Updated 2019.04.07

Overview

There are two railroads operating around the perimeter of Lake Okeechobee: South Central Florida Express and United States Sugar Corporation. USSC interchanges with SCFE exclusively, while SCFE also interchanges at their eastern terminus with F.E.C. (Florida East Coast Railway) and at their western terminus with CSX.

South Central Florida Express, based in Clewiston, was created in 1994 by U.S. Sugar Corp. as a wholly-owned subsidiary and operates independently as a common carrier. SCFE is a shortline railroad governed by the Federal Railroad Administration. USSC is a private industrial railroad not subject to F.R.A. oversight. Despite the apparent coziness of these two companies, neither operates on the other's main lines; they only share yard limits.

The sugar cane harvest brings the most activity from about October through March which happily lines up pretty nicely with Florida's tourist season.

Feel free to scroll the overview map left and right if you are viewing on a small screen like a smartphone. The base map is copyright OpenStreetMap.org and is licensed under CC-BY-SA; I just drew some annotations over it.

Overview map of Florida sugar railroads

SCFE

SCFE operates over 87 miles of (ACL heritage) track purchased from CSX on the west half of their extent and 70 miles of track leased from Florida East Coast Railway on the east half of their extent. SCFE interchanges with CSX at Sebring and F.E.C. at Fort Pierce Yard. The segment leased from F.E.C. extends from about milepost K15 at “Cana” to K70.8 where a trestle crosses Miami Canal near Lake Harbor; this segment is depicted on the overview map with dashed red lines.

Note that their reporting mark does not end with “X” because they own and operate their own railroad. Their official reporting mark is actually SCXF.

Cargo hauled includes sugar cane and mixed freight (dead loads) including molasses and refined sugar crystals, as well as mechanical parts for WATCo located at Bryant.

SCFE Radio Frequencies

SCFE Radio Frequencies
Frequency AAR Ch. Use
160.830 048 SCFE road channel
452.9375   head-of-train transponder, the railfan's best friend
457.9375   end-of-train transponder

 

SCFE Trains

The mill mentioned in the tables stands in Clewiston at the USSC yard, accessed via Sugar Junction.

The Bryant Turn jobs are basically a conveyer belt carrying cane staged at Bryant yard to the mill at Clewiston every 4 hours around the clock.

The table below can change at any time without anyone knowing, not even employees. Expect the movement of trains at any time, on any track, from any direction.

SCFE Train Jobs and Expected APPROXIMATE Time Ranges
Symbol Terminals Time Remarks
Cane 1 fields to mill 08:00 sugar cane from fields to the mill
Cane 2 fields to mill 08:00 sugar cane from fields to the mill
Cane 3 fields to mill 20:00 sugar cane from fields to the mill; relieves Cane 1
Cane 4 fields to mill 20:00 sugar cane from fields to the mill; relieves Cane 2
Cane 5 fields to mill 08:00 sugar cane from fields to the mill
Cane 6 fields to mill as needed extra, sugar cane from fields to the mill
BT1 Bryant to Clewiston ar 13:00 Bryant Turn 1 meets eb BT2 at Buker
BT2 Bryant to Clewiston ar 17:00 Bryant Turn 2, 100+ car trains from USSC Clewiston yard to Bryant
BT3 Bryant to Clewiston ar 01:00 100+ car trains from USSC Clewiston yard to Bryant
BT4 Bryant to Clewiston 05:00 Meets eb BT1 at Buker passing track
Ft. Pierce Turn Clewiston to F.E.C. 07:00 mixed freight to F.E.C. Ry Fort Pierce yard
Sebring Turn Clewiston to CSX 07:00 mixed freight, dep SCFE North Shops in Clewiston; interchange at Sebring, FL
Local Clewiston x Switches manifest to all customers; see notes for details
Work Train anywhere as needed extra job, works maintenance-of-way wherever whenever

The opposing Bryant Turn trains typically meet at Buker passing track, west of South Bay. All the other trains aim for a 10, 14, 18, 22, 02, and 06:00 arrival time. This means they will be at or near the mill or Bryant loaded around those specified times.

U.S. Sugar Corp.

United States Sugar Corporation operates on their own private trackage, exempt from certain F.R.A. rules and regulations, which allows for operational shortcuts that you won't see on SCFE. USSC is also restricted from operating over certain stretches of SCFE trackage, and even from switching their own traffic at SCFE customers. They are most definitely not to be confused with SCFE.

Sugar cane harvesting season begins in early October and runs through March. There is no way of knowing which fields will be harvested on any given day so you must be agile and have good maps; a knowledge of local roads, shortcuts and traffic patterns can help, too.

U. S. Sugar Corp. is owned by the Dr. Pepper Snapple Group, notable as the latest holders of the Mott's Apple Juice brand. U.S. Sugar itself owns the SCFE Railroad and Southern Citrus. Fanjul Brothers own the other mills and processing plants on the various rail lines in the area. For more information see A. S. R. Group web site

USSC Radio Frequencies

USSC uses a mix of their old analog channels as well as DMR trunked and conventional repeaters, so you will need a MotoTRBO radio, an SDR decoder rig, or very new scanner capable of receiving digital transmissions.

