was built by the one
hundred year old Vulcan Iron Works for the Florida Phosphate
Mining Corporation of Green Bay, Florida and left the Vulcan
plant in September, 1908. Purchased from the Phosphate
Corporation by the Dantzler Lumber Company of Tampa in 1928
at a cost of $2,000, this old locomotive has given them
nearly a quarter century of constant, faithful service. With
proper care, the locomotive apparently will be useful for many
years to come.
Originally built as a coal burner, Dantzler converted the old
engine to a wood burner by the installation of a cabbage head
stack,** furnished by the Vulcan Works, and a set of wood
type grates. A standard tender from a scrapped Seaboard engine,
with the top of the tank portion cut away made an ideal wood
tender and completed the conversion job. The boiler is equipped
with a saddle type water tank. Thus their fuel problem was quickly
solved. In normal times there is always enough scrap wood and
lumber around the yards, which costs nothing extra, to supply the
needs. About two cores are required for the average day's work.
provide that all wood-burning locomotives must be equipped with a
spark arresting stack, commonly known as the cabbage head type.
No. 1147 has not always burned coal or wood. During the Second
World War, when fuel was scarce, the old timer had a vital part in
handling millions of feet of lumber and heavy timbers which went
into large Naval and Air Installations in the West Indies and
other foreign points. During that period the engine was regularly
fired on coconut shells, very likely the only locomotive in the
world ever fired on such a fuel, or at least in the United States.
This fuel was obtained from a near-by candy factory which
processed thousands of coconuts each day. If you want a
rip-roaring, hot fire just try a few shovelfuls of the "monkey
Not only does the old wood burner handle eighteen to twenty cars
of heavy lumber per day and drag out the empties, but it also
unloads them. By the use a of gin pole and an arrangement of
pulleys and cables, the engine pulls forward lifting the heavy
timbers above car level where they are skidded onto the docks
ready for the ship's winch to take them aboard.
Nor has it always hauled phosphate and lumber. In the pre-war
years when some of the foreign countries were buying all the scrap
iron they could get, the engine was earning a nice income for its
owners by switching and providing power to unload thousands of
tons of scrap for a large salvage company. The scrap was loaded
aboard various foreign and domestic vessels.
During the period of dual service a crew was unloading a car of
scrap and something with a familiar look showed up, it proved to
be a cylinder, piston, crosshead guide and brake rod from a sister
engine of the 1147. Just where the pieces came from was never
determined, but they were saved and some have since been used and
the rest are in the spare parts stock. What a break during the
struggles of war time! In the way the scrap later reacted against
us, it is very unlikely could the old engine express herself, that
she would be proud of that part of her accomplishments. To the
serious minded rail fan it is sad to think that eventually the
time will come when faithful old 1147, even with all her colorful
career and usefulness to mankind, will succumb to the cutter's
torch. One of her race will indeed be exceedingly hard to find.
The dock superintendent, who has controlled the locomotive
operations for these many years, holds an engineer's license.
Repair parts though seldom needed are still available from the
builders. The inspector reports the boiler in the best condition
of any burner or boiler in his territory. According to city code
it is inspected regularly once each month. Originally designed for
200 pounds pressure and inspected at the plant by The Hartford
Steam Boiler Inspection and Insurance Company, the working
pressure was 180 lbs., but the present working pressure has been
reduced to 120, though she operates nicely on 80 to 100 lbs. with
Vulcan locomotives carry a boiler serial number and date as well
as a construction number, which in this case is 1155, 7-30-07,
stamped in the boiler head and is as plain as the day it was
made. The engine stands 10'4" high, spreads to 8'6" wide and
stretches to a length of 23'2" to weigh 29 tons, in working order.
The 0-4-0 wheel arrangement has a 6'0" wheel base measurement. Two
13" x 18" cylinders through 2 inch diameter piston rods and
Stephenson link motion valve gear transmits the force to move the
36 inch drivers.
A bronze name plate bears a shop number 1147, which has been
adopted by the Dantzler Company as their road number. The
Company's rolling stock consists of the 1157
and three ex-A C L flat cars of the old 4700 series. Of course
loaded cars, flat, box and gondola from almost every road in the
country find their way to the yards via the Seaboard Air Line
interchange. It is not uncommon to see 30 to 40 cars on their
tracks at one time.
This old engine operates almost as quietly and smoothly as when
new. It is cleaner than the average locomotive and if you think
the days of the wood burner are over, because most of them have
headed for the rip track or museum, the owner quickly tells you
that the 1147 is still a good engine. If you go over to the island
several years hence she will still be puffing away, with only
minor new parts and tires needed to keep her in efficient
THE SOL WALKER YEARS**
1955 - ca. 1964(?)
