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As Big Grove got bigger, some of the settlers decided that they wanted to form their own county.
The railroad, after studying the land, decided to run the railroad tracks two miles west of Urbana, instead. It began when a reverend from Champaign decided to build training school for ministers there. The people of Champaign-Urbana learned that the state of Illinois was looking for a place to build the downstate branch of a college to teach agriculture. The new college was called Illinois Industrial University, and it opened in 1868 with 77 students. As the University grew, Champaign tried to extend its borders to claim all of the University as its own. Most of the railroad companies that were formed in Florida in the early 1880s never got beyond a plan on paper. The most promising plan for a railroad to the Indian River was originated in 1881 with the Palatka & Indian River Railroad Company.
The expectation of having a railroad from Enterprise to Titusville was exciting, and the residents of the Indian River communities anxiously formed a subscription committee and almost immediately raised pledges for the $30,000 of subscriptions.
Road construction began with 300 workers clearing right-of-ways, grading, building bridges and laying track by early summer. The railroad was completed, and in December 1885 the first locomotive pulled into Titusville at Washington Avenue with whistles blowing, cannons firing and fireworks exploding. With the completion of the railroad from Jacksonville to Tampa in 1886, and the completion of the connecting railroad from Enterprise to Titusville in 1885, Titusville became the transportation center of the Indian River for the next ten years. Keeping you up-to-date with what is available and what is going on in the Titusville, FL area.
Runnel and Mary Fielder followed a Native American trail to the area and built a cabin in a grove of trees that would become the first settlement. They endured many hardships, like prairie fires, floods, and disease from mosquitoes that lived on the swampy lands. Urbana would soon have a store, a jail (which they called the Calaboose; see the drawing of it below) and a courthouse, and then a blacksmith shop, a schoolhouse, and its own newspaper. The farmers in Urbana had to travel too far to sell their produce to other towns, and the roads were bad, sometimes too muddy to travel at all. Planks had been laid to make a road across the swampy land and a horse drawn streetcar took people back and forth between the cities.


After finishing one huge five-story building, though, the Civil War interrupted their work, and the school was never finished.
They lived in and took classes in the Elephant building, which the University named Old Main Hall. While the JTKW railroad continued to be laid on its way to Tampa, plans were in the making for a connecting link between Enterprise, on the north shore of Lake Monroe, and Titusville on the Indian River. Everyone was satisfied, the deadline had been met and the subscribers had to make good on the $30,000 worth of pledges. It was also the beginning of the golden age of steam boating on the river when the waterborn extension of the JTKW was formed as the Indian River Steamboat Company in 1886. Carlisle, the mother of conductor Carlisle of the Indian River division, has been stopping at the Titus House during the past week. 22, was switching cars from the mail line to the side-track, making up the train, another train with engine No.
Construction of the Jax, Tampa & Key West Railroad began in 1881 and was bought by the Plant System in 1890. They were joined by others, like the Busey family, who farmed the rich land by the trees in an area which they would call Big Grove. Still, they helped each other raise cabins and barns, had picnics together, and celebrated life with fiddle music and dancing. State Senator Vance agreed with the settlers and Champaign County was formed, named after Champaign County, Ohio, where Senator Vance grew up.
That is why everyone in Urbana was excited when they learned that the railroad was coming their way. The people of Urbana were upset, and some suggested that they move their homes to the railroad tracks. The little town that began to grow was named West Urbana, after the name given to the post office there.
Urbana, to assure that this would not happen, tore down its ten year old courthouse, and built another one so big and fancy they would be sure to keep the county seat! The huge building, which was nicknamed the Elephant, sat empty for a time, until another idea came along for its use.
The people elected Clark Griggs to the State Legislature, his main task to convince the government to select Champaign-Urbana as the site for this college. A steam dredge dug a lake in Crystal Lake Park and a steamboat took people for rides in the new lake.


More workers were hired and by late August grading had been completed within four miles of the LaGrange store and track continued to be laid at the rate of a mile per day. Ming who has been conductor on the Indian river division during the past winter season, has been appointed general superintendent of the Jacksonville and Mayport Railway and Navigation Company. A place was picked for the county seat, and it was named Urbana, after the senator’s hometown in Ohio. It would run from Chicago to Mobile, Alabama and would pass right through Urbana, or at least that is what the people of Urbana thought.
It would later change its name to the University of Illinois and would grow to become one of the best universities in the nation. By the year 2000, Champaign measured 17 square miles and had a population of 67,518 people. Watson, manager of the DeBary Steamship Line, predicted that a railroad by the way of Lake Harney to Titusville would be completed within 18 months. John's and Indian River Railroad was opened in 1886 an ran from Titusville to Enterprise, a community located on the north shore of Lake Monroe, near Sanford. When World War I and World War II broke out farmers grew extra crops, and everyone pitched in to help.
DeBary supported the project and offered to guarantee the first three years interest on bonds issued for this purpose. Ming is an old experienced railroad man, having been connected with several of our Florida roads in different capacities and will doubtless give satisfaction in his new position.
He was able to convince the committee to select Champaign-Urbana over the many other cities who wanted the college. The engineers and firemen jumped as soon as they saw the danger they were in, and were very thankful to have escaped without injury.
In a short while everything was cleared off the track, and the north and southbound trains were enabled to resume their journey.
The company announced it would build the railroad and have trains arriving in Titusville by January 1,1886 if the residents would subscribe $30,000 in cash or land. Streetcars (like the one pictured below) took people through town, and steam dredges plowed out drainage ditches outside of town to help farmers grow more crops on the swampy land.



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