The Florida East Coast Railway
Flagler’s railroad provided multiple benefits not only to Flagler, but also to the wealthy visitors and new residents that it delivered to southeast Florida. The trains also delivered merchandise to improve people’s lives and quicken progress, and allowed for speedy shipment of agricultural products to northern cities.
Starting in 1895 the railroad quickly made tracks down the coast to Ft. Lauderdale and Biscayne Bay(Miami). While Palm Beach and West Palm Beach exploded with activity in its wake, other settlements also sprang up along the line. Flagler received land from the State of Florida for installing the railway and bought up other land along the coast, which his Model Land Company offered for sale in smaller parcels. He wanted settlers to create communities that would bring more business to his businesses—farmers to ship produce, laborers to develop the area, families to put down roots and bring up children. Flagler thought of these new settlements as colonies, such as Yamato, the Japanese farming community that started on Flagler land in the future Boca Raton.
One of the communities that grew once the FEC Railroad moved south from West Palm Beach was Boynton Beach. Major Nathan Boynton, Civil War veteran, arrived in 1895 with other settlers and purchased several hundred acres. He constructed a winter residence on the beach overlooking the ocean. Boynton’s house turned into the Boynton Beach Hotel with five cottages. The residents of what would become Boynton Beach grew vegetables and fruit to ship to northern markets via the FEC Railroad. (See Communities for more information)