After the old
career hauling lumber and switching rail cars for Dantzler Lumber it was sold in
the mid-1950s to Sol Walker & Co., a huge
scrap metal salvage business located at Adamo Dr. & 34th St. in Tampa.
**Some of the information in the
next two sections was provided by a former employee of Walker,
Robert Bolesta, in a recent conversation with Kimi Lau-Costanzo.
Special thanks to Robert and Kimi.
Groundbreaking for new
synagogue. 1968, Walker wearing sunglasses.
L to R: Elizabeth Berger, Leo Levinson, Manuel Aronovitz,
Walker, Elaine Levinson, Bob Levinson.
Archives of Florida, Florida Memory.
Solomon "Sol" Walker was born in St. Louis and came to Tampa in 1925
at the age of 10. He was a successful business owner and operator of Sol Walker & Co.
for 55 years, the owner of Stalnaker Farm and Ranch Supply Limited, and
the owner of Gulf Coast Recycling.
his scrap iron business by March, 1942, using the Dantzler
docks and the docks at the shipyards to load and unload his
cargo and then send the iron to his scrap yard on Adamo Dr. at
34th St. On Jan. 2, 1948, he incorporated as "Sol Walker
death of L. N. Dantzler,
Jr. in Tampa in 1951, Walker bought old No. 1147 from Dantzler
in 1955. The engine remained on Seddon Island where he continued to use the old Vulcan wood-burning
engine, which he and his employees nicknamed "The Little Engine That Could" because of its
power and excellent running condition. To haul his scrap
to and from the shipyard docks on the east side of Sparkman
Channel, Walker used an old switch engine and cars that were already
there because the tracks were too narrow to accommodate the
After old No.
1147 was taken to Walker's yard on Adamo & 34th St. in the
1950s, it sat there unused because the tracks behind the
yard were also too narrow for it.
Sam Davis, 1933 quarterback and captain of the
Florida Gators. Davis developed his shipbuilding
business, American Ship, the parent company of Tampa
Shipyards, Inc. at 1130 McClosky Blvd. Sam was an active
leader in promoting the welfare of his community in Tampa.
In the 1970s,
Walker hauled scrap from Tampa Shipyards
where Disney's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea submarines were
assembled after receiving the hulls from where they were
made by Morgan Yacht in Clearwater. From Tampa, the subs
were trucked to their final destination at Disney.
In addition to
owning a place on S. Franklin St., Walker owned a yard in
Miami, and "all kinds of places."
THE LOWRY PARK
YEARS 1965 - ca. 1985(?)
Walker was in
business with his half-brother
Irving "Izzie" Oster,
who gave, loaned or sold the locomotive to the city park by
May of 1965.
brochures of Lowry Park don't mention the locomotive, but it
can be seen in the 1965 photo below.
1965 - Old #1147 proudly displayed at the Fairyland
Photo by TBT
"The Rovin' Flames--Ready for Action" on the Lowry Park fire
truck. Sept. 1, 1966 photo from newspaper clipping at Garage
Hangover appeared in the Oct. 7, 1966 Chamberlain High School
newspaper "Chieftain." The locomotive can be seen at the
left of the photo.
Glades, circa 1970
Right to Left -- Tommy Mullins (vocals), Lynn Burnette
(drums), Dennis Clark (trumpet), Alan Hoak (alto sax), Jim
Morrison (guitar), Tom Brown (bass/Hammond B3), Bill Orr
Dr. Bill Orr was a Chamberlain Grad who was the principal at
Hillsborough High for a number of years.
Photo and description provided by Robert D. Floyd.
between the circa 1970 photo above and this 1982 photo below,
the engine was renumbered 6090; it is not known why.
Catholic High School Dancerettes on the choo-choo train, Fairyland, 1982.
(L-R) Michelle Barreiro, Aileen DeArmas, Jama Coley, Anna Vito, Jenny
Sincell, Candyce Forrester,
Lori Giglio, Myra Pita, Nga Nguyen, Christina Vasquez, Celeste Liccio.
Thanks to Kimi Lau-Costanzo for providing the names from her TC
Photo by Ralph Owen Dennis.
At the time
was sent to the park, it was
still in operable condition. But when it was removed from the
park, it was sent back to Walker, the engine was no longer usable. The
brass fittings and valves, along with various other vital
parts, had been stripped, and it was not cost efficient
to try to repair it.
It's not known
at this time when it was removed from Lowry Park, but it may
have been around 1984, when the P2V Navy bomber was removed,
to 1987 when the zoo closed for its major renovation. It is not
yet known how the locomotive was transported
to Lowry Park and back to Walker's lot.