If you discover the usage or official name of a channel, please send me an e-mail note so that I can update this table. Thanks.

USSC Radio Frequencies (wider is better)
Frequency AAR Ch. Use
160.830 048 USSC analog comms
161.250 076 USSC analog comms
160.620 361 TS1, CC1, TG1
160.50 345 TS1, CC1, TG9
160.50 345 TS2, CC1, TG8
161.025 415 TS1, CC1, TG9
161.055 419 TS1, CC1, TG4 (talkgroup might be wrong)
161.055 419 TS2, CC1, TG5 (talkgroup might be wrong)
161.145 431 TS1, CC1, TG1

Hulcher on-the-spot wreck cleaners — 43.04 MHz nationwide

USSC Trains

Trains listed as “Road Job” haul loaded hoppers full of sugar cane from the various loadouts near the growing fields to the yard; then they haul empty hoppers back to the fields to be loaded again.

The table below can change at any time without anyone knowing, not even employees. Expect the movement of trains at any time, on any track, from any direction.

USSC Train Jobs and Expected Time Ranges
Symbol Terminals Time Remarks
CRJ 1 fields to mill 07:00 Th-M Clewiston Road Job #1, sugar cane from fields to the mill
CRJ 2 fields to mill 07:00 Sa-W Clewiston Road Job #2
CRJ 3 fields to mill 19:00 W-Su Clewiston Road Job #3
Industrial mill 14:00 Su-Th builds F.E.C. Fort Pierce turn; extra switchin in the yards
Dump jobs mill 24 hours unloads cane cars at Clewiston mill as needed, 24/7
BRJ 1 fields to mill 07:00 W-Su Bryant Road Job #1, sugar cane from fields to Bryant yard
BRJ 2 fields to mill 07:00 F-Tu Bryant Road Job #2
BRJ 3 fields to mill 19:00 F-Tu Bryant Road Job #3
Work train as needed as needed extra job, works wherever whenever

 

USSC Locomotive Roster

U. S. Sugar and SCFE share a pool of locomotives. Even though USSC is a private industrial road, all engines must pass F.R.A. inspection since any locomotive can run on either road depending on demand at the time. Remember that SCFE is a common carrier railroad operating under F.R.A. regulations.

Although locomotives are lettered with "USSC", their reporting mark is actually USCX. Many display "U.S. Sugar" logos to remove any doubt as to what company owns them. Their livery appears as bright yellow bounded by light grey stripes. The red and blue combination for which SCFE was known is no longer used. Look sharp for the USSC or SCFE lettering in the bright yellow on the long hood.

USSC+SCFE Locomotive Roster (as of November, 2018)
Type Numbers Remarks
GP40 501-506  
GP38 404-408  
GP11 301-312 One GP11 has been cut up and thus no longer in service
SW1200 202, 203 202 sold to St. Mary's RR, 203 next, to be replaced
SW1500 201  
MP15AC 204  

USSC Reporting Marks

Reference: Piedmont and Western Railroad Club. Rail cars bearing these marks are associated with U.S. Sugar in some capacity.

USSC Reporting Marks (as of 2017-ish)
Mark Owner Remarks
SCXF South Central Florida Express  
SSPX Tate & Lyle Ingredients partly owned by Fanjul Brothers
STLX Tate & Lyle Ingredients partly owned by Fanjul Brothers; A.E. Staley Manufacturing Company
STSX Tate & Lyle Ingredients partly owned by Fanjul Brothers
TLEX Tate & Lyle Ingredients partly owned by Fanjul Brothers
TWSX Tate & Lyle Ingredients partly owned by Fanjul Brothers
USCX William G. Simon Tank Car Management U.S. Tank Car Corp.; U.S. Coal & Coke Co.
USSX U.S. Sugar Corp. shared with U.S.A., possibly obsolete
USSZ U.S. Sugar Corp.  

USSC Maps

USSC Clewiston Division

The U. S. Sugar Clewiston Division extends west from just below Clewiston Yard to County Road 833 and then turns north to Southern Citrus which ironically receives no rail service.

Feel free to scroll the maps left and right if you are viewing on a small screen like a smartphone. The base map is copyright OpenStreetMap.org and is licensed under CC-BY-SA; I just drew some annotations over it.

Map of USSC Western/Clewiston Division

Clewiston Yard

Clewiston Yard is shared between U. S. Sugar and SCFE.

Feel free to scroll the maps left and right if you are viewing on a small screen like a smartphone. The base map is copyright OpenStreetMap.org and is licensed under CC-BY-SA; I just drew some annotations over it.

Map of Clewiston Yard

Moore Haven District

SCFE operates under F.R.A. rules on its main line. It gathers cane plants from 8 load-outs between Graham Dairy Farm (mp 928 northwest of Moore Haven) all the way back to Sugarton (mp 945.2) just northwest of Clewiston, Florida.

Feel free to scroll the maps left and right if you are viewing on a small screen like a smartphone. The base map is copyright OpenStreetMap.org and is licensed under CC-BY-SA; I just drew some annotations over it.

Map of Moore Haven District