How did railroads transform Florida? Learn how daily life changed with the arrival of trains. Compare modern modes of acquiring goods and supplies with those of the past. Discover who traveled on Florida trains and why.
Click on the video below to begin. Then navigate through all the hands-on activities & worksheets below.
Activity 1: Introduction & Video
Video Link: https://youtu.be/vEje6nTnS7s
💡 Download the All Aboard BINGO game and color each square if you hear the vocabulary word discussed in the video. If you don't have a printer, download this image and color the bingo squares in Paint.
Activity 2: Conductor Carl
Get moving with Conductor Carl! Act out all the items, activities, and people as Conductor Carl instructs.
Activity 3: Freight
Trains connected agricultural centers from all over America together. Freight (transported goods like fruit, vegetables, and household items) arrived quicker than ever thanks to the swiftness of trains in comparison to steamboats or horse and buggy. People all over America could finally eat a ripe Florida orange before it spoiled.
Citrus fruit (oranges, lemons, and limes) do not like the frost, which became an issue more and more as citrus was being shipped into colder states. Citrus farmers had to learn to safely pack their fruit into boxes insulated by Spanish moss. Often it was a child’s job to glue a citrus label onto its shipping box before it was loaded on a train car.
Prepare your freight for delivery: download and color the attached Citrus Crate Label Excel File.
Activity 4: Tourism
Florida is, of course, well known as a tourist destination today, but did you know that it was first gaining that reputation in the late 1800s? Henry Flagler and Henry Plant were two of the major pioneers in this new kind of Florida business—they both built railroads to move cargo, but sent on to built enormous luxury hotels and resorts along their train lines to attract the super wealthy South to see Florida. These hotels were wildly expensive both to build and to visit. The rooms were incredibly luxurious for the time— Henry Flager’s Ponce de Leon Hotel in St Augustine had elevators and electricity, both still very new technology, and the hotel was by the beautiful local beach. Henry Plant’s Tampa Bay Hotel also had electricity and elevators, and in every guest room had a telephone, an even newer technological marvel! The hotel also boasted a golf course, dog racing track, a heated swimming pool, and a casino.
Make your own late 1800s luxury hotel! What brand new technologies will your resort offer to attract the wealthy tourists of the 1800s to your hotel rather than place like the Tampa Bay Hotel or the Ponce de Leon Hotel? It’s a long train journey down to Florida! Make a poster or post card like these ones to advertise your amazing new destination and convince people of the 1800s to visit!
Activity 5: Morse Code
Morse code was the language of the fastest method of communication in the 1800s—the telegraph. Telegraphs could only send tapping sounds through their wires, so Morse code turned every letter and digit into a pattern of short and long taps—frequently called dots and dashes. The patterns of dots and dashes may look randomly assigned at first, but the letters used most frequently in English have the shortest associated codes, which sped up sending messages even more. Morse code had many of its own abbreviations, the most famous of which today is SOS (••• — — — •••), which was used as a call for help because it was a short, easy pattern to remember. Morse code is still sometimes used to send messages today, whether it’s written down, tapped out as sound, or even flashed as a pattern of lights!
Check out the links for a guide to decoding and writing words in Morse code and a challenge: try to figure out the railroad words written in Morse code, and try writing (or tapping, or flashing) a few of your own secret messages in Morse code! What does your name look like or sound like in Morse code?