Olustee Depot Visitor Center

Area Status: Closed
This area is Closed

The Olustee Depot is a small building with a big history. It served as both a passenger and freight station, and played a significant role in the development of north Florida. This part of Florida has always had a rural economy based on agriculture and timber. Prior to the railroad, transporting these products was difficult and time consuming. Mule-drawn wagons were used to carry goods to waterways, where the goods could be shipped to their final destination.

But, in 1860, the railroad line from Jacksonville to Alligator (later renamed Lake City) was completed and provided the people of Olustee with a new mode of transportation, a faster way to ship supplies, and a link to the outside world. It was this platform that felt the pounding of Confederate soldier's boots as they arrived and prepared for battle in 1864.

After the Civil War and by the 1880s, industries such as timber, cattle, citrus, winter vegetables and tourism were booming. For rural north Florida, the major commodities were timber and turpentine. Sawmills and turpentine stills were big business in the Olustee area and continued for many generations. From the 1880s to 1949, Florida produced as much as 20% of the world's supply of turpentine. These products were shipped from the depot.

The Freight Room was built in 1888, with the Station Master's Room and the Waiting Rooms added in the 1920s.

Until the 1960s the Olustee depot served as the hub of this community with trains stopping daily to deliver mail, export supplies and bring people to and from Olustee. In 1965, it was moved to a cow pasture in nearby Lake City. The Osceola National Forest acquired the depot in 1995 with assistance from federal, state and local partners, and moved it back to Olustee. Over the next five years, the depot was restored and converted into an interpretive/information center. The local community celebrated its grand opening in October 2000.

The interpretive displays explain the important roles the railroad and the timber industries played in the development of north Florida Hands-on panels, a talking telephone and antique timber and railroad tools give you the feeling of stepping back to the early 1900s. Videos let you experience life in a 1930s Civilian Conservation Corp camp, and the relocation of the depot from Lake City back to Olustee As you walk across the thick, heart-pine floor of the Freight Room, notice the grooves made from years of rolling turpentine barrels on and off the train If you look carefully, you can even read historic "graffiti" on the Freight Room walls!

Visitor hosts are there to answer questions about the depot and provide recreation information about the Osceola National Forest. Come experience the Olustee Depot and take a piece of north Florida history home with you.


At a Glance

Operational Hours: Open Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 10am - 4pm
Area Amenities: Interpretive Site,Accessible,Picnic tables,Toilets,Drinking water,Parking
Fees Free
Usage: Medium
Closest Towns: Lake City
Water: Drinking fountain
Restroom: Yes
Operated By: US Forest Service

Recreation Map

Map showing recreational areas. Map Information


Outdoor Learning

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Interpretive Site
Picnic tables
Drinking water
Areas & Activities


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