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The location and the circumstances of the people in this photograph are not certain. But there is evidence that the location is Gainesville's oldest existing train depot, located just east of South Main Street on Depot Avenue. The occasion could be, quite likely, a farewell scene for young men off to World War I. The first depot in Gainesville was part of the Florida Railroad system built by David Yulee. Yulee's train, which connected Fernandina and Cedar Key, was begun in the 1850s, completed in 1861, and is essentially the reason for Gainesville's existence. Yulee's train was going to bypass the county seat, Newnansville, so in 1854 the citizens created a new town on the train's path-Gainesville. The train came into town from the northeast, down Waldo Road (now State Road 24), and turned west to the depot. Then it traveled west to Archer and on to Cedar Key. By the 1880s the Florida Railroad was called the Transit Railroad; Transit became part of the Seaboard Airline Railway system in 1903. A new Seaboard depot was built in 1907 on the same site as the old; it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is central to plans for an Eco-History Trail Project-an urbanization project featuring a 2-mile long rail-trail through the historic urban core of Gainesville. The occasion in the photograph is also unknown, but the presence of so many young men, including a few in uniform, and the date of the photograph, somewhere around 1915 to 1920, suggest it may have been a farewell scene for young men off to World War I.
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