BACK TO SOL
WALKER ca. 1985(?) - ca. 1997(?)
According to Mr. Robert Bolesta,* a former employee of So
Walker & Co., the engine was returned to Walker's scrap yard
after it was removed from Lowry Park. Back at Sol
Walker, there was an interest
from Caribbean islands and South American entities to purchase it, but when
prospective buyers saw the condition it was in, they changed their
to Kimi Lau-Costanzo who conversed with Robert by telephone to get the Sol Walker years story, and with
the city of Zephyrhills Library for info on the engine's
Nov. 1987 -
Earl Minniefield is the Earl of Iron at Sol Walker and
Co's scrap metal field at the Port of Tampa. Since the
age of 21 - he is now 60 - he still carries a torch.
fascination becomes life's work [CITY Edition]
Publication: St. Petersburg Times - St. Petersburg, Fla.
Author: Carlton, Sue Date: Nov 1, 1987
Walker and Co.'s scrap metal field at the port, Earl
Minniefield wields his propane torch. With it, he cuts
masses of used metal down to pieces small enough to ship
out worldwide to be melted down and reused. At 60,
Minniefield is a small, gray-haired man with
work-roughened hands who has made his life as a
``cutter.`` Each day at 7:30 a.m., he rides his bicycle
to work from E Sligh Avenue to the port. ``In 40
minutes, if I'm feeling good,`` he says. With its
towering piles of rusted metal pieces, the field looks
like a child's giant playground. There are shells of
school buses and cars, pipes, engine blocks,
industrial-size boilers and unrecognizable pieces of
twisted iron. ``I get surprised at some of the things
you find in here,`` he says, pointing out an underground
tank from a gas station.
Photo from TBT archives
In 1997, when
Walker passed away, the engine was still at the salvage
yard. There were many times the engine came close to being cut
apart with torches and scrapped.**
Walker years info sources: Robert Bolesta memories,
Steam Locomotives note by Don Hensley of Taplines, and
Steam Locomotive Ownership Info.
FROM SOL WALKER
ZEPHYRHILLS (WITH A STOP IN PARRISH, FL)
The train in its current yellow
(and RUST) color is now located on the east side of US 301 in
front of Festival Park. Just about one mile south of Chancey
Rd in Zephyrhills. The festival location "Zephyrhills Auto
Events is 2738 Gall Blvd, Zephyrhills, FL 33541. 2012
photo from the
Florida Railroad Museum. Notice the same engine
tender car as the Dantzler Lumber photo.
Express is located about 27 miles northwest of Tampa on US Hwy
301, just south of Zephyrhills.
TampaPix is grateful and wishes to acknowledge and thank
Kimi Lau-Costanzo and Kermit Nelson for their persistence and
determination to fill in this last "puzzle piece," as
well as Mike Sierra for providing the puzzle piece!
After researching and determining the owner of the property
where the old engine now sits, Kimi & Kermit made numerous
attempts to make contact with various individuals and
businesses by phone messages and letters.
15, 2017, Kimi received a phone call from Mike Sierra, Tampa
businessman and Zephyrhills Express owner.
FLORIDA RAILROAD MUSEUM - ZEPHYRHILLS FESTIVAL PARK / MIKE
to Mr. Sierra, the old engine spent many years sitting off Adamo
Drive at Walker's yard, unable to sell it. So it was
sent to the
Florida Railroad Museum* around 1997 where it was on
display on a small piece of track for a very short time.
also indicates that the engine was sent to the Florida
Railroad Museum in Parrish, FL, but when contacted on June 3,
2017, the manager at the museum said this
locomotive had not been there.
Mr. Sierra didn't
recall exactly when, but guessed that "around 10 years ago, or
maybe longer," he reached an agreement for services rendered
to the railroad museum, and in lieu of payment, accepted the
old black locomotive as payment.
In early June of 2017, a
librarian at the Zephyrhills library also said it was black
when she first saw it and was already at its present location
when she moved to Zephyrhills twenty years ago around 1998**.
**Florida Steam Locomotives
also indicates 1998.
Mr. Sierra said getting it
to Festival Park was no easy or inexpensive task. A crane was used to lower it onto a
trailer. He constructed the small piece of track
that it now sits upon at the park and very soon afterward painted it
yellow to use it as a sort of landmark symbol of Zephyrhills
and to act as a billboard for events at
locomotive was a popular hang-out for the patrons of the
"Livestock" rock music fest held there in the 1990s to the
acknowledged that it has deteriorated over the years, but he
has no future plans to attempt to move or refurbish it as it
is now in such a delicate and rusted condition.
posted by disneymamom at Viewbug.com